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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. Mike

    Elain Pagels is obviously a crackpot without any knowledge of the Bible.

    April 2, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Cq

      Why obvious? Just because her findings differ from what you've been told Revelation means?

      April 2, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • William Demuth

      Using the Bible to learn about the Bible is like using black magic to learn about science.

      Self Fullfilling Lunacy.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  2. Nickolas DiDonato

    John Blake, Sir you are way out in left field on this article...

    April 2, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  3. Keith

    We often forget that the bible was written to a group of PEOPLE IN THAT TIME that needed to hear a message. The author is totally right, it is NOT about the end of the world. Revelation was written to warn people of Rome's impending take over. Why do I know this?

    Revelation 1:3 says: Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, BECAUSE THE TIME IS NEAR.

    That was written over 1800 years ago... not exactly "near" if it was ment for today.

    April 2, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Cq

      It was meant for Christians living billions of years from now, when the sun dies, obviously. When it happens they'll say "See, we told you it'd be soon." :-)

      April 2, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • magdaleine

      I agree, and actually so does the entire Roman Catholic church! The Bible is a) not a historical chronological accord of all literal and true events; despite what a fundamental minister might blindly tell someone b) was written by several different people with different writing styles, time periods, metaphors, myths, allegories, and the list goes on!!! c) We as humans are hard wired for stories to understand deeper meanings; its in our psyche. d) anyone who blindly believes Revelation as fact without taking into context its origin, who was writing it, what the political, social, and religious events during the time were, is completely oblivious and ignorant to gaining a deeper understanding of how to interpret the Bible.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  4. JM

    It's extraordinarily easy to say something isn't true. However, what if it is true? Then what?

    April 2, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • D

      "what if" is a pretty shaky basis for a foundation for something. "what if" you won the lotto last weekend?

      April 2, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • JM

      Not if "what if" leads one to the truth.

      People used to believe that the earth was flat. They discovered the truth.

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

      My point is: What if you die and find out that there is a God?

      I don't think "my bad" is going to cut it since He gave us plenty of opportunity to seek Him (spiritually).

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

      JM people also use to think that the earth was the center of the universe and the sun revolved around it and actually killed others who said differently. That was religion.. They got it wrong AS USUAL.

      I'm not saying you are wrong but if you are asking us to question our beliefs maybe you can do the same?

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

      LOL, they discovered the truth about the shape of the earth through science and experimentation!

      And any deity who is so bitter that you didn't search it out in life and thus punishes you for eternity?
      That's a deity who isn't worthy of worship, in my book!

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

      And, if there is a literal hell (not the fun cartoon version), who would "choose" that? Free will = you choose God or you choose the opposite of God.

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

      Your definition of "free will" is tantamount to extortion, ya know.
      "Believe it OR ELSE!"

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

      I do question my beliefs. I have doubts at times; however, I have also had experiences which led me to believe that God is very real. I am working my faith out. I have definitely seen evidence of God's existence in people who are far more 'faithful' than I am.

      Yeah, they were wrong because they had not yet learned what they had not yet learned/understood.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • JM

      Why would a deity have to be bitter to want the people He created to pay attention to Him? We worship tv, football, cars, phones, money, homes, clothes, shoes. Doesn't it make sense that if there is an almighty creator He might like us to thank Him for creating us, blessing us with all this stuff (family, friends, work, life, health, nature)? No?

      Seriously, read the Bible sometime. Not because it's going to convert you but to see that the whole thing is about Him creating stuff for us and then growin frustrated because we are so focused on ourselves/stuff that we ignore Him but then He has mercy because he loves us.

      NO ONE I know is that long suffering. Most people drop people quickly if they treat them that way.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • kenny

      if i had to spend eternity with the likes of you and other nutjobs that believe in fairy tales i would gladly serve the dark lord for alll eternity and dedicate my damnation to the doooom of xtianity and all those who follow it... "manical laugh" .... sadly when u die that's it, no afterlife, no nothing... just like before you were born, you won't even know it..... "sad frown" unlike what people are taught since childhood, reality doesn't have happy endings because we WANT it to... religion is pretty childish when you think about it...

      April 2, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • JM

      "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." -1 Corinthians 1:18

      April 2, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Keith

      I can totally understand a creator being frustrated that his creation isn't paying attention to him. (Even though frustration and lack of attention is typically rooted in selfishness).

