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. johnfrichardson

    There will be no final battle between good and evil. Humans are biological organisms whose interests partly coincide and partly conflict. Therefore, there will always be acts that we will tend to construe as good and others that we will tend to construe as evil. Besides, the notion that good can triumph over evil through the mass evil of wartime slaughter is patently ludicrous.

    A metaphorical battle, meanwhile, does rage between the forces of rationality and the forces of blindly embraced supersti-tion. The point of this battle is not to produce piles of dead body, let alone consign souls to eternal torture chambers, but to win minds. As generations pass, each a little more genuinely aware of the totality of human experience than the prior one, rationality is slowly gaining the upper hand. We are not in the end times of the world, but we are moving towards the end times of Christianity and similar myths.

    April 2, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • just sayin

      Christianity represents the rational which leaves your position not only wrong but totally without merit.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • reason

      Christianity is not rational, which is probably why it is slowly disappearing. Two thirds of religious college students drop their religion by graduation. The more people know about religion the less likely they are to believe.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • just sayin

      Now who is delusional ? Christianity has continued to expand since the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. First in Jerusalem, then Judea now to the uttermost parts of the earth. Thousands coming to Christ daily in China alone. Thousands more converting from Islam in the middle east many with the testimony of God intervening on their behalf. The Europeans and North Americans are only a small part of what God is doing for this world and we number in the millions.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:17 am |
  2. Religion is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer is delusional.

    April 2, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • just sayin


      April 2, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • just sayin


      April 2, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • just sayin


      April 2, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • Certain

      Keep them coming!

      April 2, 2012 at 7:50 am |
  3. TheObviousTruth

    Are you ready for this?....Jesus is a half alien, born to the human Mary (immaculate conception) as still done to this day. He was put here to teach the humanoids of kindness, generosity, love and to live without hate for each other. His was an awesome being who healed the sick, fed the poor and walked on water. All and some to prove himself of who he was. Aliens have these same powers, the powers we all have within ourselves. When they (Jesus and his Father) return, all that live in his ways shall reap the benefit whereby activating our own powers. But sadly, this world went wrong a long time ago. We used to trade in goods and services rather than gold or monetary values. We used to have no leaders, no armies, no police because all lived in harmony as Jesus and his father intended us to. We are so far off what we were put here to do that i'm afraid we will be "forgotten". Or all will be erased and started new. As stated in the bible, we are the third world to succeed and we will not be the last. Those who choose to follow, leave the greed, the power, will join Jesus and his father on the new world like their's, Meton in the Alpha Centauri. There are countless reports, sightings and experiences where people have seen or met them. They have been watching us for centuries. Have a look at the paintings done in the Renaissance Era. Its time we open our eyes. There are no mystic beings who created us from dust, but rather another race from a similar world. Also see Elizabeth Klarer's inteview. She had an intimate experience which reveals the truth.

    April 2, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • Redhawk

      The "obvious truth"? Come on! Belief in Aliens (from space with special light speed ships etc) is as corny as your theories. "If" there are extra terrestrial life forms out there, I highly doubt they want anything to do with us. Did you post that as an April fools joke? Sounds as solid as liquid water.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • TheObviousTruth

      Dear Redhawk...you have been brainwashed by leaders of religion and positions of power. And many have. NASA themselves have admitted that there are aliens and have released files for public viewing. Please do your research as they is more than enough evidence to prove their existence. I have only mentioned the tip of the iceberg, things like the moon is alien made and the bases on mars...all of which is explained in great detail in the interview with Elizabeth Klarer. Have you seen Ancient Aliens? Another great example of their time with us. I once was a believer in god, but I've since had the veil lifted and now i see the truth. We were not created by aliens, but rather sculptured by their ways. We have been around since before the dinosaurs (which coincidentally come from Venus, as well as many plants species.) Its a wonderful curse seeing the truth, as all those who are still living in the 'old ways' will mock in disbelief. All of which i'm prepared for and will go on to educate and open the minds of the slaves of religion.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • TheObviousTruth


      Please have a look at these images..it will hopefully open your mind.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:42 am |
  4. Reality

    The insanity of Revelation only mirrors the other insanities of Christianity.

