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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. Chris

    Just another opinion and I can respect it, even if I do not agree. There have probably been many with a similar view centuries before the present time, even. There will be more, as well.

    Our pastor openly admitted that Revelation is the more difficult book in the Bible but he managed to pull some useful, everyday meanings out of it, outside of the "fire and brimstone".

    Further discussion about Revelation is always good, but I will keep whatever beliefs about it that I made through my own faith and learning.

    April 1, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  2. AARONRYAN777

    THE MARK OF THE BEAST IS THE RFID CHIP PEOPLE WAKE UP!!! ITS RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOUR EYES REVELATION IS TRUTH OPEN YOUR EYES THE CHIP UNDER THE SKIN WELL ITS HERE ITS BEEN HERE THE RFID CHIP IS IT THAT GOS UNDER THE SKIN . . . and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."

    - Revelation 13:15-17 RFID CHIP GOS IN THE RIGHT HAND PEOPLE WAKE THE HECK UP!!!

    April 1, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  3. GODSHOLYWARRI0R

    THE MARK OF THE BEAST IS THE RFID CHIP PEOPLE WAKE UP!!! ITS RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOUR EYES REVELATION IS TRUTH OPEN YOUR EYES THE CHIP UNDER THE SKIN WELL ITS HERE ITS BEEN HERE THE RFID CHIP IS IT THAT GOS UNDER THE SKIN . . . and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."

    - Revelation 13:15-17 RFID CHIP GOS IN THE RIGHT HAND PEOPLE WAKE THE HECK UP!!!

    April 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  4. As revealed to John the Apostle

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-zk-E55dRk&w=640&h=390]

    April 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  5. Jespo

    It's interesting how such a 'big' book can gather and foster such little minds.

    April 1, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Brian

      No, its amazing how people tend to ignore a "big" book when the truth smacks them in the face.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Jespo

      hhmmnn...what part of the book is truth?...and please, no quoting, use your mind.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Jespo

      truth, truth, truth! (while book pounding).......your silence is golden and is your answer as well.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Jespo

      Question: Abortion is a 'sin' to Christians yet the bible states you must ki-ll your child if they disobey or shame you, Why is it ok to ki-ll your child after they are born and not before? Can't seem to find the answer in the 'big book of truth'.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • meghan

      Jespo, I love you. Thank you for having some sense.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Joel

      I just simply cannot understand why people can still believe this nonsense. It is absolutely moronic.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  6. sherrie0824

    So tired of everyone debating what the bible means ... it's a work of fiction, written by man. It has some good stories, some stuff to take to heart, but it should NEVER be taken literally. It is the written form of oral tradition, oral stories that were passed down generation to generation and altered (even if minutely) by everyone who spoke the stories. (Ever played telephone? Heck, one little story can't go unchanged from one person to another in the span of 15 minutes!)

    April 1, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Chanfle

      sherrie0824 so so small minded, so foolish

      April 1, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • purebredmutt

      Nope, don't agree with that; check out a Torah sometime.
      The Bible is not a verbal record of anything. Yes it was written by man but only in the sence of recording it. It was inspired by G-d and has been proven mathematically several times. Each book of the Bible has a mathematical signature.
      Even the Sumerians have written records and that was about 6000 years ago.
      It's the real deal.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • meghan

      Sherrie, not to mention how freaking OLD it is!! You would think with all of this new age technology and science and HISTORY that we would be able to think for ourselves and leave a nearly 2,000 year old book where it's supposed to be: IN THE PAST.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • G D

      I accept that it is not word for word the specific pronouncement of God, as if dictated, but when read in context, it is more truth than fiction. The truths contained in the Bible may have well started in other traditions. Interestingly, they stay pretty tightly to the same text. This either tradition pure and simple or it is enduring truth. What folks, especially on the far right have done is grossly manipulate that truth into ugliness. Love, service to others, forgiveness and mercy are the truths. Because God is Holy and Righteous, there is also judgment. His judgment, not mans. Last time I checked, God didn't need the help of fools. Peace.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • gdt.johnson

      thank you. well put.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • jaw4

      Thank you Sherrie. Kills me that people totally eiither forget or ignore that.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:53 am |
  7. Herne

    That's just flippin funny......4 myths?.....try the WHOLE book!.

    Organized religion was designed by old world leaders, as a means to more easily control the masses.

    Organized religion, just like sports and mass media.... are designed and controlled the simple minded. It is obviously still working.

    If you are an adult... and still believe in fairy tales....you need therapy, not a priest.

    April 1, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Shannon

      You know what I hate? Arrogant, intolerant atheists who mock people for daring to have faith.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • johnfrichardson

      Shannon, you might say of the people in the first and people in modern China that they dare(d) to have faith. Being an evangelical in America takes no courage, the laughable evangelical persecution complex notwithstanding!

      April 1, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  8. Robinhood

    If atheists so called atheists wanna really get to the bottom of the Truth...its simple...think of this as a peer reviewed Journal...Some articles have merit and some dont...The Bible was peer reviewed by theologians of their time and came to a consensus of what was the Truth and what was just plain heresy...And its so funny to see that one writer...Elaine Pagel...seeks to try to review things that were already thought about and argued with the early fathers of the Church....Dont always except everything for face value...do your own research and the Truth will be clear...

    http://www.thirdmill.org/newfiles/mat_gross/NT.Gross.Matthew_BeyondBeliefbyElainePagels.html

    April 1, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      It isn't peer review if review is now closed to any further consideration. That's what's properly called dogma.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Henry

      They also got rid of anything written by women and made sure to include lots of things that discussed women being the property of men. I guess the original peer review was a bit biased.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • smalltownkafka

      But, you're making the assumption that truth was what the council of Nicea was after, and that they found it. Which is wrong on both counts. It was far more political than spiritual and from that point on, Christianity lost its roots to the structure and rules of the Roman city state.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Karl

      I guess we should all be using the Orthodox bible if that is true...all others are blasphemous revisions.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Robinhood

      People will always find a way to believe what they want... do what they want...You can choose to read about why the gospels were actually put together...or you can just continue to find ways to discredit the notion that the Bible was divinely inspired...The choice is yours...

      April 1, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Joel

      No, no, no. How would Athanasius be able to discern, 360 years after the events took place, what was true and untrue. That doesn't make any sense. How can you say you know what happens after we die? You don't. That is infantile nonsense. Christianity is a myth, a silly myth made up by bronze age nomads who were wandering around the middle east. I don't believe what middle eastern men have to say about God today. And, I certainly wouldn't set my moral compass on what they believed 2000 years ago.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • johnfrichardson

      It is noteworthy that the canon wasn't set until the bishops who set it had some genuine, heavy duty, temporal political power. So no, it had nothing to do with "peer review" by particularly spiritually wise people and everything to do with sheer political clout.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  9. ernieb28

    John Blake, why have you chosen to mis-lead your readers about God's word by using as your only source (Elaine Pagels) for this article? In her bio, she admittedly quit going to church at an early age, and has apparently become more of a biblical skeptic. Why didn't you consult with Franklin Graham or TD Jakes as well,to get a different perspective? But rather than take an objective approach to what is actually said in the Book of Revelations in it's proper context, you chose a skeptic as your only source to keep people confused that they continue to think that God is fictional and was therefore created by man, instead of truth that we were created by Him. And then you chose to feed your readers this muck at the holiest time of the year.(Easter) Un-believers are doomed more by their self induced arrogance, and lust for self indulgent activities than by any thing else, because they choose that oppose to God. People need to know, it's not The Lord that condemns a man or the work of satan alone that sends a man to hell. It is your personal rejection of Jesus as "The Son of God",The Propitiation for sin and Savior to those who believe. It is by a person's choice to go there. Hell was never intended for man but rather for satan and his demons. This article was written not to give clarity to the truth of what God wanted people to know about the end of time as we know it. It spreads yet another lie about God by mis-directing and mis-informing people so they continue to be mis-lead!

