Book Review: Elaine Pagel’s “Revelations”


The Book of Revelations is commonly attributed to John, the apostle, which Pagels quickly disagrees with. John of Patmos was most certainly a different author, if he was the author at all.  A large group of early church fathers condemned the Book of Revelations and were convinced it was “written not by a disciple but by a heretic named Cerinthus” (107). We come to find out that a large number of early Christians felt The Book of Revelations was just blasphemy and nonsense. Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Bishop Amphilochius of Iconium all intentionally left Revelations off their lists of authentic books.

The Book of Revelations is full of symbols, some of which border on the absurd, like the seven-eyed zombie Lamb which takes a scroll and is told by a loud voice it is worthy to open it, or the pregnant woman that wraps herself in the sun while a seven-headed, ten-horned dragon impatiently waits to eat the coming baby. The main thing to take from all that silliness is the polarity it espouses. In Revelations there are the saved and the damned and that is it. God’s elect, and Satan’s minions. There is no room for anybody else in the cosmic battle. It is ironic that the author demonizes Babylon because it is very likely that the concept of a cosmic battle between good and evil was inherited by Judaism from the Babylonian religion during the Jew’s exile there. Babylon was a symbol of evil that the author of Revelations used to symbolize Rome. Babylon is now used to represent whatever and whomever a church might happen to disagree with.

Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria is almost solely responsible for the canon we recognize today as the Bible, and for the inclusion of the Book of Revelations, and he added it for political reasons. Athanasius was a charismatic and ambitious Bishop who had stolen his position with a well-timed endorsement letter from the Emperor while another 200 or so Bishops were trying to decide who would take the position. He immediately began seeking out what he called “heretics” which included any Christians that felt they were outside the Catholic Church. This included the thousands of monks that had congregated in small monasteries under the leadership of an ex-Roman Soldier named Pachomius. They had no need to fall under the leadership of any Bishop and saw the rank structure of the church for what it was, the Romanization of Christianity. They also kept large libraries of works Athanasius would condemn and was eager to destroy. Luckily, one of those Egyptian monks at Nag Hammadi, buried a large number of scrolls in a cave used for meditation 1500 years ago. They were uncovered in 1945 and have contributed greatly to our understanding of the Bible since then. Elaine Pagels was among the first scholars to begin studying the Nag Hammadi scrolls.

Athanasius apparently condemned any book that allowed for the personal search for God through asceticism. The Book of Revelation spoke out many times against heretics within the Church and Athanasius was able to use it against many of his opponents. Check out Pagels herself being interviewed about the book:

What should disturb most people about this is that even today this book is being used to spread hatred and intolerance. The Young Turks say it better than I could. Check out this video:



sigh… I guess that’s one way to solve the population problem, but reducing the human population to 144,000 would just make a big mess. So spread the word; the Book of Revelations is a bunch of fear mongering nonsensical delusional Iron age gibberish, stop electing people that think its prophetic!!! Time to start paying attention to the House and Senate Elections.




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