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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. Willie

    If you truly want the truth about revelations just look into the following: New World Order, Illuminati Card Game predictions, The Rothchilds, RFID Chip implants... That should be enough. We are at the final stages now, Either that or Revelations, God, The Bible and all connected to that is false. But Im not worried about that. How can one manuscript(revelations) written almost 2000 years ago show our current day so directly. Here is my conclusion. Physics is having a breakdown at its fundaments. If I am right, I die for a purpous and have a chance at something out of this world, no matter how hard it gets, If I am wrong, Then revelations will not play out, and I will have a good life(im a programmer and web designer), and at the end of it all I will just die, and never exist again, I dont care about the president, nor the pope of the Catholic Church for they are merely puppets of something bigger. From a friend – You owe yourself to at least do some research. Remember this, its better to be a servant in heaven, then a king on earth, for the master cares about his servants and he will never abandon them. And in his presence they will flourish. But the kings of the earth's time is short, And their deaths are tragic... Not everyone will understand this... Just hope some do. because the time is running out.

    January 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  2. Denitza

    You know what really irritates me is all this bickering over a book in the BIble. The book of Revelation WAS NOT FROM A HALLUCINATION! It is a book written in a style of literature we are not used to that s why its hard to understand. Bascially it s a message in pictures-that s all! It is a great work of literary art-a masterpeace in Chrisitan literature. If you hate it-oh well-it will still be around today, tomorow, and a very long time! God or books inspired by him aren't going to go away so deal with it! If you hate God and literature about him-oh well-won't keep me from believing!!!!!!!!!!! Or millions of others!

    January 4, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • Willie

      If you truly want the truth about revelations just look into the following: New World Order, Illuminati Card Game predictions, The Rothchilds, RFID Chip implants... That should be enough. We are at the final stages now, Either that or Revelations, God, The Bible and all connected to that is false. But Im not worried about that. How can one manuscript(revelations) written almost 2000 years ago show our current day so directly. Here is my conclusion. Physics is having a breakdown at its fundaments. If I am right, I die for a purpous and have a chance at something out of this world, no matter how hard it gets, If I am wrong, Then revelations will not play out, and I will have a good life(im a programmer and web designer), and at the end of it all I will just die, and never exist again, I dont care about the president, nor the pope of the Catholic Church for they are merely puppets of something bigger. From a friend – You owe yourself to at least do some research. Remember this, its better to be a servant in heaven, then a king on earth, for the master cares about his servants and he will never abandon them. And in his presence they will flourish. But the kings of the earth's time is short, And their deaths are tragic... Not everyone will understand this... Just hope some do. because the time is running out.

      January 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  3. Des Currie

    John Blake should read the Bible again, espescialy Revelation, as he is confused with his truth and scriptures truth. This time, try leaning on the Bibles truth.
    Des Currie

    January 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  4. Denitza

    I take the three fold aproach to Revelation. John was writing about hints in Israel's past, Christians under Rome, Fall of Rome and perhaps he was writing to give Christians hope when all evil kingdoms or beasts will fall when Jesus does return in the future. "The things which were, which are, and which shall be" Rev 1.

    December 17, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  5. kindness

    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    I Accepted Jesus christ as my lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted 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.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners. Even once we are saved by christs merciful grace we will still experience adversity to mold us to adhering to the truth.
    We will slip... But not fall of the ship ...carrying us onward to perfection in christs grace.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from some other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    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 etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any 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 fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be 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 . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith ....above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read romans or corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are by faith above reason in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved
    Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door,
    And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
    The, looking in, I saw upon the floor
    Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
    “How many anvils have you had,” said I,
    “To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
    “Just one,” said he, and then with twinkling eye,
    “The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”
    And so, thought I, the anvil of God’s Word,
    For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
    Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
    The anvil is unharmed – the hammers gone.

    Truth is..exclusive

    December 11, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  6. Yawhweh Rapha ben Yahshua ha Mashiach

    hahahhahahahahhahahahhahahahhaaaah you were all wrong!!!!!!