    April 1, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      He probably spends a lot of time talking about Pagels because the article is an overview of her recently published book.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Sheila - Revelations 101

      Because just like other CNN articles of this nature, they want Christians to doubt, sin and fall from the faith. They want to keep others from being saved, and they want to create friction towards Christians. It is the work of the spirit of the antichrist which is headed by Satan himself, and will infiltrate all areas of human life and activity that he can in order to bring harm and destruction to human beings. Satan hates God's prize creation which is "us people". But Satan uses humans to hurt other humans. You have to decide which side you are on. As God's prized creation you can be on his side, or you can be on the side of the one who wants to destroy you and everything good. There is no other choice. It is either God who wants to love you if you let him, or the one who wants your total demise.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • smalltownkafka

      Ernie, the answer has to be obvious, right?. It's a discussion of a specific book. The very fact that you're not aware of that leads to me belief all we're getting from you is a stock, knee-jerk answer, one not even based on the simple effort of paying attention. Such answers lend you no credibility.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • meghan

      This whole thing is ridiculous. Skeptics are more capable of doing reliable research than someone crazy Bible thumper like most of the commenters on this thread. Think about it: if someone came up with irrefutable evidence that aliens visit this planet everyday and eat people, would you believe it more if it were provided by a crazy guy in the desert who lives with giant replicas from Roswell or a skeptical, educated, and experienced person who has no other choice but to say they exist because they cannot come up with a better explanation? Pagel has studied it for most of her life. Not to mention, the fact that she IS a skeptic should make her one of the more credible sources out there for this sort of topic. You know, if you think about it most people who actually READ the Bible don't believe in it. Most Christians can quote the Bible and tell you stories but almost none of them have read it cover to cover. That is because the ones that do realize how insane it is.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  10. kentuckyscience.com

    Baptism is associated with accepting Jesus and being saved by grace. Being saved by grace means you should have received a punishment for your sin which hurt other people. The problem is that Grace tends to be put above The Greatest Commandment Matthew 22:37. If Grace were above the Greatest Commandment, then the devil could be forgiven and he would be in heaven. The devil does not love God and this is the reason he is not in heaven. The purpose of following the law is to show others that we love God. Unfortunately, those that view Grace above the Greatest commandment are using the law as a means to judge others as being not good enough to follow it. This is the common argument against the Jew. Love or judge, the choice is yours! Matthew 22:37 states you are called to Love and the law tells us how. Not knowing that God loves us is associated with our inherited sin from the fall of Adam and Eve. For God so loved the world that he sent his son not to condemn the world but to save it. Christ forgives our old sinful ways, since being born again is associated with a change in behavior because we now see that God loves us and therefore we now desire to love him. If grace is infinite, then it would not be a choice to love God. If grace is infinite, there would be no reason to change our ways and become a new creation or be born again. If grace is infinite, then God would accept evil and thus be evil. To forgive and not expect any change in behavior would produce more of the same behavior that the original forgiveness required.

    April 1, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      So god sent his son to his death... great parenting skills.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  11. UR

    The author is quoted to say, "He doesn’t even say Jesus died for your sins." Really? What does verse 1:5 say? "...To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen."

    April 1, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  12. kentuckyscience.com

    Infinite Universe – zero is not equal to one (there is a point where matter can't be divided – God is Something that can neither be created nor destroyed that is dependent on nothing.) An infinite universe lacks a beginning, so there is no one set past or a given future.
    The infinite Universe supports the view that all particles considered to be energy have mass or substance; that there is one fundamental particle which accounts for all the diverse forms of matter in the Universe. It is the ultimate example of team work, since it fundamentally has no reason to destroy itself. So, why does evil exist? Free will and without freewill, God would lack choice. Balance is the nature of perfection in the Infinite Universe. In an infinite Universe the total amount of something remains constant. When an atom is divided it no longer has the characteristics of the original element. There is a point where matter can't be divided and at this point something and nothing are distinctly defined. In the infinite Universe, the term infinite is used to describe the difference between something (1) and nothing (0). There is an infinite difference between zero and one.
    Therefore the principles of human evolution from an insane species require a virgin birth of Adam and Eve for the establishment of a moral and just human government (Isaiah 9:6). Nothing and Emptiness are not the same; according to this universe nothing has power over emptiness, since nothing created everything out of emptiness. Could zero be equal to one only under certain mathematical conditions? No. Not according to the Big Bang Theory. It states that nothing created everything that exists in the Universe. Steven Hawking states that nothing can continue to create even more. So, the Big Bang theory prevents any condition where something has always been. Emptiness is proven not to exist based on its own definition. Emptiness is the absence of space, time, matter, and energy, thus no test can be done to determine its existence. It is common knowledge that substances which are finite have predictable endings. To even begin to publicly claim that the Universe was finite without being able to give a predictable ending shows a lack of self discipline and general education.