    To wit:


    JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

    Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

    Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

    April 2, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • Redhawk

      He is believed in for the same reason the Muslims believe in Mohammad, Muhammad, Mohamed, Mehmet etc that he is the prophet of Allah and Allah is the only god. Humans have an ingrained desire to belong to something, whether or not it's fantastic and the best thing going ie religion or the exact opposite.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • Reality

      “John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident (the randomness) of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

      The Situation Today
      Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. “ J. Somerville

      It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  5. Rainer Braendlein

    I guess we are not always aware that Jesus was not only the Son of God, but also an ordinary man. Jesus could feel pain, fear, grief, worries. He felt heat and cold, insult, he could be tired and lonely. Jesus was a human being, indeed.

    As we know, Jesus Christ had to die on the cross for the sins of the mankind. Shortly before the crucifixion he was in the garden Gethsemane and there he yet suffered infinitely. He sweat blood and was about to die envisaging the crucifixion.
    He asked his heavenly father three times, if he could release him from that trouble, but the father could not answer his request. God, the Father, wanted to deliver his beloved Son for the sins of the mankind. It was a divine decision that Jesus had to die.

    That's without limit: Jesus had a free human will beside his divine will. He could have said: "I don't want to die, that is too much!" In that case the universe had collapesed, I assume, and we all had got lost for ever.

    Hence, we should be very, very grateful that the man Jesus has overcome and made possible the foundation of a new mankind and a new creation in God, the Lord, the eternal God, who has made heaven and earth.

    April 2, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • Reality

      Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      April 2, 2012 at 7:31 am |
  6. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Prayer changes lives

    April 2, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • Reality

      Free Will and Future are inherent to all the thinking beings in the Universe. This being the case, it is not possible to alter life with prayers. Statistically, your request might come true but it is simply the result of the variability/randomness of Nature..

      So put down your rosaries and prayer beads and stop worshiping/revering cows or bowing to Mecca five times a day. Instead work hard at your job, take care of aging parents, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate to charities and the poor and continue to follow the proper rules of your religion or any good rules of living as gracious and good human beings

      April 2, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • .....

      Hit report abuse on all reality garbage

      April 2, 2012 at 7:46 am |
  7. Religion is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer is delusional.

    April 2, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • just sayin

      Totally unoriginal copy cat, go back to cats now you phony.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • Certain

      I like these posts. As long we have to read the barrage of the other ones keep them coming. It is a Ying Yang thing.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • just sayin

      The prayer posts are at least true.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • Certain

      Yes, prayer is delusional. That's why I like these, they sort of offset the other guy who claims "prayer changes things."

      April 2, 2012 at 7:52 am |
  8. P.T.

    I doubt that Ms. Pagel, a "leading Biblical scholar," said, "He doesn’t even say Jesus died for your sins." That must be a misquote. To name one reference to the salvific death of Jesus, there is Revelation 5:9,10, "And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.'”

    As we approach Good Friday, let's not get this point wrong.

    April 2, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • withoutgod

      Yes, let's not forget that Good Friday is a celebration of human sacrifice. Torture, suffering and death. The only thing that could ever possibly appease a loving and just God. Then you have zombie Jesus day on Sunday. Nothing says "loving, peaceful religion" like human sacrifice and necromancy. To complete the trinity, we celebrate this every Sunday with ritual cannibalism. What a rational belief system.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:59 am |
  9. just sayin

    Thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more in life than a college degree.

    April 2, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • reason

      Knowledge of the Bible is virtually useless. The primary benefit is it can help people get past religious delusions. The more people know about religion the less likely they are to believe.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Cap'n Sayin Atheism Isn't an Angry Pervert
      I got an STD at BSU.
      Years of study to attain my Sacred Theology Doctorate from the illustrious Baptist Scripture University has enabled me to appreciate the Bible as it was intended to be – historical fiction.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • just sayin

      As always we will continue to think of you simply as ass hole. concise and accurate, however lying ass hole comes to mind.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:10 am |
  10. Rainer Braendlein

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

    Revelation 1, 1-8:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    April 2, 2012 at 6:56 am |
    • Reality

      Thomas Jefferson omitted Revelation along with most of the Biblical canon, from the Jefferson Bible, and wrote that at one time, he "considered it as merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams." [31]

      Martin Luther once "found it an offensive piece of work" and John Calvin "had grave doubts about its value."[32]

      April 2, 2012 at 7:34 am |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 2, 2012 at 6:46 am |
  12. Otasawian

    Why people believe in a self-centered, vindictive, and controlling "God' bent on punishing those who do not "follow' him shows just how easily the human mind can be brainwashed and controlled.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:44 am |
    • just sayin

      Some people probably believe in the god you describe, those that truly know God believe in Him rather than the misrepresentation you provide. Your conclusions are based on false assumptions and therefore false.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • MarcTTF

      It never ceases to amaze me how otherwise sane people can follow this nonsense with such fervor.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • sam stone

      how are those false assumptions?

