Author and religious scholar Elaine Pagels will give the 2002 William Belden Noble Lectures in the Memorial Church on Monday-Wednesday, Feb. 11, 12, and 13 at 8 p.m. Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University, Pagels is the author of “The Origin of Satan,” “Adam, Eve, and the Serpent,” and “The Gnostic Gospels,” which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award.
Over the three lectures, Pagels will discuss the controversies that shaped Christianity, in particular the ways in which the Gospel of John was interpreted by a variety of readers. In the first lecture, “Gospel Challenge: Is Jesus God’s Only Son?,” she will discuss the first century controversy over who Jesus is and what is the “good news” about him.
The second lecture, “Heretical Readings and Evil Exegesis,” deals with the fact that many of John’s enthusiastic early readers were considered heretics. In the third lecture, “The Right Way to the Good News,” Pagels will show the development of the four gospels and how guidelines were developed for reading the Gospel of John safely, to avoid potential heretical interpretations.
On Wednesday, Feb. 13, three respondents will comment on the lectures: The Rev. Professor Peter J. Gomes, the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church; Krister Stendahl, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Divinity, Emeritus; and Paula Fredriksen, Aurelio Professor of Scripture at Boston University.
The lectures are free and open to the public; doors open at 7 p.m.