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BOOK REVIEWS 509 Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. By ELAINE PAGELS. New York: Random House, 1988. Pp. xxiii + 189. $17.95. (hardbound) Elaine Pagels attempts to analyze early Christian readings of Gen. 13 . In particular she argues that Augustine's reading of this text was such an idiosyncratic and radical break with Christian precedent that it amounted to a dismissal of more than three hundred years of unanimous tradition. As such, despite her closing disclaimer that there is no "pure Christianity" (p. 152), it is implied that Augustine's views are a distortion of the orthodox tradition, an aberration which caught on only because of its political expediency. The first four chapters present a view of pre-Augustinian Christian readings of Gen. 1-3, which is then used in chapter five as a foil for Augustine's views. Except for the gnostics, Pagels argues that the Genesis text was almost universally read as "the story of human freedom" (p. xxvi). Christians from Paul to Jerome proclaimed their freedom from the Roman social fabric by their espousal of celibacy, and, until Constantine , were prepared to demonstrate their liberty from demonically inspired imperial persecution by their own deaths. Pagels claims that because of their defiant attitude toward the Roman social and political order, these Christians read the first three chapters of Genesis as a charter of liberty for all humans: • • . orthodox Christians of the second and third centuries, from Justin and Irenaeus through Tertullian, Clement, and the brilliant teacher Origen, stood unanimously against the gnostics in proclaiming the Chris· tian gospel as a message of freedom-moral freedom, freedom of the will, expressed in Adam's original freedom to choose a life free of pain and suffering. (p. 76) This is intriguing hut difficult to assess since Pagels does not tie it to particular readings of Genesis hy any of the authors she lists here, although there is one citation from Clement, given much earlier in the book (p. 39) which could serve to tie the above observation to an early Christian reading of Genesis. But there are no citations of readings of Genesis hy Justin or Irenaeus or Tertullian or Origen at all. Pagels draws the term autexousia seemingly at random from an unspecified text in Clement (p. 73) as indicative of the "power to constitute one's own being" (p. 73) or "the moral freedom to rule oneself" (p. 99) which Pagels claims summarized early orthodox readings of Gen. l. Pagels makes the additional claim that the story of Adam and Eve and the serpent was not seen by pre-Augustinian theologians as the story of a moral fall which extended to all humanity: 510 BOOK REVIEWS Most orthodox Christians agreed with many of their Jewish contemporaries that Adam's fatal misuse of ... freedom was so momentous that his transgression brought pain, labor, and death into an originally perfect world. Yet Justin, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement also agreed that Adam's transgression did not encroach upon our own individual freedom: even now, they said, every person is free to choose good or evil, just as Adam was. (p. 73) Again, however, it is difficult to assess this argument because Pagels provides only one slender citation from Irenaeus (and that out of context and without elaboration, from AH 4.17.1), to back it up. One wonders in any event whether it is begging the question to say that people in a world characterized by " pain, labor, and death " have a freedom to choose good or evil as perfect as Adam's was. Certainly for Irenaeus the whole of creation had to be " redone " by Christ because of Adam's sin, and while this may not be a doctrine of original sin in the Augustinian sense, there is clearly much more room for continuity than Pagels' formulation of the earlier literature suggests. Thus what Pagels presents in chapter 5 as an almost monolithic foil for Augustine's reading of Genesis is actually tied to pre-Augustinian readings of Genesis by two slender threads widely separated in the course of the first four chapters, and these are treated only summarily. But even this picture of consensus is given an additional twist, apart...