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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. Marlou Ordelt

    For thousands of years Religion has caused wars because of other peoples beliefs. I stepped away from Catholicism many many years ago......

    April 1, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Sheila - Revelations 101

      Wars are caused by evil intent...power, arrogance, greed, refusing to follow God's commands to love God with all of one's heart, mind and soul, and to Love each other.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Jespo

      A priest's daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death. (Leviticus 21:9 NAB)

      I guess that's your god's tough love Sheila....

      April 1, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  2. No fool

    The two major world, organized religions, Christianity and Islam are thinly disguised mafias. They have the same enemy: human intelligence accompanied by a sense of ethics. Beyond that, their alliance is shaky at best. More or less openly, they face off like protagonists of a classic Western movie: (This here globe ain't big 'nuf for the both of us!). Their pontiffs know the score. Those in the Vatican boast of destroying and humilating any human being who resists them and to turn him or her into a footstoll (scabellum pedum tuorum) for the feet of their favorites. (The poor they use to flood industrialized nations and to carry out, much of the time under the guise of Calculated Charities), a sneaky sort of delayed action genocide. It is indeed all about politics, a fact acknowledged in an observation of Pope Leo X to an associate: "How profitable for us this fable of Christ has been through the ages!" On the other hand, what could be more clear than the statement of an expert if ever there was one: Ayatollah Kohmeini: "Islam is politics or it is nothing.:" or the statement of hs coreligionist:Alija Izetbegovich who writes in his Islamic Declaration: "History knows of no true Islamic movement that was not at the same time a political movement as well." SHAME ON YOU FOR THE CENSORSHIP. IT NEEDS TO BE SAID AGAIN AND AGAIN.
    Nothing much will change for the better on our tortured planet until all the falsehoods and atrocities perpetrated by organized religions are perceived in a majority of human minds. That is why the code running through the literature of the West is so important! That is why its emergence from secrecy is being ruthlessly suppressed.

    April 1, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  3. Steve

    Each moment is a clean slate here and now. What has happened in the past is the past gone and never to be the same. What is the future can never be known because it has not happened. Only the weak minded clutch to what is written the true spiritual path has no borders and seeks no justification of it's meaning because it is timeless and abstract by it's very nature.
    Beyond words it cannot be written.

    April 1, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  4. 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 7:25 pm |
    • amazed

      I think its ironic that you proclaim to have faith is to reject reason. Reason, with a capital R, is formed in you and all people first through faith. You weren't born knowing 2+2=4, you learned it. The first step in learning is having faith in the truthfulness of the teacher.

      One would think that in all your reasoning you would understand that faith can be deluded, but so can reason. "Blind faith" at the exclusion of reason is absurd, as all who have faith have so because it is reasonable to them. All who reject any notion of faith and cling fast to reason are absurd for the rationality they cling to is limited and finite as the person, and to proclaim a war cry of "by Reason alone" is to have faith in reason. All have faith, it is but what they have faith in that is the issue.

      The contemporary Western divorce of Faith and Reason that followed after the Enlightenment has been the most deluded quest, and any who claim one side and deny the existence of the other have deceived themselves.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • just saying

      I believe you are right.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  5. No fool

    The two major world, organized religions, Christianity and Islam are thinly disguised mafias. They have the same enemy: human intelligence accompanied by a sense of ethics. Beyond that, their alliance is shaky at best. More or less openly, they face off like protagonists of a classic Western movie: (This here globe ain't big 'nuf for the both of us!). Their pontiffs know the score. Those in the Vatican boast of destroying and humilating any human being who resists them and to turn him or her into a footstoll (scabellum pedum tuorum) for the feet of their favorites. (The poor they use to flood industrialized nations and to carry out, much of the time under the guise of Calculated Charities), a sneaky sort of delayed action genocide. It is indeed all about politics, a fact acknowledged in an observation of Pope Leo X to an associate: "How profitable for us this fable of Christ has been through the ages!" On the other hand, what could be more clear than the statement of an expert if ever there was one: Ayatollah Kohmeini: "Islam is politics or it is nothing.:" or the statement of hs coreligionist:Alija Izetbegovich who writes in his Islamic Declaration: "History knows of no true Islamic movement that was not at the same time a political movement as well."
    Nothing much will change for the better on our tortured planet until all the falsehoods and atrocities perpetrated by organized religions are perceived in a majority of human minds. That is why the code running through the literature of the West is so important! That is why its emergence from secrecy is being ruthlessly suppressed.

