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. daneke

    We know not if writing is non-fiction. The only thing we have is ourselves. There may be nobody else out there. Just us and Our imagination. Just one or maybe 2? Stop being too scared to consider that Jesus may not be the Messiah and that the Revelation is future. You then deny aliens, meditation, and self responsibility.

    April 8, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  2. humility

    The reason why Jesus was crusified is because they don't believe in him. If the savior walked with them during those time yet they did not believe how much more for the people of this time? That's the reason also why the Isralites were scattered acros the world. They stop believing in God. They rely on things that can be explained by human knowledge. If they can't explain, to them it's not true. If the reasonings of God is explainable to man, why he should be called God.

    April 8, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • momoya

      Why trust in something that is unexplainable?

      April 8, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Jeff

      you hypochristians are really going to be depressed when on December 21, 2012 the aliens return and put to rest all this religion nonsense.

      April 8, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  3. anna

    If God is not real give me detail by detail where you came from. You cant! Jesus Christ came to this earth to frogive you of your sins and you reject it. The Holy Divine Inspired Word of God says when you reject the truth He will turn you over to where you cannot believe the truth but a lie because you rejected it. You are deceived. Satan is working in every way among this world. Satan wants you to go to Hell with him because he HATES you! Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior loves you and suffered uncomprendable pain just so you could live! 3 days in a borrowed tomb, yet He arose and conquered Death, Hell and, the Grave. You dont have to die but you chose to because you have your own free choice. God is evident in everything we do. How could something that came from a lifeless single-cell breath or talk or think or anything?

    April 8, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Hope

      anna, do you respect faiths other than Christianity? Do you respect Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc?

      April 8, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  4. Don

    I am going to reveal a biblical secret about the antichrist and his number 666, here is what that number means, it is the key for all Christians that tells us when he arrives, In Revelation John discribes witnessing 3 events, there is 1 angel poreing out the contents of 7 vials on the earth 1 at a time, there is another angel blowing on 7 trumpets heralding 7 events happening 1 at a time, and he also witnessed the lamb of God opening 7 scrolls 1 at a time, when the 6th vial is pored out and the 6th trumpet is blown and when the 6th seal is broken and the scroll is opened thats when the antichrist arrives. 666.So if you study these events you too will know when the antichrist arrives. Oh by the way there is no rapture , Read :2 Thessalonians 2

    1. Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
    2. That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
    3. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
    4. Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.


    April 8, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • Marmar

      But there is a minor problem here: Earlier manuscripts show that the number is in fact 616 and not 666. Try something else!

      April 8, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  5. Mohammad A Dar

    Hindu word drive from Latin word hindered, negative, Hun for great, Han, to be in greatness, hind, to be negative to both of them, hinduism, way of negativity, hindu's hind, deny truth absolute 360* in their hindu Judaism, criminal self center ism, secularism to hind, fool humanity, nothing but hindu filthy animals in form of human,

    April 8, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Jeff

      Explain away other religions any way you want. You are now acting like the HypoChristians you make fun of. I think you all are a bunch of nut cases. There is nothing after this life. And, we are not alone in the universe.

      April 8, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  6. deborah biggers

    she could not have read the book of Revelations from the Bible and come up with some kind of sci=fi nonsense!
    Don't mess with God's Holy Word.

    April 8, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • Paulinthedesert


      April 8, 2012 at 2:46 am |
    • Donell

      Another thing the number 666 is not the number of the Devil it is the number of a man. the Mark of the beast is the mark of the Devil. Just as God marks his children. Satan also has a mark on his followers. 6=MAN 7= COMPLETION.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  7. Dorothy J

    I read this in a book one day- "It is philosophically impossible to be an atheist, since to be an atheist you must have infinite knowledge in order to know absolutely that there is no God, But to have infinite knowledge, you would have to be God yourself. it's hard to be God yourself and an atheist at the same time!" The Bible says in Psalm 14:1 "The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."..Umm

    April 7, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • northern light

      Dorothy....are you people so thick that you cannot understand such a simple thing?
      Or are you so desparate to insist that you faith is correct that you grasp at anything to uphold it?

      you said
      "in order to know absolutely that there is no God, But to have infinite knowledge, you would have to be God"