    December 10, 2012 at 5:14 am |
    • Andre Makina

      Revelation is not referring to 911 in any way; all your interpretations are false. You want to tie in current happenings with the PROPHECIES that Jesus told John to Witness and write, then do some research on the Illuminati, New World Order, this one world government they are trying to built; then it will all be clear to you. 911 was nothing compared to what God has in stone; By the way the original Babylon is Iraq; Iraq war, "Behold Babylon the great has fallen" years after 911

      December 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  7. Zack HInson

    This Elaine Pagels, Like. What? If the book of Revelations was written for one mans views, then the whole bible must follow by that set of rules. And making it completely useless to mankind or even Christianity. CNN Is wack.

    December 5, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Denitza

      I agree with you Zack. These scholars think they know more than God lol. Revelation can be enjoyed when one knows the historical background, style, audience, and the overall message. It doesn't take a scholar to tell you how read it I think we are all smart enough to understand and enjoy the book for ourselvs if we just know context it was written and the wonderful message of hope that it brings. In my opinion Revelation is a comentary of the past-Christians under Rome and message of hope of Christ's ultimate return in the future.

      January 4, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
  8. Let he who has ears hear

    18 ¶ For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, Deut. 4.2 ; 12.32 God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. – Came right out of Revelations. Don't confuse yourselves by adding extra stuff to the Bible or by taking things out that you don't want to hear. God's word is true. All of it.

    December 2, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • Ricky Bobby

      Hilarious. take another hit. Shake and bake.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • brad

      Amen!

      December 23, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
  9. IH82BL8

    The digressives continue their march in to the chopper blades. I come across this often, there is no god, we evolved however there is not one scientific proof of that cross over. I often tell the non believers, I will cross over to your line if your "god" can create one cell, just one. Not clone, copy but create one cell as simple as an amoeba, Man has explored to the DNA level to the planets and thirsted for power that will ALWAYS be out of their reach. They instead will continue to chase the grand illusion.

    Smarter civilizations have fallen as will the US and sadly what stops them from seeing is the same thing that creates the next technology, the spot behind their forehead. The gatekeeper is here, watch what happens now. Progressives, liberals and those that claim to be tolerant, look in the mirror. Are you? You will ignore a human that is on the streets hungry, dirty but happily will open the door for a person in a wheelchair and say, have a nice day. What is the difference? Look in the mirror.

    Take care all.

    November 28, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • Tim.V.Time

      I agree with your assessment that the US will fall one day. We are not invincible, but imperfect creatures who consistently screw everything up. See my blog – All Twin Towers Inevitably Fall at http://acuriousamericanwonders.blogspot.com/.

      December 1, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • brad

      Good Stuff

      December 23, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • true

      Revelation Explained at Last!

      by David C. Pack
      Staggering events will soon shock the whole world! Great prophecies in the book of Revelation show how and when these catastrophic events will occur. This booklet contains vital understanding that will forever change your outlook on the future. But you must have the keys that unlock it! And you must examine every scripture quoted—along with the entirety of Revelation. This stunning book of prophecy is opened, revealed and explained—at last!

      January 9, 2013 at 1:20 am |
  10. SacredGeologyMessenger

    Just before Easter (2012), there was an amazing geologic discovery that validated and de-mystified everything John wrote about in his Book of Revelations. Remember when John said he was "taken up in the heavens" and the angels showed him images? This discovery shows what John was shown. You can only see it when you're "up in the heavens' using GoogleEarth technology. These images include the White Horse (and he who sat upon it had a crown), a Red Horse (and he who sat upon it had a balance in his hands), the Locusts (with breastplates of iron and tails like a scorpion), the Harlot of Babylon (decked with gold, pearls & precious stones), the Beast of Revelation (with feet of a bear and the teeth of a Lion), and the Angel with the Key to the Bottomless Pit. and more. It may interest you to know that every one of his visions was discovered in LARGE geographic format (ranging from 1-10 miles across per image) in one 22 square mile area of the Utah mountains near Park City. This was not accomplished by the hands of man. For those who want to know more, a 5-minute video that summarizes this discovery can be found on YOUTUBE if you search DIVINE IMPRESSIONS PROPHETIC ART and look for the heading BOOK OF REVELATIONS: VISIONS ARE NOW REVEALED. Evidently, John wasn't kidding after all, and not only does this video validate his visions, it might be something that helps us arrive at a more accurate interpretation of his prophecy for the End of Days, especially when he warns us DO NOT DESTROY THE EARTH. In the video, you'll see that images that correlate to the Book of Revelations are revealed in the geography of Earth, and images that correspond to the Aztec Legend of Creation appear in the geography of Venus. An amazing find.

