home
RSS
4 big myths of Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation has terrified and confused readers for centuries. Few agree on its meaning, but many have opinions.
March 31st, 2012
10:00 PM ET

4 big myths of Book of Revelation

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) – The anti-Christ. The Battle of Armageddon. The dreaded Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

You don’t have to be a student of religion to recognize references from the Book of Revelation. The last book in the Bible has fascinated readers for centuries. People who don’t even follow religion are nonetheless familiar with figures and images from Revelation.

And why not? No other New Testament book reads like Revelation. The book virtually drips with blood and reeks of sulfur. At the center of this final battle between good and evil is an action-hero-like Jesus, who is in no mood to turn the other cheek.

Elaine Pagels, one of the world’s leading biblical scholars, first read Revelation as a teenager. She read it again in writing her latest book, “Revelations: Visions, Prophecy & Politics in the Book of Revelation.”

Pagels’ book is built around a simple question: What does Revelation mean? Her answers may disturb people who see the book as a prophecy about the end of the world.

But people have clashed over the meaning of Revelation ever since it was virtually forced into the New Testament canon over the protests of some early church leaders, Pagels says.

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

“There were always debates about it,” she says. “Some people said a heretic wrote it. Some said a disciple. There were always people who loved and championed it.”

The debate persists. Pagels adds to it by challenging some of the common assumptions about Revelation.

Here are what she says are four big myths about Revelation::

1. It’s about the end of the world

Anyone who has read the popular “Left Behind” novels or listened to pastors preaching about the “rapture” might see Revelation as a blow-by-blow preview of how the world will end.

Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation was actually describing the way his own world ended.

She says the writer of Revelation may have been called John – the book is sometimes called “Book of the Revelation of Saint John the Divine” but he was not the disciple who accompanied Jesus. He was a devout Jew and mystic exiled on the island of Patmos, off the coast of  present-day Greece.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

“He would have been a very simple man in his clothes and dress,” Pagels says. “He may have gone from church to church preaching his message. He seems more like a traveling preacher or a prophet.”

The author of Revelation had experienced a catastrophe. He wrote his book not long after 60,000 Roman soldiers had stormed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., burned down its great temple and left the city in ruins after putting down an armed Jewish revolt.

For some of the earliest Jewish followers of Jesus, the destruction of Jerusalem was incomprehensible. They had expected Jesus to return “with power” and conquer Rome before inaugurating a new age. But Rome had conquered Jesus’ homeland instead.

The author of Revelation was trying to encourage the followers of Jesus at a time when their world seemed doomed. Think of the Winston Churchill radio broadcasts delivered to the British during the darkest days of World War II.

Revelation was an anti-Roman tract and a piece of war propaganda wrapped in one. The message: God would return and destroy the Romans who had destroyed Jerusalem.

“His primary target is Rome,” Pagels says of the book’s author. “He really is deeply angry and grieved at the Jewish war and what happened to his people.”

2. The numerals 666 stand for the devil

The 1976 horror film “The Omen” scared a lot of folks. It may have scared some theologians, too, who began encountering people whose view of Revelation comes from a Hollywood movie.

The Omen” depicted the birth and rise of the “anti-Christ,” the cunning son of Satan who would be known by “the mark of the beast,” 666, on his body.

Here’s the passage from Revelation that “The Omen” alluded to: “This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.”

Good movies, though, don’t always make good theology. Most people think 666 stands for an anti-Christ-like figure that will deceive humanity and trigger a final battle between good and evil. Some people think he’s already here.

Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation didn’t really intend 666 as the devil’s digits. He was describing another incarnation of evil: The Roman emperor, Nero.

The arrogant and demented Nero was particularly despised by the earliest followers of Jesus, including the writer of Revelation. Nero was said to have burned followers of Jesus alive to illuminate his garden.

But the author of Revelation couldn’t safely name Nero, so he used the Jewish numerology system to spell out Nero’s imperial name, Pagels says.

Pagels says that John may have had in mind other meanings for the mark of the beast: the imperial stamp Romans used on official documents, tattoos authorizing people to engage in Roman business, or the images of Roman emperors on stamps and coins.

Since Revelation’s author writes in “the language of dreams and nightmares,” Pagels says it’s easy for outsiders to misconstrue the book’s original meaning.

Still, they take heart from Revelation’s larger message, she writes:

“…Countless people for thousands of years have been able to see their own conflicts, fears, and hopes reflected in his prophecies. And because he speaks from his convictions about divine justice, many readers have found reassurance in his conviction that there is meaning in history – even when he does not say exactly what that meaning is – and that there is hope.”

3. The writer of Revelation was a Christian

The author of Revelation hated Rome, but he also scorned another group – a group of people we would call Christians today, Pagels says.

There’s a common perception that there was a golden age of Christianity, when most Christians agreed on an uncontaminated version of the faith. Yet there was never one agreed-upon Christianity. There were always clashing visions.

Revelation reflects some of those early clashes in the church, Pagels says.

That idea isn’t new territory for Pagels. She won the National Book Award for “The Gnostic Gospels,” a 1979 book that examined a cache of newly discovered “secret” gospels of Jesus. The book, along with other work from Pagels, argues that there were other accounts of Jesus’ life that were suppressed by early church leaders because it didn’t fit with their agenda.

The author of Revelation was like an activist crusading for traditional values. In his case, he was a devout Jew who saw Jesus as the messiah. But he didn’t like the message that the apostle Paul and other followers of Jesus were preaching.

This new message insisted that gentiles could become followers of Jesus without adopting the requirements of the Torah. It accepted women leaders, and intermarriage with gentiles, Pagels says.

The new message was a lot like what we call Christianity today.

That was too much for the author of Revelation. At one point, he calls a woman leader in an early church community a “Jezebel.” He calls one of those gentile-accepting churches a “synagogue of Satan.”

John was defending a form of Christianity that would be eclipsed by the Christians he attacked, Pagels says.

“What John of Patmos preached would have looked old-fashioned – and simply wrong to Paul’s converts…,” she writes.

The author of Revelation was a follower of Jesus, but he wasn’t what some people would call a Christian today, Pagels says.

“There’s no indication that he read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or that he read the gospels or Paul’s letters,” she says. “….He doesn’t even say Jesus died for your sins.”

4. There is only one Book of Revelation

There’s no other book in the Bible quite like Revelation, but there are plenty of books like Revelation that didn’t make it into the Bible, Pagels says.

Early church leaders suppressed an “astonishing” range of books that claimed to be revelations from apostles such as Peter and James. Many of these books were read and treasured by Christians throughout the Roman Empire, she says.

There was even another “Secret Revelation of John.” In this one, Jesus wasn’t a divine warrior, but someone who first appeared to the apostle Paul as a blazing light, then as a child, an old man and, some scholars say, a woman.

So why did the revelation from John of Patmos make it into the Bible, but not the others?

Pagels traces that decision largely to Bishop Athanasius, a pugnacious church leader who championed Revelation about 360 years after the death of Jesus.

Athanasius was so fiery that during his 46 years as bishop he was deposed and exiled five times. He was primarily responsible for shaping the New Testament while excluding books he labeled as hearsay, Pagels says.

Many church leaders opposed including Revelation in the New Testament. Athanasius’s predecessor said the book was “unintelligible, irrational and false.”

Athanasius, though, saw Revelation as a useful political tool. He transformed it into an attack ad against Christians who questioned him.

Rome was no longer the enemy; those who questioned church authority were the anti-Christs in Athanasius’s reading of Revelation, Pagels says.

“Athanasius interprets Revelation’s cosmic war as a vivid picture of his own crusade against heretics and reads John’s visions as a sharp warning to Christian dissidents,” she writes. “God is about to divide the saved from the damned – which now means dividing the ‘orthodox’ from ‘heretics.’ ’’

Centuries later, Revelation still divides people. Pagels calls it the strangest and most controversial book in the Bible.

Even after writing a book about it, Pagels has hardly mastered its meaning.

“The book is the hardest one in the Bible to understand,” Pagels says. “I don’t think anyone completely understands it.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Christianity • Church • Devil • End times • Faith • History • Jerusalem

soundoff (8,460 Responses)
  1. Dan

    This is definitely on the far left side of Christian scholarship.

    April 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Dixon

      You want to read far left Christian scholarship? I can offer you up the ideas of Carl Ruck. He is currently a professor at Boston University (a highly respected private university with religious affiliations) where he has expertise in Ethnobotany, Religion, Mythology, Greek Poetry and Language Training. Moreover, he received his degrees from Yale, Michigan and Harvard. Thus, I'd say this guy is pretty qualified and then some. To make a long story short, Ruck and others believe that Jesus and his followers could have been baptized to wash off cannabis oil. I know, that sounds far fetched (I laughed at first myself), but reading the whole concept from start to finish while keeping open mind and the facts that he backs it up with, the case is pretty interesting to say the least. "Christ" itself means "the anointed [one]" (e.g. anointed with Cannabis oil) and thus it could be a double entendre of sorts or just that we perceive it to have a different meaning.

      Cannabis is known to have existed during that time and was used. Ruck even contends that the "recipe" for this oil may be contained in the Bible in the book of Exodus. Jesus was a man of peace which if you've ever smoked pot or know someone that has, it is right in line with typical behavior. This could also explain many of the visions and miracles that were performed. Dr. Lester Grinsp-oon is a Harvard Professor and medical doctor who had literally rubbed elbows with some of the greatest minds in our lifetimes. He recently published an article in the Boston Globe calling marijuana a "wonder drug" that can be used to heal all sorts of ailments. If Jesus and his followers were anointing new potential members with the oil, this could have cured many of the ailments for a variety of reasons (both from a physical and mental standpoint). While they were touching the oil to anoint others, they too would feel the effects of it as it was absorbed through the skin.

      That's the gist and there is obviously much more to it. If you read what Ruck has to say, you must do it with a mindset that perhaps Jesus was "just" a man and how the uneducated people of the time might have been "wowed" by this wonder drug thinking it was miraculous.

      For the record, I have not really formed an opinion on this yet as the concept is so radical, I need more time to come to terms with how much weight, if any, to give it. Like I said, I started reading it because I thought it would be funny, but in the end, he made some pretty solid arguments and has an amazing background to back it up. You can find the articles online (I came across two separate ones).

      April 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Actually, Pagels is considered quite mainstream.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • jemzinthekop

      AKA "The Sane Side"

      April 1, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  2. Tom Smith

    How can anyone go by what a scholar says just because of some degree in college? Anyone can be self educated. This so called scholar still leaves lots of holes in her presumptions. No one may ever know how to Really interpret the book of Revelations, so take it how you want and don't criticize others who believe in Christ's second coming.

    April 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • jemzinthekop

      So where did the writers of the bible get their scholarly credentials from?

      April 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Well, let's see. I have her book right here in front of me; it is 225 pages long, with 50 full pages of references. She has published hundreds of papers in peer-reviewed journals during her long, distinguished career. She backs her arguments with evidence, often using primary sources including some of the very oldest biblical texts yet discovered. She presents her arguments in a clear, logical fashion, and contrasts them with opposing viewpoints, demonstrating why she believes her conclusions are correct and other are erroneous using logic and rational thought.

      Did I leave anything out?

      April 1, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Tom Smith

      @Sixdegrees<~~~ It's obvious you are a big fan of her's and seems like you will defend her so called "knowledge" on the subject to the end, when there are many others that can also prove their point much better than her's. DID I leave anything out?

      April 1, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Tom Smith

      @Sixdegrees<~~~ Also funny how you can say she backs up all her research when she makes lot's of presumptions on that same research...Just shows how ignorant YOU are.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Tom Smith

      @jimzenthekop<~~~~ Through faith and believing god will lead them in the right direction....but you would not understand that.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • pastordan smith

      Amen!

      January 15, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
  3. Dixon

    FACT: The Bible Belt boasts the highest rate of teen pregnancy BY FAR in the country while the ultra liberal NorthEast has the lowest. - This is what happens when religious nuts enforce teaching "abstinence" instead of "birth control." And despite it not CLEARLY not working, they keep doing it anyway because they are delusional.

    FACT: Women with religious affiliations make up more than 3/4 of all abortions in the United States. - Thus, the demographic that aborts the most babies actually belongs to religious people.

    FACT: Atheists/Agnostics have lower rates of divorce than Christians, Jews and even the Mormons. - Those religions are sure strengthening the bonds of "holy" matrimony indeed.

    FACT: Numerous IQ Studies have shown that atheists have the highest IQ's, followed by agnostics, followed by casual believers and with devout believers coming in dead last. - Therefore God created his followers as the least intelligent segment of society.

    FACT: The demographic of society that believes in God the most belongs to grade school children. -- You know, the same ones that believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Boogeyman and the Tooth Fairy. What a shocker.

    The reason why these items are true is because Christians live in a world of delusion. Instead of EDUCATING and PROVIDING the proper tools for their members to prevent unwanted pregnancies (which can lead to unwanted abortions and/or marriages), the Church instead just wants more children to be born so they can keep their population base growing. With their population base growing, that means more money for them in the basket in the future.

    As for "Revelations," people have been claiming "gods" are going to wipe out humanity since the time of ancient Egypt. But hey, I'm sure the Christians are going to be the lucky ones who finally get it right. lol

    Religion: Giving hope to those living in a world torn apart by religion.

    Peace!

    April 1, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Dan

      If you think most wars are caused by religion, you would be sorely disappointed if religion ceased to exist. Wars are caused by greed. People want more power and more money. Few wars are truly about religion. At best, religion is used to get the masses to support war.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Dixon

      Where did I say that "most wars are caused by religion?" Oh yeah, I didn't.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • objecttothis

      Interesting. Done talking yet? Let's start with pregnancy rates? Are you talking about a rate taking abortions into accounts? Where are your sources? Speaking of abortion, would you say that this is religious affiliation is based on statement, or based on what they actually believe? I can say I'm a car, but that doesn't make me a car. Just because someone goes to church on Sunday morning doesn't make them a Christian. Divorce rates are horrendous period and that says a lot about why people are getting married. Personally I think it has more to do with the culture of America than anything else. OK, let's use your IQ by citing your SOURCES to these studies please. Finally, since I'm guessing you've stopped reading I won't respond to your other arguments. I'm sorry you hate me so much... I wish it were different... seeing as how we haven't met before. -Christian

      April 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • reason

      The gods of all organized religions, if true, would all be horribly unjust and evil deities to send billions of people to eternal suffering for choosing the wrong one or being born in the wrong place. Looking at organized religion objectively, they are myths from stone age societies that were trying to explain the world, and there is virtually no chance any one is truth.

      Rationally speaking if there is a just god and an afterlife, you will be judged on how you live your life. Rejecting reason and deluding yourself in blind faith does not help your case.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Bill P

      DIXON – What you fail to mention is that while the statistics on higher teen pregnancy in the Bible Belt might appear to be true, the number of abortions in contrast is highest in the North East. A reasonable person might draw the conclusion that Bible Belt "sinners" accept the consequences of their sins and North Easterners tend to (not all but more likely) be more willing to heap additional coal on the fire of their sinfulness by murdering the unborn child.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Dixon

      @Objecttothis: "Interesting. Done talking yet?"

      Sorry if something longer than a fortune cookie is too much for you to read.

      *** "Let's start with pregnancy rates? Are you talking about a rate taking abortions into accounts? Where are your sources?"

      CDC... go look them up for yourself.

      **** "Speaking of abortion, would you say that this is religious affiliation is based on statement, or based on what they actually believe?"

      Based on what someone identified themselves as.

      **** "I can say I'm a car, but that doesn't make me a car. Just because someone goes to church on Sunday morning doesn't make them a Christian."

      Exactly, 99.99% of people who claim they are Christian are not. How many homeless people do you have living in your house? Yeah, that's what I thought. How nice of you to leave YOUR Savior cold, hungry and homeless. How are you even typing this? Jesus says to sell EVERYTHING you own. But apparently you haven't done that either.

      *** "Divorce rates are horrendous period and that says a lot about why people are getting married. Personally I think it has more to do with the culture of America than anything else."

      It does... it's with religious nuts forcing kids to get married too early. The lowest age someone can legally get married in this country is 12!!!! Why do you think that is? It is so when the little 12 year old gets knocked up, her religious parents can make things more complicated for her by forcing her to get married.

      **** "OK, let's use your IQ by citing your SOURCES to these studies please."

      There are plenty of them. You can start by looking at Helmuth Nyborg if you need a specific example.

      However, these results were found not only on an INDIVIDUAL basis, but also on a per country basis. If pull my own stats using one study with IQ and one study with religion:

      The first study is a Pew/Gallup Poll done in 2009 where they asked people in 140+ countries whether or not religion was important in their daily lives. Then you can check out some national IQ estimates (such as IQ and the Wealth of Nations which I'll use here) and make your own comparisons.

      As a quick sampling, there were a total of 15 countries that had triple digit IQ's and 19 countries with IQ's under 80. Now I will compare those countries with ones that are also on the Pew/Gallup Poll.

      Group #1: Has an IQ of 102.5 and 39.6% thought religion was important.

      Group #2: Has an IQ of 71.1 and 92.3% thought religion was important.

      Now, putting those items into perspective here, an IQ of 70 is the actual cutoff mark for LITERAL MENTAL RETARDATION!!!! So the group that is on the cuff of mental retardation LOVES religion where virtually everyone deems it important.

      In contrast, the other group boasts a SUBSTANTIALLY higher IQ and less than 40% of the people think religion is important.

      What a shocker again. Hmmm... I wonder which group you belong to.

      **** "Finally, since I'm guessing you've stopped reading I won't respond to your other arguments."

      LOL... wrong again. Unlike Christians, I can back up my arguments with reality.

      **** "I'm sorry you hate me so much... I wish it were different... seeing as how we haven't met before. -Christian"

      Sorry, but I don't hate you... just more delusion spewing from you.

      Peace!

      April 1, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Dixon

      @reason: Well stated. To your point:

      There has always been a god. This will never change. Here they are for everyone:

      45,000 BC – Worship took place in ritualistic burial sites in Africa, Europe and Asia.

      15,000 BC – Animal gods were worshipped.

      6,000 BC – The Tigris/Euphrates was the home to "civilization" where they worshipped the sun god Anu and the mother god Inanna along with a plethora of other gods.

      4,004 BC – Bishop Ussher declared this the date that your God created the Earth. LMAO

      2,800 BC – The Pharaoh is both King and God simultaneously.

      2,000 BC – The birth of Judaism begins.

      1,750 BC – Stonehenge is built possibly as temple to worship the Sun God.

      1,500 BC – The Hindus write the Rig Vega WAY before your Bible.

      1,385 BC – The Egyptians go to monotheism with Aton, the Sun God.

      1,100 BC – Charlton Heston, I mean Moses, received the Ten Commandments.

      950 BC – Brahminism begins in India teaching about the concept of a soul.

      900 BC – The huge list of Greek gods are created.

      750 BC – The Romans go with their set of gods.

      650 BC – Zoroastrianism is born (possibly as early as 1,500 BC)

      600 BC – Jews write the Old Testament

      550 BC – Jainism is born

      525 BC – Taoism is born

      500 BC – Confucianism is born

      500 BC – Buddhism is born

      Around 0 (give or take 10 years), Jesus is FINALLY born.

      470 AD – Mayans elevate Xpiyacoc and Xmucane as creators of the universe (WHAT? BUT JESUS WAS ALREADY BORN!!! HOW COULD THEY DO THIS? Maybe because people here didn't hear about Jesus until 1,450+ years after he died.)

      600 AD – Muhammad founds Islam and Allah is the supreme god

      1200 AD – Zen is born

      1230 AD – The Catholic Church goes on their murder spree with the Inquisition

      1500 AD – Martin Luther splits the Church

      1550 AD – Copernicus says the Earth revolves around the sun. The Church believed God created Earth as the center of the Universe. (DO YOU KNOW WHY? BECAUSE THEY WERE COMPLETELY UNEDUCATED MEN READING A BOOK CREATED BY EVEN LESS EDUCATED MEN!!!! Can you say P-R-I-M-I-T-I-V-E?)

      1600 AD – The Catholic Church has Bruno BURNED AT THE STAKE for suggesting that stars could be suns. LMAO... at least he got a taste of the heat of the sun.

      1776 – US is born

      1850 – Darwin does his thing

      1900 – Einstein's theory of relativity

      1980's – Jedi Religion is born.

      Modern Day – Man has now become "God" with the ability to clone and growing organs in petri dishes, etc.

      So yes, there is always a god... just a different one. You God didn't care about anyone on the planet until 2,000 BC and didn't care about anyone in North nor South America until around 1,500.

      Peace!

      April 1, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Dixon

      @Bill: "What you fail to mention is that while the statistics on higher teen pregnancy in the Bible Belt might appear to be true, the number of abortions in contrast is highest in the North East. A reasonable person might draw the conclusion that Bible Belt "sinners" accept the consequences of their sins and North Easterners tend to (not all but more likely) be more willing to heap additional coal on the fire of their sinfulness by murdering the unborn child."

      My point with the abortions revolves around hypocrisy.

      There are two basic options at play here:

      #1) Do not make contraception readily available to people. This will lead to unwanted pregnancies that will lead to MORE abortions. This will also lead to many people feeling "forced" into marriage for the "sake of the baby" which will lead to a higher rate of divorce. Moreover, contraception will help REDUCE the rate of STD's/HIV.

      #2) Make contraception easily available. This will lead to fewer unwanted pregnancies, fewer teen parents, fewer cases of STD's/HIV and fewer abortions.

      Hmmmmm... REALLY tough choice now isn't is?

      And why isn't #2 just common sense and practiced throughout the United States? It is because of religious nuts who prefer to believe in a world of delusion where they pretend that preaching abstinence actually works.

      Cheers!

      April 1, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Dixon

      @Objecttothis: Where are the answers to my questions?

      April 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • withoutgod

      Dixon, if you are not yet aware of it, might I suggest the Why Won't God Heal Amputees? Forum? I think you would feel at home there. You offer very sensible commentary.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Dixon

      @withoutgod: Thanks for the head's up! We're on the same page... I mentioned that site on page 41, 33, and a few others here today. :)

      Cheers!

      April 1, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • trayvonmartin

      And where pray tell did you get your "Facts"? Studies show whatever the authors want them to. Anyone can cut and paste and cook the books.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Dixon

      @trayvonmartin: "And where pray tell did you get your "Facts"?"

      LOL... if you could actually read, you'd see I already cited my sources you simpleton.

      *** "Studies show whatever the authors want them to. Anyone can cut and paste and cook the books."

      Yeah, the CDC pulling birth certificates is really a biased source.

      Sorry that you just can't accept reality. What's it like having an IQ in double digits?

      April 1, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • withoutgod

      @Dixon I had not seen that! what is your user name there? I am kaziglu bey. Glad to hear this!

      April 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Consequence

      thought you might like to know...I read Mormon divorces derived from Temple Marriages is only 6%... atheist/agnostic divorces are 21%. still, they are lower than most religious marriages. on the other hand, this statistic may reflect how few atheist/agnostics even marry. their disregard for "holy" matrimony surely gives them a large dose of contempt for marriage itself.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Dixon

      @withoutgod: "Dixon I had not seen that! what is your user name there? I am kaziglu bey. Glad to hear this!"

      Sorry if I was unclear... I meant I had referenced the site. I am not a member of the forums there (I tend to jump around from place to place when I get bored). :)

      Cheers!

      April 1, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Dixon

      @Consequence: "thought you might like to know...I read Mormon divorces derived from Temple Marriages is only 6%... atheist/agnostic divorces are 21%. still, they are lower than most religious marriages. on the other hand, this statistic may reflect how few atheist/agnostics even marry. their disregard for "holy" matrimony surely gives them a large dose of contempt for marriage itself."

      Here's a generally unbiased site's quick summary of it:

      http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm

      Jews = 30%
      Born Again Christians = 27%
      Other Christians = 24%
      Mormons = 24%
      Atheists/Agnostics = 21%

      Peace!

      April 1, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  4. Darin

    The is a God. I'm not Him.

    April 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  5. trayvonmartin

    Every athiest on their deathbed just minutes from dying tries to convert.

    April 1, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Trayvon, you have long since shot your credibility. No reason to believe this lie any more than all the others.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      No, they don't.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Dixon

      LMAO... Christopher Hitchens didn't. Nice try.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • jemzinthekop

      Your blanket statement has zero evidence to support it.... much like the bible!

      April 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • abc

      by far one of the dumbest statements i have ever read

      April 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • abc

      by far one of the dumbest statements i have ever read. Only a christian can make a remark as dumb as that lol

      April 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • withoutgod

      Tell that to Pat Tillman. An Atheist in a foxhole. It means a lot more to be willing to sacrifice your life for your country when you know that it's the only one you will ever have, as opposed to being immediately transported to some eternal bliss. Anyone can die for that. Just look at the events of September 11, 2001.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  6. Darin

    There is a God. I'm not him.

    April 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  7. Gay Thoams Wilson

    I wonder why one person's interpretaion of the Bible is more relevant than anothers?

    April 1, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • jemzinthekop

      It isn't... the problem is people like Santorum and Romney are running for office and if they get it then that means people that believe in talking snakes and 4 horsemen are in charge of nuclear weapons. This is why religion should stay in the realm of other fringe illusionary arts like fortune telling and card tricks.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • objecttothis

      Because you can check his/her facts. You can look at the text and say "is this person pulling this out of nowhere?" Critically reading the text is what makes one opinion more relevant.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      I dunno, why is your doctor's diagnosis of your back problems any better than your auto mechanic's?

      April 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Mike

      Because they are scholars. Nietzsche has the best interpretation of Jesus( Jesus was a great man) and the decadent, fabricated religion which followed after him.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Consequence

      No philosopher or "great" thinker can interpret Christianity without faith. Faith is at the core of Christian belief...and too many have lost their faith.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  8. objecttothis

    "One of the worlds leading Biblical scholars." and by that you mean a world's leading scholar of which most other theologians disagree with? Seeing as how Pagel's ideas are so far off the grid of not only what Christian's believe but theologians throughout time have stated about Revelation, I would like the 10 minutes back that I wasted reading the article.

    April 1, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • jemzinthekop

      Just think how Pagels feels about your criticism... I'm sure she would want her 22 scholarly years obtaining a Phd in religious studies back because of the opinion of a bus driver or pizza delivery guy or whatever you are.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      And you will surely get it. Just pray to God, and it will be delivered unto you. Says so right in the Bible.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Joe

      amen

      April 1, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • jon

      yeah. I agree. I was like huh?

      This seems to be the most obscure "interpretation" of revelations I could ever see. Maybe if this was a historians view/explanation about where the things came from.

      But theological? Aside from the author, these are way way way off beat.

      Personally, I would've gone with...
      Revelations doesn't mention Christs birth-it does.
      Revelations revelas a date-it doesn't.
      Revelations states X numbers to be saved- it does but nobody agrees on when/how/why.

      His last one works though.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  9. Tom Smith

    And yet this is another opinion.

    April 1, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  10. Necifix

    The fact that people believe this BS in the first place proves that very few actually read the Bible and simply worship their imaginary friends blindly, just like mommy and daddy did. As it was once said, "the quickest path to atheism is a thorough understanding of the Bible."

    April 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • JW

      All people are spiritually dead, until they by faith accept Jesus' sacrifice for them on the cross. God gives those who repent of their sins and believe in Jesus a new life spiritually. The Holy Spirit indwells them, cleanses them and is their guarantee of eternal life. Unless you have the Holy Spirit within you, you can't understand the Bible. The Holy Spirit gives you the interpretation. That is why born-again Christians understand it and faithfully adhere to it's truth. If you want to really understand it and know the truth, you must first get right with God. He will accept you, forgive all your sins, and receive you, if you come to Him, believing that He exists, confess your sins to Him and ask Him to forgive you. You will receive eternal life as a free gift, forgiveness, and can then understand God's Word. Believe me, a life in fellowship with God is pure joy, peace and His love is so wonderfully healing and sweet. The alternative, separation from God forever and all that is good, and punished for your sins because you decide to reject God's offer of full acquittal, in a hell whose fire is never quenched, is too terrible to even think about. While you are alive is when you should take God seriously. Seek Him, and you will find Him. Let God have His way in your life.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  11. scot pederson

    There's a major difference between a so-called biblical scholar and a born-again believing Christian preacher/author. Anybody can call themselves a scholar, but born-again believers take God at his word that "the whole Bible is true". You can't cherry-pick what you want to believe. Revelation is indeed a picture of the end of the world, the millenial reign of Christ and the final battle between Good and Evil.

    All the Mainstream Church Councils agreed on Revelation as the inspired-Word of God, written by a believing Christian. This false biblical scholar shows in all her points how ignorant she truly is of Church History.

    April 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • DirkDiggler

      You got it the other way around. ANYBODY can be a 'born-again' Bible believing 'Christian' but just a very few can be a scholar. Its easier to believe blindly and be absolutely subjective on the Bible compared to being objective, questioning, and doing research.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • pcayce

      Try reading the book. Either it will give you insights that will strengthen your core beliefs, refocus your beliefs or not make a difference. I seriously don't think anyone will leave "Christianity" becomes of it.

      Revelations is only one part of the whole Christian belief system. If understanding the historical context is so threatening to anyone's beliefs then maybe their commitment wasn't that strong to begin with.

      But its almost impossible to refute someone's research if you don't actually read the book.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      "There's a major difference between a so-called biblical scholar and a born-again believing Christian preacher/author." True. The scholar relies on reason, logic, rational and logical thought and argument, peer review and references to direct evidence and supporting work to make their case.

      The born-again preacher relies on lip.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Tom Smith

      How can anyone go by what a scholar says just because of some degree in college? Anyone can be self educated. This so called scholar still leaves lots of holes in her presumptions. No one may ever know how to Really interpret the book of Revelations so take it how you want and don't criticize others who believe in Christ's second coming.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Abdullah

      You've actually gotten it backwards sir, to be considered a scholar one needs years of education, several degrees, probably a few published works, so forth and so on.

      To be an Evangelical preacher all one needs is to be unemployed and charismatic.

      And to Ben, this sort of thing happens all the time during Ramadan, and this piece may be offensive to your particular interpretation of Christianity but I am sure millions and millions of Orthodox and Easter Rite Catholics probably don't find it particularly offensive at'tall.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • michael

      ^Maybe you should learn some history and realize how right she is , being a bornagain just makes you one of many , many "sects" who are ignorant of history in general and how cristianity came about

      April 1, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  12. Birger Draget

    This is the kind of trashy religion reporting that that I have come to expect from CNN. No footnotes, no primary sources – only sensationalism at its worst.

