Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton University, gave the Frederic C. Wood, Jr. Memorial Lecture, speaking on "Jesus in the Gnostic Gospels: Alternative Views" in the Villard Room.  A former MacArthur Fellow (1980-85), Professor Pagels worked at Harvard as a graduate student in the translation of the Nag Hammadi library, 52 papyrus texts discovered in 1945 in Egypt and dating from the first century of Christianity, which became known as the Gnostic Gospels—an alternative/supplement to the New Testament gospels. Her exposition of the alternative view of early Christianity in the writings, The Gnostic Gospels (1979), won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1979 and the National Book Award in 1980.  Her The Origin of Satan (1995) argued that these early texts suggested that Christians throughout history “taught—and acted upon—the belief that their enemies are evil and beyond redemption.”

Frederic C. Wood, Jr., was chaplain and associate professor of religion at Vassar. Pastoral Psychology magazine’s “The Man of the Month” in October of 1969, Wood was described as “in a Gilbert and Sullivan phrase, the ‘very model’ for a modern university minister.”  He had, the journal added, “set the standard for campus clergy.”  His Sex and the New Morality appeared in 1968 and Living in the Now: Spirit-Centered Faith for 20th Century Man was published in 1970, the year of his death at the age of 38.