    April 1, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Jeff

      You have no idea what you are talking about.

      Now, I know that you think you know what you are talking about. I'm just here to tell you that you don't

      April 1, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  13. Texan

    Whoever wrote this article is a liar.

    April 1, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Jespo

      Name calling...tish tish...not very Christian...

      April 1, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • smalltownkafka

      Good answer. And to think all that research and homework and knowledge can be brushed aside by a simple utterance from your powerful presence. Faith deserves way better than you.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • mandarax

      Smalltownkafka (nice name by the way!), perhaps you have not paid attention to the Texas textbook battles. Research is not to be trusted, and certainly not expertise. Homework consists of memorizing the reasons why this is a Christian nation. For a Texan, that is an educated answer.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  14. TT6

    Pagel the pagan devil

    April 1, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      What a stunning, carefully crafted rebuttal.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • smalltownkafka

      Wow, name-calling and everything. Just so you know, what you might see as forcefulness comes off as lazy bumper sticker thkning. But then, you seem pretty satisfied with taking religion and the Bible to the shallowest point of the wading pool.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  15. firstpampa

    Just noticed this story at http://www.cnn.com and appreciate the lively dialog. I've served in Christian ministry as my vocation for 25 years, earned one seminary graduate degree, and am working now on another; I've heard about a lot of folks who supposedly know the Bible but never someone named "Elaine Pagels." Before anybody posting here closes his mind to the truth of the Book of Revelation, I'd suggest doing what real truth-seekers do: read objectively the studies of other professing Christians trained well in Scripture studies; some can be found here (www.walvoord.com) and here (www.pre-trib.org; follow links to others, like here: http://www.josh.org/resources/books/free-book-downloads/). Smarter people than all of us posting here still wonder about the Revelation's content (not the "myths" listed above so much); in the end, seriously, just don't be wrong about: Jesus! :-)) (P.S. Only God can be an atheist.)

    April 1, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Dixon

      "I'd suggest doing what real truth-seekers do: read objectively the studies of other professing Christians trained well in Scripture studies"

      LOL... actually, what REAL truth seekers would do is look EQUALLY at the Christian side, the Muslim side, the Jewish side, the Hindu side, the Buddhist side, the Atheist side, the Agnostic side, etc, etc, etc....

      April 1, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Leo

      Firstpapa, tell me are thse the same events recorded by different authors?

      BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. Revelation 1:7

      30"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. 31"And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Matthew 24:30-31

      26"Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory. 27"And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven. Mark 13:26-27

      50Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. I Corinthians 15:50-52

      13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

      14Then the LORD will appear over them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning; and the Lord GOD will blow the trumpet, and will march in the storm winds of the south. Zechariah 9:14

      8"In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the one who is feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the LORD before them. 9"And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. 10"I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. 11"In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo. Zechariah12:1-11

      April 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • searchinmyroots

      If only people would read how the Christian bible really came to be, then maybe they wouldn't be so "certain" about what they believe it means

      April 1, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Leo

      Dixon, agreed and in the end you will find the hope, grace and forgiveness in Christianity far surpassed all others. Then you dig even deeper and find prophecy within the Old and New testament is even more awesome, even telling about the days we are in now. I hope you check it out.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Dixon

      @Leo: "in the end you will find the hope, grace and forgiveness in Christianity far surpassed all others."

      Sorry, that is just not true. Atheists, agnostics and people of other faiths are just as good of people as Christians are.

      **** "Then you dig even deeper and find prophecy within the Old and New testament is even more awesome, even telling about the days we are in now."