    November 8, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • W

      " a 5-minute video that summarizes this discovery can be found on YOUTUBE if you search DIVINE IMPRESSIONS PROPHETIC ART and look for the heading BOOK OF REVELATIONS: VISIONS ARE NOW REVEALED."

      No, it's not. It's crappy overlays on Google Earth that are no better than finding animal shapes in clouds. This kind of crack pot Christianity is what makes the religion look so uncredible. Please stop spreading this belief, it's fear mongering and distracts Christians from their walk with God.

      November 24, 2012 at 4:00 am |
      • Elizabeth

        Dear W. In response to your negative claims, I had absolutely no intention of fear mongering, but I sympathize with your inability to see the relationship between these profound images and scripture. If a child can see it, how is it that an adult can outwardly fail to acknowledge them as anything but a literal validation of John's prophecy? Even if these art forms challenge your current perception of reality, I would suggest that instead of dismissing them as impossible, to try and elevate your perception to see that this is truly Gods work so that you might appreciate its magnificence, rather than be turned away by it. It was meant for all of us to see!

        November 26, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  11. Judy Gray

    CNN writing a blog about belief...what a joke. Seriously, I'm laughing. The only thing CNN staff believe in is their presumed intellectual superiority over others. Obviously, they want to discredit the Holy Bible cause they're too perfect to believe in a God. They are Gods! I can't stand the media!

    November 7, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • BB

      Hi Judy, what's a nice Christian girl like you doing in a slimy place like CNN blog? However, God bless your right on target comment !

      November 10, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  12. The Servant of Jesus Christ

    Rev22vs19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

    November 2, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Bob

      Why does an omnipotent creature need a "servant", or any worship? Ridiculous.

      November 2, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Bob

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Nasty god you've made for yourself there.

      November 2, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Let he who has ears hear

      Haha! This made me think of the same verse and wrote the same exact thing!! And I didn't even see this until afterwards but thats cool. :D You're right on target.

      December 2, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • Ricky Bobby

      You know they just tacked that on once the council decided what they would and would not include so no one else would make changes, right?

      December 5, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  13. Sandra Warren