      April 2, 2012 at 8:30 am |
  13. belky

    Well, umm, well I like boobs you see and I guess, I guess thats all I have to say about it!

    April 2, 2012 at 6:38 am |
  14. Steve

    This is hardly anything new, heard most of these growing up...

    It's a guide for the Alchemy based transformation of the soul.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:32 am |
    • Jake

      I agree with the beginning of your assessment. What's shocking is not what the author is saying about the book of Revelation, but rather that she and CNN are pretending that anything in the book or article is new.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:02 am |
  15. ricky

    If you dont think there is a God, you better pray that you are right!

    April 2, 2012 at 6:29 am |
    • UncleBenny

      Why? Because your loving God will cast me into a fiery pit for eternity? Wow, that really motivates me.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:31 am |
    • ricky


      April 2, 2012 at 6:33 am |
    • debbie

      God will not send you to Hell, you make that choice for yourself. You are sending yourself to Hell. Go ahead continue to mock the one who loves you and died for you. No respect I tell you, folks do not respect the Lord at all.

      I wonder why. Jesus loves us closer then a brother. But people are too busy hating Jesus to realize what they are missing in life. Then they why wonder why they have no hope or peace or joy in their lives. Then they wonder why.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:36 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      So you have verifiable evidence for god? If we don't believe in your god, we certainly don't believe in prayer...they kind of go hand in hand or did you fail to educate yourself on that fact?
      There was a priest who recently said he believed that 95% of humans are sinners, so if that is the case and we are wrong and there is a god (not too likely), then you best hope you're in that 5%.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • sam stone

      ricky.....if you think you are praying to the right one, you'd better be right

      April 2, 2012 at 6:42 am |
    • UncleBenny

      "debbie: God will not send you to Hell, you make that choice for yourself. You are sending yourself to Hell. Go ahead continue to mock the one who loves you and died for you. "

      Wow. The contradictions in those statements are stunning. God loves me but designed a place of torment for me if I choose not to return that love. How in the world does one wrap one's mind around such tangled thinking?

      April 2, 2012 at 6:55 am |
    • IdiahS

      @ TruthPrevails

      Actually I hope I belong to that 95% of sinners, It says somewhere "for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God"
      The power of Christianity lies in the power of forgiveness and love, in accepting that none of us are perfect.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:02 am |
    • Angelus

      Go Ricky.. I support you. There is no point of debating or insisting our belief to them. Just share the divine truth as the bible says that even we were yet sinners God loves us. And if they humble down, pray & call upon the name of Jesus, God will forgive their sins and Heal them.. God bless.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:02 am |
    • Angelus

      Unclebenny: Hell is originally designed for Satan & his cohorts (other fallen angels) but because man sins, he cannot enter the dwelling place of God called Heaven and there is no other place his soul will go after he dies unless he believes in Jesus as the Son of God and be born again. Now, man has given free will to decide where to go so that you cannot blame or accuse God being unjust or unfair..

      April 2, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • just sayin

      Amen Angelus !

      April 2, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • MarcTTF

      @ Angelus
      For all those who have never heard of Jesus, and therefore can’t believe he is the son of god, and cannot be born again, what happens to them when they die?

      April 2, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      Angelus sez
      "... man has given free will to decide where to go so that you cannot blame or accuse God being unjust or unfair..."
      But who gave us this free will? God right? IF god is all knowing ... he knew before creating man that he would give man free will AND that man would use free will to do "evil" things. Therefore god explicitly created man to DO evil to his fellow man.
      God NEW apriori that man was evil and created him anyway

      April 2, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      oops I mean
      God KNEW apriori that man was evil and created him anyway

      April 2, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • Angelus

      @ MarcTTF:
      If they don't have the chance to hear the Good News or the Gospel and they die, they will be judged according to the law of the land. Just like the Old testament times, Jesus is not yet born as Savior but many are saved because of their obedience and faith . But remember that God is not impressed on what we are in the outside or what we do in the open but what is in our hearts. God sees and knows everything, He cannot be mocked. Thank God, we are now in the compensation of grace, God provides us means to hear the gospel. It is all around us, in TV, Internet, radio, etc. So embrace it by faith while it is still available. The Bible says, Jesus will return like a thief in the night, we will never know the exact date or time, so better decide now and be prepared than be sorry at the end. Nonetheless, we can say that the day of His coming is near, very near. Study the Bible and observe what is happening around the world, you'll get the idea. God bless

      April 2, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • MarcTTF

      @ Angelus:
      “If they don't have the chance to hear the Good News or the Gospel and they die, they will be judged according to the law of the land.”

