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.”
As to the topic of moral relativism, this short vid sums it up well:
@ momoya: the terrific (terrifyingly good) joy of Easter is what Jesus does with those OT teachings... which are not ignored, but completely fulfilled in Christ (Mt.5:17):
The cross teaches us:
1) we all deserve death / it's worse than we want to admit (he had to die – fulfilling those those calls for capital punishment)
2) it's better than we ever dared to imagine (he was wiling to die in our place)
Easter is the pinnacle of objective morality.
At the cross, humanity declares its "judgment" of Jesus.
and at the resurrection, God declares his judgment.
Russ, that just doesn't make any sense.. A god as smart as he'd have to be wouldn't be as stupid as the one in the bible.. I mean, HELLO!!–sacrifice himself to himself to appease himself by exploiting a loophole he made himself to fix a rib-woman's mistake of doing something wrong before she knew it was wrong that made everything beautiful wrong because of a talking snake and so on and so on... It's just stupid.
I'm sorry your prophet was executed Russ. But it's not what he intended. He was a man on a mission - a mission to change the status quo in the Jewish religion of the 1st century, and he went too far. And he was stopped. The cross isn't a symbol, it's a relic of his execution. He didn't save you by dying. He died by dying. It was embarassing, sudden, unfortunate, ugly, and a horrifying way to die. He lived a few days after the crucifixion, which his friends passed off as a resurrection, then he died, as would any poor soul tortured on a cross in that way.
And that's all there is to Easter.
russ: we all deserve death? for not kowtowing to iron age man's view of morality?
@ sam stone: now we're talking. i know you're hearing me rightly if that's your response.
the Gospel is meant to be that offensive, that ridiculous, and – if it's true – that incredible.
if Jesus Christ is who he said he was, then yes – the cross clearly affirms the OT laws.
We have made that big of a mess of ourselves.
Stated positively: sin is severing our relationship with the Author of life – like a lamp unplugging itself. That's death.
Stated negatively: sin is slavery. "I do what I want" – and yet it's killing me. And I still can't stop. That's death.
Jesus said: "I'm the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies. And whoever lives by believing in me will never die." (Jn.11:25-26)
@ EnjaySea: your argument has no historical or literary basis. It's a bias you bring to the text.
The OT clearly prophecies the suffering messiah (Ps.22; Isa.53; among *many* others).
Jesus repeatedly tells the disciples in the Gospel accounts that he will die & be raised – *prior* to his death.
Maybe most poignantly: Jesus said, "no one takes my life. I lay it down of my own accord." (Jn.10:18)
All of it builds to this same Easter point: "Greater love has no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends." (Jn.15:13)
@ momoya: it's not a loophole to uphold justice while demonstrating mercy. it's very *costly.*
God will not compromise his character – even while revealing incredible depths & different facets of that character.
when people say things like "my god just forgives. none of that cross stuff." i normally say: what did it cost your god to love? real love costs – as any married person knows. forgiving someone a wrong means somebody has to pay the debt.
if you steal a car & wreck it and the owner says "I forgive you," the car still has to be paid for. either the owner does or you do. in this case, it would cost you your life. and that's why John starts the Passion Week by saying "now he showed them the full extent of his love" (Jn.13:1). Jesus paid a debt that would have cost us our lives.
bottom line: he's showing us two things simultaneously at the cross:
1) we're that messed up (it's worse than we want to admit – note: your objection is proving this point)
2) his love is bigger than our mess (he was willing to pay the debt to have our relationship restored)
"we all deserve death" So we were all born with sin, like some error or deformity, and are deserving of death because of it through no fault of our own according to your God, correct? How would that be any different than Hitlers ideology of killing off the deformed and disabled? People who were convicted to die by doing nothing more than being born and called "deficient" in some way by others who have hijacked the moral high ground. Christianity is nothing more than a religious supremicist group that claims rights to both damnation and salvation, playing with peoples lives as if they were tiddlywinks.
@ GodPot: no, it is definitely our fault. and on this Good Friday, let's not mince words about it: if Jesus is who he said he was, our daily att.itude toward him amounts to the same thing those people said 2000 years ago – "Crucify him! Crucify him!"
They understood, just like Herod did, that there were only two options: crown him or kill him. We daily set out to be the king of our own little worlds – as if there was not already One.
The incredible news of Easter is that God loves his enemies so much that – at his own cost – he breaks in & makes insurrectionists like me into family, though I clearly deserve death for treason against existence & attempted regicide.
"though I clearly deserve death for treason against existence & attempted regicide."
Um, I don't. I had nothing to do with your churches violent past, i am a peace loving pacifist who's most violent crime was shooting a bird off a telephone wire with a pellet gun when I was 9 which didn't sit well with me so I never shot at anything living again. And treason against existence? I wouldn't be surpised to find out Hitler used those same words about the Jew's as he tied their persecution to Christs death as well. There is no inborn sin, only inborn humanity that allows us to learn from others mistakes as well as make our own while we grow and evolve both socially and mentally learning how to cope and thrive in our environments. Only through indoctrination at a very early age can the humanity be beaten out of us and replaced by top down morality, "do this because God said so" laws, along with a huge helping of guilt, telling your children they are sinful by nature and only through constant supplication to YOUR brand of diety will they EARN their way out of eternal torture and everlasting torment. It just makes me want to vomit.