    666 is translated into WWW in ancient Hebrew. The Beast (as also descibed in Daniel) is a KINGDOM. In Revelations this kingdom is compared to Babylon. God was most angry about the temple where all of the world’s knowlege was brought together in on place...where all buying and selling took place. Where they built a tower “into the clouds” . Where they all could be understood .According to Revletations this end-of-times beast or ‘kingdom’ speaks in all languages, it captures all people even the saints (Christians) ...all are amazed by it. It has eyes but cannot see, a mouth but cannot speak, ears but cannot hear. It shows images from the sky, It is used for both good and evil. People are amazed saying ‘What can this not do?”
    people worship (spend time with ...gaze at...think about) the beast. The World Wide Web is all of these things. Can it be anything but this?.... buy and sell, speaks in all languages, A kindgom with domians, cafes, librarys, law offices, schools...all of the human collective knowlege...a beast taking on a shape of its own...has no ‘leader’ ...it is growing at an alarming speed now even reaching into the ‘Clouds” . Apple was the largest company in the history of the world when it reached 666 Billion dollars. A year (365 days) after the death of Steve Jobs (which would be the day before his death anniversary) the stock was 666. Check for yourself. Apple (with a bite taken from the fruit) sold its first computer (when Apple was only a small company) for $666. dollars. (check for yourself) Steve Job, Bill Gates and Apple ARE NOT the beast. The Beast is the Kingdom of the World Wide Web that leads us to “run to and fro..and gain more knowlege” (this from the Bilble) It causes us to become scattered and lose our long-term attention, our time to pray and meditate. It steals our time. We are consumed by it more and more each day. It is a WEB and we are the spiders Prey. We can feel its pull at the dinner table when we glance at our phone instead of into the eyes of our spouse...our children. When we bring our I-phone to Church in case we miss something terribly important. When we have a problem...do we turn to God? No! We turn on or computer and connect to the WWW to solve our problems. Jesus went into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights to become closer to His Father. Can we turn off our phone and our computer for 40 minutes?? Not likely. God is a jeolous God! He want to be our one and only...our only source for all things. He is asking us to worship Him ...not the I phone I Pad I I I !! It is all about me me me. FaceBook is about me me me. Follow Me like Me tweet Me Me Me I I I. (at the end of times we will be lovers our ourselves says the Bible ) Me Me I I Enough already!!! God is watching our Babylon grow and consume us and take us further and further away from Him. This is the Beast. Please tell me if I am wrong. I can only see this as the answer. I see no other. The APPLE...why did Eve bite of the fruit from the tree of KNOWLEGE. TO become LIKE GOD. We think we know it all ...we all have bitten the tasty fruit. We know so much...it is all at our fingertips...we can help ourselves to be better and better , smarter and smaert, richer and richer, there is nothing that will stop us....or is there?

    November 1, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • WASP

      @sandra: ROFLMFAO, thank you i needed a good laugh. been a rough few days up here in NYC.
      you do realize your whole ranting was on the WORLD WIDE WEB. lmfao
      so welcome to the beast baby. :)

      November 2, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Eric

      You make valid points about how the internet and its myriad gadgets have captured the attention span's of people in a negative manner. But I do not believe that it is the "Beast" of Revelation. You (and the author) ought to keep in mind that God is trune and so will Satan attempt to create a three person group to impersonate God at the end of this age. The beast, the anti-Christ, and the prophet will place themselves in the roles of Rather, Son, And Holy Spirit.

      The author clearly does not understand that God inspired each of the autors to write down exactly what He wished to have written down for us to read. She clearly is writing from a perspecttive of not believing in Jesus Christ. An unbeliever attempting to explain spiritual meanings found within Holy Scirpture is amusing, and yet very sad. She simply attempts to sell books by being controversial. That is her perogative, but I do not accept her premise.

      November 2, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • BB

      Sandra, Don't bother with this CNN lib crowd. God has some special treats planned for them. Remember as it was in the days of Noah so it will be in this end time. Make sure you flee the USA sooner than later.

      Luke 21:34 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

      November 10, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • ball_bag

      "Can the world wide web be anything but this?" Why, yes it can. Your using very, very fauly logic which all fundamentaklists do. The Bopok Of Revelation is an allegory. Besides, John clearly states that it is the number of a man.

