Skip to main content
Cover for The Origin of Satan

The Origin of Satan

How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics

Elaine Pagels


List Price: 18.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


From the religious historian whose The Gnostic Gospels won both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award comes a dramatic interpretation of Satan and his role on the Christian tradition. With magisterial learning and the elan of a born storyteller, Pagels turns Satan’s story into an audacious exploration of Christianity’s shadow side, in which the gospel of love gives way to irrational hatreds that continue to haunt Christians and non-Christians alike.

Praise For The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics

"Arresting . . . brilliant . . . this book illuminates the angels with which we must wrestle to come to the truth of our bedeviling spritual problems."  —Boston Globe

"Pagels is a wonderful writer. . . . She has a gift for bringing ancient texts alive. . . . Fascinating."  —San Francisco Chronicle

"Lively reading . . . a book that makes familiar concepts disturbingly fresh and provocative." —The New York Times

"Pagels has achieved something important. . . . Thoughtful scholarly works that are also original and adventurous are not common. The Origin of Satan is such a work, and we should be correspondingly grateful."  —New York Review of Books

"Lucid and closely reasoned. . . . Pagels remains always a lively writer who discerns the human implications of esoteric texts and scholarly disputes." —Chicago Tribune

Vintage, 9780679731184, 240pp.

Publication Date: April 30, 1996

About the Author

Elaine Pagels is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University and the author of Reading Judas, The Gnostic Gospels—winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award—and the New York Times bestseller Beyond Belief. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey.