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4 big myths of Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation has terrified and confused readers for centuries. Few agree on its meaning, but many have opinions.
March 31st, 2012
10:00 PM ET

4 big myths of Book of Revelation

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) – The anti-Christ. The Battle of Armageddon. The dreaded Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

You don’t have to be a student of religion to recognize references from the Book of Revelation. The last book in the Bible has fascinated readers for centuries. People who don’t even follow religion are nonetheless familiar with figures and images from Revelation.

And why not? No other New Testament book reads like Revelation. The book virtually drips with blood and reeks of sulfur. At the center of this final battle between good and evil is an action-hero-like Jesus, who is in no mood to turn the other cheek.

Elaine Pagels, one of the world’s leading biblical scholars, first read Revelation as a teenager. She read it again in writing her latest book, “Revelations: Visions, Prophecy & Politics in the Book of Revelation.”

Pagels’ book is built around a simple question: What does Revelation mean? Her answers may disturb people who see the book as a prophecy about the end of the world.

But people have clashed over the meaning of Revelation ever since it was virtually forced into the New Testament canon over the protests of some early church leaders, Pagels says.

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“There were always debates about it,” she says. “Some people said a heretic wrote it. Some said a disciple. There were always people who loved and championed it.”

The debate persists. Pagels adds to it by challenging some of the common assumptions about Revelation.

Here are what she says are four big myths about Revelation::

1. It’s about the end of the world

Anyone who has read the popular “Left Behind” novels or listened to pastors preaching about the “rapture” might see Revelation as a blow-by-blow preview of how the world will end.

Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation was actually describing the way his own world ended.

She says the writer of Revelation may have been called John – the book is sometimes called “Book of the Revelation of Saint John the Divine” but he was not the disciple who accompanied Jesus. He was a devout Jew and mystic exiled on the island of Patmos, off the coast of  present-day Greece.

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“He would have been a very simple man in his clothes and dress,” Pagels says. “He may have gone from church to church preaching his message. He seems more like a traveling preacher or a prophet.”

The author of Revelation had experienced a catastrophe. He wrote his book not long after 60,000 Roman soldiers had stormed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., burned down its great temple and left the city in ruins after putting down an armed Jewish revolt.

For some of the earliest Jewish followers of Jesus, the destruction of Jerusalem was incomprehensible. They had expected Jesus to return “with power” and conquer Rome before inaugurating a new age. But Rome had conquered Jesus’ homeland instead.

The author of Revelation was trying to encourage the followers of Jesus at a time when their world seemed doomed. Think of the Winston Churchill radio broadcasts delivered to the British during the darkest days of World War II.

Revelation was an anti-Roman tract and a piece of war propaganda wrapped in one. The message: God would return and destroy the Romans who had destroyed Jerusalem.

“His primary target is Rome,” Pagels says of the book’s author. “He really is deeply angry and grieved at the Jewish war and what happened to his people.”

2. The numerals 666 stand for the devil

The 1976 horror film “The Omen” scared a lot of folks. It may have scared some theologians, too, who began encountering people whose view of Revelation comes from a Hollywood movie.

The Omen” depicted the birth and rise of the “anti-Christ,” the cunning son of Satan who would be known by “the mark of the beast,” 666, on his body.

Here’s the passage from Revelation that “The Omen” alluded to: “This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.”

Good movies, though, don’t always make good theology. Most people think 666 stands for an anti-Christ-like figure that will deceive humanity and trigger a final battle between good and evil. Some people think he’s already here.

Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation didn’t really intend 666 as the devil’s digits. He was describing another incarnation of evil: The Roman emperor, Nero.

The arrogant and demented Nero was particularly despised by the earliest followers of Jesus, including the writer of Revelation. Nero was said to have burned followers of Jesus alive to illuminate his garden.

But the author of Revelation couldn’t safely name Nero, so he used the Jewish numerology system to spell out Nero’s imperial name, Pagels says.

