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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. mith

    asgdastawetawtawertg

    April 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Dinosaur

      One of my favorite bible passages. Thanks for sharing.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  2. Fred Hafner

    I believe that Jesus died for my Sins. The Bible is the Word of God. If you accept Christ as your Saviour you will have everlasting life.

    Revelation 1-3
    1 – The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show his servants - things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.
    2 – who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.
    3 – Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keeps those things which are written in it; for the time is near

    ***********************************************************************************************************************

    Revelation 18-21
    18 – For I testify to everyone who hears the words of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book:
    19 – and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the Holy City, and from the things which are written in this book.
    20 – He who testifies to these things says, "Surely, am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
    21 – The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all Amen.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • nice work

      Awesome, Fred. Hope it all works out for you.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Edward

      If Jesus were posting on CNN, He would have posted pretty much what is already written in scripture already. If you read through the posts, you find that many find every which way to reject what Jesus has already done and said. But then there are those who believe, but without faith. From James 2:19 (ESV), 9 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

      April 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Edward

      Fred, Thank you for the post!

      April 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  3. Dinosaur

    It would be very easy for Atheists to pretend to be christian and scam money from christians. I would go work at a super church and scam your money just like they do. But I didn't get my morals from the bible, so I would never do anything like that.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • JM

      Yeah, but they aren't following Jesus' teachings, so they aren't really Christians and, unfortunately, the people buying what they are selling lack discernment.

      True churches follow Christ's teachings: love, forgiveness, mercy, servanthood...

      April 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • JM

      The point of the Bible is that God has mercy and keeps giving us second chances but, at some point, there's going to be an end and if we haven't bothered figuring out whether what's in the Bible is actually true, it will be too late. Most people don't give others even 1 second chance but everyone criticizes God for not letting them do whatever they please and then letting them into heaven regardless of whether they actually believe in/trust Him. Who does that with their kids: sure, honey, you can smoke pot, drop out of school and do whatever you want. It doesn't matter.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  4. nice work

    If the bible is supposed to be the word of god – why is it such a mess? Why couldn't he be a bit more articulate.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Dinosaur

      If it made sense it wouldn't be such a flexible tool of destruction.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  5. ignorance is bliss

    I think there is way to many forms of religion, and no one really knows for sure who's right and who's wrong meaning who goes to heaven and who doesn't. I mean there is a huge chance that you will follow what you're parents teach you.From Muslims to Christians the best way to live is to just respect everyone's personal beliefs.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Peter

      Thank you for a very astute comment

      April 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  6. YeahItsMe72

    Dang from her description, Revelations was a much better book to make into a movie than any of the others. They should update it though and give Jesus and automatic weapons and some catch phrases...

    April 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  7. Rainer Braendlein

    Jesus sweat blood in the garden Gethsemane. He was envisaging the pain of the crucifixion. He asked God, if he could spare him from crucifixion, but God could not spare him the death on the cross.

    Jesus Christ has borne the sin of the whole mankind. He had got a free human will. If he had refused to go to the cross, we all had to go to hell.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Jonathan E

      Just think how ridiculous this whole argument is...

      April 1, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  8. ruggles

    Oh please. This article is ridiculous. Of course Revelation describes the end of the world and the antichrist. What's next – are you going to argue that Grimm's Fairy Tales aren't true either?

    April 1, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  9. heyhey

    This is soooo off. Why is the author quoting this one lady as if she is the definitive expert on the book, and her interpretations are only valid, "non-myth" ones?

    Revelation is very much connected to the other books. For example, the marriage of the Lamb corresponds with the wedding in Matt 25. Also, she claims that "He doesn’t even say Jesus died for your sins,” even though it talks about the slain Lamb, in other words, the Passover Lamb, who in the New Testament is revealed to be Jesus Christ (who was crucified on the Passover as a sacrifice for the sins of the world).

    April 1, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Jonathan E

      I can't believe people waste time discussing these religious myths. There's much more in any of the Disney classics.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  10. Wulfart

    What I don't get is that, isn't god supposed to be all powerful? Didn't he create everyone, even his enemies? If he is all powerful, why would he need to go to war?