      Not sure if you have children but when you children continue to do wrong there is a point where you can do no more as they age. You have to let them make their own decisions. What you DON'T do is torture them with pain for eternity. That is not moral at all.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • D

      "wanting people to pay attention to him" is entirely the other side of my point. I said he's bitter because he punishes you for eternity if you DON'T pay attention to him. He can "want" the attention all he likes, but when he punishes people just because they don't comply with his "want", then it becomes bitterness (and a very immature bitterness, at that). And "frustration" too? Wow, sounds like an entirely unbalanced psyche on that dude. Definitely not something/someone worthy of worship. Of course, nothing (cars, money, people, etc) should be held is such regard as to call it "worshiped"; that's just unhealthy.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • JM

      That's the point of free will. When someone breaks a law, they have to pay the penalty. The judge isn't just going to say "do better next time". There are consequences. In this case, God's perfect; we're not. A perfect God can't tolerate sin; so, our punishment should be hell. However, he sacrificed His son to take our place so that all of our sins would be covered by that one act of selflessness. Free will, however, means that we have to accept that gift. The ball's in our court. Gee, free gift of everlasting life/joy or "I'm not going to accept that free gift."

      April 2, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • JM

      You must have a very interesting household if you let your kids ignore you and your instructions. My dad would have killed me if I had told him he had an unbalanced psyche for expecting me to pay attention to and listen to him.

      April 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • LinCA

      @JM

      You said, "That's the point of free will."
      You just don't get it do you? It isn't free will if the choice is forced with a gun to your head (or worse). Your god created this eternal punishment. And he is willing to inflict eternal suffering on people who use a healthy dose of skepticism.

      Your god demands that people believe in him, yet his story is so ridiculous, and void of any supporting evidence, that anyone with half a brain can come to no other conclusion that it is complete and utter bullshit.

      You said, "When someone breaks a law, they have to pay the penalty."
      The problem is that there is no law to break. Your imaginary friend has no jurisdiction over anyone who doesn't share your delusion.

      You said, "In this case, God's perfect"
      Your god is a monster. There are no two ways about it. Anybody who worships this tyrant should get help.

      You said, "Free will, however, means that we have to accept that gift."
      How can free will mean that you have to do anything?

      You said, "The ball's in our court. Gee, free gift of everlasting life/joy or "I'm not going to accept that free gift.""
      Thanks, but no thanks. I'll keep my sanity, you can have your delusion. If that means that I'll spend eternity in hell, so be it. If given the choice between hell for eternity and a day with that monster that you call your god, that choice is easy.

      April 2, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • JM

      I am so confused.

      How can a being that creates life, gives us life, blesses us with everything we need to live on this planet, blesses us with families...and then creates a world post-death for us that will be pain/sorrow/death free be considered evil?

      Okay, if I'm wrong about God, I'm wrong.

      But, if He exists and my description of Him is accurate, I'm not the one who is delusional.

      April 2, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • D

      lol, it's sad that you don't consider ETERNAL punishment for a minor slight to be evil/wrong.
      "accept it or be punished" is NOT a choice. it's extortion.

      April 2, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • LinCA

      @JM

      You said, "I am so confused."
      I have no trouble believing that.

      You said, "How can a being that creates life, gives us life, blesses us with everything we need to live on this planet, blesses us with families...and then creates a world post-death for us that will be pain/sorrow/death free be considered evil?"
      This being also created a torture chamber in which he tortures for an eternity billions of his creations. He does that for the minutest of infractions.

      You can be a murderer and a rapist all your life, yet if you accept him before you die, you'll live in heaven. But if you are a good and caring person all your life, you will be tortured in hell, for eternity, for simply questioning his existence.

      Your god is not good by any stretch of the imagination. Calling him evil does a disservice to all the petty little evil dictators among humans. He puts the likes of Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and and all other mass murderers combined to shame. They can't hold a candle to the atrocities committed by your god.

      You said, "Okay, if I'm wrong about God, I'm wrong."
      Odds are, you are.

      You said, "But, if He exists and my description of Him is accurate, I'm not the one who is delusional."
      Only then.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  5. Para Dux

    "....God did it...". .. Is not a testable hypothesis...