Pagels says that John may have had in mind other meanings for the mark of the beast: the imperial stamp Romans used on official documents, tattoos authorizing people to engage in Roman business, or the images of Roman emperors on stamps and coins.

Since Revelation’s author writes in “the language of dreams and nightmares,” Pagels says it’s easy for outsiders to misconstrue the book’s original meaning.

Still, they take heart from Revelation’s larger message, she writes:

“…Countless people for thousands of years have been able to see their own conflicts, fears, and hopes reflected in his prophecies. And because he speaks from his convictions about divine justice, many readers have found reassurance in his conviction that there is meaning in history – even when he does not say exactly what that meaning is – and that there is hope.”

3. The writer of Revelation was a Christian

The author of Revelation hated Rome, but he also scorned another group – a group of people we would call Christians today, Pagels says.

There’s a common perception that there was a golden age of Christianity, when most Christians agreed on an uncontaminated version of the faith. Yet there was never one agreed-upon Christianity. There were always clashing visions.

Revelation reflects some of those early clashes in the church, Pagels says.

That idea isn’t new territory for Pagels. She won the National Book Award for “The Gnostic Gospels,” a 1979 book that examined a cache of newly discovered “secret” gospels of Jesus. The book, along with other work from Pagels, argues that there were other accounts of Jesus’ life that were suppressed by early church leaders because it didn’t fit with their agenda.

The author of Revelation was like an activist crusading for traditional values. In his case, he was a devout Jew who saw Jesus as the messiah. But he didn’t like the message that the apostle Paul and other followers of Jesus were preaching.

This new message insisted that gentiles could become followers of Jesus without adopting the requirements of the Torah. It accepted women leaders, and intermarriage with gentiles, Pagels says.

The new message was a lot like what we call Christianity today.

That was too much for the author of Revelation. At one point, he calls a woman leader in an early church community a “Jezebel.” He calls one of those gentile-accepting churches a “synagogue of Satan.”

John was defending a form of Christianity that would be eclipsed by the Christians he attacked, Pagels says.

“What John of Patmos preached would have looked old-fashioned – and simply wrong to Paul’s converts…,” she writes.

The author of Revelation was a follower of Jesus, but he wasn’t what some people would call a Christian today, Pagels says.

“There’s no indication that he read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or that he read the gospels or Paul’s letters,” she says. “….He doesn’t even say Jesus died for your sins.”

4. There is only one Book of Revelation

There’s no other book in the Bible quite like Revelation, but there are plenty of books like Revelation that didn’t make it into the Bible, Pagels says.

Early church leaders suppressed an “astonishing” range of books that claimed to be revelations from apostles such as Peter and James. Many of these books were read and treasured by Christians throughout the Roman Empire, she says.

There was even another “Secret Revelation of John.” In this one, Jesus wasn’t a divine warrior, but someone who first appeared to the apostle Paul as a blazing light, then as a child, an old man and, some scholars say, a woman.

So why did the revelation from John of Patmos make it into the Bible, but not the others?

Pagels traces that decision largely to Bishop Athanasius, a pugnacious church leader who championed Revelation about 360 years after the death of Jesus.

Athanasius was so fiery that during his 46 years as bishop he was deposed and exiled five times. He was primarily responsible for shaping the New Testament while excluding books he labeled as hearsay, Pagels says.

Many church leaders opposed including Revelation in the New Testament. Athanasius’s predecessor said the book was “unintelligible, irrational and false.”

Athanasius, though, saw Revelation as a useful political tool. He transformed it into an attack ad against Christians who questioned him.

Rome was no longer the enemy; those who questioned church authority were the anti-Christs in Athanasius’s reading of Revelation, Pagels says.

“Athanasius interprets Revelation’s cosmic war as a vivid picture of his own crusade against heretics and reads John’s visions as a sharp warning to Christian dissidents,” she writes. “God is about to divide the saved from the damned – which now means dividing the ‘orthodox’ from ‘heretics.’ ’’

Centuries later, Revelation still divides people. Pagels calls it the strangest and most controversial book in the Bible.

