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Revelations in Context

Friday, March 09, 2012

Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton University and author of Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation, examines the history and meaning of the Christian Bible's book of Revelation and its apocalyptic imagery. 

EVENT: Elaine Pagels presents Revelations at the 86th and Lexington Ave Barnes & Noble on Thursday, March 22 at 7 P.M. 

Guests:

Elaine Pagels

Comments [49]

Sheldon -

I'm with ya!

Nick -

I understand, too!

Mar. 09 2012 12:03 PM

Ahh, Amy...

What's the hell's difference??

Mar. 09 2012 12:01 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

@ Nick, I agree with you, that's why we should understand where the bizzare motivations of the "believers" come from. If we had done that with Islam before the Gulf war - we would have probably avoided a lot of grief.

Mar. 09 2012 12:00 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Jeff, the Hebrew word in 6th Commandment means murder, not kill, even though it's most often translated into English as "kill." Hebrew has a separate word for killing in general, including killing in war.

Mar. 09 2012 11:56 AM

When I was a kid, Revelations was the "Deal Sealer".

When a preacher or counselor really needed to convert a recalcitrant individual or crowd, he'd pull out the big SCAREY guns of Revelations.

These such people "frightened children to Christ™".

Reprehensible.

Mar. 09 2012 11:56 AM
Nick from UWS

@Sheldon from Brooklyn - Sheldon, religion is the worst thing that has ever happened to this world; the source of endless war, the needless deaths of millions and millions of people, the brainwashing of children, causing them to live in anxiety and self-hatred and to pass the harshest judgement on other people. That's what I know about religion.

Mar. 09 2012 11:54 AM
Scott from Yonkers, NY

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy has a chapter called "The Apocalypse" which offers a spiritual, healing interpretation of the Book of Revelation.

Mar. 09 2012 11:52 AM
John A.

I appreciate having a scholar driven to research for 30 or 40 years. That kind of drive is the "Belief" I want to have.
-
PBS Frontline's "From Jesus to Christ" (feat. Elaine Pagels)
good stuff for adults to review their beliefs with.

Mar. 09 2012 11:52 AM
William from Manhattan

Brian keeps stating that slavery is a thing of the past. I'm sorry to inform him that slavery is still very much with us in the 21st century. Read Nicholas Kristof, visit http://slaveryfootprint.org/.

Mar. 09 2012 11:51 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Hearing about how previous wars have been--well, I hear Brian beginning to ask what I was about to. Except I wonder if the looking at each war as the ultimate war between good & evil is, on the 1 hand, the way some people believe it will lead to the end of war or, on the other hand, a way some people can accept war because they believe the world will end & they won't have to deal w/the aftermath of the real-world war.

Mar. 09 2012 11:51 AM
Carlos from Queens

So what does one have to do to peddle their book all over WNYC?? I would like that kind of access for my own pet projects!

This is the second time I hear this woman this week discussing this nonsense. With all the things going on in the world, and the plethora of experts on geopolitics and culture available to us in the US somehow this subject is SO compelling that it deserves 1 hour and 20 minutes of the public airwaves?

Really??

Mar. 09 2012 11:51 AM

I couldn't tell the difference!

Mar. 09 2012 11:50 AM
Tom from NJ

How come new predictions from new prophets are not added to the Bible? How come the book stopped evolving and why wouldn't it keep evolving?

Mar. 09 2012 11:50 AM

Will modern texts one day be interpret as holy? I once had the surreal moment to be present when a group was arguing about Star Trek and the Jedi Force while a Bible study was going on in the same cafeteria.

Mar. 09 2012 11:49 AM
Nick from UWS

Why is the way the Bible views human beings the be-all-end-all of the way human beings can be viewed? Who died and left the Bible God?

Mar. 09 2012 11:49 AM
tom kaplan from nyc

Elaine was mistaken in suggesting that John's first language was Hebrew. Hebrew was a dead language in Johns era. he probably spoke Aramaic

Mar. 09 2012 11:48 AM
Jon Pope from Ridge, NY

How many times has "then end of the world" that was supposed to happen but did not happen? What was the outlook about the end of the world during WWII compared to today?

Mar. 09 2012 11:48 AM
Matthew Greenhill

I always assumed that the Beast represented, metaphorically, the animal nature of man/humanity -- 666 being the number of "a man." Numbers and letters are symbols. They make sense symbolically but are dangerous when we interpret them literally.

Mar. 09 2012 11:48 AM

Elaine, thank you for your scholarship.

Brian, thanks for having her on.

Nutter callers - you provide scary entertainment!!

Mar. 09 2012 11:48 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Nick - ignorance is never a good thing, that includes upper west-siders and Park Slopers, who think they know it all - when it comes to religion.

Mar. 09 2012 11:48 AM
john from office

Some of these callers are scary. Folks it is a book of stories!!!

Mar. 09 2012 11:45 AM
emmanuel from westcheseter

Having never read the bible, what does the book of revelation say about the time before the apocalypse? Is everything before the apocalypse a laundry list of sins committed by man? Is there a sublime dimension which is difficult to talk about..

Mar. 09 2012 11:44 AM

revelations gets applied to everything. when obama first ran, some religious folks said he was the Anti-Christ. i was at least hoping for an Anti-Bush. oh well.

Mar. 09 2012 11:44 AM
Bill from New Rochelle

Dear Profesor,

* Are the beasts in Revelation related to the beasts of the Earth (Genesis)?

* What's with all the SEVENS?

* Is there any analogue to Revelation in the Gnostic or Coptic Books?

Mar. 09 2012 11:44 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

Similarly, Religious Studies is not the same as "Bible study." I think a lot of commenters here are missing the point.