    April 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Sane One

      It is an article about a book. This doesn't call for "footnotes" or "sources". What school of journalism did you attend ?

      April 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      I betcha the book has footnotes. Have you looked?

      April 1, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  13. heloise8

    Reblogged this on The Trough.

    April 1, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  14. Jonathan

    I LOVE IT. 4 big MYTHS about Book of Revelation..... ummm isn't the entire book essentially just a bunch of myths and fairy tales?

    April 1, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  15. trayvonmartin

    The war with Iran is coming this Summer be prepared people! You need to stock up on food and supplies.

    April 1, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Joe

      Have you heard of RFID tags ? The mark is already implementable, just needs human consent and united one world
      The new age or the system in which 666 is sacred awaits the war between islam & communism on one side and judeo-christian western society on the other. Once these 4 systems have been decimated or weakened, the real antichrist new age system will rule as nations unite under the kingdom of the beast.
      The placeholders for the new age are already there, the Bible is proven already.
      It only awaits implementation in a weakened Judeo Christian world.
      Google "accurate and amazing expose of the new age by a secular Jew"
      Gnosticism is part of the new age umbrella in Christianity which it claims to predate.
      So is Kabbalah for Judaism and Sufism for Islam. The enemy is within not without.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • AGuest9

      I bet you spend a lot of time on "FEMA Death Camp" sites, too, Joe.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Dixon

      @Joe: Seriously, seek psychiatric help (not kidding)

      April 1, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Joe

      Dixon
      Of course if Lucifer exists you will be off your rocker soon lol. Atheistic communism will be the first to
      be destroyed. Dont sit too pretty. Evangelical left behind nutcases and islamic fanatics next facing off against each other
      Then the new age will implement the system already proposed in te 60s nd 70s when their elites didnt hold the power
      worldwide, now you have Obama and his eugenic minded professorial nutbars, yes the new age awaits worlwide destruction and subsequent takeover. John saw it 1000s of years ago but so did Satanist Albert Pike.
      Aldous Huxley and Feinstein saw big brother but their vision was shorter than the satanist and even shorter than the Christin and the Jew

      April 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  16. Water into beer

    My grandmother lived close to the WGN radio station in Chicago. This is a 50,000 watt clear channel. She'd often call up my dad and tell him how the Lord was speaking to her at night in 'tongues'. My dad and uncle were over there one night playing three handed euchre with my older sister when grandma, who had earlier gone to bed, let out a loud "He's here now!". Dad bolted up the stairs and came back a bit later. He explained that she was getting radio signals from her old steel bed. "It wasn't God, it was Harry Carry", my dad said. My uncle reminded him that this was in fact Cub country and he should keep such pronouncements to himself.

    April 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Boast Busters

      Water into beer,

      Good one :)

      April 1, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Eric G

      Holy cow!

      April 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      It's for posts like this that I wish CNN had a "like" button.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Walter Harold Marlin

      My mothers last name is Beers.

      Walter into wine or beer. Yes.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  17. reason

    The gods of all organized religions, if true, would all be horribly unjust and evil deities to send billions of people to eternal suffering for choosing the wrong one or being born in the wrong place. Looking at organized religion objectively, they are myths from stone age societies that were trying to explain the world, and there is virtually no chance any one is truth.

    Rationally speaking if there is a just god and an afterlife, you will be judged on how you live your life. Rejecting reason and deluding yourself in blind faith does not help your case.

    April 1, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • edwardo

      A loud applause for you, from me. Good post!

      April 1, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • ZedWrecker

      The Asyrians called, they want their religious views back.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  18. Justin

    CNN is not in the business of pandering to Christian ideology. They are in the business of getting people to read their articles and re-post on the many social media outlets for additional exposure. If they offend a few believers in the process, oh well

    April 1, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  19. Jesus

    DAD! Your pets are ignoring Me again!

    April 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  20. Magdalen

    Thanks Ethan for a moment of clarity, I always roll my eyes with a big sigh of pain when CNN, posts religious articles being they are about as "tolerant" of christianity as the new york times. To six degrees, maybe in his short post it seems a circular way to you, however he is correct. The Church and church councils had specific benchmarks of which books went in the canon and those that did not. Regarding the book of revelation, there is a book called the lamb's supper by theologian Scott hahn, it certainly makes a lot more sense than the "left behind" scare mongering series.

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

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Advertisement
About this blog

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