Even after writing a book about it, Pagels has hardly mastered its meaning.

“The book is the hardest one in the Bible to understand,” Pagels says. “I don’t think anyone completely understands it.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Christianity • Church • Devil • End times • Faith • History • Jerusalem

soundoff (8,460 Responses)
  1. A.J.

    Man will not know the day, hour, or even minute that the world will end. No one will, or is meant to know. It makes me wonder why people worry about the "end of days". The point is you are never going to know when or how it ends. This article has points that people shun just because you were told all your life one thing. 666 is not a sign of satan, just as many people misconceive that an upside-down cross is somehow satanic.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  2. Mike

    Mark of the Beast is those chips with your credit (cashless society) that hopefully won't be coming soon

    "He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead"

    Youtube Andy Rooney RDIF chip

    April 2, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  3. Frank

    I love liberals that preach tolerance, but sneer and jeer at anyone that claims to be Christian (but NOT other religions). I am not what anyone would call a religious person, but I believe there is much more to the universe that we DON'T understand than what we do. Liberals smugly believe they have EVERYTHING all figured out and we should all get on board with THEIR beliefs. No Thank You.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      Frank,

      That's just precious! You close your mind and shut it off. Science is always seeking the truth and never stops, it always questions, unlike religions. All religions are delusional.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • William Demuth

      I for one hate the other ridiculous religions just as much as yours.

      If it is any comfort, I do find yours much more humorous. Zombies? Virgins? Cannibalisim rituals? SERIOUSLY?

      If you would keep it away from my kids and my government, I might just laugh at you, but your type rarely does.

      And not all non-believers are liberal, I am so far to the right of you I am coming up on the other side.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • sam stone

      How did this become political, Frankie?

      April 2, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Gaunt

      You are too stupid to live, and you clearly have absolutely no ide what a liberal is. True liberals have no fault with the PERSONAL beliefs of any faith, but loathe any religion that uses its particular version of its fairy tale to try and pass laws or judgement on others. And religion (especially one esposing love and tolerance) used to preach hatred and intolerance, and for that matter anyone who claims that because they believe their fairy tale is the only true fairy tale, they have all the answers.

      Liberals made America what it is. The founding fathers were liberals, Lincoln was a liberal. Get down on your knees and thank liberals for your freedoms, not your fairy tale god.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • closet atheist

      @ Frank ~~ As W. Demuth stated... your assumption that all non-believers are "liberals" is completely off base. Sorry to burst your bubble, but we exist in all walks of life from across the political spectrum. Education could be your friend, Frank... let the truth set you free....

      April 2, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • No need to believe

      I love how all of the sudden liberal means non-Christian..... I love how dumb you sound when spit out rhitoric developed in the last 20 years alone.....

      April 2, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  4. SavySurfer

    You can't understand it, because it was written for another time, another culture, another agenda.
    The author could have a touch of mental illess too.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • William Demuth

      A touch?

      That dude was trippin!!

      The whole book is really just a bad trip at a Greatful Dead show.

      Like "Fear and Loathing on the Road To Palestine"

      April 2, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • sam stone

      William: Yep, too much psilocybe

      April 2, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  5. Grampa

    The writers of the Bible had no idea how the universe worked, so they made up a lot of myths to explain what science is much better able to explain today. That doesn't mean there isn't wisdom in the Bible. Lessons on tolerance and compassion are worth keeping and cherishing. The silly dogmas should go the way of other fairy tales. It's way past time for humanity to grow up.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Dwayne

      And replace it with what? We've seen what has happened to the world when we've treated the Bible as fairtytales and replaced it with something that doesn't help people shape their lives to be better. France is a good example of what happens when you throw God and the Bible out. True, religion has created a lot of wars. But you say the bible has some good – who determines what is good and what is fairy tale?

      April 2, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Gaunt

      France? You mean that nation with longer life expectency, lower infant mortality rates, one quarter the murder rate and a far better health system than the US does? Yeah, We dont want to end up like them!

