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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. Nii

    Pride(loving yourself) is not self esteem. It gives u self-esteem at times. Charity( Loving your neighbor as yourself) also gives self-esteem. Piety( loving God with all your life) also gives self-esteem. Romance, parental etc love all give self-esteem. Piety n charity give a more steady self-esteem

    April 5, 2012 at 3:51 am |
  2. Nii

    Indeed I know all that is said about loving yourself. That loving yourself automatically makes you love people well. It only makes people attracted to you. I can practise all if I want to. I choose to love my neighbour as myself even though it is not attractive. Better I tell u if u r wrong.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:31 am |
    • Nii

      Seems loving yourself helps in doing fast intuitive calculations but for intelligent calculations u need to love your neighbor as yourself. Loving yourself aalone also gives mood swings while loving your neighbor as you love yourself seems to steady your mood. I study love deliberately given u see

      April 5, 2012 at 3:41 am |
    • sam stone

      Nii: You spend a lot of time speaking on loving others as yourself, but your stance on gay marriage says otherwise. when you love people, do you show it by denying people the same CIVIL rights as you?

      April 5, 2012 at 6:46 am |
    • sam stone

      You're not going to answer my question, are you? Frigging bigot hiding behind a book.

      April 6, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • sam stone

      i suppose lots of people need ni**ers. gay people are yours. wouldn't jeebus be proud?

      April 6, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  3. Nii

    Jehovah Witnesses are lied to that Jehovah is used only in their translation. The only well way to understand Scripture is to practise loving my neighbour as yourself in thought and deed. This is the doctrine of Christ. There is no true religion or church or denomination. Truth is Christ.

    April 5, 2012 at 2:57 am |
    • Um ... yeah

      Love your neighbor as yourself? Given what I've seen of your responses, you must spent a lot of time insulting and demeaning yourself in front of a mirror.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:06 am |
    • Paul

      What do you think Paul meant when he said,"we should all speak in agreement, and there should not be divisions amoung you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and same line of thought." 1 Cor 1:10
      Sounds very organised to me. In fact I am sure Paul and Timothy travelled and established different congregations throughout Europe. I wonder if they were all organised and believed the same things? I seem to recall when there was a problem among the congregations they had the problem resolved by the brothers in Jerusalem. Ummmm sounds really organised to me, don't you think?

      April 5, 2012 at 5:29 am |
  4. Nii

    Paul I don't think reading the Bible with Jehovah helps anything the KJV and the Great Bible both use it. Jehovah is the German Yiddish spelling for YAHWEH. Used in the King James and Great Bible because of Luther and Erasmus. I know cos I'm Anglican. Jehovah has always been in de KJV n Great Bible.

    April 5, 2012 at 2:49 am |
    • GodPot

      YHWH – no vowels so many insert the ones they believe pronounce it the way the Hebrews did. But what if they are all wrong?...

      YOHUWOH?
      YIHAWAH?
      YAHIWUH?
      YUHUWUH?
      YOHOWOH? (maybe it is Santa!!)

      or maybe even sometimes "Y"...
      YYHYWYH?

      Do you really think the supposed creator of the universe would really care how the air being squeezed through our larynx sounds? Why not just call him/it Jerry.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:01 am |
    • GodPot

      "YYHYWYH" – maybe Michael Jackson was the second coming... he was passing around what he called "Jesus Juice"... he liked to hang out with kid's "Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matt 19:14... then after being attacked by the media for just "loving kids" his spirit leaves his body here on earth to decay, starting with his nose falling off...

      April 5, 2012 at 3:07 am |
    • GodPot

      and Michael was the only one who could pronounce his fathers name correctly... "YYHYWYH!!"

      April 5, 2012 at 3:08 am |
    • Nii

      GODPOT
      It really is simple. Ancient Hebrew writing is consonantal. We pronounce it the same way we found to pronounce the other words like
      DWD=David
      SLMN=Solomon
      etc.
      I like your joke though
      lol

      April 5, 2012 at 4:00 am |
  5. TROLL2012

    you all suck!!!!!!!! your all doomed on 12/21/2012 thats right 8 more months you will perish the world will end!!!!!!!!!

