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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. DeeNYC

    um... the whole book is a myth.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • JM

      And you know that how? Cuz you say so? =>

      April 2, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • JM

      Psalm 14

      1 The fool[a] says in his heart,
      “There is no God.”
      They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
      there is no one who does good.

      2 The LORD looks down from heaven
      on all mankind
      to see if there are any who understand,
      any who seek God.
      3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
      there is no one who does good,
      not even one.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • richunix

      @JM, there is no proof "BAR NONE" that the events or the person(s) even existed outside the works of the "Bible. It's nice for you to believe in these stories, but again BAR NONE, no one has EVER returned from the dead (without the help of modern medical equipment, let alone after three days.) NO ONE has ever parted the Red Sea, Sea of Reeds or even a pond. Dude, these are fantasy stories told 2 thounsand yard ago. When people wanted you to believe that there deity was better than yours. How many times can one say....IT's enough!

      Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      April 2, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Get Real

      JM

      "The fool[a] says in his heart,
      “There is no God.”
      They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
      there is no one who does good."

      A quite old and sometimes effective tactic – declaring that those who do not believe your story are 'fools'. Nobody wants to be considered 'dumb' for not seeing the Emperor's new clothes, or a 'bas.tard' for not seeing the Sultan's new turban, or a 'cuckold' for not being able to see the Miller's gold thumb.

      Even Joseph Smith used it when he gathered his 'witnesses' to his golden plates. He told them that only those with 'true faith' would be able to 'see' them.

      The ancient, primitive Hebrews who originated those Bible stories were quite adept at manipulative mind-games.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  2. Bob

    I agree that it is highly improbable that Revelation was written about events in the distant future from the time the author wrote. That's just not what prophets do. Prophets always are concerend with their own times. Do any preachers or prophets today preach about the year 4000? No... because no one would care or listen. Same is true for John of Patmos. But Pagels likes to be sensational in some of her other claims, like the church suppressed alternative theologies. The church at this time was in no postion to suppress anything. It was the one being suppressed and had no politcial power. And the idea that the author didn't think of Jesus dying for sins ... then why does he call Jesus the Lamb?

    April 2, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • indfl

      She's right...the early church was divided into many different sects that had very different views of Jesus and his teachings. Some were attacked and suppressed (see the early Gnostics).....even Peter and Paul got into a fight over the direction of the church.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Bob

      The reason that alternative gospels and writings disappeared was not because someone suppressed them. They disappeared because no one wanted to read them. The canonical gospels we have now gained their stature because they were the most popular and accepted among Christians during the earliest periods of the church, the time when the church was itself being persecuted, not because the church persecuted "heretics" in its midst. That didn't happen until many centuries later. Pagels is just wrong about this.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  3. Jeff

    How come my posts never get shown?

    April 2, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Bob

      Jeff, check your post for evangelical statements and delete those. CNN filters out posts with certain evangelical wingnut content, especially the most stupid ones.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • LinCA

      @Jeff

      You said, "How come my posts never get shown?"

      CNN uses automated censoring that looks for words, or fragments of words, that are considered offensive. My guess is that your post had had a forbidden word in it.

      Repeat posts, even those that were previously censored and not displayed, will show a message stating that you posted it before.

      The following words or word fragments will get your post censored (list is incomplete):
      arse
      bastard
      bitch
      cock
      coon
      cum
      cunt
      douche
      effing
      fag
      ftw
      fuck
      homo
      horny
      jackass
      jap
      jism
      kinky
      kooch
      nipple
      orgy
      pis
      porn
      poo
      prick
      rape
      sex
      shit
      slut
      snatch
      spic
      tit
      twat
      vag
      whore
      wtf

      To circumvent the filters you can break up the words by putting an extra character in, like: consti.tution (breaking the oh so naughty "tit").

      April 2, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  4. inmyjudgement

    All of the end time prophecies in the bible require the existence of Israel.
    After 2000 years Israel exists, just the Hebrew prophets said that it would.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  5. Victoria Jones

    Once again another article written to confuse the ideals of the christian faith. If the book of revelations is misinterpreted, then who is to say this Elaine Pagel is correct? Being of the Christian Faith I believe that the book of Revelations is not a "Metaphoric" book, but as in the Bible, Qauran, and Torah each book and every chapter simply state what the author is trying to convey to the believers. It is then the believer who has the option to believe according to thier own interpretation, in my faith the Holy spirit is a major influence on my understanding, as Micheal stated. My question to those who believe in another faith or those who dont believe there is a God is this: why do you debate so strongly and harshly over a God that you don't believe exist?