You're absolutely correct Russ, my comments had no historical or literary evidence to back them up. However, neither does your New Testament that you quote as if it were a history book. It most certainly isn't.
What my point was based on was logic, and common sense. Logic, in that people acted then as they act now, and common sense in that, I'm sorry, but there's no such thing as rising from the dead, Santa going down the chimney, or the Easter Bunny bringing eggs to the little children.
So my take on Easter is actually plausible, where the New Testament's account on the subject is highly suspect, implausible, and most certainly the greatest lie ever told to humanity.
Oh and by the way Russ, you stated that my opinions are caused by a bias that I bring to the text. Do you mean by this that you have no bias that you bring to the text? Maybe something along the lines of a presumption that the entire book is the equivalent of words right out of your god's mouth, and therefore unchallengable? Sound at all familiar to you?
Give it a try sometime, applying my bias to the text - filtering the words through a logic and common sense filter, and see what you come up with. It's actually a rather refreshing activity, that I enjoy quite a bit.
@ GodPot: I think you are missing the breadth & scope of what I am saying.
I recognize that you don't believe Jesus is who he said he was. Consider this logically (even if not agreeing with the premise): if Jesus is who he claimed to be, then living as if he doesn't exist is utterly self-destructive. But that's not the reason I'm a Christian. That's just a consequence – and might sound fear-based.
More to the point: clearly you have been given the impression that Christianity is about keeping the rules/earning your way into God's favor. That's the exact opposite of the Gospel. Jesus came because no one can earn their way. He lived the life I could not & died the death I deserve – and gave his resume/record to me as a gift (Rom.6:23). It's not something I do/earn. It's something he has done.
In other words: I don't obey to get love. I love b/c he obeyed (did what I failed to do). That's why I now enjoy obeying.
It's a completely different motive. Like getting married & voluntarily opting out of pursuing any other lovers.
In Jesus, God's agenda isn't to (literally) scare the Hell out of us, but rather it is to put the joy of Heaven in us.
@ EnjaySea: does your logic include the very tangible historic evidence of these texts?
more pointedly, myths & legends arise 100s of years after historical events, and never have the level of detail that these accounts have. the accounts themselves present themselves as historical reportage (Lk.1:1-4; 1 Jn.1:1-3; 1 Cor.15:1-3; etc.). and the innovation of modern realistic fiction did not develop until 1700 years later. So, either these accounts are outright lies (which the writers themselves would later die for – and who dies for their own lies when they could recant & live?), or they are exactly what they purport to be: historical reportage. (See CS Lewis' "Fern Seeds & Elephants" essay on this.)
yes, it is precisely because of the miraculous claims of these accounts that they come under such scrutiny and people attempt to categorize them differently. but from a purely historical, literary basis, there is no other ancient doc.ument with such a wealth of resources. For example, Suetonius (a NT contemporary) has only roughly 200 manuscripts (considered a lot for that era) and none earlier than the 9th century AD. By comparison, the NT has over 5,700 early Greek manuscripts (not including 10k in Latin, and over 1 million quotations among the Church Fathers), with the earliest coming b/t 100-150 AD. For more on the accuracy of the manuscripts:
But more centrally to your point: what is so *implausible* about your take on Easter is this – how would Christianity even get off the ground if these claims were not true? The NT authors are writing w/in 30 years of Jesus' death, making claims & naming names of witnesses – all of which are an invitation to fact check. The Roman Empire made correspondence & travel easy enough – and certainly the tightly knit Jewish communities that were the initial target of Christian evangelism had ready-made family connections in Israel to do such fact-checking.
For example, in 1 Cor.15, Paul says the risen Jesus appeared to over 500 people at once. That's within 20 years of the supposed event. Certainly many of those 500 are still alive. And Corinth is a central trade city. Commerce & communication were a given. To make such a claim is to invite someone to look into it. If these claims aren't true, Christianity does not get off the ground.
As I said to someone else on this blog earlier...
All of this debate is comes down to one thing: did the resurrection happen? Is Easter real? Even Bart Ehrman has a new book out admitting that Jesus had to exist (while also openly admitting he is an agnostic "with atheistic tendencies"). Would Christianity have even got off the ground if the resurrection didn't happen? Honestly, I'm amazed at how much "belief" a skeptic has to have about conspiracy theories to avoid the underlying historical necessity of the person & life of Jesus for the existence of Christianity today.
Who cares if the "loophole bit" makes the most sense out of that knot of stupidity?. It's stupid, and obviously so.. Other than being brainwashed into thinking the ridiculous philosophy is "the truth" there's no reason to believe it is so.. If god was serious about being believed in he would do a whole lot better job than the idiocy found in the bible or the christian meme.. Nobody worships idiots (like biblegod) and nobody but idiots want worship..