    April 5, 2012 at 1:32 am |
  6. Paul

    Did you notice that the KJ version has finally recognised God's name Jehovah. Now re read your Bibles with that name. It may very well chang your outlook and recognised who has been telling you the truth for over the last 100 years.

    April 5, 2012 at 1:06 am |
  7. Paul

    Glad to see people recognise ones religion from a few truths from the Bible.

    People in the Apostles day recognised that about them, "that they use to be with Jesus". We must be doing our work well of preaching earth wide as Jesus said it would be done in the last days. Don't know any other religion doing that, do you?

    April 5, 2012 at 1:02 am |
  8. Paul

    wasp
    If a doctor sees you have cancer and says, you are going to die. He is telling you the result of your condition. He is not to blame.
    As God did with Adam when he sinned, he knew the result was going to be death.
    From this he set up a purpose in which to save the human race. Pretty kind of him actually.

    April 5, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • Well

      That is simply a horrible analogy. it would be more akin to a doctor giving you cancer on purpose, and then not curing you when he easily could.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:17 am |
    • sam stone

      Sounds like a bully demanding "protection" money, Paul.

      April 5, 2012 at 6:31 am |
    • WASP

      @paul: well thankfully science made it possible to survive cancer. i can pray all day for "god" to remove the cancer and he will still let me die because he loves me so much. lol. no the kind thing would have been for god to not put the fracking tree there to begin with, if you knew that your child would drink liquid plumber and die a horrible death before they were to drink it; would you still put liquid plummer under your sink so they can get to it?

      April 5, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • TR6

      So god is so fcuking kind why didn't he just move the damn tree out of the guarden? He's all knowing so he should have known what was going to happen. It's like leaving a 2 year old alone with a pack of razer blades and telling him not to touch them. If the kid gets hert it's the parents fault

      April 5, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  9. PRISM 1234

    This is what it is all about!

    April 4, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Joshua & Jessica

      Fantastic!

      April 4, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      Implying the need for a savior

      April 5, 2012 at 6:32 am |
  10. Pipe-Dreamer

    I turned the ripe ol' age of 57 earlier this year,,,, Because I have much free-time on my hands nowadays, I am left to consider God and His Majestic Realm(s) He and His generations and Brethren inhabit. Looking around here upon Earth does seem to be void of any Godliness whatsoever so, one may conclude this Earthly realm is not inhabited by God nor His Kind. Where then might one avail themself to look for God's Realm(s)? Should one look toward the Holy Gospel in searching for God's Realm(s)? Okay, let's delve into the Gospel of the Holy Bible,,,,,

    Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

    Mathew's 6th chapter, 33rd verse says to "seek first" God's Kingdom,,,,, Okay,,,, Let's search the Holy Bible Scriptures in search of God's Kingdom,,,,

    Luk 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is "inside" you.

    Inside us is where the kingdom of God does lay? How can that be? We are made up of cells in the microscopic proportions. At least, this is what one sees when viewing structures thru a microscope. Can such cells be of God's Kingdom? How so?

    1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.

    C'mon Holy Bible! Now scripture is telling me that not only do we labour together with God, He is at the center of our being conceived! Not to mention, We are but buildings,,,,, For what purposes and why and how are our bodies as buildings and does God dwell inside our bodies He says are buildings?

    Some "food for thought",,,,,,,,

    April 4, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Pipe Dreamer, I'm sorry to say it, but you are in much error. That's what happens to people who begin to search, but do it on their own. They end up very messed up, and their later state is worse then their first. You can not take few Scripture, an run with them, making up things that suit your imagination. Satan, the enemy of your soul is preying on such people. Many cults were born from this type of thing... If you really want to know the Lord, you must humble yourself as a little child, knowing nothing, and going to His Word, let Him teach you. There is only one truth, but multi'tudes of opinions. Only Truth will stand on the day of our Appointment. Man's heart is desperately wicked and who can know it. This is hat God says. The kingdom of GO is NOT in man. Is in the hearts of those who hav come to God by repentance and faith in Christ finished work on the cross, who were born of the Spirit of God , giving their hearts and lives to Christ. This is what Christ was talking about. If you really seek the truth, you will understand the Scripture, because He, the Holy Spirit of God will show you. But beware of your own understanding. Many have damned their own souls, thinking themselves as wise. These ar my words of encouragement to you, and also as a reminder how frail and inadequate we are, needing the Lord in everything.
      Peace to you!