    April 2, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Unafiliated

      Victoria... Atheist here... You miscategorize Atheism... it's not anything that I "don't believe" it's something that I do believe. My faith, my conviction, is that there is no God. I'm allowed to proclaim my gospel just as much as you are. Now, some Atheists are pretty vocal, even abrasive. I'm not a fan of that perspective, just as I'm not a fan of the vocal and abrasive Christians. I respect your freedom to chose how you want to believe, all I ask is that you offer me the same courtesy. As an Atheist, I'm not some kind of detached, disinterested party who somehow has never heard of God. I have tried to approach God, only to find that there is none. Personally, I wish God did exist. I would pray for him to rain fire and brimstone on the people ahead of me in line at the DMV, but, for good or ill, there is no God, and I must wait my turn like everyone else.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  6. Jesus H. Christ

    BOB,

    You are brainwashed.

    -Zeus

    April 2, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  7. bill

    CNN why not shoot some holes in the koran and go after the muslims for a change, and stop attacking Christians all the time. this article is bs.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Bob

      Better do your homework, bill. You'll find plenty of articles criticising Islam if you use the CNN search feature.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • William Demuth

      Two sides of the same coin, with simpletons on both sides.

      We don't bust the Muslims because they stay in their mud huts and out of my kids schools.

      But rest assured, they are just as stupid as you.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • sam stone

      well, well, well, billy boy, feeling a bit put upon?

      April 2, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  8. Ernest

    This is nothing new, the same I heard in basic Catholic Theology classes over a decade ago, and my old bible explains this in the before the book of revelation. The fact that people still think this book is a prophesy or something of the sort is ridiculous. It seems like both sides, Christians and non-Christians should a have better education on the matter.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Jeff

      How come my comments never get posted?

      April 2, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Bob

      Jeff, check your post for evangelical statements and delete those. CNN filters out posts from certain evangelical wingnuts, especially the most stupid ones.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  9. Tony T

    Tony T

    Reading these posts are very interesting to me. How different people think. Each person is caught up in there own version of reality based on the information they have chosen to listen to or read. Please run this through your thoughts. It seems people have an empty void inside of them. We put ourselves into daily/weekly routines to occupy our time / to cope. Some people fill the void with various additions (smoking, alcohol, drugs, work, sports, arguing, ect.). Christian believe God fills the void. In my opinion it all comes down to your individual faith. It’s easier not to believe in anything, because if you do then there are rules and consequences. And that’s not politically correct. “No one should put their beliefs on me” “If that’s your belief then I’m going to be different” (you get the point). I can only share my personnel experience. God has filled the void in me that used to drive me to drink and act crazy. I went though cancer removal surgery that should have left me disfigured. But after going to a church for the first time in approx. 20 years, I was healed. The surgeons at Duke could not understand how my body looked normal one month after the second surgery. After additional tests (MRI, CatScan, X-rays) I was informed that there was no sign of me ever having cancer. They could not even find any scar tissue from the surgeries. I hope everyone that reads this will open their heart to God and experience what I have. Thanks for reading this.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Prayer changes lives.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • AGuest9

      Lunch break, liar?

      April 2, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Jesus

      Still spreading your lies. No it doesn't. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.!

      April 2, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      I pray you will stop.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Shaun

      Prayer changes nothing except the bank balances of preachers.. a drug for the ignorant and weak minded.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  11. AGuest9

    What would REALLY be interesting to discover: Who wrote the Q source "gospel"?

    April 2, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  12. Henry

    If Jesus hung out with all those men, wouldn't that make him g ay?

    April 2, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • William Demuth

      Yes.

      No wife, no kids, no girlfreind, hung around with his mom.

      It has always been obvious.

      No matter how they try and hide it, his gayness shines through

      April 2, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • T. Lee

      No more than twelve guys getting together to watch football or basketball or televised golf/tennis every weekend.

      A really stupid comment "Henry".

      April 2, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • T. Lee

      "William" – another uninformed and illiterate comment.

      Jesus KNEW he didn't have much time for his mission as an adult preaching and teaching so he did not take a wife much less have children to leave behind with a widowed wife.

      Attacking Christ a way of trying to justify your own lifestyle?

