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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. Tonia

    The island of Patmos is in present-day Greece.

    April 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • bobcat

      Asia Minor, control has shifted many times it was under Ottoman control longer than any other.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Cq

      Why is this important?

      April 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  2. Reality

    “I believe the Bible is inspired.” “Why?” “Because it says so.” Would your
    anyone let that logic pass if it came from the followers of any other book
    or person? “I believe x is inspired because x says so.” Fill in the blanks:

    x=Pat Robertson
    x=the ayatolloah Sistani (sp?)
    x=David Koresh
    x=the Koran”

    more “logic”?

    “I believe there is One God Jehovah because He is revealed in the infallible
    Bible. I believe the Bible is infallible because it is the Word of the One God Jehovah.”

    April 2, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Reality

      Make that "would anyone let that logic pass".

      April 2, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • closet atheist

      And therein lies the flawed, circular logic FAIL of most religions....

      April 2, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • JM

      How about: I believe that there is no God because I just do.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • bff

      JM,
      That's incorrect. It's:
      I don't believe in god because there is no evidence of one.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • JM

      There is no evidence of evolution either. I have yet to see a half man/half chimp creature wandering around.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • bff

      JM,
      That's also incorrect. We have a common ancestor. We branched from there. And all the evidence massively supports a theory of evolution that knits together everything we know about biology!

      April 2, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • JM

      When, then, did evolution end...and why are there still chimps?

      April 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • bff

      JM,
      Let me try again.
      Chimps and man evolved from a different, COMMON ancestor. That's why there are chimps and man at the same time.
      Whales and man also evolved from a common ancestor, only much earlier in time. Every living thing shares a common ancestor if you go back far enough.
      Evolution NEVER stops. It is working now.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • No need to believe

      Evolution is a change over a mass period of time, do you drive a car? Do you know how to program your phone? Our brains evolve all the time to its new environments. We did evolve from Neanderthals just as we are evolving today. They stood up right to adapt, they used tools to adapt, and they tought each other to for survival. This is evident in todays world. Just look around you and asked the thirteen year old where they learned to text. The point is we do not believe because there really is no relevant reason to believe anymore. We have adapted to the fact that there are no facts on gods existence.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • William Demuth

      JM

      Ride a subway in NYC. We got plenty of missing links

      April 2, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • bff

      JM,
      This really is basic high school stuff. Did you not learn this in school?

      April 2, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • dennis

      There is evidence for evolution everywhere you look, you have to be TRYING REALLY HARD TO PRETEND OTHERWISE.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Brad

      JM – I'm a believer, but based on my training and experience with molecular biology I believe that the modern theory of evolution is substantially correct.

      1) Evolution did not end. It operates in obvious ways in some systems – e.g. viruses and bacteria, less obvious when selection pressures are not so strong or information does not turn over rapidly -e.g. humans.

      2) Why are there still chimps? Chimps are as modern in their way as we are. We did not evolve from them. We evolved from a common ancestor. Here it is worth noting that it could quite possibly have worked out that the common ancestor might have had a sub-population that was not under much selection pressure. Then they might well be "still around".

      April 2, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • dennis

      Let me rephrase that: You have to be LYING TO YOURSELF to pretend evolution doesn't have evidence, or isn't logical. Really, if you can't think for yourself, atheists don't need to explain it to you anymore than they need to prove the Earth isn't round, which is no more easily proven. We just need to label you an idiot and be sure to vote people like you out of the country.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @JM

      Evolution never "ends". Even now humans are still evolving, getting rid of some of the things we no longer need. About 35% of children being born right now have no wisdom teeth. Why do you think that is? Evolution has mountains of evidence, but if you choose to ignore it because it is difficult to understand, then theat's your choice.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • dennis

      @ JM – Really, if you can't think for yourself or read a book or look outside your door or stop devouring propaganda from churches and Fox news, or even pay attention to the world, people, animals and laws of nature all around you, then atheists don't need to explain the basics of nature to you anymore than they need to explain the birds and the bees. You might as well be saying that babies come from Storks, you don't deserve a response other than what we give to a child that refuses to believe that the sky is blue and the grass is green. But you're an adult, so we just need to label you an idiot and be sure to vote people like you out of the country.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • JM

      All just supposition. Your own belief system.