      Which verse is that, I’m having trouble finding it.


      April 2, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  16. Jeff

    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.

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

    Not much else to say.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:22 am |
    • UncleBenny

      It reads more like the language of a bad acid trip.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:31 am |
    • debbie

      Without having the Holy Spirit living inside of you and guiding you, not one soul can understand the book of Revelation. I understand it. And I tell you one thing, people will be deceived and the wrath of God is going to come upon all those who reject Jesus Christ as Lord and savior. Follow Jesus and not Man.

      Peace and Joy to all!!

      April 2, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      "wrath of God is going to come upon all those who reject Jesus Christ as Lord and savior. Follow Jesus and not Man"

      Typical christard threat! Why follow a fictional character when man is more reliable for verifiable evidence and makes so much more sense?
      When you can come up with the evidence that your jesus actually existed and is not just made up and do so with morals and not threats, then you might have a point, until then you sound as mislead as the rest who really don't care about the evidence science has provided us or the truth.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • sam stone

      debbie: spending a lot of time on your knees, are ya?

      April 2, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • Prayer for the country

      God keep our land glorious prayer that is the Canadian national anthem, a land founded and ruled by Judeo-Christian values so much so that their few non believers have to go on blog sites to annoy other lands.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • UncleBenny

      Canada is actually far more secular than the US. I know because I lived most of my life in the US and moved to Canada two decades ago, much to my relief. It's a far saner place.

      Don't write about things that you know nothing about.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Yes, Canada the land of Secularism and freedom of speech! The land where we have free health care and gun control! The land where we know what the words 'world wide web' mean and understand that international means global. The land where we understand that murder is wrong regardless of race.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • Reality

      Putting Jesus into a 21st century perspective with a prayer:


      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      (References used are available upon request.)

      April 2, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  17. Isam84

    The book of Revelation is based on things that happened before Johns time, during Johns time and events yet to come.
    This "boogey-man" God that some people call it is messed up. God hates Evil. Not people, but if the person is evil and has not accepted Jesus as Lord and savior they will be cast into Hell with Satan. God does not enjoy doing this but being God and ruler of the universe he has to keep balance between good and evil, he does not want us to be cast to hell but it is our decision what path we want to follow and we are accountable for are actions. Some people think that Hell already exsists.. but in fact it does not. Hell will not be created untill Satan is cast first into the eternal lake of Fire, then the souls who have been judged and found guilty will follow. What wrong can come from beleiving in something so good?.in this case, Jesus. There have been many Anti-christs but in the future there will be one more powerful than the others, he will be the one who brings upon the end of this age. The Jewish people are already preparing to build the third temple, be vigilant and watchful things are happening fast and I would hate to see anyone fall victim to false teachings like the one Pagels is putting out.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:22 am |
    • debbie

      Not true about what you said about Hell. Hell does exist today. And as you are walking down the street today, just think that there are millions of souls screaming and yelling and wanting to escape the torments of Hell, but they can not get out. They have zero hope. All because they have decided to reject the free gift Jesus Christ offers us. But men in all their foolishness and pride and ignorance has rejected Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior is now suffering because of their choice. The Lord is a Just God. He is Holy. People are too busy living for themselves and mocking the Creator. The Lord's will is to prevent folks from going to Hell. But seeing He gave mankind to choose Him Because love does not control, they chose their own consequences. Their choice, now they will suffer for eternity, forever, no hope! Go ahead all you mockers Keep it up or smarten up and choose Jesus, repent of your sins and live for Jesus. Simple!

      April 2, 2012 at 6:31 am |
    • Lars J

      Debbie, do you believe that a God would create living beings in His own image and have them be born into a world without any choice of their own and punish them for a finite crime that they committed because they were born sinners and for that finite crime their Creator would give them an *infinite* punishment where they will be torture for the ceaseless ages of eternity, for trillions and trillions of years? Is that what you think the Bible teaches? Have you studied the Bible for yourself?

      April 2, 2012 at 6:42 am |
    • sam stone

      gosh, debbie, you paint god as a petty, vindictive punk. is that the appeal for you? there are undoubtedly people you know who are not "saved". are you comfortable with them crying and yelling in this eternal hellfire? if not, are you comfortable with the loving god that would sentence them to this?

