home
RSS
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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

“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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

“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. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Things

    April 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Jesus

      Yeah Christians are so full of greed they can't even follow the teachings of their god. LOL!

      April 3, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Warning:

      April 5, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Changes

    April 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer

    April 3, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer is a waste of time. 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.

      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 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  4. Guardian

    No one knows of absolute truth, we will all know everything when we die if anything.

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

      I tend to think We will know; just minutes before you die or get cast into hell for all eternity. Kinda of like Wiley Cyotee right before the bomb goes off and we see that Oh...Sh..look on his face will be on most because they Dont Believe whats wrote. Many think they understand the bible but don't becausae it was niever meant to be understood until the very End. Then when the scriptures were revealed; they were revealed to a black Christian woman of which it was prepared by GOD especially for her. So now; Satan comes forth claiming She is Risen, Reborn, In the Flesh and just a regular Christian like everybody else. However She was chose to teach all who want How to decipher the bible. Its very simple and involves Cardinal number 0-9 and the English Alpha Bet A-Z because that's exactly what it was. GOD made a Sure Bet Be Twain Jesus Christ aka the Alpha and Her Daughter Satan. I heard tell; that If a Lawyer is willing to represent Her, that Satan will put Her hand on the Bible; and promise to tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth So Help Her GOD; This Time. Besides that the Bible clearly tells US Satan know Time is Short and I think We will have a New Heaven and New Earth; intime for the 2012 prophesies.

      April 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • momoya

      Why assume that we get answers after death?. There's no reason to assume that..

      April 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • sam stone

      burnt: your empty proxy warnings are laughable.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  5. BurntOffering

    The problem is that men have been preaching and teaching the bible since the very beginning, but they are not the ones who will received the Hidden Manna, Bread of Life or Answer to the bible's mysteries because of the Gender. That's right; Rev. 5 clearly says; No Man in heaven, in earth or under the earth was able to unlock the 7 seals or even look upon the book. Besides that; last I check Jesus Christ is/was a real Man who called himself the son of Man; and sometimes the Son of God. The whole KJV Bible is written in Code. A Code that needs a Female set of eyes , viewpoint and way of thinking since the Bible aactually proves GOD is a Black FeMale Spirit, Goddess or Holy Hostess. The Bible says It will Come as a Snare upon the whole earth, when the real Satan shows up claiming; SHe is GOD's other kid and the Twin Sister of Jesus Christ which GOD intended from the Start to be His wife. Why you ask? because over and over again we are told "Male AND Female madee He them" However there is a big difference between a Father or Mother, but not between a God or Goddess, Holy Hostess, Prince or Princess, Fort or Fortress or a Lion vs a Lioness. This is why the bible clearly labled Judah as Isreal's treacherious backsliding Sister, and why she was given the role as the Harlot.....duh. So if you dont believe me; which most dont just take a look at Rev. 19:7-10, 21:9 and 22:16-17 to understand the reason Jesus said he made them the synogogoe of Satan's. Jesus and Satan have the same GOD Parent, but SHe gave them each different missions, and this is why Jesus aid As in heaven, so in earth because he know His Father in Heaven, is a FeMale Spirit Just like His human Mother in Earth.

    April 3, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  6. Leo

    The key to the Book of Revelation or Apocalypse is that when we see these things starting to occur we draw closer to the Almighty God.

    For the Believer as we see the final judgments unfold we know that the rewards are coming soon though we will have to pass through great tribulation and be refined, tested, and killed for our beliefs.

    For the Unbeliever hopefully as you see these events start to occur you will humble yourself and turn to God and ask for forgiveness and mercy.

    April 3, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • TimeTraveler

      What does the unbeliever have to ask forgiveness for?

      April 3, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • WASP

      @leo: glad to see just like most believers, you need a reward for living and doing good things. i'm one of those nonbelievers and i do things because they make me and the person i'm helping feel good.

      April 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Just becaue one does not acknowledge his/her need for God and His righteousness, thinking they're just fine the way they are, it doesn't mean they see reality. We have an enemy of our souls, that has been around long time, and he knows how to beguile those who will heed to his lies, being lead by their own sinful nature, and pride in their hearts which tell them they are good enough! But no man will have an excuse, because Go gave us the witness of Him selves in our consciences, and free will to take heed to it or ignore it. Many hav silenced their own consciences, because of pride and love of Self and sin that dwells in their hearts.

