A startling exploration of the history of the most controversial book of the Bible, by the bestselling author of Beyond Belief.
Through the bestselling books of Elaine Pagels, thousands of readers have come to know and treasure the suppressed biblical texts known as the Gnostic Gospels. As one of the world’s foremost religion scholars, she has been a pioneer in interpreting these books and illuminating their place in the early history of Christianity. Her new book, however, tackles a text that is firmly, dramatically within the New Testament canon: The Book of Revelation, the surreal apocalyptic vision of the end of the world . . . or is it?
In this startling and timely book, Pagels returns The Book of Revelation to its historical origin, written as its author John of Patmos took aim at the Roman Empire after what is now known as “the Jewish War,” in 66 CE. Militant Jews in Jerusalem, fired with religious fervor, waged an all-out war against Rome’s occupation of Judea and their defeat resulted in the desecration of Jerusalem and its Great Temple. Pagels persuasively interprets Revelation as a scathing attack on the decadence of Rome. Soon after, however, a new sect known as “Christians” seized on John’s text as a weapon against heresy and infidels of all kinds-Jews, even Christians who dissented from their increasingly rigid doctrines and hierarchies.
In a time when global religious violence surges, Revelations explores how often those in power throughout history have sought to force “God’s enemies” to submit or be killed. It is sure to appeal to Pagels’s committed readers and bring her a whole new audience who want to understand the roots of dissent, violence, and division in the world’s religions, and to appreciate the lasting appeal of this extraordinary text.
About Elaine Pagels
Elaine Pagels is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University and the author of Reading Judas, The Gnostic Gospels-winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award- and theNew York Times bestseller Beyond Belief. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
The Book of Revelation, a dark and enigmatic account of an apocalyptic end-times vision populated by warring demons and many-headed beasts, has given rise to more competing interpretations than most of the rest of the Bible combined. Even its authorship is disputed, with specialists unsure of whether the John referenced in the text is the Apostle John or a separate individual. Pagels (Religion/Princeton Univ., Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity, 2007, etc.)explores Revelation’s outsized role in the development of Christian thought and places it in the context of its creation. Arguing that its language depicting battles in heaven and destruction on earth is a thinly veiled political screed against the pagan Roman Empire, Pagels identifies John as a Jewish refugee from Jerusalem following the destruction of the Temple. Viewing the Book through the prism of the Gnostic Gospels and the other accounts of prophetic visions that proliferated at the time, she advances the modern theory that Revelation is a Jewish Christian document fighting back against Paul’s mission to abrogate Jewish law and bring Christ’s message to the Gentiles. Pagels’ compelling, carefully researched analysis brings to life the multitude of factions that quickly arose in the nascent Christian community after the death of Jesus. The struggle to canonize Revelation was intensely controversial; to this day, believers fight over how to interpret the vision of John of Patmos, “reading their own social, political, and religious conflict into the cosmic war he so powerfully evokes.” – Kirkus Reviews
Elaine Pagels’s ‘Revelations’: Tracing reinterpretations of the Apocalypse
The Washington Post Book Review – March 6, 2012 (Excerpt)
The remarkable thing about the End of Times is how timeless it is. Harold Camping, the subject of mockery last year with his ever-shifting predictions about the Apocalypse, was only the latest in a long line of hectoring prophets, but every age, every culture, possibly every person endures that existential panic, a vision of the final high-stakes conflict.
Those visions didn’t start with the Book of Revelation, but for almost 2,000 years, the trippy images and fiery rhetoric that blaze away at the back of the New Testament have dominated how we pray, imagine, fear and even joke about the Last Days. The description of cosmic warfare attributed to John of Patmos has inspired some of Western culture’s greatest paintings, music and poetry. Politicians and preachers, evangelical sci-fi writers and gold-bug financial planners — they all know how to sow anxiety and reap profit with those cataclysmic pictures of imminent catastrophe.
But where did this story come from, and how did it end up as the capstone to a collection of gospels and letters about Jesus that seem so strikingly different in tone and content?
Over the past three decades, perhaps no one has done more to teach interested people about the historical dynamics and textual complexity of early Christianity than Elaine Pagels. A professor of religion at Princeton University, Pagels captured an improbably large audience (and a National Book Award) in 1979 for “The Gnostic Gospels,” her engaging introduction to the documents found at Nag Hammadi in 1945. Under her tutelage, interested readers with no background in early Christianity nor any facility with ancient languages can experience the historical and — if they’re so disposed — the spiritual import of those writings hidden in Upper Egypt since at least the 4th century. [Read the full article...]
Book Of Revelation: ‘Visions, Prophecy And Politics’
NPR Book Review – March 7, 2012 (Excerpt)
The Book of Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, has some of the most dramatic and frightening language in the Bible.
In her new book Revelations: Visions, Prophecy and Politics in the Book of Revelation, Princeton University religious professor Elaine Pagels places the Book of Revelation in its historical context and explores where the book’s apocalyptic vision of the end of the world comes from.