So, your god would act more like Obama or momoya ? Sounds like you want to create an idol more to your liking. What makes you think you would worship or bow to anyone to begin with?
Even if God with His resurrected Son Jesus came and did a bunch of tricks for you would you be a different person in any regard?
"He lived the life I could not & died the death I deserve " "I love b/c he obeyed (did what I failed to do)."
All of your belief's hang on accepting an Ancient cultures ideology and diety as absolute truth which after having read the bible myself cover to cover several times and was a Christian minister for almost 15 years I now see it for what it really is, obsolete fantasy. You can cling to the parts that still ring true which are the basic human nature principles the bible spells out for the mostly uneducated masses which did and do benefit mankind. But much like the Mosaic law, just because we still wash our hands before we eat or after we touch a dead body it's because of the germs we now know about, that doesn't mean we need to follow the rest of the unrelated rituals such as secluding women during their periods or not eating shellfish and pork now that we have proper refridgeration.
The only way to make the claim that you are deserving of death is to have subjected yourself to someone elses pre-judgement of all humans as imperfect and sinful by nature which would imply that there is an absolute perfect nature of man we all must accept, but so far the only judges who have stepped forward to be the arbiters of our behavior are other imperfect men. I put it to you that your ideal is pure fantasy and you have nothing to feel guilty about and are not deserving of death.
Why even reply if you're not going to say anything substantial?. The bible is demonstrably wrong all over the place and presents a really stupid and contradictory god.. You don't see for the same reason I didn't see it for almost half a century–you're brainwashed.. Nobody should believe in a god as stupid as the one the bible because it can't be demonstrated as anything more than myth.
@ GodPot: Judas was with Jesus himself for 3 years and still missed the message. No doubt many who claim to represent Christ do not – as Jesus himself said...
The way you read the Old Testament (as though it were something separate from the cross – or as you put it "things that ring true today") misses the unity of Scripture. Here's a short video (explicitly for ministers) on the main message of the Bible – and how it is seen throughout. I'd be interested if that was ever the way you read Scripture.
Well, I'll speak to your main point Russ, would Christianity even got off the ground if these things weren't true?
May I point you to the story of Joseph Smith, a con man, a fortune teller, and a proven liar, (see his fraudulent translation of an Egyptian text which was later shown to be completely fabricated), who even though he was lying through his teeth from day one, started a religion which now boasts 13 million followers.
So I ask you, how did Mormonism even get off the ground?
I'm basing my point on the simple medical fact that if your dead, you're dead. Period. Countless people have claimed "near-death experiences", which by the very fact that they were alive to claim them, proves that they did not die. And I only mention that, because that's always the nonsense that gets paraded out whenever someone denies the possibility of resurrection, as though the exaggerations of some people who lost oxygen to their brain proves that resurrection is true. It doesn't.
I don't accept the claim that Jesus was resurrected. Shall I repeat that? I don't accept the claim that Jesus was resurrected. And there's no list of references you can provide to me to convince me that the impossible happened then, has ever happened, or ever will happen.
@ EnjaySea: I hear you. You're not a Christian. I understand that is your belief. But the burden of proof that you bear is this: where did the Church come from?
Mormonism is not a good analogy – precisely because Joseph Smith did not die for his claims (instead he greatly prospered b/c of them), the earliest texts are not on public display (which makes one wonder about the accuracy & willingness to submit those texts to public scrutiny; notably the opposite from the Bible), and Joseph Smith did not claim to be God himself (but just a prophet, like the founders of all the other major religions of the world other than Jesus).
Christianity began with Jews: a people who (at that time) uniquely believed there was only one God, who would never become human. Yet suddenly, thousands of Jews begin believing this preposterous claim and spreading it throughout the world, even to non-Jews. Even Bart Ehrman (a self-proclaimed "agnostic with atheistic tendencies") notes the strong historical evidence that requires any historian admit Jesus of Nazareth existed.
The question then comes: why is this guy so different? No other individual *in history* has made such megalomaniacal claims and had more than a handful of followers (which normally promptly fell off after that founder's death). If the apostles fabricated this stuff, why would they die for lies they themselves fabricated when the simply could have recanted & lived? Sure, plenty of religious people are willing to die for their beliefs... but they are not the ones who supposedly *made them up.*
Again, Christianity doesn't get off the ground without the resurrection.
Here's NT scholar N.T. Wright (who has written extensively on this subject):
Russ, the resurrection is just ONE of the stupid things in the bible.. There's whole big long pages of the stuff!!!
@ momoya: if the resurrection is real, everything else is minor in comparison.
It all comes down to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The resurrection can't be believed because there's not nearly enough evidence for a claim that preposterous.. The bible's god is not to be believed because it's a myth–clearly and obviously an amalgamation of the various myths alongside the jewish ones..