      April 3, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      @Leo
      "..though we will have to pass through great tribulation and be refined, tested, and killed for our beliefs."
      You've got that right, friend!
      Many today think they will have an early exit, but we do know that God doesn't go by our wants, and our votes(and number of them), but according to His Word. There will be many surprises for those who listen to teachings of men, instead to God!

      April 3, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Many today think they will have an early exit, but we do know that God doesn't go by our wants, and our votes(and number of them), but according to His Word. There will be many surprises for those who listen to teachings of men, instead to God!"

      That's why you'll be going to hell cause you actually don't follow the teachings of Christ.

      April 3, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      P.S. Correction to line in post above ...
      " because God gave us the witness of Himself in our consciences"

      April 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Hey, yeah,
      The reason people go to hell is because they deny Christ Jesus who came to save them, but they refuse to acknowledge their need for Him. You've already don that and unless you humble yourself before Him, you're prophesying your own destiny. You could spend your time wisely then foolish ranting which you do because you have hate in your heart toward those who tell you the truth straight and undiluted without cuddling you by smoothing the truth over to you! You know that's the way it is, regardless what you say!

      April 3, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • WASP

      @prism: please show me where the soul is located? i don't know of any professional that has located a soul during any operation. no soul, no god or devil to blame or fear, just myself lives in here. lmao

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

      @PRISM 1234

      Please read a little more Matthew and a little less Revelations.

      WASP, who I assume is an atheist, has a better chance of getting into heaven by helping people, because it is the right thing to do, than you do by spewing fear, anger, and hatred.

      Judge a tree by its fruits my angry little friend. Your tree only seems to produce thorns.

      April 3, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • God

      @Leo

      Sorry, if you are looking for "rewards" you won't find them here. Rewards are worldly things. Looking for an unimaginable love stronger that what is even felt between a mother and child? That is all that I can offer you here. However, if you are looking for rewards there is another place I can send you!

      April 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • sam stone

      leo: why would an unbeliever ask for mercy? do you ask for mercy from any of the other thousands of gods man has created?

      April 3, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Leo

      Forgiveness for many things and as I see with most of those against Christains – Blaspheme is one of the most comon things on these sites. Interesting how that is the one thing that Revelation explains the judgement comes upon.

      Hey I am just trying to give you all a heads up, just as the Bible does.

      When they make you take a Mark on your hand or forehead in order to buy and sell, you will have no excuse.

      Adolf Hitler was just a little picture of the Last World Leader, but he will fool everyone by seeming peaceful.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • dude

      @Leo

      Why do you even care about the last world leader or marks to do business?

      If you have taken care of God (sick, poor, & needy) here on earth and given to God what belongs to God expecting nothing in return you have already prepared yourself no matter when it happens. Then the “signs” don’t even matter. Revelations doesn’t even matter.

      As being a self professed Christian I would assume you have done this – if not I guess you are a blasphemer just like the people you are accusing.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Aesop

      PRIGM and Leo, etc.

      “An Ass put on a Lion's skin and went
      About the forest with much merriment,
      Scaring the foolish beasts by brooks and rocks,
      Till at last he tried to scare the Fox.
      But Reynard, hearing from beneath the mane
      That Raucous voice so petulant and vain,
      Remarked. O' Ass, I too would run away,
      But that I know your old familiar bray'.
      That's just the way with asses, just the way.”
      ― Aesop(620-560 BC)

      April 3, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "The reason people go to hell is because they deny Christ Jesus who came to save them, but they refuse to acknowledge their need for Him. You've already don that and unless you humble yourself before Him, you're prophesying your own destiny. You could spend your time wisely then foolish ranting which you do because you have hate in your heart toward those who tell you the truth straight and undiluted without cuddling you by smoothing the truth over to you! You know that's the way it is, regardless what you say!"

      Wow you are so full of crap that it's hysterical you have absolutely no clue about the real teachings of Christ, your post proves it. You're the one going to hell because you're too judgmental of others without really knowing their heart. So off to hell with you.