Mar. 09 2012 11:43 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

Studying the Bible in historical context is NOT the same thing as "Bible study."

Mar. 09 2012 11:42 AM

So I was taught to interpet the Bible as an allegory is that also true of the Book of Revaltion? It seems that its somewhat about knocking the Roman Empire and its fall.

Mar. 09 2012 11:42 AM

after every failed attempt to predict the end of the world, when will religious people realize they are absorbed in myth?

Mar. 09 2012 11:42 AM
Nick from UWS

Brian, if you've been "finding God" these days, why don't you get it over with and move to a religious station? Every couple of weeks now we have Bible study on your show.

Mar. 09 2012 11:41 AM
Alex from Green Point

What is the Whore of Babylon and is the "Anti-Christ" the same thing as "the Beast"?

Mar. 09 2012 11:41 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

Ah, the Book of Revelation - the guilty pleasure of the Bible - great segment!

Mar. 09 2012 11:40 AM
john from office

Soooo, Jew are going to heaven?? Impossible.

But seriously, Jews dont really have a concept of hell and heaven, that is a goyem thing.

Mar. 09 2012 11:40 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Your professor is using qualifiers more than one would expect from an "expert" who just wrote a book. Also, she needs to delve into the fascinating study of Hebrew numerology. She would then see that 666 has nothing to do with man.

I haven't read the New Testament and have no desire to do so, but anyone who claims to be an expert needs to be thoroughly familiar with the Old Testament (Torah) before expounding upon anything that derives from it.

Mar. 09 2012 11:40 AM

the great beast in revelations was most likely about Rome. the book of revelations is irrelevant to us today.

Mar. 09 2012 11:40 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

When I was a young Christian, the book of revalation was the most profound, as it spoke about the end of days. Eventhough, I'm no longer a "believer." I still will not get a barcode on my hand or for head, regardless of how convenient it is.

Mar. 09 2012 11:39 AM

Christians who are waiting for Jesus to return want the world to end. Because then Jesus will bring god's kingdom to earth and there will be no more suffering. In truth, these maniacs have no regard for this world because they see it as evil. which means they do not care for the destruction from the environment, human and animal suffering and so on. to think our leaders could be people that see war in the middle east as the beginning of the end is scary.

Mar. 09 2012 11:38 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Does the recent evidence that the "Number of the Beast" was really 616 change anything in the context of the excerpt from Revelation that Prof. Pagels read?

Mar. 09 2012 11:38 AM
John A.

She has said:
"Revelations was the most contested book of the New Testament."
How do we know such things?
Was there a 1st century meeting report in the dead sea scrolls?

Mar. 09 2012 11:38 AM
Joe from Englewood, NJ

Do we know how much its text may have changed over the last 2 millennia?

Mar. 09 2012 11:37 AM
Kristal from Washington Heights, NY, NY

Question about Revelation -- one prophecy from the book that is commonly referenced is the "mark of the beast" and warnings about those who received this mark. Was John also referring to something literal occurring during his time? Is there more information about this?

Great segment!

Mar. 09 2012 11:37 AM
andy from manhattan

wasn't the number 666 recently debunked as a misunderstanding? i do believe i heard it on npr. if so, why are scholars perpetrating the continued misunderstanding.

Mar. 09 2012 11:37 AM
Nick from UWS

Why do I listen to this station? More childish adults talking seriously and grimly about this outdated brainwashing claptrap, written by a team of prehistoric Rick Santorums, as if it was a given that it was all fact. Who can take these people seriously? When will we leave this nonsense behind and start the business of dealing with reality?

Mar. 09 2012 11:35 AM

hjs11211 - christians believe that one of the signs that jesus will return is the reformation of the state of Israel. Christians that believe the end is near, will support Israel. We have a perfect storm for a real war between Israel and its neighbors and the US supporting Israel the more we allow religion to dominate political life. All religion is mind control. Belief in that which you can not prove.

Mar. 09 2012 11:35 AM
emmanuel from westchester

Isn't the most frightening vision of the apocalypse, not the spectacle of fire and death, but the purgatory of before - where people are anticipating, almost wanting the apocalypse to come.

Mar. 09 2012 11:33 AM
Dr. Y from Manhattan

I always thought that Revelation 18 was a reference to 9-11. Especially this line: They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate. - Rev 18:19

Is this true? It was a biblical event

Mar. 09 2012 11:31 AM
mo

@jeff pappas: Right on! about hypocrisy

Mar. 09 2012 11:14 AM
John A.

Apparently the word "Armageddon" appears only once in the Bible, and didn't get much attention until the 1800's in the USA. Why the increase? Does Ms.Pagels go over this in her book?

Mar. 09 2012 11:01 AM
Jeff pappas from Dumbo

Yes Its too bad the religious folks cant leave This World alone.
I am appalled at Santorums Hate mongering Christians are right stuff when at the same time he and the Christian Right dont want any sort of Muslim Theocracy, only a Christian one. Just remember why we signed the Declaration of Independance from The British Empire !

They want to fly up to heaven in the Rapture, Christians need the Jews to be in place in Israel so this can occur, Jews who accept Jesus are saved , the rest burned. As for the Muslims I think they get left out, as in the real world so they feel teamed up upon.
Believe what you want but realize most Atheists, Agnostics and Buddists are against all wars, while the hardcore Abahamic old testement ones are all about Hypocrisy when it comes to THOU SHALL NOT KILL !

Mar. 09 2012 10:40 AM

What is the connection to protecting the modern state of israel

Mar. 09 2012 10:05 AM

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