      April 2, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  13. The Revelation

    Yeah. Suddenly, some agnostic book writer is an expert and divine sage on prophecy, antiquities, and 2,000 years of church history. Simple question. We're you there? Just another opinion in a long line of apostasy.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • William Demuth

      Its not possible to be there when the whole thing is fabricated.

      Where you there when Peter Parker became Spiderman?

      April 2, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Bob

      Perhaps you could actually try to rebut her specific points. I doubt that you can. And your same 'argument' can be applied to yourself as well as to every modern 'scholar'. The argument fails.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      April 2, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • AGuest9

      Suddenly? Do you know anything about the author's background? Princeton doesn't hire indiscriminately, last I checked. Nor does Harvard award PhDs willy-nilly.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • momoya

      I don't think that an agnostic can also be a "divine sage.". The author of the article has a right to publish his findings without checking to see if it meets your approval..

      April 2, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  14. Ernest

    This is nothing new that is not taught in basic Catholic Theology classes. The fact that people still think this book is a prophesy or something of the sort is ridiculous. It seems like both sides, Christians and non-Christians should a have better education on the matter.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  15. rusty

    LOL....Pagels' claim makes no sense

    April 2, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  16. Faith4All

    A lot of hate and vitriol in these replies... I thought Christianity was about peace, loving thy neighbor, and turning the other cheek. Some of you may want to find a different church if this is the way you're being taught to conduct yourself when someone questions your beliefs. Convince them with your actions, not name-calling and spewing poison from the mouth.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Bob

      Faith4All, you thought wrongly. The Christian bible contains explicit guidance to do some pretty awful things.One example of many is Numbers 31:17-18:

      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes the sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Please, stop referencing that Christian book of nasty, AKA the bible, as a guide to, well, anything.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      April 2, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • AGuest9

      Not at all, Faith4All. Look at the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the now decades-long pattern of abuse against boys.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  17. Voice of Reason

    HEY YOU RELIGIOUS PEOPLE!

    Why is it none of you will accept my challenge? The challenge to provide proof of your god. One rule though, your answer has to be logical, reasonable and non-delusional. Simple enough, right? Remember it is your claim there is a god so you have the burden of proof. Now bring it on holy ones!

    Here is the standard definition:
    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 10:31 am |
    • Henry

      The bible is the word of god and that is proof.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Whine of Treason

      Yeah..spouting a challenge while dictating their own rules, is what all atheists good at.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • cbinal

      Try Matthew 12:39 and 40. Your answer is there from Jesus himself.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Henry

      You just proved you are delusional.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Tony T

      Read my post above.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Whine of Treason

      See how you folks avoid the debate? You make yourself look really foolish when you open your mouths.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      Henry,

      The Bible is not any more proof that any other fictional book. Just because it is printed on paper doesn't mean it happened. Most of the stories have evolved from tribal religions much older than Christianity... back when people thought the world was a scary flat surface.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Tony T
      "Read my post above."

      That is not a rational argument because it claims there is a god, yet there is no proof of god. It's all about faith, right?

      April 2, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • AGuest9

      The bible is simply an old book with an elaborate, poorly-written plot, which proves nothing.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @cbinal
      "Try Matthew 12:39 and 40. Your answer is there from Jesus himself."

      Yet another really stupid answer. Come on, think for yourself! Give it a shot.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Tony T

      If there is no god, then what do you think healed me? Read my post above again and please explain it to me? And please dont say something stupid like "I must be a mutant with healing abilities".

      April 2, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • John Herf

      Easy to prove there is God. All creations are too complex and designed. Humans are not evolved from single cells under the pretense that "millions of years" going by produces magic and humans, animals etc. That is like saying over a million years random metal turned itself into a automobile. Also in all of history no new birth defect resulted in a positive outcome. You have to have way more faith to believe in Darwin theory than believing in Creation. A car cannot create itself or morph over millions of years by itself, neither can a biological machine (humans or animals). But it is your free will to think how you prefer to think and believe what you think is right. If you are wrong eternal damnation is what you will get and if you are right when you die your are just dead. If I am right I get eternal life and if I am wrong I get a dirt nap and that it all. So you are risking everything by not believing and I am risking NOTHING by believing.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • gtalum06

      Can you provide proof that He doesn't exist?

