22 Pagels, Gnostic Gospels, p. xxiii.
23 Pheme Perkins, herself an “insider” in these studies who appreciates some of Pagels’ work, still asserts that: Pagels either knows or cares too little about the theological diversity and development of “orthodox” Christian theology in the first three centuries to be fair to its defenders in their debates with the gnostics. She is frequently taken in by the stock rhetorical polemics of both sides, mistaking rhetoric for fact. (See Pheme Perkins, “Popularizing the Past,” Commonweal, 9 November, 1979, pp. 634–635.) Other problems include Pagels’ popularizing methodology, her constant imposition of political, sociological, and modern psychological factors upon ancient philosophical and theological questions, and the lack of her desired support for woman’s rights in the Gnostic sources. (For details, see Edwards, p. 7; Fitzmyer, p. 122; Perkins, p. 635; Raymond E. Brown, “The Christians Who Lost Out,” The New York Times Book Review, January 20, 1980, p. 3; Kathleen McVey, “Gnosticism, Feminism, and Elaine Pagels,” Theology Today, vol. 37, January, 1981, pp. 498, 501.) Lastly, Edwards charges that Pagels’ volume is plagued by a reductionism for which no evidence is provided, but only her own word (p. 7). Perkins summarizes her critique this way: But the whole is so flawed by hasty generalization, over-interpretation of texts to fit a pre-determined scheme, and lack of sympathetic balance that this reviewer found herself constantly wishing that the whole could have been redone with more care (p. 635). Koester in Robinson, Nag Hammadi, vol. II, pp. 1–15.