      April 3, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  7. Richard Koconis

    Can we just stop getting our theology from places like CNN. PLLLLLeeeeaaasssseee.

    April 3, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • OOO

      I agree. Fairy tales are better transmitted by Disney.

      April 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  8. Muneef

    The named revelations will be behind the dustraction of earth and was behind all human wars...those are the work of the devil in jealousy of the humen beings...

    April 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  9. Tim Fields

    If I were writing about cooking I would need to learn about cooking and reference experts. If I were to be a writer about auto mechanics, i would have to learn about automobiles and consult experts.
    To write an article such as this, which on the surface may seem authentic, lacks accuracy and depth. You can paint a picture any way you want to, yet that does not mean it resembles the truth.

    If you understand anything about the bible you would have to know that the scriptures were inspirations from God given to man, A Christian man, who assumes the responsibility of correcting recording them for all mankind. To say that someone who wrote one book of the Bible was not a Christian, someone who can hear and understand from God, is a huge ERROR!
    Since this is in ERROR, the rest of your article lacks validity.
    If you want to know about Christianity, ask someone who knows and who has studied it. Better yet, discover for yourself the power of God's revealed Word, but it is only revealed to Christians because it is a spiritual issue and spiritual discernment, not an academic one.
    The scripture says you must be spiritual minded in order to understand the things of the Spirit, such as revelation and inspiration.
    An nonspiritual man can not record the things of God as He intends. And to say that the Book of Revelation therefore is not a Spiritual Book, is another ERROR.

    April 3, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Tallulah13

      You completely ignore the fact that this is an article about a book that was written by a woman who is indeed an expert on the bible. Of course, since she is a true scholar, she looks at the historical record surrounding the bible, not just the bible itself, but context is what scholarship is all about. You simply ignore the credentials of the author of the book because unlike you, she is brave enough to look at the whole picture and not follow blindly.

      April 3, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      "If you understand anything about the bible you would have to know that the scriptures were inspirations from God"

      If you understand anything about logic, you would know that claims of divine inspiration are not proof

      April 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Strict adherence to a theology does not cause you to be an expert in that theology. In fact, approaching a work of writing with the presupposition that it was inspired by God, hinders you from being fully objective in your study of that work.

      April 3, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Primewonk

      "To say that someone who wrote one book of the Bible was not a Christian, someone who can hear and understand from God, is a huge ERROR!"

      So, "Moses" was a christian?

      April 3, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • OOO

      I have a problem with your first assertion:
      If you understand anything about the bible you would have to know that the scriptures were inspirations from God given to man"
      I don't believe that the scriptures were inspirations from god to man. Prove that to me. Any joker can say his writings are inspired by god, but to date no one has ever proven it. It is a totally subjective statement.

      April 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      "To say that someone who wrote one book of the Bible was not a Christian, someone who can hear and understand from God, is a huge ERROR!"

      So the authors of Genesis through Malachi were Christians? Funny, I always thought they were Jews. Silly me.

      April 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • God is Truth

      They were indeed Jews and they were indeed saved by their faith in God, before Christ ever accomplished His purpose. God even used Saul – whom I'm not sure was a Jew or not – but, who persecuted His people, to be a testimony to His ultimate Love and Power. Maybe, someday, you too will be used for this purpose.

      The end of all matters is this:
      "The just shall live by faith."

      April 3, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things. .

    April 3, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • EnjaySea

      Response to prayer post.

      April 3, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Disagreement with previous response.

      April 3, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Encouragement to original poster, about how great prayer really is.

      April 3, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Side-argument caused by anger that someone agreed with the original poster.

      April 3, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Comment by angry atheist.

      April 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • just sayin

      Both statements are true, what is to argue? God bless

      April 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Follow-up comment by indignant Christian.

      April 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      There ya go, atheism. Have you had your little thrill for today?

      April 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Jesus

      ~No it doesn't you are so full of crap and lies. 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.

      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 3, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  11. Reality

    The Book of Revelation was simply an extension of the insanity found in the rest of the NT:

    ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

    JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

    Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

    Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

    April 3, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Reality, please stop copying and pasting this same old stuff everyday. I will challenge you, as before, to answer your own question. Why after 2000 years do we still care about Jesus? Could the answer be because He is the Son of God?