      “To sustain the belief that there is no God, atheism has to demonstrate infinite knowledge, which is tantamount to saying, “I have infinite knowledge that there is no being in existence with infinite knowledge”
      ― Ravi Zacharias

      April 2, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • bff

      JM,
      Are you simply ignoring all of the points people have laid out for you in response to your posts?

      April 2, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Brad

      I guess I need an argument to go along with the Zacharias quote. Do you have one?

      April 2, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • bff

      JM,
      I could write it this way:
      “To sustain the belief that there is no Tooth Fairy, atheism has to demonstrate infinite knowledge, which is tantamount to saying, “I have infinite knowledge that there is no being in existence with infinite knowledge”

      April 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Brad

      bff and JM-

      If the Tooth Fairy were attributed with infinite knowledge (and several other important attributes) then the argument, if JM could produce one, might hold water still. I don't mind calling God the Tooth Fairy if he doesn't.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • bff

      The tooth fairy doesn't have to be attributed with infinit knowledge. That's a red herring in my opinion. You can use this argument to say anything you want.
      The rule still must be: the burdon of proof is on the one making the claim.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • momoya

      No JM, it is not just "supposition;" evolution is proven fact, and there's no good reason to believe in any of the gods suggested by various god believers..

      When there is a gap in our knowledge, saying "Goddidit" is stupid when you can simply reply, "I don't know."

      April 2, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • WASP

      @jm: one athiests don't claim to have "infinite knowledge" unlike christian extremists, such as yourself we say "yes we don't know something, now let's find the answer." christian mentality is "the bible tells me all i need to know" now which sounds both ignorant and counter productive to human survival?

      April 2, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Brad

      JM has left the building.

      What JM may be alluding to is the positive assertion that there are no gods. I don't think very many atheists go along with that. Zacharias may have an argument against it similar to some arguments that have been advanced against existential proofs of God's existence.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • sam stone

      "I have yet to see a half man/half chimp creature wandering around"

      So, you weren't around for the previous administration?

      April 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • mandarax

      Boy, JM, you really don't get it, huh? If your questions about evolution are sincere, google any legitimate evoluation website. I suggest talkorigins.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      JM – you know very little about atheism.Just as all believers should not be lumped in together, neither should all atheists. There are atheists who absolutely believe that there is no God. That position is as unreasonable as that of those who absolutely believe in his existence.

      And then there are those who seriously doubt the existence of God but are willing to be shown evidence of his existence (such evidence as would be convincing to them, not to the one presenting it).

      And I don't think anyone has mentioned agnostics, who are not wishy-washy people who can't make up their minds, as some believe, but instead believe that there is no way we can truly know of God's existence, least of all through reason. Some doubt God, some choose to believe in him.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Ravi Z's argument is just another way of saying "you can't prove a negative." It does not absolve those making the extraordiary claim that there are (1 or more) gods from the burden of proof. In other words, it is just a deflection, and until believers prove there are (1 or more) gods, and given that they've trying to prove this for 2,000+ years with zero success, non-believers are safe in saying "there are no gods" as shorthand for "the probability of there being any gods is so small (virtually zero) it is highly unlikely that there are no gods." If only believers would be honest and say something like "there is a high probability that there are no gods but I choose to believe in the supernatural anyway" – but to move away from 100% certainty that there are (1 or more) gods would shatter their entire belief system. They are dishonest or delusional!

      April 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • sam stone

      To sustain the belief that there is a God, theists have to believe that they have infinite knowledge

      April 2, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Reality

      As per National Geographic's Genographic project:

      https://www3.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/

      " DNA studies suggest that all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who about 60,000 years ago began a remarkable journey. Follow the journey from them to you as written in your genes”.