      And I don't wanna hear "science" as proof... the laws of physics, etc had to begin somewhere... for everything in existence, there had to be a beginning. For there to be a beginning, something had to be created. How do you think that happened? Big bang or not... it all had to start somehow.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • bmkinz1510

      The design of the vast universe, the sun, the planets, the complex ecosystem of Earth, the complex multisystem organisms that inhabit the Earth, and human intelligence would be proof of God. But to some that would too obvious. Blind men would says that these came from nothing.

      But the proof you are looking for is the Jews. Take a history lesson. No matter what happened to the Apple of God's Eye, they have always prospered. Remember the Six Day War??

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

      @Voice – you are wasting your time with this approach. I don't know if you are the same person that does this on every article or if you guys think you are being intelligent and you think "you've got us" on this one. Let me show you how stupid this approach is – Prove to me that Donald Trump exists. You' show me articles, pictures, videos, books, etc. but, all I have to do is say "that's not proof I don't believe it." And I'm sure there is no way you will be able to bring Donald down to meet me. There has probably been more books written on Jesus than any other person in History and all you have to do is say I don't believe it. Great approach!

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

      @John Herf

      You don't understand cosmology nor evolution.. That much is clear from your description.. A car is not a good analogy for a living organism..

      Your ending argument is called "Pascal's Wager," and there are lots of refutations on line if you care to research it.. Just imagine how Pascal's wager would work for another country in the middle east or a different era such as 4,000 years ago.. Also, the god of the bible doesn't seem like he's the type to go along with a bet just because it happened to be correct.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @John Herf

      "Easy to prove there is God. All creations are too complex and designed. Humans are not evolved from single cells under the pretense that "millions of years" going by produces magic and humans, animals etc. That is like saying over a million years random metal turned itself into a automobile. Also in all of history no new birth defect resulted in a positive outcome. You have to have way more faith to believe in Darwin theory than believing in Creation. A car cannot create itself or morph over millions of years by itself, neither can a biological machine (humans or animals). But it is your free will to think how you prefer to think and believe what you think is right. If you are wrong eternal damnation is what you will get and if you are right when you die your are just dead. If I am right I get eternal life and if I am wrong I get a dirt nap and that it all. So you are risking everything by not believing and I am risking NOTHING by believing."

      John,
      I guess you didn't read the standard definition of delusional. Your rant is senseless but I will address one thing, when I die I will be just dead, just like you.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @gtalum06
      "Can you provide proof that He doesn't exist?
      And I don't wanna hear "science" as proof... the laws of physics, etc had to begin somewhere... for everything in existence, there had to be a beginning. For there to be a beginning, something had to be created. How do you think that happened? Big bang or not... it all had to start somehow."

      gatlum06,
      Your answer started off really bad and ended even worse. First off, it is your burden of proof (read the question), secondly you don't want science as proof, really? Okay then, I'll make-up a bunch of nonsensical stuff that makes absolutely no point. Will that work for you? Look it dummy! We have to use science to explain this physical existence. Science was created out of the need to understand our existence and we are still learning. Being delusional doesn't help the process as it shuts down all critical thinking.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @cbinal
      "@Voice – you are wasting your time with this approach. I don't know if you are the same person that does this on every article or if you guys think you are being intelligent and you think "you've got us" on this one. Let me show you how stupid this approach is – Prove to me that Donald Trump exists. You' show me articles, pictures, videos, books, etc. but, all I have to do is say "that's not proof I don't believe it." And I'm sure there is no way you will be able to bring Donald down to meet me. There has probably been more books written on Jesus than any other person in History and all you have to do is say I don't believe it. Great approach!"

      That's your proof? Pretty lame wouldn't you say?

      April 2, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • gtalum06

      Hey, Troll of Reason...

      Fine, give us the burden of proof... The only "proof" any of us can provide is the mere existence of everything. I am all for the argument that it happened as process, but for every process in existence, there has to be a beginning. A fire doesn't ignite itself. A world cannot create itself without some igniting force behind it. That force has to come from somewhere, it's simple logic. So, call it a magical force, call it a scientific anomaly, or call it God. I choose to give credit to God as a higher power. That's it, a choice I have made.

      You don't have to agree, and you can maturely call me a "dummy" all you want. I'll hold my tongue on a name-calling rebuttal.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • bmkinz1510

      @momoya. Yes, it is a good analogy. Science hypothosizes that at the beginning, inorganic molecules turned into organic molecules with the unexplainable outside catalyst of a little or big bang.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • bmkinz1510

      @Voice of Reason stated, "When I die I will be just dead, just like you." Prove it!!!