The bible fails on enough points that the resurrection hardly matters.. Here's just one of many.. The gospels say that Jesus referenced a world-wide flood.. The facts attain there was no such flood.. The gospel's jesus was wrong and therefore not god and therefore the whole thing is bunk..
When you christians can prove anything that matters instead of just telling stories of other people believing in other people who believed in other people who believed in other people–let us know.. It's tough enough believing regular claims with regular evidence, but extraordinary claims with zero evidence?!?! Puh-lease!!
Good Russ, I'm glad that you recognize that it all comes down to the resurrection. That makes things real simple.
I don't believe that it happened. Have I made that clear yet? And the fact that some people were tricked into believing that it happened, and all through the ages believed in it so strongly that they gave their lives for it, just punctuates how cruel and viscious the lie was, and is. All of those people could have been preserved, but your religion killed them.
I don't know what part of that you're so proud of, because I think it's a crime and a travesty. And you'll never count me in the ranks of the gullible millions who continue to take this in, hook, line, and sinker.
Oh, and incidentally Russ, Joseph Smith did die for his beliefs (lies). He was killed by an angry mob, precisely the same way that Jesus was. Okay, it was a bullet instead of a cross. But he was killed for the same reasons.
Again, I ask you. How did Mormonism get off the ground? The same way Christianity did.
Oh, but you say that claiming to be god makes a better prophet? Okay, then based on that rule, David Koresh was an equal to Jesus, and by the way, also died for his beliefs as well. But what was the basis of his ministry? Lies, deception, and the thirst for power and dominance over women.
Have I convinced you yet that I'm not easily swayed by the whole "prophet" schtick? Because I absolutely, positively, am not!
John was in the spirit when he saw these visions in Revelation. The only way one can understand is for the Holy Spirit to reveal it to you. One must understand symbolic language to realize what message is being relayed here. 666 = man unholy trinity. 6 is the number of man. There are many anti-Christ. The book of Revelation is fascinating and most refers to the spiritual realm. A bowl being poured out in wrath may not be seen with our eyes, but in the spiritual realm these things will take place. They will manifest differently in the earthly realm. I do not understand all of Revelation, but much of it is being revealed now in the world.
John was clearly asleep or delirious when he saw these visions. He was human, and that's how things work with this species.
666? So you're familiar with universal geometry and numerology? It has zero to do with Christianity.
so if i do LSD you will do whatever i say because i can see things, and only those with the 'holy spirit' see things, maybe you should go to a mental ward or talk to a homeless person, i am sure they have the 'spirit' and you should do exactly what they say because of it.
more likely that john was eating grain contaminated with hallucinogenic properties
as is religion.
I agree. I dislike religion, because it breeds hatred, violence, and intolerance. But I can't help but notice you call yourself Caligula. I guess we all have our dark side, don't we? :)
For all those who so willingly want to crush true followers of God, not religious bigots, suppose you were living in the first century A.D....Would you have been appalled by your Caesar Tiberius? His favorite form of gratification was having un-weened babies put upon his member. How about Nero? He burned the bodies of followers of Jesus to illuminate the streets of Rome. Would you have squealed with delight as Christians were devoured by exotic animals in the colosseum? Perhaps....moral relativism is a hideous thing IMO....
No, those things are not ok. That even slightly. However, evidently, in the Bible, what do you see? Lot offering up his virgin daughters to the gay men in the city to do with as they pleased. He also sanctioned slaughtering entire cities and taking the virgin women as their wives. When you speak of good and morality, you must look at the things that happened throughout history, and that INCLUDES the hideous crimes committed int he Bible, ordered or approved by God.
Sorry, I type too quickly sometimes. I meant to say "God" ordered the slaughter of cities. Not Lot.
It's disgusting behavior regardless of who is doing it to who and regardless of who believes what.. Duh?
I think most people that find that behavior truly disgusting will not consider any god "holy" who considers it good to torture humans eternally.
And I have a question. Doesn't Revelations say something about the winds blowing from the four corners of the world? Smacks a bit of ancient maps and beliefs that the earth was flat. Hmmm? So, I ask, if Jesus was God, or the son of God, and he had divine knowledge, how come he never told anyone that the earth was round? And if that was a school lesson from his daddy he slept through, how come God himself never told anyone that? Maybe God and Jesus both had a few bites of that moldy bread?
"It is he that sitteth upon the cricle
of the earth, and the inhabitants
thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the
heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent
to dwell in." –Isaiah 40:22
*Circle=Hebrew "chuwg",meaning "sphere"
Also, here we see the aerth as being described as being suspended in space:
"He stretcheth out the north over the empty place,
and hangeth the earth upon nothing." Job 26:7
Ok, so somewhere in the Bible there's something that hints to the earth being round. Ok, I'm cool with that. However, in Revelations, it specifically refers to the "four corners of the earth", in which he was SHOWN the wind being blown in.