      April 3, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • momoya

      @ Robert

      Do you really think you present a reasonable argument??. Longevity of a meme simply means the meme is adequately adaptable–not that the meme represents a true idea.. Surely you wouldn't claim that Buddhism is correct because of how many people follow his general guidelines.

      April 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Millions of people follow the teachings of Islam. Could that be because Jesus is not the son of God?

      April 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Boast Busters

      Robert Brown,

      Hinduism has been around since about 5500 BCE - that's over 7500 years now. Proves Vishnu, et al are True, right?

      April 3, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • OOO

      Robert,
      I don't care about Jesus, you do. Answer that question for yourself. And the answer can't be because it is true; you can't have your own facts. Sorry.

      April 3, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Reality fans,

      I proposed my answer. Still waiting for realities response. I can't comment on Hindu or Islam for lack of knowledge on those subjects.

      I would recommend Jesus for those who seek the Truth. Don't take my word for it. If you seek God with sincerity He will reveal Himself to you. Thanks.

      April 3, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • sam stone

      "I would recommend Jesus for those who seek the Truth."

      I would recommend psilocybe for those who seek the truth

      April 3, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Sam,

      I had to go look that one up. You may see, hear, and feel things, but I am afraid they may be far from the Truth.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      Robert: People were using it to communicate with "god" before the Christian era. Yet you feel that you are more tuned into the truth (not capitalized) than they were?

      April 3, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • sam stone

      Robert: How do you know how far it is from the truth? Have you done it? You need the spirit in you to understand it. Where have I heard that before?

      April 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Why after 2000 years do we still care about Jesus? Could the answer be because He is the Son of God?"

      More likely the answer is that tradition takes on it's own momentum

      April 3, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Reality

      ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

      As a good student, you have read the reiterations of the "fems" (flaws, errors, muck and stench) of religion. Therefore the seeds have been planted in rich soil. Go therefore and preach the truth to all nations, reiterating as you go amongst the lost, bred, born and brainwashed souls of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as Reality makes its triumphant return all because of you!!!!

      “John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident (the randomness) of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

      The Situation Today
      Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. “ J. Somerville

      It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • sam stone

      gee, robert, if you dismiss others' spirituality don't be at all surprised when others dismiss yours

      April 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • sam stone

      also, robert, i have my truth. i do not claim it is an objective truth. it is my own. you have your own Truth (capitalized because it is the OFFICIAL truth in your world). the world of sins and heaven and hell. i do not have that, nor do i desire it. the picture painted by the Christian posters is one of a pettty, vituperative tryant. you are welcome to your beliefs. if you think that vomiting up scripture will convince people, you are truly daffy.

      April 3, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  12. momoya

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlnnWbkMlbg&w=640&h=390]

    April 3, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Anon

      Yep, Yahweh is just another desert god of war.

      April 3, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  13. Religion is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer is delusional.

    April 3, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  14. AtheismIsCrap

    God is Great!!

    April 3, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Jesus

      Lying is a sin and you have no proof of your god.

      April 3, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • just sayin

      yes it do !

      April 3, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Tallulah13

      Which god? I guess it doesn't matter, because there isn't a single shred of evidence to support the existence of ANY god.

      April 3, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • just sayin

      Yes there is.

      April 3, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  15. AtheismIsCrap

    God is Great!

    April 3, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • EnjaySea

      Atheism is the absense of belief in crap.

      April 3, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  16. God is Truth

    Anyone who actually reads the Bible, with an honest heart, knows there are many parallels between the Old and New Testaments, often prophesizing the latter or referencing the former. There are many analogies and many direct statements, all of which play together in one, solid Message, the Beginning and the End of all things. Revelations may be confusing, but I believe it is possible to understand without knowing.

    April 3, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Bob

      GiT: and that message is very clear to anyone with a properly functioning brain: your god would be a complete asshole if he actually existed, so good thing he doesn't. Seriously, this is a god that purportedly will threaten and punish you with torture forever if you so much as doubt his existence or think a different god exists, or even if you put a foot slightly wrong in your short mortal life.