      April 2, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • cbinal

      @Voice

      "That's your proof? Pretty lame wouldn't you say?"

      No – your "challenge" is lame – that was the point. I don't need to prove anything to you. My belief is based on faith in what I know to be true. If you don't know it to be true, then that is your problem. The burden is really on you. You said in a post earlier that if we die we are just dead nothing more. I would still have rather lived as a Christian and just be dead than to live without any hope as you are.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • bmkinz1510

      @Voice of Reason @gtalum06, That was satire! It must be a little over your head.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • gtalum06

      @bmkinz1510 Sorry, not sure what you're referring to... I didn't read your previous post until just now. I am kind of entertained by our "Reason"able friend though.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @gtalum06
      "Hey, Troll of Reason...
      Fine, give us the burden of proof... The only "proof" any of us can provide is the mere existence of everything. I am all for the argument that it happened as process, but for every process in existence, there has to be a beginning. A fire doesn't ignite itself. A world cannot create itself without some igniting force behind it. That force has to come from somewhere, it's simple logic. So, call it a magical force, call it a scientific anomaly, or call it God. I choose to give credit to God as a higher power. That's it, a choice I have made.
      You don't have to agree, and you can maturely call me a "dummy" all you want. I'll hold my tongue on a name-calling rebuttal."

      If your so called logic is true then what created your god? And by the way, dead is dead, the lack of physical life, its proven.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • gtalum06

      @Voice
      I guess you don't have to agree with my logic if you don't want to. I can't logically explain the existence of God anymore than I could logically explain creation without the existence of a higher power. You aren't going to give a crap about the arguments below, but I'm a glutton for punishment so I'll post the "In the beginning" biblical mentions anyway.

      1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

      1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. (John 1:1-4)

      Dead may be dead, but I choose to have hope for more because it makes life feel much more alive.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  18. John Herf

    I have heard the debate before that it was about present time of John and the Roman oppression of John's time. I believe it is Revelation that in its meaning shows the end times or end Government New World Order is the last reincarnation of the Roman empire. In a sense John was talking about his present time and at the same time was depicting the final Roman Empire and it was prophecy. In otherwords the book was referring to Johns current Roman empire and the final Roman empire that will be controlled by the Anti Christ. That is why you can find in Revelations the term "revived Roman empire" The fourth beast is the revived Roman Empire, and the 10 horns represent the Kings of its member nations. The little horn, speaking great words, rises up and conquers three of those nations and their Kings. The little horn is Antichrist, who will rise to power through the revived Roman Empire.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  19. paul321

    Lets face it – the books included in the New Testament were chosen by a group of men at the council of nicaea. These men, will have had their own prejudices and agendas which will have impacted the works chosen to make up what is known as the New Testament today.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • jeff george

      If people truly understood the history of the Bible, ALL the many books that were originally circulating, and the reasons behind WHY the books that ended up in the Bible were chosen (via Nicea), they wouldn't keep referring to it as the word of God. LOTS and lots of politics were involved.

      April 4, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  20. AB

    Nicely stated. Thanks for the thoughtful response. It's too bad that more people will read the article than your excellent, pithy rebuttal. This was truly unbelievable, and CNN, in the interest of journalistic integrity, owes its readers an article that clearly describes an interpretation of Revelation from conservative scholarship. Oh...that's right, CNN might not be very interested in journalistic integrity. Never mind.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Henry

      Brilliant! You have just proven you are delusional.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Joris

      I think the point of the CNN article is a synthesis of Pagels' book, which is one of many, many interpretations. That is the point within the point–that this interpretation is only one of many, some more "conservative," and others more "liberal." Even conservative scholars, however, admit that this book of ours is one of many "apocalyptic" books contemporary to this one. And the author's knowledge of Gnostic material provides a unique platform to launch a study of our book of "revelations."

      April 2, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • CrapSpotter

      Voice of Treason..

      Oh man! Your mouth foams with that one-lined babble.

      I have a news for you, you're spotted by the Crap Spotter. You are now officially a PIECE OF CRAP! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

      April 2, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @CrapSpotter
      "Voice of Treason..
      Oh man! Your mouth foams with that one-lined babble.
      I have a news for you, you're spotted by the Crap Spotter. You are now officially a PIECE OF CRAP! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!"

      Yet another moron surfaces and adds nothing. Please tell me how would I not be piece of crap in your eyes?

      April 2, 2012 at 10:50 am |
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About this blog

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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.