      April 2, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • sam stone

      I just read The Year Of Living Biblically. It was great, and it was a comment on Biblical Literalism

      April 2, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • sam stone

      Dwayne: Which time period do you prefer? When we could own each other? When a black person counted as 3/5's of a white person? When women had lesser rights than men? Please, I am curious to know which shangri-la you use as a benchmark to judge current society.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  6. Coram Sanctum

    Wow, It never amazes me how easy it is to get press and be regarded as a bible scholar. Say something controversial and novel and then it doesn't matter how wrong it is, how theologically and historically "jacked up" it is... You got press! Her understanding of church history is completely wrong. I don't even know where to begin. Christianity has always been consistent in its doctrinal beliefs. The other books she is referring to (gnostic books) were written several hundred years after Christ. The books of the bible were all written in the first century and were considered canonical way before Athanasius. Athanasius wasn't even a Bishop during the time of the Counsel of Nicea (which had nothing to do with deciding the cannon). The idea that Athanasius had anything to do with the cannon is so "out there" that t is extremely humorous. Even a casual search on wikipedia will show that to be so far from truth. The only reason why so called scholars like this have a job is because they say things and don't expect anything to check them on it. It's controversial and novel and so they expect that the masses will just buy it. Those that do check them on it, they just call "fundamentalists" and write them off. CNN, even if you are going to have liberal bible scholars writing blogs at least let them be credible historians and not just... umm, weird. This isn't a liberal vs. conservative thing, its a "write scholarship not fairy-tale thing"

    April 2, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • William Demuth

      Christianity once believed witches had to be burnt?

      They stopped. Why?

      Because they are inconsistent in ALL things, and about 300 years behind in moral thought.

      They are dinosaurs and shall soon be extinct.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Ed

      So you're going with wikipedia over a renouned and accomplished professor of religion at Princeton. Good call.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Joe Smith

      Dude, what makes you think you're right?

      April 2, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Gaunt

      Are you completely insane?Almost nothing you just typed is even close to true Coram. The 'Canon' was not decided upon until 300 years after Jesus supposedly died, and in fact the vast majority of early Christians believed what would later become heresies: the proto-Orthodox group was a small minority. When books, such as the Gospel of Thomas (the most popular in the 2nd century) were excluded it was entirely for political reasons. The funny thing about your obvious and clear lying is that you demonstrate how wrong you are with your own attempt at self-justification. Indeed, a quick survey of Wiki will show anyone who cares to look what a liar you are. Christianity did not become consistent for centuries, even after the canon was defined, Arian heresies were commonplace, and schisms rife. How can you claim 'always consistent' when as late as 600 AD there were major church councils assembled to define key pieces of what are not considered doctrine, but then were still under debate?

      I dont mind ignorant people so much, nor do I mind liars. The world is full of those. But ignorant liars like you who PRETEND you know what you are talking about, and claim intelligence they clearly do not posess are beyond the pale.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Daryn

      If by first century, you mean the first two centuries, then you are right, all the New Testament was written in the first century. Get a degree first. Then speak. You have no idea what you are talking about. Remember that the church only makes money from you, if they can convince you to keep believing what they are selling. A school on the other hand only gets your money until you get a degree and could care less what you believe, and aren't selling beliefs at all, just degrees.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • UncleBenny

      And it's canon, not "cannon."

      April 2, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  7. AKD

    Patmos is in GREECE, not Turkey...!

    April 2, 2012 at 10:00 am |
  8. Ron Mavrides

    Patmos is in Greece, not Turkey.

    April 2, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • UncleBenny

      We've been through this already. Pay careful attention now. Patmos is a Greek island off the coast of Turkey. It's ethnically and (since only 1948) politically Greek, but geographically it's far closer to Turkey. Try looking at a map. Saying it's "in Greece" is like saying the Falkland Islands are in Britain.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  9. PlayfulDreamer

    If John is writing about the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, then John would have been around to know that Nero killed himself in 68 AD. All the talk about 666 being Nero, and his burning of Christians to light his gardens (anecdotal evidence anyway) is just bull. This author wants us to believe that John ignored that Nero was already dead when he started preaching about the end times?