      Any modern human court would consider such punishment barbaric, to say the least. And the threats of torture purportedly by your god could consti-tute criminal assault. Your god would be tried and easily convicted by the UN for human rights violations. Seriously. Think about it.

      And then we have your god's explicit instructions to torture and rape. This kind of stuff is common in the bible:

      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 the explicit demands god makes in the OT for brutal animal sacrifice. 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.

      That's one very nasty god you've made for yourself there. Look into the eyes of a suffering victim of any of the multiple disfiguring, debilitating, painful diseases that your "loving" god has purportedly created. Then you might understand that Christian god as described in the bible is not loving, doesn't give a hoot about human suffering, and in fact does not exist.

      It's obvious that Christian god does not exist. Grow some courage, get over your silly sky fairy stories, and get with the modern world.

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

      April 3, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Bob, you are, what I have learned in my short time on this blog, a troll. Everything you posted has already been posted refuted. So stop spreading your hateful lies.

      I'll type this all again for you, no cutting and pasting. The law or old testament covenant required a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. The new covenant started with the death, burial, and resurection of Jesus. His blood provided for the forgiveness of sin for all believers. No more animal sacrifice required. Jesus said he came to fulfill the law not destoy it. He fulfilled it by becoming the ultimate payment for sin. The Truth shall set you free.

      April 3, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Bob

      Robert, that's bullshit you wrote, you know it, and you lack the balls to admit it. Either refute my specific points (no, you haven't yet, despite your claims), or just p!ss off with your unfounded declaratives and crawl away, coward. You are the troll.

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

      April 3, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Are you serious? Have you even read the Bible? Where did Jesus say to continue animal sacrifice?
      Here is my reference Matthew 5:17
      Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

      April 3, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Primewonk

      Robert – But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. Luke 16:17

      According to your Jesus, the OT laws are in play until earth passes away. Is the earth still here?

      April 3, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • God is Truth

      Primewonk: If the Law were to have been void, then Christ's sacrifice would have been meaningless.

      April 3, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Primewonk

      So when your very own god says the OT laws are in play, he actually means the opposite? And if you don't have the magic decoder ring, you can't understand what god says?

      I swear, one day one of you fundiot nutters will spin so fast that you form a black hole.

      April 3, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • God is Truth

      Primewonk AND Bob...the Law will always be valid, as those who try to live up to it will always be convicted by it. Thank God, He sent Christ to release that Chain from my neck! It is through, Jesus Christ, I am saved from the death you and all other non-believers forever dwell in.

      April 3, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • sam stone

      GiT: Well, aren't YOU frigging special?

      April 3, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • sam stone

      Robert: Funny how theists capitalize "truth", as if theirs is the objectively correct one

      April 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Just out of respect for Jesus. The Saviour, Truth, Way, Life, Word of God.

      April 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • sam stone

      "The Saviour, Truth, Way, Life, Word of God."

      Again, it implies that you know the objective truth

      April 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • God is Truth

      Mr. Brown and I have not been "implying" anything. We've simply been speaking the Truth, exactly as it is.

      April 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • sam stone

      GiT: In that case, you and he are pompous fools

      April 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • God is Truth

      Get real, Sammy Boy. You wouldn't know the half of me if you met me in person, but I'm postive I've met you many times before in my relatively short life. Pompous?..maybe. Fool? You bet! Cheers, from Arizona, USA.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @God is Truth
      How can the Tanakh, Talmud, Midrash, New Testament, Quran, Sunnah, Nahjul Balagha, Avesta, Vedas, Upanisahds, Bhagavad Gita, Puranas, Tantras, Sutras, Vachanas, Adi Granth, Purvas, Samayasara, Niyamasara, Pravacanasara, and Pancastikaya; Anupreksa; Samadhishataka of Pujyapada; Tattvarthasutra of Umasvati, Tattvarthasutra, Pali Tripitaka, Jataka,, Visuddimagga, Tripitaka, Lotus Sutra, Garland Sutra, Analects; the Great Learning; the Doctrine of the Mean; the Mencius, Tao Te Ching, Chuang-tzu, Kojiki, Nihon Shoki, K-oki, Ofudesaki, Mikagura-uta, Michi-no-Shiori, Johrei, Goseigen, Netarean Shower of Holy Doctrines, Chun Boo Kyung, Kitab-i-Iqan, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Book of Mormon, Dianetics, or Revelation X be dismissed as Holy Books since they all claim to be The Truth?