      "Adam" is the common male ancestor of every living man. He lived in Africa some 60,000 years ago, which means that all humans lived in Africa at least at that time.

      Unlike his Biblical namesake, this Adam was not the only man alive in his era. Rather, he is unique because his descendents are the only ones to survive.

      It is important to note that Adam does not literally represent the first human. He is the coalescence point of all the genetic diversity."

      April 2, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • No need to believe

      I believe the key of this discussion is that God is all knowing. Religious people are the kids nobody wants to play games with because they change the rules based on how they want the outcome to be..... "Oh that's a really deep river? .... Well I have the power of flight!"...... Tommy we are playing cops and robbers, there is no flight in cops in robbers.......

      April 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  3. Sam

    So many responded by saying, "Elaine Pagels is an unbiased scholar." Wow, so may personal friends of Pangls. They know her inside and out and they know without a doubt that there is no agenda. That brings great comfort to me.

    April 2, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Sam

      EVERYONE has an agenda.

      You do , she does, I do, even Jeebus did.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Sam

      Absolutely William, That was my "tongue in cheek" way of saying the same thing. As long we can admit we have an agenda, at least we can have an honest conversation about most any subject.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • William Demuth

      My agenda is a higher one, blessed in it importance.

      Yours is a lesser one.

      Agreed?

      April 2, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  4. A Believer

    The devil's greatest lie is to have you believe there is no hell. I see he's doing a good job. My brothers and sisters in the faith,
    "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." One day ALL knees will bow down to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen!

    April 2, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Really?

      "One day ALL knees will bow down to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen!"

      Wow are you brainwashed by your cult. Your god does not exist and Jesus was never a son of a god. The bible has even been proven not to be an historical book!

      April 2, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • William Demuth

      If I bow to him, I will be to upper cut him in the nads.

      Nothing more pathetic than an incompetent savior.

      If he is responsible for this fiasco planet, I will spring for a pair of 2×4's and nail his Palestinian butt up again PERSONALLY.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • closet atheist

      @ A Believer ~~ You are dangerously close to this –> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4q6eaLn2mY

      April 2, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • A Believer

      @ Really? – Yes, even you will bow down! It doesn't matter whether you believe or not friend ...unfortunately that is irrelevant .... i hope that one day your heart is changed because you are walking down the broken road. I can pray for you if you wish .

      April 2, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Lamparo

      Psalms
      14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works; There is none that doeth good.
      14:2 Jehovah looked down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there were any that did understand, That did seek after God.
      14:3 They are all gone aside; they are together become filthy; There is none that doeth good, no, not one.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Lamparo

      Psalms
      53:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity; There is none that doeth good.
      53:2 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there were any that did understand, That did seek after God.
      53:3 Every one of them is gone back; they are together become filthy; There is none that doeth good, no, not one.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • sam stone

      spend a lot of time on your knees, do you?

      April 2, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • sam stone

      Wow, lamparo, you can quote a book. Congrats

      April 2, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @A Believer

      So then, it doesn't matter if we believed or not, we will still be forced to bow. So then your god is going to take away our free will in the "end days"? I thought that free will was something that would never be touched?

      April 2, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • A Believer

      Jude 1:18-19 ESV

      They said to you, "In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions." It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. This is what we see today...

      April 2, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • A Believer

      @ Hawai – God showed his light upon all men but men rejected the light and chose the darkness. Yes, when the time for judgment comes (and it will come), he will pay according to the path that one chose.... and Lets be clear about something, NO ONE will come to the Farther except through the Son, Jesus Christ.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • sam stone

      Wow, A Believer....a book said it so it must be right. Tell me, is this scoffing thing new?

      April 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Lets be clear about something, NO ONE will come to the Farther except through the Son, Jesus Christ."