      Athiests do not belive there is a god period.....no proof is required ...there is just is not any god ...never has been never will be....we are all just here on a place we call earth orbiting a star we call the sun....it is really simple....no infinite knowledge is required.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Hope

      Mind-boggling logic. You can say the same for the opposite idea. If order for you to be a believer, you must have infinite knowledge, which would be the only way you could know if there is a god or not! THINK! Don't just take the waffling of morons and accept it as truth or wisdom. You DO NOT know if god exists. That's why it's called FAITH not FACT.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  8. yahboy

    I'm really put off by the way this article was written. There are a number of interpretations of the Book of Revelations which cannot logically be denied and the way this view is presented makes it sound like any other interpretation besides this one is a myth.

    April 7, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Jellyfishdude

      This is the way the Orthodox church sees it. I don't have a problem with this interpretation.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  9. Last Days

    In the book of Revelation chapter 1:3 it says "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near." The key is READ and HEED (pay attention to; take notice of); not to try to explain away as with this author. The world has been trying since the first miracles of Jesus (who called himself the Son of God). This Easter weekend, we Christians celebrate and remember the greatest of these miracles, when Jesus defeated death. The authors also fails to give any credit of WHY this book made it into the Bible; it was Jesus words of truth!
    "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." Rev. 1:8

    It is a wonderful look into the other side (Heaven) even if for a moment; it also gives Christians hope for the future. Why? We get a preview of the final war (Armageddon) and the defeat of satan! The author did not even mention this event; the greatest for all of mankind and the universe! We also see the final days of this world and how it will unfold (event by event). The author just ignores as if this has already been done (past history); I doubt you have many takers on that explanation. Why? Look at this world and day by day events (like 4 cars coming from different directions; into an intersection at full speed with ALL green lights). Don't believe me? Remember this comment as these days unfold; I would recommend a short book called "Revelation End of TImes Guide" by David Henry (available on Amazon). The book tries to stay from deciphering the symbols of Revelation, but just a common sense look at events as they unfold. He also uses Jesus own words, to back up his basic understanding of the last book of the Bible "Revelation".

    April 7, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • kallikat

      Those people who believe in Christ and the Bible do so because, first and foremost, they want to believe. So...why does it bother atheists and make them angry and that people are doing what they want to do? Don't they do the same?

      April 7, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • Aaron

      Boy you are thick headed.

      April 7, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • momoya


      I don't know how many atheists are angry about god-belief, but some anger is justified, don't you think?. Why would you assume that atheists are angry over people doing what they want to do. though?!? I think the better assumption would be that some atheists feel angry at how they are treated by christians and other god-believers, and the benefits that come with believing in the most popular myth of the culture..

      April 7, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Crimson Stain

      Most people I know that debate these things (christian or not) have never read the Bible. Not only read the bible, but studied the scriptures Old and New Testament. The events that take place over thousands of years, written by dozens of people are a work of art. I understand your lack of faith, or I used to understand. I have faith now, because I have taken the time to read and understand. Seek the truth. What I do know for what I believe to be a fact is that if you deny Christ, all the science in the universe won't save you. God Bless.

      April 7, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Empirical Evidence

      Listen, and I'm talking to everyone of any faith or lack thereof, empirical evidence is a great way to make decisions about things. So whether you believe in Jesus, Allah, Zeus, Gilgamesh, Amen Raa, Quezalcuatl, Thor, etc... You can use empirical to justify your belief in there existence. You can also use it to make decisions in daily life. For example, if your parents or friends tell you that the bum outside on the street can turn his urine into wine, or that the bum can walk on water, instead of taking their word for it, demand to see that the bum can consistently show that he can turn urine into wine and walk on water. Otherwise, your parents and friends are probably idiots for believing that that bum can perform such miraculous feats.

      April 7, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Donell

      At the end of the book it also say, "if you take away from this book that your name will be taken away from the book of life and if you add to it you will be added the plagues found in the book" paraphrasing. I feel sorry for her there is no time left for arguments but for prayer for this woman that her eyes may be open before her probation closes. Another thing is that they just dont have a knowledge of Jesus because if you would see the beauty of Revelation you will see Paradise restored. The bible starts with paradise lost and R

      April 8, 2012 at 8:07 am |
  10. Cindy

    Patmos is NOT in Turkey. It is an island in GREECE. Kind of a major factual error there, so it is kind of hard to feel comfortable about the accuracy of the rest of the article. PATMOS IS A GREEK ISLAND.