      April 2, 2012 at 6:48 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Debbie's morals seem a little off. To believe in a god that kills his own people and is such a control freak that he would demand people believe in him, says very little about Debbie as a person. I doubt she has ever read her buybull and instead only gets her information from sitting in the pews every week.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:02 am |
    • just sayin

      Total knowledge of the Holy Bible is worth more than a college degree.
      President George H W Bush has said an atheist is not a patriot and should not be a citizen of America. We are one nation under God. If that is how we view home grown idiots, foreign ones are ten times as useless.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • UncleBenny

      If there was ever a home grown idiot, it is George W Bush.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • UncleBenny

      Oh, you said George H W Bush. My mistake. He was actually a pretty smart man, who said an idiotic thing. Happens to the smartest. His son is still a home grown idiot.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:14 am |
    • Angelus

      God wills that all men be saved and live with Him in Heaven for eternity. But, God is held by His own words that No Sin / unrighteousness can enter His dwelling place for it is a holy place. God is God of integrity and it is impossible for Him to break His own laws. Now, God sends His Son, who is God Himself in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ to save mankind. How? first repent from your sins and believe in Jesus Christ (all other questions will be answered later directly from God). Receive Him as your personal Savior and Lord so that He can send you His Holy Spirit for you to guide, teach, comfort, protect and a whole lot more. You'll receive the entire package of salvation. God loves you and He has a wonderful plan for your life if you the things above. God bless

      April 2, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • sam stone

      he made the laws, but he cannot break them? so, someone else is in charge?

      April 2, 2012 at 8:56 am |
  18. Fotis Papanastasopoulos

    The island of patmos is in Greece,not in Turkey.You should start by studying geography first.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:17 am |
    • UncleBenny

      No, you should. Patmos is a Greek island, but Patmos is situated off the west-coast of Turkey. Go look at a map sometime. It only joined Greece in 1948.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • Kay

      Then it would hardly be part of present-day Turkey as quoted in the article, would it UncleBenny? Besides I'm sure the Greeks would have something to say about that.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • UncleBenny

      Do you want to keep splitting hairs endlessly? The article says "island of Patmos in present-day Turkey." Patmos is POLITICALLY Greek as of 1948. Geographically it is much more nearly part of Turkey. As I said, go look at a map.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • Kay

      I believe it is you who is splitting hairs UB. Patmos has from its origins been Greek with brief periods of occupation, control and autonomy. How can you state a country is simply geographical and not political? "More nearly a part" is meaningless. The island is not in Turkey as the article mistakenly states.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • UncleBenny

      Give it a rest. Why don't you go ask the author what they meant and argue with them?

      April 2, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • Redhawk

      So, the Isle of Patmos....when did it become the source of truth or fiction? Who cares what it WAS, or IS now. The fact remains, John (the revelator) was banished to this island until his end of days. Time spent there by oneself could have caused insanity. Why? Because he was ALONE with his thoughts and had nothing else to do except falter, grow weary, see outlandish things in his dreams, possibly brought on by lack of nourishment (food, water etc). That was the whole reason he was sent there, he was a fanatic and the Roman leaders had him removed so he wouldn't influence the rebels.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • Kay

      Haha! UB cannot stand to be corrected. Typical.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • UncleBenny

      No doubt they would, but the writer I was addressing said it is in Greece. That's like saying the Falkland Islands are In Britain.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Kay

      I see your point, UB. It has been awhile since I took Greek, but here is a thought. I notice there are two postings in this vicinity stating that the island is "in" Greece by posters with what appear to be Greek names. Perhaps the preposition "in" has a broader meaning in Greek which is lost in translation. However, the intentded meaning is pretty clear.

      April 3, 2012 at 1:15 am |
    • Kay

      (Still doesn't tell me why the writer of the article used the word "in" though. Best to you, UB.)

      April 3, 2012 at 2:31 am |
  19. Gute Filme

    Woah this blog is excellent i love reading your articles. Keep up the good work! You know, many people are looking round for this information, you could aid them greatly.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:12 am |
  20. Marichuy

    There are other revelations which explain more closely this revelation (father Gobbi,...)

    April 2, 2012 at 6:06 am |
    • UncleBenny

      Father Gobbi? You mean that priest who heard interior voices? This is often a symptom of severe mental illness.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:01 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.