      April 4, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Pathos

      Pipe Dreamer-Here are some notes from Barnes' on the Bible for the meaning of the passage as found in Luke 17:21

      'Is within you' – This is capable of two interpretations.

      1. The reign of God is "in the heart." It does not come with pomp and splendor, like the reign of temporal kings, merely to control the external "actions" and strike the senses of people with awe, but it reigns in the heart by the law of God; it sets up its dominion over the passions, and brings every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

      2. It may mean the new dispensation is "even now among you." The Messiah has come. John has ushered in the kingdom of God, and you are not to expect the appearance of the Messiah with great pomp and splendor, for he is now among you.

      April 4, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      I love to watch the scramble to make sense of nonsense. Religion always finds a way to answer questions, no matter how absurd. Tell christians that god ordered the murder of children and they'll claim "context" as if such a thing is even possible. Point out inconsistencies and they'll claim you didn't read it properly with an "open heart". Point out the immorality of god, and they'll say we can't know the mind of god (which they will subsequently turn around and tell people exactly what god is thinking). Show the evidence that prayer has no effect and they'll ignore it or claim that's not the kind of prayer they use. Meanwhile religion loses more credibility as it begins its decent in the absurd.

      April 4, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Elias

      The soul and the lord are one, just as the sun and the ray, the drop and the ocean. The soul is the essence of the lord. It has come from the lord and it will merge back into the lord and again become one. The kingdom of God is within you. The soul has become enslaved by the mind, and the mind by the senses. "The light of the body is in the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body will be full of light". Th five elements we are made of do not hold together in nature , only the soul holds then together. The only way the lord can make contact with us is thru the human form. The Lord speaks in the Master. Seek and you will find, It is up to each individual soul. Your friends and family will not be there to hold your hand and take you across with the boat man. You are alone without a Master.

      April 5, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • WASP

      @dreamer: here is some food for thought. you do know when the bible was written people believed evil spirits/demons made people sick. so let me ask when you get the flu; whom do you go see a doctor or a priest to cast out the demon making you ill?

      April 5, 2012 at 7:21 am |
  11. mikstov33

    CNN does such a good job. Seems every topic posted on the Belief blog is intended more for those who seem to think they know without a doubt all forms of religion are false,baseless myths and fantasies. Maybe they are trying to influence peoples thinking,eh? I wish they would at least rename this flog blog something other than Belief.Fantasy Island, maybe?

    April 4, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Vin

      If you want Fantasy Island try one of the Christian blog sites. :-)

      April 5, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • sam stone

      what then would be the belief blog? a bunch of folks spewing scripture upon scripture, congratulating each other on your own piety and oh so certainty

      April 5, 2012 at 6:38 am |
  12. mandarax

    In other news, the United Nations just put out a report ranking the reported level of happiness for citizens of 158 countries. The US ranked 11th (not bad). So who's No. 1 in world happiness? Denmark, followed by other North Europe countries Finland, Netherlands and Norway. By the way, these are among the least religious countries in the world. All of their citizens are primarily atheistic.

    What are some other things that these very happiest countries have in common, you might ask? Let's see, in addition to low levels of religious belief, they have universal health care, strict gun laws, and excellent education systems. Coincidence? I don't think so, but the rednecks would never allow that sort of happiness here.

    Discuss....

    April 4, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • mikstov33

      Look for Sharia law to take over in these countries first.

      April 4, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Cq

      Why would largely secular countries allow any religious group to press their laws upon everyone? The US is a far better candidate for this. We already allow one sect to have far too much public power.