      Let's be clear about something. You are stating an opinion, not a fact.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @A Believer

      That in no way addressed my post, but oh well, I didn't really have high hopes that you would.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • WASP

      @ a believer: i'm starting to understand how people like david koresh can be accepted by religious folks. one day all knees will bend to god? really you're only 33% of the whole worlds population and even then none of you can figure out who is "following the true path of god"........good luck with your end of the world.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Cq

      Can't be much of a great lie if all you crowd know about it, eh? Maybe the devil's actual greatest lie is that he impersonated Jesus on the Damascus road, and convinced Paul that God had an actual son who wanted gentiles to worship him?

      April 2, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • A Believer

      Hawaii, my aplogies....Yes, in the end of days everybody will bow. You're free will is now at this present moment. The choices and decisions you make today is your free will until the day of wrath.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Well so much for the assertion I always hear from believers that god will not force anything upon mankind.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Get Real

      A Believer: "In the last time there will be scoffers..."

      There have been scoffers since day one of your story's circulation.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Old Story

      Lamparo:
      "14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works; There is none that doeth good."

      **sigh** do I have to post this again (sorry, everyone else).

      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 and your cited quotations were quite adept at manipulative mind-games.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  5. Lamparo

    John, the apostle who walked with Jesus and take care of his mother from the day he dies on the cross, is the author of the Book of Revelation, and not a “devout Jew and mystic” as the CNN article say. The Patmos Island is not in Turkey as the CNN article say, it is in Greece, in the Aegean Sea, 160 miles to the East southeast of Athens. The CNN article say that prophesies of the Book of Revelation are limited to the time of John but those prophesies really cover a period of time that goes from the time of John to more than 1000 years ahead of the present time.
    If Elaine Pagels, from the beginning show that she is wrong about who is the author of the Book of Revelation ; is wrong about where John received the revelation, and is wrong about the time frame of the prophesies contained in the mentioned book, what else can I say?
    This CNN article is not credible and is very unfortunate that it was published in the Holy Week. It is unfortunate too that more than 6,700 persons wrote comments about an article that don’t deserve any attention, and is a disgrace that 5,000 persons recommended this article to the facebook social network and at least 161 tweet this article to others.
    But I want to call your attention to the message of the Book of Revelation for the present generation and you could read it by yourselves in Revelation Chapter 14.
    If you are really interested in having a better understanding of the Book of Revelation and knowing the present truth, please read the last chapters of the book “The Great Controversy”, you could find this book in digital format in the Internet; and as air, water and salvation you may get it free.

    April 2, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Sam

      Be careful Lamparo, You may people think.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • bobcat

      Control of patmos has shifted from Greece to Turkey many times, it is actually part of the area known as Asia Minor.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • William Demuth

      The Vatican and most churches would say you are a fool.

      I would agree.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Lamparo

      bobcat:
      The island of Patmos was, an is part of Greece.

      April 2, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Lamparo

      William Demuth:
      When I cited Psalms 14.1 and 53.1 I'm not making a judgment on any one. I am not a judge.
      Let the Catholic Church and other Churches talk for themselves through their members. Your comments in this forum suggest to me that you are not a member of none of them.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  6. William Demuth

    Somebody just shot up Oikos University, one of them Holy Roller joints that like to claim to be a college

    Jesus must have been off duty, cause four are down.

    April 2, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Authorities said two people had been shot in the head and at least six people were wounded. Several victims have been loaded into ambulances and a deceased victim was covered by a tarp on the sidewalk.

      Police said the gunman remained at large. He is described as male, Asian, heavy build and wearing khaki clothing. Anyone seeing someone fitting this description is asked to call 911 or 510-777-3321.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • JM

      Wickedness abounds.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  7. JM

    “I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Everyone there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world. No one's eyes can see very far beyond that: lots of people's eyes can see further than mine.”

    “God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

    April 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • momoya

      Those are just bald assertions.. There's not one bit of proof.. What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Bob

      Sure, Christian god "cannot give us a happiness and peace" because he keeps on giving us nasty, violent demands like this one:

      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.