      April 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • God is Truth

      Doc: The thing is...just like Sammy Boy pointed out (and Mr. Brown re-enforced), real Christians DO believe in the Absolute Truth of the One and Only Word of God. All other "truth" I've seen is relative and founded on nothing worth devoting one's life towards, as it serves only to passify or enslave its followers under that man-made religion you and I hate so much. Now, really, I must be going to sleep now. I will continue this in a few days, as I waste away in front of a computer, back at work.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  17. Futon Torpedo

    Great post! As a Christian.. I approve.

    April 3, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  18. Doc Vestibule

    “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.”
    —1 John 2:18
    Christians have been waiting on tenterhooks for the Second Coming since the Bible itself was written.
    Many have prophesied the exact time of date of His return and ALL have been wrong.
    George Rapp said it would be September 15th, 1829.
    William Miller predicted October 22, 1844. Jesus’ failure to arrive is known as “The Great Disappointment”. Many of his disillusioned followers went on the found the 7th Day Adventist Church, who are still patiently awaiting His return.
    Charles Russell, 1st President of the Watchtower Society told his fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses that Jesus would be back in 1874.
    Rudolf Steiner maintained that from 1930 onwards, Jesus would grant certain people psychic powers to enable them to witness his presence in the “etheric plane”.
    Herbert Armstrong, Pastor General of the Worldwide Church of God said 1975.
    Bill Maupin managed to convince his followers to sell all of their worldly goods in preparation for Jesus’ return on June 28th, 1981.
    Benjamin Crème stated that on June 21st, 1982 Christ would make a worldwide television announcement.
    Mark Blitz, Pastor of El Shaddai Ministries says it would be September 30th, 2008
    Jerry Falwell said it’d happen between 1999 and 2009.
    Harold Camping told everyone that the Rapture would happen May 21, 2011 after failing in his first predicted date of 1994.

    Conversely, many believe He’s all ready come in the form of Sun Myung Moon, Emanuel Swedenborg, Baha u llah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, David Koresh, Hailie Selassie, John Thom, Arnold Potter, William Davies, George roux, Ernest Norman, Krishna Venta, Ahn Sahng-Hong, Jim Jones, Mashall Applewhite, Hulon Mitchell, Wayne Bent, Ariffin Mohammed, Mitsuo Matayoshi, Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, Inri Cristo, Thomas Provenzano, David Icke, Shoko Asahara, Hogan Fukinaga, Marina Tsvigun or Sergei Troop.

    It would appear that the much lauded Jewish carpenter has been thoroughly dead for 2000 years and will remain so.

    April 3, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • captain america

      Matthew chapter 24 and 25. Now go back to canada and get your F'n shine box. We don't need you here undermining our values. There's your sign

      April 3, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • sam stone

      Captain: Shove your flag up your a$$. There's your frigging sigh, troll

      April 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things. .

    April 3, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Jesus

      No it doesn't you are so full of crap and lies. 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.

      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 3, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • just sayin

      yes it do

      April 3, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  20. catholic engineer

    Re "The Gnostic Gospels" THe article says "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 IN WITH THEIR AGENDA." What a piece of journalism ! The fact is, there were so many differing interpretations of Christianity that the Chruch had to ask "what does it mean to be a Church". After numerous councils, the Church came to a consensus and tossed our books that didn't reflect the Church's understanding of itself. The article's author sounds like a conspiracy theorist – very popular nowadays.

    April 3, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • William Demuth

      Oh please, thats just silly!

      Politics ALWAYS plays a part. "The Church" as you call it was a group of MEN, who often MURDERED each other in a struggle to secure power, not in some imaginary world, but in this one.

      I believe it is about one in ten of your holiest of Popes was murdered by his own cult members.

      Claiming anything else is merely lying, and you know it.

      April 3, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Cq

      The Church evolved a theology on who Jesus was, what his message was, and it's own place in it all. Then they selected what books to include in the scriptures, selecting only the books that supported their already defined theology, and rejecting all others. In what way does this make you confident that the "truth" about Jesus wasn't tossed out in favor of the most popular lie?