      Here's an old website I created that I no longer use. This link takes you to a random sampling of contradictions, historical errors and false prophecies contained in BOTH the OT and NT.

      http://uscatholic.yuku.com/topic/51/

      **** "I hope you check it out."

      I went to elite faith based schools for 12 years. I've debated with countless theologians. I used to be deeply involved with my Church. Been there, done that. Not having religion rule my life is what truly set me free. I hope you check it out. ;)

      April 1, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Loralee

      If you have never heard the name Elaine Pagels, then I respectfully submit that you have not exposed yourself enough to opinions that differ from your own in those 25 years.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Leo

      FirstPapa the reason I asked you this is because of your pretrib site, for all of these are the same event, and Matthew and Mark make it clear WHEN.

      29"But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Matthew 24:29

      30"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. 31"And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Matthew 24:30-31

      I personally feel the Pre-tribualtion rapture is one of the most dangerous and unscriptural teachings in Christianity for nobody is ready for the days just around the corner!!

      April 1, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Leo

      Dixon, Christianity never claims it is the way to make people better, in fact Jesus came for the unrighteous as well as the rightious.

      This life is not the Goal, except to lead others in the hope to find salvation. It is the reward that is the good part!!

      April 1, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • sjenner

      The problem becomes those who take the Bible literally–even those parts of the Bible (and that may well be the decided majority of the text) that defy literal interpretation–and no matter the indefensible conclusions a literalist reading demands.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Leo

      Dixon, if you let hypocrites get between you and God it just means the hypocrites are just a bit closer to God than you are!!

      April 1, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Dixon

      @Leo: "Dixon, Christianity never claims it is the way to make people better"

      You said it, not me. Go back and re-read.

      *** "in fact Jesus came for the unrighteous as well as the rightious."

      FYI... it is "righteous" not "rightious."

      In fact, according to your Bible, it is IMPOSSIBLE for Jesus to have even been born! Did you know this? Of course you didn't because you let others tell you what the Bible means instead of thinking for yourself.

      When looking at the only two Gospel writers who deemed it important enough to talk about the birth of your Savior: Matthew says Jesus was born when Herod was King of Judea. Luke says Jesus was born when Cyrenius was Governor of Syria. Thus, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR JESUS TO HAVE BEEN BORN during the administration of these two rulers because Herod died in the year 4 B.C. and Cyrenius (aka Quirinius in Roman history) did not become Governor of Syria until 10 years later. Herod and Cyrenius are interrupted by the entire reign of Archelaus, Herod’s son. Between Matthew & Luke (once again, the only 2 who thought Jesus’ birth was important enough to actually write about), there is a clear contradiction of at least ten years, as to the time of Christ’s birth. They were absolutely clueless.

      The Bible is an antiquated book written by uneducated men. The facts are that 5th graders today know more about the world in which we reside than did the simpletons that wrote the Bible. You'd NEVER let a 5th grader dictate the course of your life, but when it comes to the Bible, then you are fine with it. It is absolutely mind-boggling.

      *** "This life is not the Goal, except to lead others in the hope to find salvation. It is the reward that is the good part!!"

      So according to Jesus (YOUR Savior), you are to sell EVERYTHING you own and the last will first and first will be last. After all, if Heaven is such a great place and that is the goal, you should have no problem doing this. Amazing how you have a computer though.

      *** "Dixon, if you let hypocrites get between you and God it just means the hypocrites are just a bit closer to God than you are!!"

      Considering that 99.99999% of all Christians are hypocrites, then by your "logic" they are all closer to God than I. Cool!

      Actually, my life has become SIGNIFICANTLY better since I gave up organized religion. I don't need someone else to think for me.

      If people are REALLY concerned about going to heaven and they REALLY believe in the lines in the Bible, then shouldn't they be doing as Jesus instructs them to do? Isn't that just common sense? When I left the Church, this was one of my reasons for doing so as I realized I was a hypocrite for calling myself something that I wasn't. While I did good works, I never did as much as I "could" have done as Jesus commanded. As just one example of many, instead of having a car, I could have rode the bus and donated the extra money to charity, but I didn't want to do that. Jesus said the way to get into Heaven is to sell EVERYTHING you own and I had absolutely no desire to do that either. So instead of being a hypocrite, I dropped the label. If the time comes for me to face the Pearly Gates, I think God would appreciate my honesty rather than my living a lie simply for the sake of being greedy to attain something better in heaven. I still do my good works (because I want to), just without the label.

      Peace!

      April 1, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  16. Kevino Gracia

    Patmos belongs to Greece, but it is very close to Turkey.