      April 5, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • Nii

      Scandinavians are mostly cultural Christians rather than out and out atheist. However most of them are spiritual judging from their admonitions to American atheists on this blog. Three categories of religionists(both believers/non-believers) religious, pious, spiritual. Pipe Dreamer knows this too.

      April 5, 2012 at 4:32 am |
    • sam stone

      milkstov: sharia law? yeah, let us all known when denmark goes muslim.

      April 5, 2012 at 6:41 am |
    • mandarax

      So Nii, based on one purportedly Swedish commentor on this blog, you claim that "most Scandinavians" admonish atheists in America and are therefore spiritual, which means they secretly are theists? How many non-sequiturs can you pack into a single comment? Not only is Sweden not one of the countries mentioned, you are implying that large-scale surveys can be dismissed because of one blog comment? Weak.

      My point remains: The happiest countries in the world are also the least religious. There is simply no way around that.

      April 5, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • WASP

      @Nii-tard: we have all seen your level of intelligence on almost every subject and on each you have been proven wrong. so stay in your little box and let the adults talk.
      @mandarax: i agree with your findings and i'm interested in the link for further study. a lack of belief in fairt tails leads one to view things from a logical "is this good for the whole" point of view. if it doesn't benefit humans as a whole, then it is avoided and left for the americans to do. lmfao

      April 5, 2012 at 7:33 am |
  13. Anon

    This is your brain on religion.

    April 4, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  14. Pipe-Dreamer

    1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.

    Answer anyone me this,,, "How are any of us to labour together with God?"

    Also, "In what manner are we God's husbandry?"

    Even, "If we are God's buildings then does not God and His generations and Brethren live INSIDE us?"

    April 4, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Nii

      We are fellow labourers with God since as freewill beings we need to submit our will to His of our own accord. So when we do His will then we r also doing our will.
      We are God's husbandry because he requires as to be responsible for the welfare of our environment.
      God is one and if he dwells in us

      April 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Nii

      It means others can recognise His character within us.
      Pipe hope I helped

      April 4, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  15. momoya

    @ fred

    You said>
    Momoya
    In case you have not noticed even Jesus spoke in parables so that only those who truly wanted to find God would and the others would think it foolish.
    When the Sanhedrin demanded Jesus give them a sign he said none will be given you but the sign of Jonah and the big Fish. Yieks, Jesus mentioned the big fish and the flood as if it happened. In short the Bible is but one revelation of God redeeming a chosen people and you and I are written about in that book one way or another.
    .
    Yes, but that's not true, is it?. Jesus provided all sorts of signs and wonders and promised that signs and wonders would follow those that believe. The flood never happened, as can be proved, so jesus either lied about it or didn't know the truth.
    .
    .
    You said>
    AS to use of a pomegranate for the earth you would have called it nonsense in the next verse. Just how is God supposed to use a pomegranate as a footstool?” “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool”
    .
    The issue was there not being a ancient Hebrew word for "sphere.". I contend that this shouldn't have been a problem for god, as he could have provided a word to correctly describe a sphere, or he could have had them use an analogy as in "shaped round all over–like a pomegranate."
    .
    .
    You said>
    See, the earth is not an oblate spheroid it is shaped more like a footstool. It has 4 corners and is flat. I am sure glad we did not use the Bible as the manual for getting to the moon.
    .
    The bible is terrible manual for doing anything–certainly in deciding anything about god who changes his mind every few chapters, has to wipe out all living things at certain times or in certain cities, contradicts himself in every other scripture, has to alter his method of communicating every few decades, and so on and so on..

    April 4, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Nii

      This old lady is really short of knowledge. Heaven is my throne and earth my footstool means the Earth is flat? I see the Bible didn't teach u much. When u die the name Tracy Gray will b forgotten except on a tombstone n all that u wrote here will be called a myth. Hope u can think through this! lol

      April 4, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • momoya

      You're making as much sense as usual, Nii: none.