    April 1, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  6. Pope_Inquisitor

    the entire bible is myth, folklore, legend and has been morphed and twisted, altered myriad times for centuries. How many versions are there? How similar are today's books to the original writings? Who says they are 'god's words"? Yeah, right. And unicorns live in the clouds.

    April 1, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  7. Jespo

    Arguing about the bible and its contents is like arguing about the healthiness of the green eggs in a Dr Seuss book. Unnatural, man-made, and rotten to the core.

    April 1, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  8. mark

    Hmmm. And here I thought the whole book was a myth.

    April 1, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  9. inmyjudgement

    No Christian will accept a mark on the hand or on the fore-head.

    April 1, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Does ash Wednesday ring a bell?

      April 1, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • inmyjudgement

      The mark that is needed for commerce. You will know it when you see it.

      Rev 13:16 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.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • just saying

      The mark the Romans used to authorise commerce so that the ignorant and illiterate masses who could not read would recognise it. It is all there in the history books.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • inmyjudgement

      The ignorant masses will question the wisdom of wearing such a mark. Where as the intellectuals will not question it.

      April 1, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  10. zogg

    wow denise again wow what part of reading the ENTIRE bible is beyound your grasp im sorry its not come see jon run.. or anything that simple but read all of it you will be suprised

    April 1, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  11. jemzinthekop

    Funny reading the words of gullible fools who have been taught their whole lives by snake oil salesmen as they question the teachings of a woman who spent 22 years in 4 different universities obtaining a doctorate in religious studies.

    April 1, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Sheila - Revelations 101

      The intelligence of mankind is foolishness in the eyes of God. Read the Bible. Credentials does not remove sin and evil from the soul. You can have all the degrees of the world and still be rebellious towards God and lie, and wickedly try to deceive others, or be totally ignorant.

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

        Is the intelligence of mankind really the foolishness in the eyes of god? Was it a burning bush that told you this? Or a talking snake?

        April 1, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Jespo

      Intelligence and freedom of thought are not sought out qualities amongst their populace....

      April 1, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • On the other hand

      The self-proclaimed intelligence of Sheila is foolishness in the eyes of reality. You can have all the degrees of the world (ahem, you don't) and still be rebellious towards reality and lie, and wickedly try to deceive others, or be totally ignorant.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • AGuest9

      OK, Sheila – Revelations 101, which "Revelations" would they be? The book is called Revelation.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • inmyjudgement

      After 2000 years Israel has been reborn. The Muslims, Christians and Jews are fighting over the ownership of Jerusalem.
      Jerusalem is a necessary component in Revelation.

      April 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
      • jemzinthekop

        Great, again more evidence of the unilateral and balanced insanity of all religions.

        April 1, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • inmyjudgement

      The Zionist leaders that lead the move to return to Israel were atheists. Even atheists were unable to prevent prophecy from occurring. They are the ones that set all that is happening into motion.

      April 1, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
      • jemzinthekop

        Sweet, was it your crystal ball that told you this or the hay seeds you chanted the haka into?

        To be clear, the pope could be an atheist and it would be of no matter to other atheists. Atheism is the absence of an organized belief system and allows each person to decide on whether they believe in talking snakes, the borg, unicorns, the g spot or any other matter of individual concern.

        April 1, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • inmyjudgement

      You can pickup some of the information about secular zionism in http://atheism.about.com/library/glossary/judaism/bldef_zionism.htm

      In the same link under Religious Zionism you will find that religious Jews were oppose to the move to Israel.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
      • jemzinthekop

        That is great, are you trying to say that all these people are fighting because of the imaginary prophecies of a mythical bronze aged allegorical fable written for illiterates.... and you believe it?

        April 1, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • inmyjudgement

      Atheists were told by the religious Jews not move to Israel.
      The atheists moved to Israel because they did not believe in the prophecies.