    April 1, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Edward

      1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (New International Version)
      Show resources
      1 Corinthians 1:18-31

      New International Version (NIV)
      Christ Crucified Is God’s Power and Wisdom
      18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

      “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
      the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[a]

      20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  11. Eddie

    I think "666" is a electronic chip that will be inplanted in us by the government, for money transaction, there will be no more paper money it will all be elcetronic. this chip can also be used in other ways, to contol use ect.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • eidde

      Not sure if trolling or just really stupid.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  12. Dinosaur

    Scientists believe the universe was created by an even called the bi- GOOOOOOOOOOD -bang.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  13. Beverly jones

    In our thinking "what would Jesus do".

    April 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  14. SciGuy

    Jesus I know, and the apostle John I know, but who is John Blake? Another nobody spouting nonsense. Another hammer striking at the Anvil of God's word. Like all the other hammers, it will crumble while the Anvil stands strong.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • bloat

      I like how you end your post. You've got that "Jimmy Swaggert" thing starting to go. Somehow this religious stuff seems to affect you folks such that normal conversation goes out the window.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Chuck

      Yep, and whats funny is this is a sign of one of the conditions of the prophecy of Revelation "The Apostasy"
      when people turn away from Christ just before the Antichrist shows up.

      So its all going to plan

      April 1, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Bloat, I didn't get the memo on meeting your literary requirements...most humble apologies!

      April 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • bloat

      Sci,
      You shouldn't need a memo. You live in the 21st century, you know.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Bloat .. I agree, when they recite they begin to speak from deep indoctrination and don't even realize it.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • SciGuy

      The most deeply indoctrinated people I know are Darwinists and Atheists.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Edward

      Here's the reason why Jesus keeps the message simple, John 3:16 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

      Once someone accepts Jesus as personal Lord and Savior, then your spiritual eyes are opened to the things of God and what was foolishness before becomes wisdom. That's when the productive conversation begins between believers.

      Now that is why evangelists, e.g., Billy Graham/Franklin Graham and preachers around the world speak about the good news in John 3:16, because it is the simple, understandable even to children, and it is the path to coming to faith in Jesus.

      A lot of the posts are between believers and non-believers and it is a conversation trying to take place between spiritually aware and the spiritually blind. As in my earlier post, the scriptures state, 1 Corinthians 2:14

      English Standard Version (ESV)

      14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

      It all sounds harsh but it shouldn't be taken that way, if I may use an analogy, think of it this way, a locked door is harsh to the one who doesn't have the key, it won't budge, it won't move, it is there blocking and locked the person from going through an entrance, but if you have the key, for example, "John 3:16", then the lock clicks open with the key and the door opens.

      Jesus uses the same analogy but in reverse,
      Revelation 3:20, Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

      Jesus is knocking at hearts door wanting to be in your heart, your friend, your Savior, and Lord of your life . . . remember, there is no reason to open a door unless someone is knocking, open the door now while Jesus is still knocking. How sad it will be if the knocking stopped and later you decided to open the door and He is no longer there. That earthly feeling or experience will be greatly magnified in the judgment to come, it will be because of ourselves, that we ignored the hand of God, the spiritual reaching out to us, that continual knocking on the door that someone we found a sufficient way to drown it all out until the knocking stopped.

      April 1, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • humanbean

      Keep ignorance blissful

      April 1, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  15. glj

    It just amazes me how many atheists will jump in and comment on something about the bible. I have to ask, why do you care?

    April 1, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Dinosaur

      It is a virus. That is why we care.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • nice work

      because the bible has always been – and continues to be – a tool of oppression

      April 1, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • tj sam

      we care because we are thinking people. Just because we don't believe doesnt mean we're not allowed to think about the absurdities and irrelevance of the bible

      April 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • edwardo

      Dumb question! Why do we care? Because your evil book influences our lives in every way. My family is in shock that I'm atheist. I have to lie to my employer, but faking that I'm a believer (he's a huh um... Xtian). You make laws based on your fairy tale. And the list goes on and on and...