“The Book of Revelation fascinates me because it’s very different than anything else you find in the New Testament,” Pagels tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “There’s no moral sermons or ethical ideas or edifying things. It’s all visions. That’s why it appeals so much to artists and musicians and poets throughout the century.”
Pagels says the Book of Revelation’s author, who calls himself John, was likely a refugee whose home in Jerusalem had been leveled by the Romans in response to a Jewish rebellion against the Roman Empire.
“I don’t think we understand this book until we understand that it’s wartime literature,” she says. “It comes out of that war, and it comes out of people who have been destroyed by war.” [Read the full article...]
Into the Apocalypse With an Unruffled Tour Guide
The New York Times Book Review – March 20, 2012 (Excerpt)
How well should a historian write? That’s a complicated question, but it’s hard to disagree with George Orwell, who thought that any exemplary book should not only be an intellectual but “also an aesthetic experience.”
Elaine Pagels, a professor of religion at Princeton University, possesses a calm, sane, supple voice. It’s among the reasons readers have stuck with her over a nearly four-decade career, often on hikes through arduous territory, like her commentary on ancient Christian works that were banned from the Bible. She’s America’s finest close reader of apocrypha.
Ms. Pagels is best known for “The Gnostic Gospels”(1979), which won a National Book Award and was named one of the best 100 English-language nonfiction books of the 20th century by the Modern Library. That book spawned a million biblical conspiracy theories, as well as “The Da Vinci Code,” Dan Brown’s hyperventilating novel. Few seem to hold that against her.
The cool authority of Ms. Pagels’s voice serves her almost too well in her new volume, “Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation.” She surveys this most savage and peculiar book of the New Testament — an ancient text that is nonetheless, as the novelist Will Self has put it, “the stuff of modern, psychotic nightmares” — as if she were touring the contents of an English garden. She’s as unruffled as the heroine of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” who declared in one of that excellent television show’s best episodes: “If the apocalypse comes, beep me.” [Read the full article...]
The Last Trumpet - ‘Revelations,’ by Elaine Pagels
The New York Times Book Review – April 6, 20112 (Excerpt)
Many people mistakenly call the last book of the Christian Bible “Revelations.” It is actually the (one) Revelation to John. Elaine Pagels may be playing on that common error with the title of her latest book, “Revelations,” though in this case it is accurate: she places the biblical Book of Revelation in the context of other ancient narratives of visions and prophecy. Her account highlights several prophetic works and visionaries, from Ezekiel to Paul to the ancient sect of prophesying Christians called the Montanists, and others. Pagels also discusses the afterlife of Revelation in the Christianity of late antiquity through the fourth century. Her thesis is that apocalyptic literature — visions, prophecies, predictions of cataclysm — has always carried political ramifications, both revolutionary and reactionary, liberal and conservative, from the very beginning up until today, as seen in conservative iterations of millennial dispensationalism and the hugely popular “Left Behind” series of novels about the end of the world. The apocalyptic is political.
“Revelation” is from the Latin translation of the Greek wordapocalypsis, which can designate any unveiling or revealing, fantastic or ordinary. Scholars also refer to the document as the Apocalypse of John. And that same Greek word provides the label for all sorts of ancient literature that scholars call “apocalyptic.” The biblical text purports to relate a real vision experienced by an otherwise unknown Jew named John — not the Apostle John, nor the same person as the anonymous author of what we call the Gospel of John. But we have no reason to doubt that his name was really John. It wasn’t an unusual name for a Jew. [Read the full article...]
THE LONDONDERRY AIR
Testament of an Ulster Gunman A Novel by Garrad Gawler
It all changed for Charles Cunningham, a Physics teacher at the local College of Technology in the County Derry town of Maddenstown, on a June afternoon in 1973 when a bomb exploded in his neighborhood. He answers an advertisement by the UDR, the Ulster Defence Regiment, but, in the time to come, he will experience the consequences of his decisions, and how his involvement complicates matters with family and friends, Protestants and Catholics alike, to an unexpected degree.
With “The Londonderry Air – Testament of an Ulster Gunman” Garrad Gawler describes in minute detail and with an astonishing level of authenticity not only the inner workings of the Ulster Defence Regiment, but also the activities of underground paramilitary groups of regular citizens who planned and carried out the assassination of suspected Republican terrorists in their neighborhood.
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
FrogenYozurt.com may generate ad income and accept advertising/ads and links. Paid entries are marked as “Paid Articles.” Entries describing a product (book reviews, etc.) may contain descriptions provided by the manufacturer or other sources (Amazon.Com, etc.).
All entries marked as "Satire" may refer to actual persons or events, however, the content is of a satirical nature based on the writers' personal views and should not be taken seriously. All other entries reflect personal opinions on various topics.
All content on this website has been posted under the impression that they do not infringe any copyrights. However, if this site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner, we believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Should you suspect a copyright infringement or any other legal issues with posts on this website, please contact the editor through the contact form as indicated on the top navigation bar, and we will remove the post immediately. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.