      And then there are all those demands Christian god makes for you to sacrifice animals. Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes your 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.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      April 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • JM

      There was no evidence of DNA....until they found evidence. There are many undiscovered things in the universe; that doesn't mean that they don't exist...because we can't now see them.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • JM

      And your point is what? Ancient culture; ancient expectations. New Testament.

      We should throw away our justice system because it states that someone can be killed for murdering someone. How arbitrary.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • bff

      JM,
      Then you have to believe in everything. Santa Clause, the tooth fairy and every religion ever thought up and ones not even thought up yet.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • William Demuth

      JM

      You can get them to even agree on what the first commandment is.

      Your breed is a sorry lot, bound together by nothing more than a fear of your own death and a willingness to believe in ANY gibberish that alays that fear.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Bob

      Can we dismiss the idea that the universe would be significantly different if momoya, Bob the amputee guy, or anyone at all ceased to live?

      April 2, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • mandarax

      JM, I beg to differ. There was indeed evidence for DNA. Mendel was onto the fact that something controlled the regular patterns of inheritance, Darwin was clear that there was some process by which variation was produced and passed down. DNA was discovered within 50 years of those revelations, because of them.

      The concept of a creator god has been around for 1,000's of years if not 10,000's of years, and yet not one confirmatory discovery has been made. That's why rational people have moved on – it's not that the idea of God has never been considered, it's the fact that it has already been thoroughly considered and pretty thoroughly ruled out.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • momoya

      @JM

      Are you suggesting that people 400 year ago, with absolutely no knowledge or evidence of DNA would have been justified in believing in DNA?!?!? That would be stupid..

      It's cool to theorize about what we do not know; it's stupid to believe in something for which there is no evidence–regardless of whether that idea might be valid in some form or fashion.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • JM

      You seem to be under the illusion that only a few (foolish) people in this world have ever believed in God.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • momoya

      Yes, there have been lots of people who believed in some sort of god-like being or energy.. So what? At one time, almost everyone believed the earth was flat–and they were wrong.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • closet atheist

      @ JM.... good point. So by that rationale, we should believe in EVERYTHING that is unproven simply becuase it could some day be proven to be true? I'm uncomfortable with that leap in logic.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • JM

      There's no point arguing. We will know when we know.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • closet atheist

      @ JM ~~ Not to quibble, but if the non-believers are correct, then when you die it is simply over. You will not likely have a chance to actually realize that your belief was wrong. BUT... if that gives you comfort, so be it.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  8. NICK LAGOS

    The island of Patmos belongs to Greece. Thank you.

    April 2, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Bank of America

      All your islands are belong to me now.
      Thanks.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Cq

      So?

      April 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Nick

      I'll give you a buck and a half!

      April 2, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      It belongs to Greece. It lies off the coast of Turkey.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  9. tevii

    Im very interested in reading her book to see how she came to the conclusion that the writer of revelation is a different John. Her findings and evidence for that can make or break the entire argument.

    April 2, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  10. Twin 1

    Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it: for the time is near. NKJV

    April 2, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Python, Monty

      Spectator I: I think it was "Blessed are the cheesemakers".
      Mrs. Gregory: Aha, what's so special about the cheesemakers?
      Gregory: Well, obviously it's not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • mandarax

      GREGORY: What was that?

      MAN #1: I think it was 'Blessed are the cheesemakers.'

      MRS. GREGORY: Ahh, what's so special about the cheesemakers?

      GREGORY: Well, obviously, this is not meant to be taken literally. It refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • mandarax

      Oh, you beat me to it. Great minds...

      (my favorite: "He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy!)

      April 2, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Bank of America

      Lend some fine Python to my ears.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Python, Monty

      Pontius Pilate: Stwike him, Centuwion. Stwike him vewy wuffly!