      April 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • glj

      I believe in a higher being, but I never feel oppressed. Sorry. Personally I believe in live and let live. If you do not want to believe so be it. I choose to. I do force my beliefs on you and expect you to do the same.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • edwardo

      Dumb question! Why do we care? Because your evil book influences our lives in every way. My family is in shock that I'm atheist. I have to lie to my employer, but faking that I'm a believer (he's a huh um... Xtian). You make laws based on your fairy tale.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • heyhey

      Seriously. You'd think from their flood of spiteful responses that THEY are the ones who are regularly ridiculed and laughed at for what they believe in.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • glj

      Edwardo, calm down, I just asked a question. It amazes me how some atheists immediately go on the defensive, just as some christians go on the defensive when you ask them about their beliefs.

      For those of you that are listening, I have a BSCS and am working on my MS. I still believe, do I attend church, no. That is my choice, just as not believing is your choice.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • K

      Just because a person is athiest, that doesn't mean they do not know about the bible. i have studied the bible in depth and i am an athiest. This author is explaining facts about the writer of revelations and his point of view.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • humanbean

      Because a lot of us are the only ones who have really taken the time to read that mess, and understand it to be nothing more than another book of mythological delusion, which is why we are atheists. Maybe if you took the time to actually read it, you might understand how ridiculous it really is.

      April 1, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  16. Jim

    This is the most realistic , insightful article I have read on CNN yet. It pretty much gives the concept correctly that these "holy" books were written by men NOT God and each has individual human BIAS in them. Everyone of thee men claim they were "inspired" by God to write them that goes for Moses, Mohammed, Joseph Smith and I dare say Jesus. Belief is every persons OWN experience, and NOT to believe is ALSO your own religion.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • SciGuy

      A book written for us by God would be expected to claim such inspiration. Jesus left no writings of his own.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Jim .. read the book "The Evolution of God". Excellent read if you want the truth. I also suggest people read the bible and decide which makes more sense.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • humanbean

      Non belief is NOT a religion. Amazing how delusion begets delusion. There's no supernatural structure for atheists to follow, thus, no reason for belief or religion. You're probably mistaking the organization of atheists as some kind of religion. Organization of atheists has nothing to do with religion. It's the only way for atheists to ban together in order to protect themselves from the majority of delusional nuts in this world who think that everyone should have to follow their blinded path.

      April 1, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  17. Sheila

    The problem is the real haters are Christians. If you don't fit in their neat little box of fear and delusion you are damned to hell and fire. They are terrified to explore the greater meaning and quick to abandon Christ's real teaching which is not to judge others and not to cast the first stone. Do as I say not as I do. Some non Chistians actually make better Christians than the believers that don't even understand the actual facts of what they are supposed to believe in. Some Preacher said it so therefore it is so....Hummmmm could that be the same control mungering Priests that want to control the masses to their power while Raping their followers children. Jesus wanted the blind to see while the Religious that control want to blind you from the truth. This Author gives food for though which is always healthy. People need to stop preaching and start reading where the bible actually came from and who allowed what books to be included and what books to be excluded. Anything that cannot stand the truth in the light of day should be examined. Even in 200 AD there were personal political agendas. The Bible is an example of someone's personal agenda because JESUS DID NOT WRITE IT and neither did GOD! Many of the readers on here making comments are just to scared to educated themselves and that is how sheep are controlled. As for me... I love God but I don't have to be a blind sheep to appreciate him.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Sheila

      Sheila, real Christians must love not hate, but to hate which is evil is righteous.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Sheila

      Understanding the truth is Devine and not Evil.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • jack lloyd

      Bravo!

      April 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Ned Devine?

      April 1, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Edward

      Sheila, could you read my earlier posts on the topic, I haven't hated anyone, and neither did Jesus words convey hate in the scriptures, but YES, there are "christians" that come across as hateful which even scares me. You can easily discern hate from good, pretty much everyone can, even children . . . so filter out the hate and find that which is true, . . . sampling an apple out of an entire population of apples, one may find a bad apple, but that doesn't make the rest of the apples evil or bad, sample again, and you will find good apples.

      Very Respectfully,
      Edwards (a christian)

      April 1, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  18. Rick

    The human race believes itself to have perfect knowledge when in fact it's the opposite. The bible is open to anyone's interpretation. You can take any verse in the book, give it to 1000 people and get 1000 different explanations as to what it means. Why atheists condemn religion is beyond me. What difference does it make what a person believes as long as they are happy with their own lives? Aren't atheists hypocrites for condemning religion when atheism is a religion in of itself AND for the fact they shove atheism down everyone else's throat just as much as they claim those religious types do?