    April 7, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • profart

      You are correct. He is referred to as "John of Patmos" because he had been exiled FROM TURKEY, TO GREECE. He was from Turkey. He was living on Patmos.

      April 7, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  11. johnp

    Well there you go. This Ms pagels beyound all the rest has answered the so called mystery of Revelations. I really think you should all elevate her and make her your god.

    April 7, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • profart

      Why Just because writing has a context doesn't make it irrelevant or uninteresting as a view of the cosmos.

      April 7, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  12. sez

    I don't play bettween the lines – EVER ave the subconcious decisions to the debt owned and divided.

    April 7, 2012 at 5:57 am |
  13. sez

    Revelations is a clever but crazy writting. So are the Gospels. Everyone needs to stay out of the Hebrew religion. That is not Israel. I am not a jew myself. I am a semite however. Jerusalem belongs to God. You don't belong there. Their writtings also do not belong to you. The world has theirs thru Abraham. Not Jesus. That promise was clearly twisted and twisted. When they hit that problem they twisted it again. Revelations is written by some very clever people who are wonderfull swindlers. So is that garbage about Jesus. Which basically tells you be good, work, obey authority. Meanwhile the people that are stealing everything on the earth putting you into debt servatude and stealing all your work and labor with paper will get it in the end. These are the people that accomplished the distribution of these books. (printers) who own basically all the assets around the world. You meanwhile have to wait till the end to see them get theirs. By then its to late for you.

    So whats done?

    Everyone that particpates with the swindlers is held accountable knowing or not.

    The people that do know fail to inform everyone of what is taking place and the fact they are involved in stealing are held accountable

    So knowing or not. If your involved your in trouble. There is no one innocent in these cases. I am out of breath and I'm not going to make this my lifelong work. I've got a life.

    April 7, 2012 at 5:55 am |
    • aintnorock

      All I have to say to you, sez, is if you're going to criticize a book, the least you could do is learn the name of it. The name of the book is Revelation, it is NOT RevelationS.

      Despite what the article says, I've studied the book, and believe it is an accurate description of what I expect when I go to heaven.

      April 7, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • momoya

      Oh big deal she put an "S" on the end of it like 99.9999% of christians do when they say it or write it.. Who cares?. I believe the book of Revelation is some LSD trip recorded by some nut job on an island somewhere who didn't have the first connection with anybody named "jesus" or any of the other supposed apostles..

      And really, how surprising is it that some prison freak would have heard about one or the other of some 50 or 60 Jesuses running around Palestine at the time claiming to be the messiah?

      April 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  14. quxrio

    Reblogged this on I am not dead..

    April 7, 2012 at 4:38 am |
  15. Matt

    This is just sensational garbage from liberal media quoting more sensational garbage from liberal theologians. There's no validity or substance to this article at all. The Bible has survived scrutiny over and over – there's nothing new to sell.

    April 7, 2012 at 3:07 am |
    • Simeon Namore

      Matt. You haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about and never will. so please shut up.

      April 7, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  16. NuCreature Ministry

    I see Satan is still at it. Creating doubt like he did in the garden "yea, has God said?" (Gen 3:1), only this time he's trying to create doubt about the fallibility of the Holy Bible in Revelations. I say this, it's been around long enough for you to understand it.

    The bible ALL OF IT, has been proven fact by scientists and the debating season is over. As you attempt to deny that revelations is true, you steady see it unfold every time you watch the news. So at this point in time, those that know it's true, get ready the Lord is coming. Those of you who are still denying the Lord that wrote Revelations, all I can say is we told you so. I say this in love.

    April 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • momoya

      Actually, the bible is proven wrong at nearly every turn.. We know that the creation stories are complete bunk, as is the flood story, and the jews-in-captivity-in-egypt story.. All completely false.. Jesus discussed the flood as if it occurred and so he wasn't god at all.. We know our universe is governed by processes not big sky daddy regurgitating some magical incantations..