      April 3, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • God is Truth

      To Cq: Just as the author, himself, speculates, the testaments of each book were not only reflections of the times and events surrounding God and His Creation, but personal confessions to the knowledge and understanding of the Person who always Was and Is, Jesus Christ.

      April 3, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Nii

      The Council of Jamnia convened by de Jews restricted de OT canon 2 de Hebrew OT only. De NT Canon was by one man not a General Council. De other Gospels n letters were in circulation till they lost their following through natural means. They werent suppressed. The Xtian diversity didnt exist.

      April 3, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Nii

      The Bible is a collection of some sacred writings but not all. The others survived some didn't as believers sought understanding. The reason is that Jesus thought a consistent Gospel n like de Talmud was kept faithfully by His disciples. De Gnostics forbade de OT. They r like JWs n Mormons 2day.

      April 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Nii

      These groups like de Muslims r distinct religions. They may possess Xtian characteristics but they r exclusivist. That is how Gnostics were. A Book of Mormon, Quran or New World Translation stick out when compared 2 de Bible. Xtians r Jews. These refuse de label. Their books differ because of this.

      April 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Cq

      Nii
      No diversity in early Christianity? Have you read "Lost Christianities : The Battle for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew."? Here's a pdf download for your enjoyment.

      http://sheekh-3arb.org/library/books/christian/en/The-Lost-Christianities.pdf

      Of course, the later Church declared all these other versions as "heretic", but then again the winners of every battle get to write history in their favor, don't they?

      April 3, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Cq

      God is Truth
      But weren't all the other gospels, perhaps 50 in all, also "reflections of their times and events surrounding God and His Creation, but personal confessions" etc... ? All were "inspired" by the life and teachings of the same man. Somebody chose which "reflections" everyone ought to accept based on their own personal, subjective opinions, right?

      April 3, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Nii

      This is one funny point most secular historians make. The Christian communities were united by their bishops and Gnostic heirarchy did not allow the two to mix. That is why heresy was an important word right from the start. We used the OT almost exclusively for 300yrs. Gnostics abhorred the OT.

      April 3, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Nii

      The heretics were Xtian cos they were in de jurisdiction of de Church. The Gnostics refused 2 b within de CHURCH. Heretics were forced out, Gnostics will not mix with us 2 all. We used de same Bible with de heretics. The way African history has been butchered, xtian history is not safe either.

      April 3, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Nii

      One thing that you must understand is this, the "heresies" were early denominations of the Christian Church. Lutherans, Catholics and Calvinists generally regard each other as Christian even if heretic. However they will also generally refuse to say that Muslims, Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses.

      April 3, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Nii

      The last sentence should read,"They will generally the Not extend the same courtesy to Muslims, Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses".

      April 3, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Nii

      Denominations fail for a variety of reasons. it does not mean another denomination. The Gnostics had their own denominations. They were exclusivists and not popular. Like the Mormons and JWs they r alwys in danger of a serious proselytizing effort. In this case Islam was more effective.

      April 3, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      "After numerous councils, the Church came to a consensus and tossed our books that didn't reflect the Church's understanding of itself. "

      You could also make the case that they tossed those books that threatened their very comfy positions of power. The Gnostics believed (among other things) that one should seek God within oneself. In other words not through the mediation of a priesthood, with its hierarchies, vestments, and vast wealth.

      As someone recently said, Jesus preached the Kingdom of God. What we got was the Church.

      April 3, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Cq

      Nii
      The Gnostics were new converts to Christianity who didn't accept the Jewish view of "God" because they didn't see the world as "good", the creation of a good Creator. Evil and pain could not be part of the creation of a good God. This was a Greek philosophical expectation, not a Jewish one where God is not judged. Likely these were the intellectuals whom Paul fought against in 1 Timothy 6:20 and elsewhere, people who denied the Jewish God in favor of a Greek vision, not what we would call pure atheists today.

      They were, however, still followers of Jesus and rightfully belong to the soup that was Christianity up until all the heretics were essentially burned out of existence.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Advertisement
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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.