      When Israel was create it set off a whole bunch of prophecies.

      One prophecy that I am watching for is where the Lord will strike Egypt and heal it.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
      • jemzinthekop

        Yeah I'm sorry I thought I was speaking with a rational human being not someone subscribing to voodoo and witchcraft.

        If by prophecies you mean predictable human responses of people who felt war was thrust upon them then I may fulfill a prophecy because I drank 2 tall glasses of water an hour ago and there is a very good chance I may need to pee soon... when I do the prophecy will be fulfilled. This prophecy business is pretty awesome.

        So just to be clear here.... you believe any of this matters? You think the messiah is watching this unfold up from her perch on high and it is going exactly the way he planned it. And you like this guy and want to spend eternity with him?

        April 1, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • inmyjudgement

      By prophecy I am talking about the Hebrew prophets who could predict what is now happening from thousands of years in past.

      1. Israel exists
      2. Israel will be surrounded by enemies.
      3. The enemies will be unable to destroy Israel.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
      • jemzinthekop

        Well then cave men are the true prophets because I studied some drawings from a recent discovery in a cave in France and it showed a sun, and people and and animals in a field and all those things still exist today too. The wonders of prophets cease to amaze don't they?

        Look, I respect that you may want to cling on to any shred of evidence that these bronze aged magic men weren't just trying to pay the bills and get a decent meal. But every culture and civilization has had prophets, shamen,. medicine men, bramans etc and all have made prophecies that have not come true. So in the proverbial "infinite monkeys on infinite typewriters sense" one of these prophecies would eventually have to come close to an interpreted truth. That is the beauty in believe of the supernatural, there need to be no proof no does there need to be any accuracy, we can fit the voodoo to fit our needs as we want. But it doesn't make it any less insane.

        April 1, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • inmyjudgement

      Do you expect a war between Israel and Iran?
      Do you expect peace between Israel and its neighbors?
      Do you expect that those wars will affect your life?

      April 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
      • jemzinthekop

        I expect no peace between Israel and its neighbors ever, but that is because there has not been peace with them for 5000 years and stealing one groups land to give to another is not a very good recipe for peace.

        I also expect my children to argue with each other... if I found an ancient scroll that said in the year 2012 siblings will fight with each other I would be hesitant the obvious a prophecy.

        April 1, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • inmyjudgement

      Then you will not be surprised by the FALSE peace treaty that Israel will be forced to sign?
      The treaty will be for seven years and will be broken half way through.

      The world is seeking, Peace Peace when there is no Peace.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  12. James

    And for all the clever responders that say the US is not starting to "worship" (which means love)
    the police-state: YOUR FREEDOMS BEING SCATTERED TO THE WIND:

    A DETAILED LISTING of "policies" AND THEIR "long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism":

    http://www.meetup.com/RLCNF-org/pages/Loss_of_Liberty_and_Bill_of_Rights/

    April 1, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  13. Bill Watson

    CNN is for entertainment only. Atheist and liberal activist put a lot of stake in CNN articles but that's about it. I saw a CNN news stor trying to explain a solar flare. They basically said it was a giant loogie.

    April 1, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  14. Robert Trca

    I have never heard of this lady. Also, why isn't this under opinion, as most of the Christian church would disagree with what she says...

    April 1, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • jemzinthekop

      You may never have heard of Beethoven either, but he could still play a mean piano. Your own ignorance does not signify a lack of relevance.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • ironman59

      Religion would disagree because it causes people to use critical thinking instead of blindly following what that "flavor" of religion tells them is the right answer. Religion cannot sustain under the scrutiny of critical thinking and science.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  15. inmyjudgement

    Iran seeks to build nuclear weapons to wipe Israel off the map. The Jews of Israel will never again allow themselves to be murdered without a fight. It is a recipe for disaster.

    The end of the world as we know it is approaching.