      April 6, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • False Dichotomy

      Well, thanks for saying I told you so...with love!

      As for that other assertion, "The bible ALL OF IT, has been proven fact by scientists," well, that's simply a boldfaced lie and you should be ashamed for either your ignorance, or your dishonesty.

      I am one of those scientists – literally a PhD archaeologist at a public university – and nothing could be further from the truth. Why do you guys try to pull that crap? It's a shameful, ridiculous, unethical lie. It exposes you not only as idiots, but as dishonest charlatans.

      April 6, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      @NuCreature Ministry, Why wait for the lord to come get you. He told me he's waiting for you if you want to make an early exit.

      April 6, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I'm sorry, but I don't believe that there's a red lizard creature running around trying to convince people how implausible the Bible is. He's a good metaphor however for the real fear that the Christian church must be experiencing as they watch their ranks disappear, millions after millions.

      Your scary monster trick certainly used to work in the middle ages, but we're all grown up now, and quite frankly, it sounds childish and ridiculous. But thanks for trying.

      April 7, 2012 at 2:09 am |
    • Haime52

      Actually, the historicity of the Bible has been proven, many times, to be right. In the face of all the nay sayers, it has been abosolutely correct. With so much that we do not know, it is probably unwise to discount the book, as being totally untrue. So, I am curious as to what turn you are speaking about. Since it is presently not possible to prove or disprove God's existence, what exactly has been proven "at every turn".

      April 7, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Bob

      Ya, Haime52, those instructions in the bible as to how you should live your life, and do torture, rape, and murder, have been proven to be "abosolutely" correct.

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

      and then there are the precise, detailed instructions for how to do your regular brutal animal sacrificing that your Christian god wants you to do, the nasty b-tard. According to the bible, that makes your sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. Read Matthew. No exceptions. If you disagree, look it up. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is. And then ask why your "loving" sky fairy so hates amputees that he won't heal them.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Be free of religion in 2012.

      April 7, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • momoya


      I already told you what had been proven wrong at every turn: the bible.. I provided you three examples, already: the creation stories, the flood, and the jews working as slaves in Egypt.. The bible has been proven wrong in its account of these three/four accounts.

      We may not know very much in total (we can't even see 95% of the universe as dark/matter/energy), but we do know that where we can test the bible it is wrong–so it doesn't make sense to believe the book where it can't be proved or disproved.

      Yes, god can't be disproved for the same reason that unicorns can't be disproved.. When evidence for unicorns comes in, I'll consider it, and the same goes for your god; when evidence comes in I'll consider it.. There's no reason for an atheist to believe in god until some evidence can be shown for its existence.. People who don't believe in unicorns don't have to present evidence that unicorns do not exist until unicorn believers can show some evidence FOR their existence.

      April 7, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Leo

      Dark Matter and Dark energy is sciences explaination for God for the Bible says he holds all things together by his power and he stretches the heavens like a curtain.

      Something must be doing this so they make up Dark Matter and Energy, the God Particle. They will never find it!! They may lie about it but it isn't there.

      II Thessalonians 2

      7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

      April 7, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • momoya

      Dark matter and dark energy are there, we just can't see them.. We can SEE their effects on the universe, and we can see clear evidence for them and what they do.. We can't do the same for god..

      But, if you want to call dark matter / dark energy "god," then feel free, but don't then go around all half-co.cked and stupid and claim that dark energy did all that stuff in the bible..

      April 7, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Leo

      Creation in the Bible In the Beginning (Time) God Created (Energy), the Heavens (Space) and the Earth (Matter)

      Thank you science for coming up with Physics – Nature 3,500 Years LATER!!

      The Earth hangs on Nothing (Not even Dark Matter) Science proved that 3,000 years Later!!

      God stretches out the Heavens Like a Curtain, The Fabric of Space\Time Science 3,500 Years Later!!