      April 4, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Nii

      An old woman is always uneasy when dry bones are mentioned.(Akan proverb) lol

      April 4, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • Nii

      Frankly Momoya aare u sure you lost your faith? Your science doesn't seem strong enough to lose my faith over it.

      April 4, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Your science doesn't seem strong enough to lose my faith over it."

      We know you have issues comprehending.

      April 4, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • WASP

      @nii: we all know you're an idiot. "Your science doesn't seem strong enough to lose my faith over it."
      1) science is the study of the universe around us and progresses forward building on what we have found.
      2)faith requires no proof of anything. so your statement that our science can't make you lose your faith is just plain stupid because you choose to be ignorant.

      April 5, 2012 at 7:45 am |
  16. EnjaySea

    I've been exposed to the Bible for 57 years, and it has had not sold me on religion. It is a fallacy to assume that the mere presence of the words of the Bible in front of a nonbeliever will miraculously turn them to god.

    Complete rubbish.

    April 4, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Sorry, the dreaded "posted to main thread instead of replying to comment" error. This comment was a reply to the comment by transformed 4eva which appears in the next comment.

      April 4, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • transformed 4eva

      The presence of the words doesn't matter. The presence of GOD does.
      Honor and majesty are found in His presence; strength and joy are found in His sanctuary. ~ 1 Chronicles 16: 27

      April 4, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Anon

      Yep, it's the complete opposite. Reading the bible with reading comprehension and comparative religious studies can make one an atheist.

      April 4, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • nope

      nope .

      April 4, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I think you accidentally missed my point, transformed 4eva. Even if your god is present in the Bible, and it's not just the words that do the trick, then his alleged presence didn't do the trick either. Because although I've read and been otherwise exposed to this book all my life, it has had no effect on me whatsoever.

      April 4, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Nii

      ENJAYSEA
      The exposure to the Bible would never do the trick. Neither does the reading either. If you do want to encounter the God of the Bible then you must give him a chance to prove himself by obeying the Bible. I know many people think faith means blind belief. Faith is willingness to experiment

      April 4, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      @ EnjaySea,,,,,

      I turned the ripe ol' age of 57 earlier this year,,,, Because I have much free-time on my hands nowadays, I am left to consider God and His Majestic Realm(s) He and His generations and Brethren inhabit. Looking around here upon Earth does seem to be void of any Godliness whatsoever so, one may conclude this Earthly realm is not inhabited by God nor His Kind. Where then might one avail themself to look for God's Realm(s)? Should one look toward the Holy Gospel in searching for God's Realm(s)? Okay, let's delve into the Gospel of the Holy Bible,,,,,

      Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

      Mathew's 6th chapter, 33rd verse says to "seek first" God's Kingdom,,,,, Okay,,,, Let's search the Holy Bible Scriptures in search of God's Kingdom,,,,

      Luk 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is "inside" you.

      Inside us is where the kingdom of God does lay? How can that be? We are made up of cells in the microscopic proportions. At least, this is what one sees when viewing structures thru a microscope. Can such cells be of God's Kingdom? How so?

      1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.

      C'mon Holy Bible! Now scripture is telling me that not only do we labour together with God, He is at the center of our being conceived! Not to mention, We are but buildings,,,,, For what purposes and why and how are our bodies as buildings and does God dwell inside our bodies He says are buildings?

      Some "food for thought",,,,,,,, :-) :-( :-)

      April 4, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Thank you Nii and Pipe-Dreamer for your considerate responses. However I don't recognize the Bible as an authority because I don't believe that the men who wrote the Bible had any corner on the market of truth. And I don't believe their claim that they were inspired by a deity when they penned their books. Anyone can make that claim, and many have (Muhammad, Joseph Smith). But making a claim does not make that claim true.

      My brother is gay. So right off the bat, I'm not going to pay one iota of attention to a book written by cruel men who expect me to reject my brother, or who wish him harm in any way. So, in the kindest way that I can phrase it, you may keep your Bible, but don't expect me to pay any attention to it.