      November 12, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • ADAM

      THE BEAST IS THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

      November 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Janell

      Ignore everyone else. including this article. Pagels is misrepresenting the whole book in this article. Sandy is talking of the internet as one of the many things going on today as a warning to the world. The internet is not definitively "the beast" but illustrates one of them, a representation that many "beasts" have flooded the country because nobody is giving God the time of day anymore.
      I understand her point. But know that it goes beyond much more than just the internet. We're completely fine with abortion now, killing our own babies, doesn't that shock anyone that society is OKAY with that? Murder is legal as long as it's a baby growing in their womb? Another warning. Israel started being okay with killing their own babies right before their land was invaded. We're the only nation in the world ordained by God besides Israel. (Google it). And we've stopped listening and obeying. He won't protect us anymore if we continue living the way we do. For better understanding, think of the Bible as an allegory to everything. Because it is. Many do not notice the things that happen in daily life are found in the Bible because it is just how things work. For example, Jesus died, buried, and resurrected in a body different than the one He had before He died. As humans going through life, things happen that cause emotional pain. The event happens, then you feel the emotional pain. Death. After crying and going through the process of getting over it, you gain a desensitivity to it, and victory. When you overcome, you can help others with the issue you went through. Resurrection. All the other stories in the Bible are allegories as well. However, our relationship with God is through our relationship with Jesus, who is the most shut out figure ever, more than God. Christians today still use the term "God" for what Jesus is doing. The difference? jesus was sent here to pay for our dues, to break the old curses of the old testament because now we can go to Him to fight our battles, He is our intercessor to God. Like that verse says you can't go to God unless you go through Him. God is definitely still active, but Jesus is the one delivering the holy spirit on earth from heaven. If you don't understand that yet it's cool, you will later. Just know that "Christianity" is not a religion, it is essentially a relationship. People see it as a religion because of churches. And their denominations are made because people have different (but same) relationships with Jesus, so they think because Jesus communicates with them a different way than they do, without knowing it that's how denominations came out. But there should be no law that binds us, except for what Jesus tells us to do.
      We have lost sight of these things because of how much society has lost sight of God. Even most churches today are blind because they are bound to religious laws that limit their growth in God. If you have a doubt, I dare you to take ten minutes. Take how ever many to empty your mind, think like your writing in a diary, getting rid of all the thoughts racing through your head all day. Then just sit there and listen. Ask Jesus what He's doing. Seek Him. I bet if He doesn't reveal himself to You after those ten minutes, He will shortly after through an event. Then you can just ask Him anything, no matter what your past is or who you are. Seriously.
      Fear of judgement has held a great majority of the population back from God, causing more blindness. No matter what's going on or who you are, give Him the time of day with you and you will experience the difference. And understand why everything is happening the way it's happening. If you are a parent who loves their kids unconditionally and willing to help them with anything, imagine being ignored by your kids, and eventually being shut out. Sad huh? Now imagine your kids came back. Heartwarming, no? Times have gone in so deep on immorality that we are trying to do things we can't control or fix. It is because we are not relying on our Father like kids should. Because at the end He is the only one able to fight the big battles we can't win. His hand is available to anyone who takes a second to have some alone time with Him.

      November 27, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Ricky Bobby

      Love these kind of comments: "everyone else has it wrong, but I have it right!" You know, just 'cause.

      December 5, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  14. Omoghene

    The book of revelation gave a good account of itself from the begining, 1.; mid part 2.: and at the end part 3,;
    1. The book introduces itself; "The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to him, of things that will shortly come to pass.
    2. In the middle it said "At the sounding of the seventh angel, the mystery of God, should be finished. This is the time that what Pestle is wondering about will be revealed, made plain.
    3. At the end it declared "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify of these things"...Identifying himself as the root and offspring of David. As Paul and Peter, authenticate the Bible, "All scripture is given by inspiration"; No scripture is of any private interpretation, but Holy men spake as they were moved by the Hoky Ghost. Jesus relied on all scriptures and claimed that they partained to him, and He came to fulfill them. Jesus even asked his followers to watch what Daniel said in his prophecies, for they will come to pass at the time of the end of the world. To understand the of Revekation, then,the seventh angel who is to finish or rveal the mystery of God has to be identified, and accepted,when he comes to explain the mystries. The goodnews is this angel has come and given his message. He is William Marrion Branham, who has come according to the scriptures. This sevent angel's messages can be obtained from the 'Voice of God" recordings.com. free of charge.

    November 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  15. Damocles

    Unagreed upon versions, political tools, using a version to attack those that don't agree with you, exile, condemnation, threat of punishment.... wow, nothing has changed.

    October 27, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • saggyroy

      That's my problem. There are so many interpretations of the bible and its books, I don't know what to do. God should be more explicit, so I am rejecting it and asking for a rewrite.

      December 10, 2012 at 6:28 am |
  16. fr marque

    Pleasure is known as a essence it is impossible to flood found on some others not including obtaining some falls found on all by yourself.
    fr marque http://www.frmarque.be/

    October 27, 2012 at 8:24 am |
  17. Lori

    I love it when people use the Book of Revelation to explain the Book of Revelation. This is a very good article and makes tremendous sense. I have never heard anyone adequately explain the Book of Revelation and until something in it actually comes to pass, it will always remain a mystery.