      April 7, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Bob

      So, Leo, how come the bible gets so much of science so badly wrong, and isn't even self-consistent? And, since you keep spewing about your bible, note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes your sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Please, stop referencing that Christian book of nasty, AKA the bible, as a guide to, well, anything.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

      April 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      @Leo, I sure with christians would educate themselves as much about science as atheists educate themselves about religion. Your pseudo-scientific analysis is laughable at best. No credible scientist is using dark matter and dark energy to explain god. Dark energy and dark matter are both observable and measurable. There's no "god" about it. And another thing, dark energy doesn't hold anything together, it actually is a repellent force that pushes things apart. Is it too much to ask you to go read a real science book and stop cherry picking stuff you saw on the Discovery Channel?

      April 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      with = wish

      April 7, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • profart

      Why would the work of Pagels, who places writing and Biblical literature into its proper context, cause doubt? As a believer, I find it fascinating and insightful into what is being said about God, the cosmos, and faith. Understanding the experiences and views of the writers opens up whole new understandings of faith and God- unless you are afraid to think about God, and just want to follow what someone else thinks.

      April 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  17. Older Sista

    One hundred and ninteen pages of postings !! How many writing here have read the Book? The whole Book?? Did you read the Book of Daniel first? That is the prelude ya know.

    April 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • preacherman

      Many of us, me included, have read every word of it, all the way through, more than once. I was raised on it, and after years and years of study, the only time that everything suddenly made perfect sense was the day I had the clarity of mind to ask, "what if this is all just bullshlt?"

      ...it was like seeing clearly for the first time.

      April 6, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      Also read it countless times as I was raised in a christian home for 18 years and sent to a very conservative baptist school for 13 years. It was a day of true peace and enlightenment when I saw the illusion of religion and freed myself from the fantasy of god. I've never regretted it since.

      April 6, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • profart

      I have read it more than once, and there are different ways to read the Bible depending on what you are studying about it and why.

      April 7, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Hope

      preacherman, it's like you took the words out of my mouth!!!!

      April 8, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  18. Sheila

    Revelation was not a part of scripture for the first 400 years of Christianity. The best explanation I have found sas that other Jewish writers wrote in the same code to describe the end days of Roman rule in Jerusalem, and somehow 400 years after the death of Christ one of those stories got added to scripture.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • profart

      Since it wasn't even written until the third or fourth century, that is no surprise. The Bible wasn't codified until the fifth century, and many popular writings were left out. Knowing what was included (and excluded) and why is a fabulous look into the world of early Christianity.

      April 7, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  19. A Alvarado

    I question her interpretation of Revelation, because it is a vision. Also, I googled her, she has agnostic background. If she only has information about Revelation but not revelation about Revelation, I question her interpretation. I believe we should all study and continue to allow God to give us the revelation concerning the Book of Revelation.

    April 6, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • mandarax

      If it can only be real if you believe, then it's probably not real at all. Just like with real medicine vs. placebos, the real thing works whether you believe in it or not. Placebos only have an effect because you convince yourself that they should.

      April 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Older Sista

      The writer suffers from a common malady, "thinking themselves wise, they became fools" and thinks everyone suffers the same. It must be a rather cosmic joke in the heavenlies that people look right at the word REVELATION and yet proclaim that some dude, not even John the beloved disciple, wrote to air his grievences against Rome. The book is Jesus REVEALING Himself as He wishes to be known and warning His churches, in extension, US, of what is to come. It is an end to the visions He started with Daniel. Yes, God does see and know all from beginning to end. (which is why Jesus refers to Himself as the Alpha and the Omega.) Why does it seem so filled with wavy images? Hard to pin down? Because it is for the Spirit filled church, for one thing, to be understood in the spirit and it must be spoken/written so that the followers of Jesus in John's day and we of the 23'rd century (if need be) can understand the gist of it which is all that is necessary.

      April 6, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • mandarax

      Interesting that Older Sista directs that comment about "thinking themselves wise" at another, and then proceeds to lecture the rest of us as an authority on the REAL meaning according to her wisdom. I guess that comment only applies to others.

      April 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • profart

      She's also a chaired professor at Princeton, dedicated to studying the Bible and the context in which it was written. I don't find that problematic for my faith at all. Why does anyone else? (I am really interested in knowing why people prefer to ignore the cultural context of the writings included in the Bible).

      April 7, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  20. /sigh

    holy crap, fictional writing that relates to the authors life.

    April 6, 2012 at 4:07 am |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.