      April 5, 2012 at 2:15 am |
  17. just sayin

    Yeahright

    "What every good or bad you have done or whatever good or bad I have done becomes meaningless in the absence of purpose for existence."

    Why do Christians have to tell lies like this to justify to themselves in their delusional beliefs. Our lives have purpose, our lives have meaning, you don't need a god for that.
    >
    Actually they do ned to believe in a magic man in the sky to give them purpose or direction. They would be quite unstable without the self imposed delusion.

    April 4, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • just sayin

      Fraud alert. God bless!

      April 4, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • transformed 4eva

      Read and experience the Bible. Then you might treat the "magic man in the sky" with a little more respect.
      PRAISE GOD!!!!

      April 4, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Over It

      @transformed 4eva,
      "Read and experience the Bible."

      Read it, and listened to it being read and quoted for close to 50 years... a few bits of practical wisdom (as in any other 'scriptures') and a few bits of Hebrew history - mostly it is ancient fantasy and superst'ition, though.

      April 4, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • transformed 4eva

      Think that, if it makes you happy... I enjoy having a faith and relationship with my creator!

      April 4, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Lamparo

      Solomon, the wisest man that has existed on earth from the flood to the present, concluded his address in the book of Ecclesiastes in the following words:
      "12:12 And furthermore, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
      12:13 [This is] the end of the matter; all hath been heard: fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole [duty] of man.
      12:14 For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."

      Do you think that these cited verses mean that it does not matter if you do good or do evil?

      April 4, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Elwood P. Dowd

      transformed,

      Yeah, I hear ya'. I feel the same way about my invisible 6'3" rabbit friend, Harvey.

      April 4, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      @transformed 4eva, Also read it and memorized most of it as I was raised in a xtian home. One thing I can tell you for certain is that the bible is designed to feed on the fear of weak-minded people who feel rejected or lonely and feel the need to be loved. You don't need god to be loved. Your fellow man can do that just fine. If you opened your heart to them and devoted as much love and dedication to them as you do your god, you'd be amazed what you will receive in return.

      April 4, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Lamparo

      Yust Saying:
      You need to study the Bible to discover the purpose of life. Studying the Bible you will discover God acting through all past history, present and future. The French have already experienced the disastrous consequences of discarding the Bible and the commandments of God. The disaster in France led them to the French revolution and to restore the validity of the Bible and the commandments of God. Those who does not know history are condemned to repeat it.
      Read the Bible and you will not going to use the phrase "magic man in the sky" any more.
      God bless you.

      April 4, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • just sayin

      Fraud alert means it was a bogus just sayin that posted the lie . God bless

      April 4, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • God, The Biggest Fraud of All

      fraud/frôd/Noun:
      1.Wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.
      2.A person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.

      April 4, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  18. Jay Dropeski

    Varied views on The Revelation of Jesus Christ, but one thing certain. Whether or not the work came unedited, the author was not reacting to Pauline or "new" theology. He was regarded as an accepted leader and prophet within the Seven churches of Asia Minor who received the letter, which included at least one church that Paul started in Ephesus. These churches stood in relationship and included Jews and Gentiles alike. Enough is not said about Ms. Pagel's dating of the book either... you say that the Temple was already destroyed, and you correctly date that event, but then you say Nero was feared, though he died 2 years before. Anything to add on that point?

    April 4, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  19. just sayin

    Leo

    But we know what they did to Jesus. They killed Him. They crucified Him.

    But God was not surprised by this. In fact, it was part of his plan. Instead making a sacrifice by a high priest, once a year, in the holy of holies, Jesus became that sacrifice once and for all by dying on the cross so that we can believe in Jesus and be forgiven of our sins.

    That is why it says in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

    >
    No it says what it says because man created it and wrote it. Amazing the delusion and faith people have in the dead bones of the past.

    April 4, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • transformed 4eva

      About a dozen men, with many different languages, most of whom had never met, in 3 different continents, in 3 different languages. Tons of years apart too. The Koran was written by one man. Yet, by some coincidence (so you believe) they all correspond perfectly! Who was there every time a man wrote giving instructions? GOD!!!!