      April 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • sam stone

      All hail Cheeses' Of Nazareth

      April 2, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Python, Monty

      Wise Man #1: Ahem!
      Brian?s mother: Oh!
      [falls over in chair]
      Brian?s mother: Who are you?
      Wise Man #2: We are three wise men.
      Brian?s mother: What?
      Wise Man #1: We are three wise men.
      Brian?s mother: Well, what are you doing creeping around a cow shed at two o'clock in the morning? That doesn't sound very wise to me.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  11. fred

    Really it is time to put the silly revelation stories away. Not even good science fiction, but fiction for sure. Awfully pathetic that millions of people in the US still go for that stuff. I was on a trip to Ireland recently, and even there where Catholicism had such a hold (or maybe because of that), people are leaving Christianity in droves. It was good to find out about that.

    April 2, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  12. Doc Vestibule

    Revelation is my favourite chapter, by far. It surpasses anything in Middle Earth for sheer fantasy entertainment value.
    Locusts wearing tiny crowns and armour, all with the face of a man, the hair of a woman, the mouth of a lion and the tail of a scorpion. Talk about an entomologists wet dream!
    Or perhaps 7 headed dragons who spew torrents of water and eat pregnant women, who also (for some reason) wears a crown on each head.

    April 2, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Read up on Manson while playing the White Album!

      The prefered book of lunatics.

      It's been used by countless madmen to rationalize mass murder!

      I remember a nut called Hal Lindsay. His books just OOZED mental illness back in the day, real "crazy as a loon, foaming at the mouth paraoid" nonesense.

      The rednecks ate it up!

      April 2, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Observer

      You don't have any RFID implants or anything do you, William? Hal may be raising some legitimate concerns.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Observer

      My dog does, but my wife and kids and girlfreinds all just have apps hidden in their cell phones only I know about.

      Me? No phone, no chip. I even flashed the BIOS on my printers.

      As for Hal, he belongs in a rubber room.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • sam stone

      I have had amusement listening to Helmet Head Van Impe and his apparently drugged up wifey, Rexella

      April 2, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  13. CNN-Thank you

    You come across as very credible now that you posted this article. ;)

    April 2, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  14. Jenn

    It's funny to read a lot of the comments. People don't want to believe their holy book is nothing but made up stories and stories written by crazy men.

    April 2, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • William Demuth

      But of course they think the OTHER holy books are worthless.

      Little do they know they are all about the same imaginary sky fairy!

      Hell, they even kill each other over it!

      April 2, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Cq

      They particularly don't want to hear that their favorite fantasy, that Christ will return to kill all THEIR enemies (i.e. anyone who disagrees with them), might be a misinterpretation. That's what's really upsetting most of the believers posting here, I think.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • JM

      “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”
      ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

      April 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • momoya

      JM

      That's a pretty good description of most christians

      April 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • JM

      Momoya: I agree. That's the good thing about the Bible. It exposes our hypocrisies. Jesus was most critical of the self-righteous religious hypocrites. He didn't act like that.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • momoya

      JM

      The bible indeed points out the biggest hypocrisy of all: God himself, who commands that we love our enemies while he tortures his enemies in a pit of fire; who commands "no murder" and goes on to slaughter thousands and thousands in extreme genocide–even unto the infants and livestock..

      Every argument FOR god's existence can be used to assert the existence of a god for that god.. And there's equal evidence for both–NONE.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • JM

      They choose that end for themselves. Free will. All of you are so busy "blaming God" for everything; you reject Him and heaven. It's your choice.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • bff

      JM,
      It's not really a choice to reject a god's existance. We reject it because there is no evidence. Otherwise we would be lying to ourselves. We have no choice here.

      But.. if evidence (real evidence worthy of proving a supernatural being) were to somehow show up, then we would helplessly believe.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Cq

      JM
      Can you "choose" to believe that elves, unicorns, and the Easter Bunny are real when you know they aren't? Well, I guess we don't "know" for absolute sure, not 100%, but you know for sure as we know God isn't actually real. Get it?