    April 2, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  6. cooper

    so i guess when those nuts who say islam is evil and we should hate it failed to realize christanity is responsible for terror too....lets see slavery was done in the name of God a few great wars....lychings burnings you kow general hate!!!!....lol my parents are devout christians and the things i see and hear while around them amazes me the things i see and hear daily in the news from christians are well.. laughable!!!! for one if paul the one thet met jesus once maybe.........had adhered to the wishes of the apostles and not went to so called gentiles there would not be christianity as we belive actually we base our whole belife system off the words of paul so that woukd make a great majority of you paulist and not christians!!!!....know who created what you beLIEve in cause it damn sure wasnt jesus

    April 2, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • JM

      However do the things that these people say reflect what Jesus said and taught?

      love your neighbors
      love your enemies
      forgive 70×7 times
      do unto others as you would have them do unto you
      do not think of yourself too highly
      ...

      April 2, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  7. History Bear

    the great majoority of any religious text is drivel, used to tell a story or support a point of view. In this context Revelations is only slightly more confusing than most. You either believe in god or you don't. The earth and the universe will end when it ends and only the concerns of it's most destructive residents will be considered by those self same residents. god and the universe just doesn't care. We are truly chump change in the Cosmic scheme of things.

    April 2, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  8. D

    Shouldn't the number of myth in this book be a lot higher than 4??
    More like, 4-digits worth!

    April 2, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  9. jim71142

    The article is hilarious and arrogant as are many of these responses. Why? Because the writer (who professes to know these things ~ that's why she is writing this garbage) has never died, nor has anyone who made an idiotic comment on here. Here's a "revelation" for you (meaning to reveal or tell the truth) ......... nobody will know or gets to know until we die. So live your life, believe what it is that gets you through the day, get some sleep, get up and do it all over again. Die and either become some other life form, turn into dust, live forever in peace or in torment. But live first & stop telling people you "know" this or you know that for a fact. Its all faith ~ you either have faith in God or you have faith in yourself, either way ~ its all based on faith ~ because again, nobody knows.

    April 2, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • momoya

      Why do you claim to know that we will have certain answers after death?!?. Aren't you doing what you chide others for doing?. Yes, live your life as best you know how and deal with the reality that death might not bring any answers at all..

      April 2, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      I died. I found an old man playing chess with a computer. The pices were GOP candidates vs. Dems.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • momoya

      Also, how does a nonbeliever have "faith?" Believers often make these sorts of claims, and I refuse to acknowledge their twisted dynamic.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • jim71142

      Sorry Momoya, it looks like you read what I wrote but didn't actual listen. I said it is all based on faith. What I'm saying ('nobody gets to know until they die') is based on my faith in that ideal. Believe what you want or don't believe in anything. I didn't say what I believe in ~ I believe in Jesus ~ but that's what I believe in ~ because that's where MY faith is ~ but, because I haven't died yet, I can't tell anyone who doesn't believe as I do that they are wrong (that would be pretty arrogant, wouldn't it?) BUT, yes, when I die, I will get to know whether I was right or wrong ~ I have faith in that

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

      Okay, got it.. People should have faith in what they can't possibly know because certain events might take place which bring about a particular knowledge.. Sounds like a completely useless behavior, but ok.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Carrie

      Sorry, but I find your comment funny. You state that Pagels and others should not "tell others" what is true or not true because "we don't know"; yet that is exactly what Christianity has been doing for eons; telling everyone and their cousin how to live, what to wear, read and think. I'll state it again; Islam stole from Christianity; Christianity stole from Judism and Judism stole for Zorastianism. Nuf said.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • jim71142

      also, Momoya ........ you're refusing to believe in a "believers" twisted ideology is by definition you having faith that your position is correct (and that's OK) that's what you believe ~ again, that's OK ~ its what you have faith in. You have faith that you are living as you should and you have faith that if you continue to do what you do, you will live a fulfilling life as you wanted to ........ you don't believe in Christianity or in Jesus? That's OK, if I base my beliefs of Christianity on other "Christians", I wouldn't believe either (I don't blame you at all) ......... I base my belief's on what I believe Christ did, is and has done for me, not in how other people who call themselves Christians behave ~ that's MY faith ~ but I am only correct because that's what's inside of me. You? If I believe as I do (in Christ) than I have no other choice but to respect you and your beliefs. Christians are (supposed to) "love God and love your neighbor as you do yourself ~ not to bash people over the head with a bunch of religious gobble d' guke ......