    April 1, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • nice work

      no one cares what christians believe as long as they keep those beliefs to themselves and out of our government and our laws. THAT'S when I got a problem.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • plucky

      OMG Rick. There is so much wrong with this post....

      April 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      ...and Pagels spends her entire book examining all those different viewpoints of this single tome down through the ages. It's a fascinating historical perspective.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Rick

      plucky–Yeah, okay.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • bloat

      OK for starters Rick... You just sad that the bible would be interpreted 1000 different ways by 1000 different people. Then you say "Why atheists condemn religion is beyond me."

      YOU JUST GAVE ONE REASON YOURSELF!

      April 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • krd

      One, Atheism is not a religion. As an atheist I do not believe in a higher power, a god what not. We do not shove it down people's throats, what we do is reply when Christians shove in our faces and those of different faiths their beliefs. Religion is the opiate of the masses. I love how Christians are the biggest hypocrites. You attack me as an atheist I am most likely to respond back. Christians can give but they sure cant.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • edwardo

      Atheism is no more of a religion, than anarchy is a type of government. Your comment is so out of whack!

      April 1, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • humanbean

      Guess I gotta post this again to assist the ignorant.

      Non belief is NOT a religion. Amazing how delusion begets delusion. There's no supernatural structure for atheists to follow, thus, no reason for belief or religion. You're probably mistaking the organization of atheists as some kind of religion. Organization of atheists has nothing to do with religion. It's the only way for atheists to ban together in order to protect themselves from the majority of delusional nuts in this world who think that everyone should have to follow their blinded path.

      April 1, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  19. nice work

    Interesting. Pagels' book makes far more sense than the bible itself. We need more research like hers.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  20. Rainer Braendlein

    Jesus didn't break with God, the Father, despite superhuman sufferings. Hence, God has raised him to glory for his faithfulness.

    Revelation 1, 1-8:

    The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. 3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. 4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; 5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. 8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

    The great topic of the Bible beside salvation is the suffering of the Christian Church, which she has to bear in an antichristian world. A man, who remains in his redeemer Christ, will face hostility in this godless world.

    However, Jesus Christ, who has suffered like no one before him and after him, has overcome the demonic world. Christ had a free human will and a divine will (two wills). Despite cross, rejection and suffering Jesus remained "in God". The great merit of Jesus was it that he remained in God, although he had to bear superhuman sufferings. Christ has rolled back the Fall of Adam.

    Adam abandoned God voluntarily, although he was made in a blissful state. Jesus remained "in God" despite infinite sufferings. Hence, Jesus is a "new Adam" or the first born of a "NEW MANKIND", a mankind, which has returned to its Creator and loves him on every condition, even if she has to suffer. Jesus is the beginning of a new creation, a creation in God.

    Jesus Christ is yet in the "Future of the Lord". Jesus has overcome the profane world by the Holy Spirit and God has honored him and confirmed him with the resurrection from the death and has made him ruler of the universe. The meek and humble Jesus, who sweat blood in the garden Gethsemane, because of endless trouble and horror, is ruler of the universe right now and his dominion can manifest very soon.

    "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."

    God, the Father, delivered God, the Son, for the sake of our sins. He raised him from the dead for our justification. Everybody, who believes that and gets sacramentally baptized, becomes righteous: His sins are forgiven and he lives a life of practical righteousness. Despite the attacks of the godless world, the believer remains within his saviour and does works of righteousness. The meek and humble people on earth living in righteousness, will finally manifest as kings and priests of the Most High. God will reward them with very high ranks, because they kept the faith on a hostile, godless earth.

    The majority of the mankind will never believe in Christ, at least not in the true Christ. The majority will believe in the false Christ or Antichrist (The Wicked, Mohammed, the popes and others).

    The revelation is nothing else than an account of the intergalactic war, which blusters on earth between the true Christian Church and the profane world (secular society, churches, which have turned apostate, false religions like Islam, cults like Mormons).

    God tells the true believers through the Revelation: "Don't become worldly again, but remain faithful; I have overcome the world and will come soon and raise you to glory!"

    April 1, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Godfrey

      Wow, you are quite the copy-and-paster this morning.

      Do you get points with God for lengthy, nonsensical posts that nobody reads?

      April 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.