    April 2, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  10. No need to believe

    All the bible really is.... Is the oldest self motivational book for weak minded individuals that honestly think they can pray it all away..... Religion is like alien abductions people wanna believe but there is no probe waiting for them in the end.

    April 2, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  11. Jacob

    Obama's bday is the 216th day of the year (6x6x6). His full name has 18 letters (6+6+6). Zip code of the area he represented in Illinois (60606). Winning lottery ticket the day he got elected: 666. The next winning lottery ticket: 777 haha. Coincidental? haha def interesting.

    Bible is full of symbolism. So when stars fall from the sky in the Book of Revelation, it actually symbolizes wars or rumours of wars. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, clouds, heaven, sky can symbolize our mind, so when it says we're caught up in the air with the Lord, it can symbolize that our minds will become enlightened by Christ. Double edged sword in revelation symbolizes the Word of God, so we can guess that in the apocalypse, something will be revealed that will have to do with Christ and that will enlighten our minds. Apocalypse definition : a disclosure (revelation) of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood or misconception.

    To read Revelation without understanding how it's full of symbology is ignorant in a way. Even Isaac Newton knew this. If that name interests you, you should read Sir Newton's commentary on the book of Revelation.

    April 2, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Sorry dude. It's just ancient mythology, nothing more. The delusional rantings of primitive people.

      April 2, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • William Demuth

      Jacob

      Symbols are manipulated to suit an agenda.

      I can write complete nonesense, and can have a hundred try to explain it, but at the end of the day it is still nonesense.

      Its YOUR ego you are hearing in the book, based on a desperate attempt to find personal meaning.

      I am sorry to inform you that your opinion of the nonesense is in fact also nonesense.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Jacob

      William think I'm a weak holy crusader christian just because I know some things about the Bible. He probably blasts christians for being judgmental.... a bit hypocritical. But I think it's good for people to question what teachers at the pulpit brainwash their congregation with. What really is good and bad?

      April 2, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • William Demuth

      Jacob.

      Having had several thousand children in the US molested by cult members, I have ZERO tolerance.

      Even your name indicates your of Thiest birth, and therefore a risk.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • coffegirl

      Out of curiosity, what state were these the winning lottery ticket numbers? Every state in the union has a 3 digit lottery so it is not so conincidental that somewhere these were the winning numbers.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  12. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Shocking news!... the bible is the longest game of telephone in history. O wait.. we actually already knew this.

    April 2, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  13. GIO

    WHY EVERYBODY AT LIBERL MEDIA...CNN AND MSNBC S SO LOUD TO ATTACK THE BIBLE BUT A COWARD TO EVEN SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THE CORAN !!! IS IT MAYBE BECAUSE YOU ARE AFRAID OF GET KILLED...? I THINK SO...

    April 2, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Why don't you stop shouting and learn some proper grammar and spelling. Then maybe you won't look like such an idiot.

      April 2, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • William Demuth

      The Koran is as ingnorant as you are.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • sam stone

      Your spelling is every bit as good as your logic.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • SurelyUjest

      The Koran, is not in question here. I am sure if the Koran was the book in question the authors would have no issue pointing out the poor information provided for that so called "holy text" as well. I think if you are a Christian your first concern would be understanding your own faith and where it comes from. In this case what I read is that in around 400 AD Bishop Athanasius a historically recorded Jerk face amongst his peers and the christian community as a whole got to shape the Bible in such away it reflected HIS own perceptions of what he thought was important. If Christians want to call it inspired by god then so be it. I call it another example of what happens when you listen to the arguments of a Jerk face leader.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  14. Tom

    Patmos is part of Greece and not Turkey as the artcile states. Get your geography right!

