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Danzinger Lecturer will examine Book of Revelation

Who wrote the Book of Revelation? Why was it written, and why was it chosen as the last book of the Bible instead of any of the other “books of revelation” written around the same time? How has that choice impacted our culture?

Elaine Pagels will tackle these questions in the University of Chicago’s 2009 Sigmund H. Danzinger Jr. Lecture in Literature on April 23. The lecture, entitled “The Cultural Impact of the Book of Revelation,” will take place in the University of Chicago’s Classics building, 1010 E. 59th Street, Room 110. It will begin at 4:30 and will be followed by a reception at 5:30. The lecture and the reception are both free and open to the public.

Pagels’s lecture will explore who wrote the last book of the Bible and what prompted him to do so. She will also review what other “books of revelation”—Jewish, Christian, Greek, and Egyptian—were written around the same time, reflecting on why these were later rejected by church leaders. Finally, the lecture will offer a quick sketch—visual and oral—of Revelation’s impact on Western culture, from the first century through the present.

Pagels is the author of The Gnostic Gospels, which earned the National Book Critics Circle Award, the National Book Award, and was named one of the top 100 nonfiction books of the twentieth century by the Modern Library. Other books by Pagels include the New York Times bestseller Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas and her latest, Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity. Pagels is the Harrington Spear Paine Foundation Professor of Religion at Princeton University and a MacArthur fellow.

The Sigmund H. Danzinger Jr. Lecture in Literature is funded by a gift from Robert S. Danzinger, given in honor of his father, and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The lecture’s stated purpose is to feature “an established scholar of classical literature, who has made substantial contributions to the critical analysis of classical literature, or has been exceptionally skilled at inspiring an appreciation for classical literature.” Previous lecturers include philosopher Jacques Rancière, Hindi literature specialist David Schulman, and  classicist Mary Beard, among others.

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