      April 4, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Leo

      We will all see in the end won't we, in a few short years the hope and dreams of the Atheist a lovely dirt bed.

      The hope brings tears to my eyes it is so filled with hope....not.

      Yet they can look at creation and the wonders of life, the artwork in the hills, trees, sun, moon. the joy we have when we can love one another.

      Was it all just dumb luck?? Nope!!

      This is just a taste of what the creator of all has in store for those that love him. Yes he knew full well that there would be those like the people here that would hate what he has done, and blaim him for what man has done to the world.

      What is awesome is he told us all of this before it happens, he told us you would hate us becuase of Jesus, and that some day they will try to kill us all.

      April 4, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Yeahright

      "This is just a taste of what the creator of all has in store for those that love him."

      You forgot the earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricane, tornadoes that kill thousands each year so you must be wearing rose colored glasses.

      April 4, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      transformed 4eva, the Old Testament and New Testament were well known to Muhammad when he wrote the Quran. No coincidence necessary, nothing supernatural going on there.

      April 4, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      You know what Leo, if there's an afterlife, and you have to have lived a good life on earth to go there. Then I'll be going there too, even though I don't believe in god. If there is a god, and you all claim that he loves his creation, then he's not going to hold it against those of us who didn't believe in him, because it's not our fault that he chooses not to show his face.

      Unless he does exist, and he's a spiteful, ignorant, beligerent, cruel, bully who makes up arbitrary rules about who gets in, and then makes it impossible for kind people who happen to have developed critical thinking, to follow them. Well, then I'm really in trouble!

      April 4, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • just sayin

      Fraud alert wrong name. God bless

      April 4, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • WASP

      @4eva: " About a dozen men, with many different languages, most of whom had never met, in 3 different continents, in 3 different languages. Tons of years apart too. The Koran was written by one man. Yet, by some coincidence (so you believe) they all correspond perfectly! Who was there every time a man wrote giving instructions? GOD!!!!"

      obviously you have failed at studying anything outside of the bible. if you follow history most cultures were pagan. over time you begin to see the emergence of mono-theistic belief. each faith would build on the last one. jewish belief was adapted by the romans to become roman catholic, during the time you saw factions fighting over which version of their faith would be the standard. mohammad would have grown up with this infighting and could have simply decided to make his own version of the bible. each religion builds off the last one. ever asked yourself why jesus is depicted as white, when he was born in isreal? or how about the story of genesis matching up to the norse belief in ragnorak? it was to convert people and gain power. "god" was never there and never will be there, he is a creation of man view of the world. don't believe me, just look at the most recent religions that have popped up...... jehovah witness, mormons, scienctology and the thousands of other religions created everyday. know the difference between a " david koresh" and "jesus of nazarith"? acceptance.......that and a good sells pitch.

      April 5, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  20. Reality

    Beyond the Book of Revelation:

    ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

    AND Only for the those interested in a religious update:

    1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    “New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

    earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    3. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

    This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

    And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

    Current crises:

    The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

    4. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

    The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

    Current problems:

    The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

    5. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

    "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

    Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

    Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

    Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

    April 4, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Reality...Plagiarizer...Is This The Best You Could Do?

      Wow...you know how to copy & paste!!! How awesome is that! You want to condemn what other people call faith while YOU mindlessly recite and cut & paste the thoughts of others? REALLY, Reality? Kind of makes you a mindless nymph, doesn't it? That's okay...you keep scrapbooking in your mom's basement, and we'll send you an invitation to Chuckie Cheese the next time we have a party...

      April 5, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • *facepalm*

      How exactly is it plagiarism when he clearly cited his source?

      April 5, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Reality

      ONLY FOR THE EYES OF THOSE SUFFERING FROM THE THREE B SYNDROME I.E. BRED, BORN AND BRAINWASHED IN CHRISTIANITY:

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen
      (References used are available upon request.)

      April 5, 2012 at 7:20 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.