    April 1, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • ironman59

      The constant battle cry of those that want the rest of the world to by into your insanity. It is not the "end time' nor is it the end of the world. It is simply religious fanatics on all sides rattling sabres that they shall punish the wicked, kill the enemy. Fortunately in today's world, there are enough sane and intelligent people to prevent that from happening.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • James

      Scripture CLEARLY teaches that the whole world turns against Israel and surrounds Jerusalem in the end times.
      An Israel nuclear pre-emptive strike against Iran would do EXACTLY THAT.

      How probable does that look RIGHT NOW?

      April 1, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • jemzinthekop

      Thank you for so eloquently summing up why us non-theists think religion is the most dangerous disease on the planet.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • inmyjudgement

      The weapons exist to bring about the end of the world as we know it.
      The fact that Irans plans to destroy Israel is in the news every day.

      How can you miss the signs?

      April 1, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Killing everyone isn't the "end of the world".

      April 1, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • inmyjudgement

      The end of the world as we know it is approaching.

      There are many things that can change your perception of the world. A nuclear war is one such thing. I believe that we are headed toward a small one.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  16. general

    WOW It's 2012 please grow up. I wish we had all the answers but am not willing to sacrifice thr truth to find them. Please grow up Chirstians.

    April 1, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  17. AtheistsSeeThePinkElephantt

    The author of the Book of Revelations must had a mental disorder and/or was under influence of drugs.

    April 1, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  18. WachetAuf

    The article describes Chrisitanity's problem quite well. What we read in the Bible today is very likely the product of powerful politicians whose agendas are unrelated to the discovery of any spiritual truth.

    This reminds me that Easter is approaching. The ruling classes have lead you to believe that the Cross is about resurrection, a life of eternal bliss in a place called heaven. This message is intended to suppress the real message, that Jesus was murdered by a ruling class which was in fear that it would lose control of the sheep. Jesus criticized the ruling class. He complained that they were defiling the Temple. He said that it would be difficult for the rich to get to heaven. He threatened revolution. Try speaking of these things in your own church. You will not be allowed. You must not either know or dwell on these things. It may lead you to question the authority of a Church which is dominated by rich and powerful political forces which have held control of the Christian movement since Constantine.

    April 1, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  19. searchinmyroots

    So as the Author eludes to:

    What happened to those "other" books and why were they not included?

    Did you ever research who "decided" which books were to be included and which were not?

    Were these people "men of G-d"?

    April 1, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • thinquer

      The answer to that question is in the April edition of the Watchtower magazine. For historical evidence on the "lost" / "gnostic" gospels, call your local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. No charge.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • thinquer

      The answer to that question is in the April edition of the Watchtower magazine. For historical evidence on the "lost" / "gnostic" gospels, call your local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. No charge. Also ask for the article on why Jesus and his followers did not get involved in politics of their day and how Christians today follow that example.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Christophian

      Thought everyone knew the answers to your questions. What went in and what didn't was determined at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. Books that showed how the people had to pray through intermediaries went in and books that said you don't need the church to pray or to be good spiritual people were left out. Books that heralded women as equals were left out and books that thought women were second class citizens were put in. My opinion is that those power hungry men from so long did a major disservice to humanity. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  20. Jay, chicago

    Padels says:
    "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 in present-day Turkey."

    Guess what Ms Pagels, the Island of Patmos is in ... GREECE, NOT in Turkey; I wonder about the accuracy of the rest of your story.

    April 1, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • thinquer

      He might have been John Doe, Dear John, or Johnny Rotten, she is not sure, but she is sure that it is definitely without a doubt not John, the apostle. Really? Wow, wicked smaht.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • johnfrichardson

      Well, some consider Greece a part of "Greater Turkey".

      April 1, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Get Real

      "Patmos is situated off the west-coast of Turkey and the continent of Asia. It is one of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese complex. It is further west than its nearby neighboring islands."

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patmos#History

      April 1, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • Jesus was a jive turkey!

      He was!

      April 1, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Christophian

      Patmos was in Turkey at that time. The borders of countries is an ever changing thing.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • AGuest9

      You're going to use Wikipedia as a reference? If I saw a student do that, I'd fail the paper for a lack of scholarship. If you'd used anything other than Wikipedia, you'd see the many references, maps and photos of the island of Patmos is part of Greece.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:50 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.