And I would think that anyone calling themselves Caligula would be familiar with the concept of too much wine and incest. :)
Sorry, Caligula, that was in reference to a comment I posted that didn't post, evidently, referencing the possibility that perhaps no one was high on moldy bread, but perhaps Viagra, as he got drunk on wine, didn't recognize his daughters, and proceeded to sleep with them. Something that my male friends say is impossible, like trying to push an earthworm back into its hole. :)
Typing too quickly. Speaking of Lot here.
yes I do enjoy wine, praise Bacchus dear citizen. However, the 'four corners of the earth' translates more to the cardinal directions....
Perhaps so. Perhaps those are the cardinal translations. But as the wind whispers, so can it howl.
LOL, the last christian who discussed "circle of the earth" with me said that it was not "sphere" because Hebrew doesn't have a word for sphere, and that god didn't know how to get past that pedantic gate.
"Circle=Hebrew "chuwg",meaning "sphere"
The root of chûgh (or chug) is mentioned six times in the bible, and it is quite evident from its usage, in context, that it refers to a specific geometrical shape; "A circle as drawn with a compass" or "encompassed".
In Job 26:10 and Prov. 8:27, chûgh is used with choq, intending "to inscribe a circle." This nominal infinitive form also appears in Job 22:14, when signifying "the circle of the heavens"
In Isa. 40:22, where it denotes "the circle of the earth".
Sir. 43:12 uses chûgh as description of the rainbow.
In Isa. 44:13, chûgh appears as mechûghah, which simply means "a compass," in other words the geometrical instrument which you use to can draw circles on a paper.
The Hebrew word for a sphere like a ball is Dur (דור).
"He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball (Dur) into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord's house." (Isaiah 22:18)
Caligula, that passage doesn't suggest a round earth to me at all. The writer is describing people in the world as as grasshopers in a tent. The circular floor of the tent is their world, and the walls and roof of the tent are the heavens. It suggests a very unsophisticated understanding of the earth as a 2-dimensional platform and the sky as a sheet or curtain that encloses it. I think you are making way too big a stretch here to desperately try and retrofit a modern understanding of the universe onto an archaic one.
The number of the beast is 666. Take a look at the 6th book, 6th chapter and 6th verse of the bible. It fits right in with the abuse issues now so apparent in our society. I'll leave it up to you to interpret it's meaning.....
4) The Dead Sea Scrolls are yet another affirmation of the accurate transmission of content. No, you weren't questioning the OT Scriptures – but you were questioning the NT. Notably, most of the biblical authors were (just like the OT) Jewish. It is not simply a case of hermeneutics, but rather did the NT accurately represent Jesus in what he said & did & how he interpreted the OT. And honestly, it is not all that different than how the Psalmist would interpret & pray back older sections of the OT.
As a Christian, I even believe that most of the writings in the Bible regarding preidctions were wishful thinking at the time. Think of the times these books were written in and go from there. Also come to grips that ALL of the WORD is NOT in the Bible. The Bible was a very well EDITED as well as INTERPRETED by POLITICS book.
Now regarding some of my fellow Christians on this blog I offer this: "Lord I pray that you will save me from my fellow Christians."
Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Trancend the world illusion of enslavement. The world denounces truth.... Accepting Jesus Christ will result in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you. Currently your constructing your own path that suits your sin lifestyle. Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food .
Just think if you can find a truth you can take with you in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life. You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf, the greatest minds knowledge fate or are eventually plagerzed, your good deeds are forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated, your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over .
Trancend you egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Relise your a sinner and part of the collective problem... Repent.... Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence. Faith above reason in Jesus Christ. Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth. Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment. You don't get what you want you get what you are in christ. I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .
Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?
Down is up. Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.
No thanks, Jim.
Well first prove,without the book that there is a Satan.
jim: i feel the same about psilocybin
i ate some 'shrooms and i saw LOTS of colors
@JIM: "Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revenge,gluttony with food."
i see most of those that profess too loudly to be christian are guilty of commiting each of these acts and more.
and if desire for knowledge; meaning to become educated is a sin then to hell i go. i would rather know and understand the world around me than walk around a complete ignorant person that is easily fooled and lied to.
Root post is a form of the common flawed argument known as Pascal's Wager.
Interesting article. But I take issue with the wording of one part.
"a 1979 book that examined a cache of newly discovered “secret” gospels of Jesus."
The Nag Hammadi was discovered in 1945. It was roughly a year later that a more famous discovery, The Dead Sea Scrolls was found.