      April 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      "JM: They choose that end for themselves. "

      So you're saying the people of Canaan who just happened to be in the way of the Hebrew conquerors CHOSE to be slaughtered? Where in your Bible does it say that? By my reading of it, the God who not that long ago had said "Thou shalt not kill" orders the wholesale massacre of the inhabitants of Canaan. This is a god of justice and love?

      April 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  15. prophet

    what a deluded misinformed women

    April 2, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Cq

      Why, because her finding are different than what you were TOLD Revelation means?

      April 2, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • sam

      I agree

      April 2, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  16. Letterman

    Works of fiction are the hallmark of a news network like CNN

    April 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • William Demuth

      CNN? Let me guess your a Fox fan?

      Redneck Christian? High School big man failing in life?

      Divorced, behing in child support, hates minorities but loves Jeebus?

      April 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • 4 Big Myths for a believer

      This belief blog
      -carries credible articles on the Bible
      - does not have any hidden agenda
      -applies utmost Ethos and Logos
      - does not apply Pathos

      April 2, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Letterman

      William-I don't sow seeds at random ike you do.

      April 2, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • William Demuth

      I guess that means I nailed it!

      God Bless, burn a cross and listen to Hannity while the 21st century passes you bye!

      April 2, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  17. Jon from Atlanta

    Another myth: Elaine Pagels is a scholar without an agenda

    April 2, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Jon from Atlanta' is an instance of the ad hominem fallacy.

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

      April 2, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Bushit Spotter

      That's not the genuine Fallacy Spotter (who can actually recognize an argument). Accept no substitutes.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  18. Twin 1

    Revelations 22:18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book: (19) and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy. God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. NKJV

    April 2, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • bff

      So the guy who wrote this didn't want anyone to change it. How human of him.

      April 2, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Believe in Jeebus, or the Xtians will kill you.

      Great faith ya got there!

      April 2, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Anotherview

      "Twin 1

      Revelations 22:18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book: (19) and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy. God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. NKJV"

      So, Twin 1....How come you're trying so hard to change the scriptures to make them say what you want them to say, instead of what they *actually* say?

      Would you like to choose which of the ten plagues you will have heaped upon you now? How about ten different ways for you to die – according to this book of fables?

      April 2, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Cq

      Nobody is adding or taking away from this book. All the author is suggesting is that people have taken Revelation out of context, and read thing into it that were never intended.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  19. Jon from Atlanta

    Another myth debunked: Elaine Pagels is an unbiased scholar.

    April 2, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root post by 'Jon from Atlanta' is an instance of the ad hominem fallacy.

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

      April 2, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • PsiCop

      Myth: "Bias" equals "disagreement." Sorry but that Pagels reaches different conclusions than you do, does not make her "biased." On the other hand, your reflexive assumption that she must be "biased" IS proof of a "bias" on YOUR part ... i.e. you refuse to listen to anyone who says anything that contradicts your own opinions.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  20. poisonousroot

    the more I observe Jesus the more I see how myth reveals human looney-bin schizophrenia. You[ll never get a evangelical cloud biscuit to think he or she's nuts, not as long as they can throw out Bible verses written two to three hundred years after the life span of the myth man. Get this amigo, Philo of Alexandria, the great philosopher and historian of Judea, was right in the middle of all the Jesus Apostle thing; Philo recorded a lot of everyday nuances and happenings in Jerusalem and knew Herod personally. Not one single word did he leave this world that Jesus was real, spoken of, or seen. There are not any references of the disciples either. This would be like Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address and we missed it and the Civil War.

    April 2, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Jimmy thecee

      Maybe Philo worked for his ages version of CNN. You know write about only those things that support your cause. No wait journalist and historians only write facts . ha, ha, get a lefe.

      April 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Jon from Atlanta

      Wrong junior. Philo wrote about the early Church in Alexandria.

      April 2, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Cq

      He's called "Philo of Alexandria" because he was born in Alexandria, like Jesus was born in Nazareth. There is some debate as to whether the early Christians actually borrowed the idea of Logos from Philo.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
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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.