    April 2, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      That was article writer John Blake's mistake, not the scholar Elaine Pagels'. It's no criticism of her findings at all.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  15. Garry

    "The world will end one day, most likely when the sun burns out in a few billion years."

    Could not have put it better!

    April 2, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Yep.

      April 2, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • Cq

      And there will probably still be Christians around saying that the end will come any minute up until then. :-)

      April 2, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  16. Jon

    God is all powerful and all-knowing. I think the Bible is the way He intended it to be. Man, even a non-Christian should get that much. Yeah, people sure fooled God and kept books out and changed it the way He wanted it-come on. It has stayed the same for 2000 years-the King James version is very close to the 50 AD copies they have through the 100 ad copies. Almost word for word. Nothing can kill it.

    April 2, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Delusional much?

      April 2, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • William Demuth

      Common sense can.

      Bigotry, hatred and egocentric values die a slow death, but they DO die.

      Your God shall go the way of all the mumbo jumbo Gods that came before.

      Christianity is dying.

      April 2, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @John
      delusion |diˈlo͞oZHən|
      noun
      an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder: the delusion of being watched.

      April 2, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • fred

      well said William.

      April 2, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      Jon, would you agree that you are delusional? Don't run away now, just answer this simple little question.

      April 2, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Marc

      Maybe you should try to catch up on your history. The letters (Ephesians, etc.) and Revelations are books written CENTURIES after Jesus lived, and all were written as political commentary and later edited by church politicians for effect and power of message. It's like someone picked up a broadcast of the 700 Club and pretended a couple of hundred years later that it was the Word. Revelations CLEARLY described symbolism of the Romans (including all those beasties), and it incorporates Hebrew numerology all over the place as well. Christianity is just mythology. Period. Might just as well start praying to Zeus (except that you would act like everything bad that happend to you in your life from that point represents the vengeance of an Old testament God).

      April 2, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Robert Brown

      In my opinion atheism meets the definition of delusion. Your belief that there is no God is contradicted by millions of Christians. Now what?

      April 2, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Faithful

      Marc – The letters of St Peter and St Paul were written by those two Apostles while they were still living i.e just after Jesus died. They were His FRIENDS. How could they write letters to the Ephesians, Colossians, Philipians hundeds of years AFTER they died? They were obeying Jesus' command to go forth and teach all nations!

      Talk sense. You and the others here just [a] Lost your own argument and [b] Proved that it's NOT Christians who are delusional!

      April 2, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Janine

      @ John: You are SO RIGHT!!!!! THE BIBLE has,will and forever will remain the same. All things in it has been coming to past. these people are so Ignorant it AMAZES, probably has NEVER opened a bible in their life but quick to open their dumb mouths about what they dont know. Well we will see when Judgement day comes. STUPID IDIOTS!!!

      April 2, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      Jon
      From the Time article about the Codex Sinaiticus, the world's oldest Bible, dating from the 4th century.

      "Erasures, additions, corrections, subst.itutions — Sinaiticus reveals a Bible-in-process. Between the 4th and 12th centuries, various scribes changed earlier colleagues' bad spelling. Of more theological significance, the Gospel of Mark ends early. Sinaiticus even contains two books that didn't make the later canon cut, the Epistle of Apostle Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas. The changes are significant, according to British Library curator Scot McKendrick, because "the recognition is that Scripture, as it comes down to us, is transmitted by human hand."

      http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1910141_1910142_1910126,00.html

      It contains 27,000 "corrections", and you want to argue that the Bible was set in stone since the beginning?

      April 2, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Janine
      @Faithful
      @Robert Brown

      The original three stooges.

      I challenge each one of you to give me a logical, reasonable and non-delusional proof of the existence of your god. Just because millions of christians say so doesn't make it so, or some book or some fuzzy feeling. Be prepared to be slaughtered with logic and reason because your belief is delusional, please read the standard definition and reply if you so choose:
      delusion |diˈlo͞oZHən|
      noun
      an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder: the delusion of being watched.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Janine, I've read the Bible cover-to-cover four times. Each time I read it, I found more things wrong with it.