Another Myth evinced by Facts of the Bible show that GOD Planned for Jesus Christ aka the Son of God and Bridegroom to Come to have a Wife of His very own, just like GOD gave Adam, Moses, King David, Noah and even his step daddy Joseph. The Bride of Christ is called His Other body, and We All are members of the Church, a Bone of His Bone and Flesh of His Flesh which Jesus said He loved because No Man Yet ever hated his own body. However Most people dont know; that As Jesus slept on the cross and the precious water and blood fell down from His side to the ground below; that GOD did the same thing as in the beginning; which was to use the dust, the earth, the blood, water and Bone by his side to make him a suitable wife. Satan was the bone inside of Jesus all along and that's why No where in the bible will you find that Satan ever talked to person. Satan only talked with GOD or Jesus and Jesus told Satan to Get Behind him. So that means Satan risen and reborn in the Flesh of a Christian woman is who you should be expecting to show up next. Satan was transformed into an Angel of Light and Sent back by Jesus Christ as the Spirit of Truth to Collect His Rent aka the Final Judgment. The problem is No one really reads or Believes the bible. They never look to see if GOD really said; what the person starting from Adam said God said. For instance; did you know; GOD never said anything about they "Couldnt Touch the Tree" or they would Die. That was a Lie; Adam told Eve and she passed it on to the Serpent who knew that couldnt be true. Poor Eve was a babe in the woods; and She didnt know Serpent naturally touch trees and dont even like fruit since they prefer flesh, blood and meat. Men have blamed women for getting them kicked out of the garden and have been lying about this event every since. Here is the proof that GOD Almighty is a FeMale Spirit using the Bible with Mendel's 4th Black Humor and Gender theories. This example shows all males or fathers are Xy and all females or mother are XX. But if You add the gender together or (To Get Her) Xy + XX you can see each X has its seed in itself or each X has a male or female. This shows the Father = X, the Son= Y" the next X is a Sister, Daughter or Wife and last X is a Mother. However if the word FAMILY mean Father And Mother I Love You than a XX person such as the Virgin Mary would have to be Female or disgised as the Holy Hostess, Goddess or Lioness of Judah which is the fiercest of Beasst in protection of HER Children. All through the Bible we are told "Male and Female made He them and reminded "It is for this cause the man is to leave his Father AND Mother to cleave unto his wife, and the Twain (2 of them ) shall be One Flesh. So my X(yX)X theory is just a View of the Heavenly Body, Waters and Womb of GOD. A FeMale Goddess in Heaven, just like His (Jesus) Mother in Earth since as shown above both the far left and right X are female. Jesus Christ is the only Male or Y in the Trinity Family and if you review Gen. 25:22-25 you will see that the twins in Rebecah's womb are different from the Twins boy and girl inside of GOD Heavenly Body and Mind. The center X is actually Satan disguised as GOD's PMS seed or Blood that naturally Fell to the Ground. This can be proven by reading Rev. 22:2 about the Tree of Life, and that's why the blood from a woman was considered Unclean . Although the answers to the Bible's mysteries are in the very 1st book my XyXX theory show Man will Weep Sore, after finally understanding why GOD would not let any Man claim to be Jesus's Father. Also take a look at Isa. 66:6-9 because that where the Beast comes alive. Unfortunately all this time we have been waiting for a Fat Lady to Sing, when SHe (and shows both genders in the words like Fat Her, Mot Her, He/r, FeMale etc) decided to send Her Boney Daughter instead. So using the bible I can prove that GOD is not only Fat, but Black as Aunt Jemima grinning at us on the pancake box. In fact our Moma is So Fat; even Jesus Christ himself calls Her our Fat Her who art in Heaven...Peace out
If I had a vivid dream or "revelation" about an America that was strong and unified but I saw every home, fence, building and sign painted pink, many people would think I was crazy. But If I got enough people to believe me and all of them went around at night painting everything in their town pink, some people might wake up the next day and think "Hmmm, maybe that guy was right, I see prophecy being fulfilled so maybe he was inspired by a higher power, and he did prophecy that we would unite as a people and become stronger, so maybe thats true too..." And that person joined the throng of other pink painters. Does this mean my dream really was inspired? No, it just means that I was convincing enough gullible people to snowball a self-fulfilling prophecy. For almost two thousand years now Christians have been trying to make the prophecies in Revelation come true, always with themselves on the side of God tearing apart their enemies and handing themselves paradise, all while justifying their current violence against their foes as "God's Justice".
Someone asked me what am I drinking? Well considering the woman in Rev. 17:6-9 is called "Drunken with the blood of saints and martyrs of Christ, I contend I or she must have had too much communion wine. However, Rev. 19:7-10, 21:9, and Rev. 3:9 all talk about the fact Jesus made them the synogogues for Satan. So just ask yourself; if its possible; the Woman drunken with the blood of saints, and Angel who holds the cup filled with the Last Plagues and the Spirit & Bride in rev. 22:16-17 are all a Females. Even King Solomon didnt know the ways of a Woman, and according to the Book Jesus is/was a real Man, Son of God, and virgin 33+ year old unmarried man. Jesus & Satan just had different missions given to them by GOD. Jesus came to Save the World whereas Satan's mission was to Deceive the Whole World, Remain Silent up until the last minute or hour; than Come forth and Tell the Whole Truth and nothing but the truth so help Her GOD This time.
My own opinion is that the book of Revealation is a Beginning not an Ending.
I've long considered it evidence of a really bad acid trip combined with mental instability.
Everything in the book of Revelation is a prelude to the world becoming a righteous world.
You are welcome to believe so.
I disagree. I think that whoever John was, he had some issues, and he probably had something in his diet (theories tend toward a dangerous mold in the bread/grain he was eating) that contributed to his "visions".