    October 23, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  18. Tony

    I can't understand why so much hatred is expressed toward christianity when It does not stop anyone from having his/her own belief. I think it productive when we build each other up as humans rather than degrading and insulting each other in the name of philosophy. Wisdom expresses itself this way, "a fool is one that calls others foolish"

    October 22, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • Michelle

      Christians DO try to stop others from having their own beliefs. Most Christians want a government that is based on their beliefs and that those who don't share those beliefs are WRONG, going to hell, etc. Many want laws put into place specifically because of their faith. That my friend, is why so many people have a problem with Christianity.

      November 9, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • BB

      Hi Tony I think you know why they love to pick on CHIRSITianity {could it be SATAN!}

      Don't bother with this CNN lib crowd. God has some special treats planned for them. Remember as it was in the days of Noah so it will be in this end time. Make sure you flee the USA sooner than later.

      Luke 21:34 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

      November 10, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Mr. T

      Shut up fool!

      December 5, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • saggyroy

      @Michelle. Don't just single out the Christians.

      December 10, 2012 at 6:31 am |
  19. Dennis Kennedy

    It is sad that instead of being Holy Spirit led, Elaine Pagels understanding of "Revelation" is a leading of her own spirit, her own imagination.
    Scripture tells us, if we allow our eyes to be opened by it, that the book of "Revelation" is the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. i.e. The Revelation of who he is. The Revelation of where he is. The manifestation of in whom his Spirit, his Life and Likeness is found. This by the projection of himself through the Holy Spirit (the cloak of office in the administration of that attribute of the One God, as Jesus Christ of the New Testament who becomes revealed as the Great Jehovah God from the Old Testament) to a willing vessel, John The Divine. Remember that revelation is that which puts light upon that which was previously in darkness and hence brings it into plain view.
    Surely the time for adding to the completed Word Of God and for making things up as a perverted mind does, is over!
    Remember too, that the eternal (without beginning and without end) Word of Almighty God changes never, but is opened up as truth in the form of the necessary and assistive Holy Spirit, and is given and received as his elect are appointed to it. "...walk in the light, as he is in the light..." The Light, the Revelation, the Manifestation of the truth of the Word of God in this age, this current point in time, is no longer a mystery as it was through past ages. The mystery of God (my object of worship), has been uncovered by this correctly received word, and no longer requires any guesswork or mentally derived manufacture or other made up literary arguement.
    Pray for understanding with a receptive heart and consider Revelation 10:7. "But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel (small "a" hence a man, not a heavenly being, who incidentally has already come and gone, bearing the Spirit of Elijah... I hope you didn't miss him... you're already nearly halfway through the last book of The Bible, he should be recognised by now), when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets."
    DENNIS KENNEDY.

    October 15, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • James Kilpatrick

      I did not read all you wrote nor all Elaine wrote but the bible comes from the thoughts of many men, if you don't believe that than reading anything that has been written as interpreted about said book, is not something you will believe. So maybe you should just stick to reading the one book and what language and perhaps dress and act as they did in those days I'm sure you don't because you are using said machine to say what you believe which is your own interpretation.

      November 1, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • BB

      HI Dennis, don't bother with this CNN lib crowd. God has some special treats planned for them. Remember as it was in the days of Noah so it will be in this end time. Make sure you flee the USA sooner than later.

      Luke 21:34 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

      November 10, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Rick Bobby

      Oh right – small "a" meaning a man not an angel. That's what the standard was back then, when they wrote this in English. Right.

      December 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • saggyroy

      @Dennis: Prove she is not inspired by the holy spirit.

      December 10, 2012 at 6:34 am |
  20. Anybody know how to read?

    article: '.........Elaine Pagels, one of the world’s leading biblical scholars,..........' She has followers?

    October 12, 2012 at 12:10 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.