      I was a believer for a long time. I had read parts of the Bible, whole books, but never the whole thing cover-to-cover. Funny how actually reading the Bible without rose-colored glasses helped me see the book for what it really is.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • fred

      Jon and Janine just got so PWNED by Oh Yeah. Good job, Oh Yeah.

      27,000 corrections. Sheesh. And god can't even come up with his own website to suit modern times.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by Robert Brown is an instance of the ad populum fallacy.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      April 2, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • LinCA

      @Robert Brown

      You said, "Your belief that there is no God is contradicted by millions of Christians."
      Millions believe, and believed in thousands of other gods. Following your line of reasoning (I have a really hard time calling that complete and utter nonsense "reasoning", but for argument's sake, let's call it that), these gods are equally likely to exist.

      Why don't you worship them?

      April 2, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • coffegirl

      I don't believe in your God, but my God. Most scientists and logical people can agree there are stronger unknown forces that are unexplainable, and we can call it the work of God, Buddah or Mary whatever it is that comforts you. I don't believe people are Anti God, it's more about being anti religion. I have a hard time believing that people only do what's right because of the fear of God or Allah...We are innately do gooders that are influenced into doing bad things, and we have seen that even with the threat of God people will still disobey. Find God within yourself and in my experience, you understand the divinity that Jesus preached about – not necissarily what was written in the bilble.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • sam stone

      Good for you, Robert.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Robert Brown

      The witnesses of the events recorded them in the Bible and those who have been saved can give witness or testimony of their personal spiritual experience. The witnesses include the writers of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, & Paul. They also include the other disciples, all those who were healed and saved in the narrative, those who were present at Pentecost, every person who has been saved since, and me. If you have been saved, you have experienced Jesus, and you can testify to that experience. Paul wrote about the Spirit of God in the second chapter of Corinthians where he explained that spiritual truth cannot be understood by the natural man (a man minus the Holy Spirit). If you are truly interested in proving the existence of God to yourself ask Him. Seek and you will find. He promised to reveal himself to those who diligently seek him.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  17. Josef Bleaux

    The entire bible is nothing but ancient myths. Why single out Revelation?

    April 2, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Jgo

      Wow! ... simply amazing how you atheists miss the point over and over.

      April 2, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Faithful

      Jgo – Good for you!
      The problem with Atheists and other assorted deniers is that it takes intelligence and logic to analyze the Bible reasonably. They discount the Bible with the same mindless lack of rational thought that leads them to believe a 'big bang' and a solitary cell slithering out of a muddy puddle gave rise to the supremely intelligently designed world we live in.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • *facepalm*

      Yup, supremely intelligently designed. Like the organ that we have that provides little to no benefit, is entirely unnecessary, and occassionally kills. Was your designer asleep at the wheel, or is the designer just sadistic?

      April 2, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Faithful' contains instances of the ad hominem and circu-mstantial ad hominem fallacies as well as Willed Ignorance and a Straw Man argument.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      April 2, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  18. Jt_flyer

    Just 4?

    April 2, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  19. Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

    Funny that the people who are throwing the most insults toward the opinions expressed in the article because they think she is delusional or holds a wacky opinion, are the same people who get upset when you call them delusional for believing in God.

    April 2, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  20. angryersmell

    Just because Revelation isn't about the end of the world, doesn't mean it's not going to. Lunatics and fanatics have spent lifetimes turning it into a self-fulfilling prophecy. It could be a secret recipe for cheese and all they'll ever see is fire and brimstone, and hidden reasons to bring both down on all our heads.

    April 2, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      The world will end one day, most likely when the sun burns out in a few billion years.

      April 2, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Faithful

      Jaques – the world will END in God's own good time. He made it, HE alone knows when it will end.

      To suggest YOU can give a "logical guess" is pride in it's most arrogant form. Sorry.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Brian, brother of Jesus

      Blessed at the cheesemakers

      April 2, 2012 at 10:24 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.