The lower the class, the darker and more unprocessed the bread; the grain chosen for such bread would be inferior grains harvested under too-wet conditions (properly harvested grain would go into whiter, more processed, and higher value bread).. Rye allowed to slightly mold will produce ergot bodies; ergot bodies are sometimes highly hallucinogenic and tends to bring on powerful and disturbing visions.. Anthropologists have matched ergot-body-growing-conditions to outbreaks of supersti.tious sightings/hunts of werewolves, witches, and vampires.
Plus there's always exhaustion, dehydration, nutrition deficiencies, and brain anomalies.. Visions just aren't that unique.
John of Patmos also supposedly got his Revelation from a small cave, or opening in the rock. So there is also the possibility of gases leading to visions.
He may also have been pulling one of those long term fastings, like Jesus did in the desert, and boy did he see some crazy stuff. Anyone would without food for 40 days.
It's quite amusing really when people quote Revelation it as if it were an authoritative text, even though it reads like the rantings of an alchoholic who thinks his wine bottle is a microphone.
myweightinwords: lysergic acid on the bread?
Except Daniel had almost the same vision, so I guess he had some bread also.
Or John was fully versed in Daniel, and was just echoing some of his hero's vision material. After all, Revelation is a work of writing first, and only a true vision if you trust that the man wasn't making this all up.
I'll lean toward "he was making it all up", if you don't mind.
Ergot bodies in rye is fairly common (or was, before modern day screening), and it could be a severely bad trip.. And as I said, hallucinations really aren't that rare and can be caused by any of a plethora of factors..
Yes, the author of Revelation, as a Jew, most certainly read (or was taught) the book of Daniel.
I know a woman who writes numerous stories on a fan-fiction site of the continuing adventures of The Bionic Man and The Bionic Woman... and I'm sure that there are those who write stories based on Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland! Many of Shakespeare's works have been adapted in various ways over the years.
That Revelation agrees with or echoes Daniel means nothing.
Enjay Sea- How do you know that he was fully verse in Daniel, the written word wasn't as accessible as it is today.
John's visions were no different than the oracles of syblls of Delphi. Gas induced, by product of a mixture of HERBS or by shrooms.
Yes I'm a Christian that questions.... so I know I'm probably going to get roasted.
He had access Kenrick. "Using the Greek Septuagint, John makes 348 allusions, or indirect quotes, from 24 canonized books of the Hebrew Bible, predominantly from Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Psalms. (Merrill C. Tenney. Interpreting Revelation (Grand Rapids: Eermans, 1959), 101, 104)."
Its about the end of an old world and the beginning of a new one. Not all doom and gloom like the way people want to take it. Your suppose to rejoice because the old world is too corrupt to exist any longer and a better one will takes its place. You have to let go of this world so that you wont go with it.
@cray: please show me where in revelations it states that the earth will be made new after your god kills us all.
Enjay Sea- It's an interpertation not Factual.
what part of bible is NOT an interpretation? There is nothing factual there either.. you can not pull the same argument for and against a point without coming across as a douch..
hmm- If you haven't experienced it you wouldn't know.
so, let me guess, you must have an absolute unquestionable belief that god is with you.. and then sun shining on your face, the breeze you feel on the face is god answering you and wrapping you in love?
Be true to yourself for once and tell me, do you not see the problem in that logic?
Or, just an opium trip.
Snow- Tell me the problem with that Logic.
Snow- If God created the Universe, tell me the problem with that Logic.
Snow- the if is for you, I know he did.
Snow- You see the logic.
It is sad to find a bible scholar who is not even saved spreading her own opinions about the accuracy of who authored the Book of Revelation and what it means. No Christian can hate others, or scorn others. This woman has no evidence to support her claim that this was not written down by the apostle John either, she simply offers the reader her own personal opinion which could be accurate, or not. Such want of true scholarship concerning a spiritual tomb. She believes that a spiritual book can be dissected accurately by someone who does not even believe in what it claims? What rubbish! She simply showcases her utter lack of comprehension of what a Christian truly is.
I hear that some biologists study fish, and they aren't even fish themselves; and some geologists aren't even made of rocks; and some historians study the French Revolution and they aren't even French; worse yet some premier bible scholars aren't even fundamentalist Christians.
Mandarax, great response. Eric, wow, did you even think about what you typed?
Have you read her book? If not, then how can you say that he doesn't have any evidence?
I doubt Eric here has ever read the book of Revelation let alone this authors take on it.
Christ, save me from many of your followers.
Eric, being a saved Christian doesn't give a person any unique qualifications for understanding Christianity. Quite the contrary, if you're too deep into belief, it's more likely that your objectviity regarding the religion will have evaporated at the church door.
