Elaine Pagels is best known for research and publication involving a cache of over fifty ancient Greek texts discovered translated into Coptic 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 joined the faculty at Princeton University 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 the Genesis accounts (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).

Books in order of publication:

The Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters1975
The Gnostic Gospels1979
Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: Sex and Politics in Early Christianity1988
Johannine Gospel in Gnostic Exegesis1989
The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans and Heretics1995
The New Book on Gnostic Gospels2002
Master Classes 72002
Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas2003
The Gospel of Thomas: New Perspectives on Jesus’ Message (W/18-Page Supplement)2006
Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity2007
Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation2012
Why Religion?: A Personal Story2018