    April 1, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  17. Dixon

    Let's learn some facts about the Biblical Satan:

    According to the Bible itself, God killed FAR more people than the "evil" Satan. Most people are shocked to learn about how many people the devil actually killed. In the Bible, the number of SPECIFIC references to the number of people that God killed is in excess of 2.3 Million.

    None of that even accounts for abstract events such as "the flood," then that number is likely in excess of 30 Million people.

    And how many people has the devil killed? The answer is 10. Not 10 Million, not 10 Thousand, but rather 10. ..... That's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

    Even more ironic is that the 10 people that he killed were in a "bet" of sorts with God with regard to Job and his family, so God was directly implicated in those as well.

    So looking at the final specific tally that is MOST favorable to God, it is:

    God Killed: 2,300,000+
    Satan Killed: 10

    Don't shoot the messenger... I'm only reporting what the Bible says.

    If Satan REALLY wanted to control the people on this planet, then Satan would have written the Bible (and other various religious texts) himself and gained control of all the major religions. And no matter how hard people try, they CAN NOT say that Satan didn't write the Bible because they weren't there. Thus, they might be believing in a book written by the Devil himself... especially considering how many people the Bible COMMANDS it's believers to kill.

    April 1, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Brian

      Dixon, you have a really REALLY shallow view of the Bible.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Dixon

      @Brian: Sorry if you can't handle fact reporting.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Leo

      Dixon, you really don't get it... If Satan draws all people to sin, and fall away like you he is evil. That will kill your soul!!

      God does not desire any to perish, but have eternal life.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Dixon

      @Leo: "Dixon, you really don't get it... If Satan draws all people to sin, and fall away like you he is evil. That will kill your soul!!"

      Leo, you really don't get it. Satan isn't real. Neither is his dyslexic fictional character, Santa.

      When you come to terms that it is EQUALLY as likely that Satan wrote the Bible as God wrote it, you'll be ahead of the game.

      **** "God does not desire any to perish, but have eternal life."

      I literally died in a sporting accident when I was younger and a devout Bible believer. Science, not God, brought me back to life. But hey, I'm sure you know more about the afterlife than I do. When you get a common frame of reference, you let me know.

      Peace!

      April 1, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • Nii

      Willbush is dispersions the new ghetto translation for aspertions? With such poor language skills you want to discuss the fine points of Christian Theology? lol

      April 2, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  18. Goodness..

    inquire some knowledge you ignorant little writer..

    April 1, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • smalltownkafka

      And before you dismiss someone else so casually, try learning how to write/think with even the slightest bit of skill.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  19. Jessica S

    I don't get why Atheists don't want to be saved?! Don't practise the religion... just believe in God and shut up! It's that easy. That will make life much easier and no conflicts!!!

    April 1, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Dixon

      We don't get why you still believe in Santa Claus.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • sam stone

      Jessica: Atheists do not believe in heaven, nor hell. How do you expect that we should need to be saved?

      April 1, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Truth

      Jessica – spoken as a true unbeliever.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • wowt

      Becasue we do not believe in god therefor we do not need to be saved. Very simple.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Shannon

      What I don't get is why some atheists feel the need to tear down everyone that doesn't share their views.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  20. Darren

    This article is intended to deceive people from thinking that there is a God or consequences for sin.

    April 1, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Redd

      Darren 100% right this is CNN the lying secular left network founded by ted Atheist Turner

      April 1, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • pcayce

      Putting the Book of Revelation into historical context does not take anyone away from God. Period.

      And even if you don't believe in God there are consequences for your actions. Not counting the judicial system, there is still the whole concept of "if you create enough negative energy by harming others in anyway, it will come back and bite you. Call if fate, call it karma, call it God's retribution. It may not be instantaneous but it will more than likely happen.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • pcayce

      And if you're not creating positive energy, then you're just not living.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Frank Cardenas

      Nothing in this article states that Jesus' law of sowing and reaping is false and what we reap is the consequences of what we sow. And it doesn't matter if we are a saint or a sinner. The Book of Revelation has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus but of the bias of religions against each other. Leave religion and follow Jesus!

      April 1, 2012 at 6:54 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.