I believe the following explains Ms. Pagels lack of understanding of scripture:
12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.[a] 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:12-15)
Mandarax, that has to be one of the best comments I have ever read! :) That made me laugh so much, I almost fell off my chair. I so want to make a t-shirt that says "Some geologists aren't even made of rocks". I completely agree with you. Thank you for making my day better! :) :) :)
The study of rocks and and animals is a study of natural elements. To understand them no faith is required, because we can touch and examine. The Bible and the things the Bible speaks of requires belief and faith in things you cannot see or touch. If you do not have a strong belief in God you cannot understand the Bible.. If you do not believe in the spirit world you cannot experience the spirit world.
Thanks, Hope! That made MY day.
@earl: faith- firm belief in something for which there is no proof
belief-: a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing
2: something believed; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group
3: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence
so if you are talking about having a belief in faith, that is basically saying "believing in something without proof" that is a recipe to be fooled by everyone.
"If you do not have a strong belief in God you cannot understand the Bible."
But I have been told by countless Christians that the whole purpose of the Bible is to bring us to God. How can that work if we have to believe already in order to understand it? Don't you guys ever think these things through?
You have no evidence that it WAS written by the apostle John. The catholic church doesn't even claim that the apostle John wrote it. As a matter of fact, Denis (Alexandria), Eusebuis (Caesarea), Cyril (Jerusalem), Gregory Nazianzen and John Chrysostom have all denied the authorship as of being from the apostle. The vocabulary, style and grammar between "Revelation" and the gospel of John are different, and it was written later, at the end of the First Century.
Map of irreligion (no religious practice) worldwide:
Notice how those Northern European countries (the ones identified as the happiest) are among the darkest colors on the map. Another pattern that jumps out is how the most religious countries (the lightest colors) correspond so closely to parts of the world plagued by poverty, violence, and lack of education.
Exactly. A man or woman after my own heart. As I say, religion is like language. It's what you're taught. It becomes ingrained in people, generation after generation. Most people don't even question things, because they've been taught not to. But where would we be if we never asked questions? Still sitting in caves, killing things with a club, that's where.
largely depends on where your feet stand on the rock
Prayer changes things ..
If I pray will you please GO AWAY?
Prayer doesn’t not; 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!".
Hey Jesus; just relax a little bit.
I would like to point out that though you can pray for anything the bible doesn't say all prayers will be answered. Also God does not promise to protect you form misfortune and death. The Bible specifically stats that your not guarded against misfortune, accidents and death.
So just because YOU haven't seen anybodies prayers answered doesn't maan that prayers aren't answered. I have had prayers answer and other not answered. Finally God does ignore people with no faith so God will not perform just for your satisfaction.
God is not a Jeanie. Its not his job to make everything comfortable for us. worship is love offered to God no matter what happens to you.
No evidence prayer changes anything. There is a church here in Portland that prays over their kids and they die like flies. Every year we have lived in this area some parent is on trial for the death of their child. I have seen no evidence that prayer changes anything.
Tha ability to face facts as opposed to believing beliefs because.. Is always healthy.
she says. “….He doesn’t even say Jesus died for your sins.”
What do you think John meant when he said, "because you were slaughtered and with your blood (Jesus) you bought persons for God." Rev 5:10 see also Matt 26:28.?
Many contemporary NT scholars have concluded that Matt 26:28 is historically nil. e.g. http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?ti-tle=016_Supper_and_Eucharist and Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 238-239 and pp. 694-695.
The Book of Revelations? We have this:
"Thomas Jefferson omitted it along with most of the Biblical canon, from the Jefferson Bible, and wrote that at one time, he "considered it as merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams." 
Martin Luther once "found it an offensive piece of work" and John Calvin "had grave doubts about its value."
Just for clarification;
Yahweh is Hebrew
Jehovah is English, German, Hungarian, Dutch
Jehova is Czech
And so on, it is the name of God well recognised all thousands of laguages. We know, as we speak them all over the world and proud to be his witnesses. Isaiah 43:12
YHWH – no vowels so many insert the ones you believe sound the way the ancient Hebrews said it. But what if they are all wrong?...
YOHOWOH? (maybe it is Santa!!)
That's why Christians have always been making up new $#it.
Actually the KJ only used God's name Jehovah 4 times until the latest version, which has replaced it in all the nearly 7000 times it should be there.
As and Anglican you should have known that!
And yes you are very bitter for a 'Christian'. I am sorry you feel the way you do about Jehovah's Witnesses. However you cannot deny the global preaching they do. Jesus said in the Lords prayer, "Hallowed be thy name," He was talking of Jehovah of course and we follow his example. And of course we believe Jesus is Christ and God's Kingdoms King, our ransomer. I show my appreciation for what he did by doing the work he did. Bringing praise to his father Jehovah and preaching and declaring the Kingdom of God.
I haven't had an Anglican at my door telling me about Christ or his Kingdom?? ummm I wonder why?
Hi Paul, you do understand that "Jehovah" is not God's official name, right? The word "Jehovah" was derived from a translation of the Hebrew word YHWH. Since the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, YHWH would be more official. Furthermore, what is the point of bringing up how much your religion goes door to door? Mormons go to a lot more around the world. That proves nothing about the legitimacy of their beliefs.
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