      April 2, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Brett

      I don't think the author is claiming anything of her findings as fact or preacher her "gospel" to the readers. She is simply stating what she believes as an interpretation of the book of Revelation based on known historical data and events of the time period which could have affected the writing of this section of the bible.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  10. LouAZ

    Ah, yes, in the true biblical tradition . . . kill the messenger !
    Halle Julia !

    April 2, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  11. The Jackdaw

    But but but....the bible is literal! Jesus says so....in the bible! God himself has a golden printing press in Milwakee!

    April 2, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ..

    April 2, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • adamdocherty

      Yeah I was talking to a group of atheist snails about this today, but the heathens just plain ignored me :(

      April 2, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • kenny

      people and nature change things... people who pray are making wishes...

      April 2, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things. .

    April 2, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  14. yursister

    I can tell from this woman's thinking that she doesn't understand the bible, so why would someone with out knowledge answer anything about something she obviously does not understand, She totally missed the mark. Only if you are Holy surrender and understand the CROSS will you be able to understand the bible. She can write what she thinks but to understand fully even 666, its man's number, she should of got that man was created on the sixth day, the wealth of Solomon in one year all Gold was 666, so money wealth without God another part of the senario...come on can't she see from the beginning until the end, its always been about GOD and Man. Surrender to Christ then maybe you will understand the bible.

    April 2, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Amen.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • D

      And over there, we have someone selling another brand of snake-oil! :)

      April 2, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • skpfrmdc

      I'm so sorry u are not able to understand the article (if u can read) it's about REVELATION (the book) not the entire Bible. You appear to be too busy trying to be Christian and not enough time trying to be understanding of secular persons. Good luck trying to reconsile that.

      April 2, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  15. Greg s

    This opinion isn't a new revelation on the book of Revelation it is an old one that is just being rehashed by this author. It is an opinion that is being peddled as a truth. When studying Revelation one eventually has to come to ones own opinion of its meaning, After all its what you think that counts to you.

    April 2, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  16. Cq

    Over 6000 responses so far and no sign of it abating any time soon. My, my, the Christians sure have their backs up about this one. If there is one thing we can all take from this it's that the promise of Jesus returning to destroy all their enemies is one of their most cherished beliefs.

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

      He was tried and convicted.

      If he returns, he must be executed again.

      Justice calls for his accountability.

      If he is killed and rises again he must be killed again.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      Yeah, they all get wet when they think about their god of love and piece coming back to burn people alive.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Jackdaw, being burned alive is the non-believers lies about what Jesus does when He comes back.

      You have the right to remain ignorant to His truth written in the Bible. After all, it believing the lies of the other spiritually dead that got you where you are today.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      No no no, you are backwards. See, its NOT believing the lies that makes me a non-believer!

      April 2, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • HeavenSent

      William Demuth, its the unaccountability of thoughts, beliefs and actions such as your is why He is coming back.

      Amen.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      If he does come back and he wants to speak to me about my actions I have nothing to be ashamed of. He will tell me that I was a remarkable person who did many many good things and he will want to know how and why I did it without the ever present fear of his father smiting me. I'm sure we will have a fantastic discussion.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • D

      If there's one thing we've learned about zombies, you gotta kill em all!

      April 2, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  17. manix

    So I guess we are to take one rendition of the meaning of "Revelation" like Pagels and replace it with Missler's perpsective.... That will really clear things up. Very little of the Bible can be historically challenged, as many churches and religious leaders throughout history has made it virtually impossible to prove or disprove it's fallacies by altering written history to accommodate.

    April 2, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  18. RoyCatholic

    Bishop Athanasius, was actually one of the Pope's of Alexandria (Coptic Christians). I am surprised Pagel does not accurately define his position? The basic error makes it difficult to not think her writings are subjective.

    April 2, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  19. beno

    Regarding: Pagels statement: "He doesn’t even say Jesus died for your sins.”
    Very unfortunate that the Blake reporting on this just takes at face value what Pagels says instead of actually reading the Book of Revelation. But, then again, it is CNN.
    Revelation 1:5 "To the one who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood...to him be the glory and the power for ever and ever!"
    Hey Pagels/Blake: If that is not dying for our sins, what is?

    April 2, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  20. wally

    This is what you get when you buy into the Preterist interpretation of the Bible.

    April 2, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      Why do you think there is all that "kneeling"?

      April 2, 2012 at 11:21 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.