Weltin Lecture - Art, Music, and Politics in the Book of Revelation

Prof. Elaine Pagels

We'll take a quick look at the Book of Revelation-the last book in the Bible: who wrote it, and when; then the astonishing range of art and music it has inspired for nearly 2000 years, and how its visions of monsters, beasts, and whores have played out in politics, often on both sides of the same war, from the 7th century through the Crusades and religious wars of Europe, to the  American Civil War, WW2, the 21st century Iraq war, including current conflict between ISIS and the west.

Elaine Pagels, Harrington Spear Paine Foundation Professor of Religion at Princeton University, is best known for her research on a cache of over fifty ancient Christian texts discovered in Upper Egypt in 1945. After completing her doctorate at Harvard University, she participated with an international team of scholars to edit, translate, and publish several of these texts. After publishing two monographs and several scholarly articles, she wrote The Gnostic Gospels, which won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Then, having received a MacArthur Prize Fellowship, she was appointed in 1982 as the Harrington Professor of History of Religion at Princeton University, where she now teaches and engages in research.  Besides continuing to write scholarly articles, she has published other books accessible to a wider audience, including Adam, Eve, and the Serpent  (Random House, 1988), which explores how various Jewish and Christian readings of Genesis (c. 50-400 CE)  articulate a wide range of attitudes toward sexuality and politics; The Origin of Satan: How Christians Came to Demonize Jews, Pagans, and Heretics (Random House, 1995); Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas (Random House, 2003) and most recently, Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation (Viking Penguin, 2012).