Secrets From The Book Of Revelation

435px-Joseph_Martin_Kronheim_-_The_Sunday_at_Home_1880_-_Revelation_22-17The Bible’s wackiest writings are the subject of Elaine Pagels’ new book, Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation, excerpted in the Wall Street Journal:

The Book of Revelation is the strangest book in the Bible, and the most controversial. Instead of stories and moral teaching, it offers only visions—dreams and nightmares, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, earthquakes, plagues and war. In the climactic battle scene, Jesus appears as a divine warrior, Satan is thrown into a pit, and all humans who had died faithful to God reign over the earth for 1,000 years.

The author, John of Patmos, was a Jewish prophet and a follower of Jesus who probably began to write around the year 90 after fleeing a war that had ravaged his homeland, Judea. But his Book of Revelation wasn’t unique. At the time, countless others—Jews, pagans and Christians—produced a flood of “books of revelation,” claiming to reveal divine secrets. Some have been known for centuries; about 20 others were found in Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945.

So what do the other revelations tell us, and how did John’s come to trump the others? Unlike the Book of Revelation, the great majority of the others weren’t about the end of the world, but about finding the divine in it now. Many offered encouragement to seek direct contact with God—a message that some early Christian leaders ultimately chose to suppress.

The Revelation of Zostrianos, found in 1945, tells how the young author, tormented by questions and overwhelmed by depression, walked alone into the desert. Finding no place “to rest my spirit,” Zostrianos says he had resolved to kill himself. But he says that suddenly he became aware of a being radiating light, who “said to me, ‘Zostrianos…have you gone mad?’ ”

This divine presence, Zostrianos says, released him from despair and offered illumination…

[continues in the Wall Street Journal]

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  • justagirl

    its the only part of the bible that ever truly interested and intrigued me.  even as a child.

  • Nicksteele90

    What I find intriguing is how much pain and suffering the book causes today with evangelicals wanting to bring on Armageddon. See http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/millions-evangelical-christians-want-start-wwiii-speed-second-coming-and-atheist-neocons?utm

    When we bomb Iran, the roots of our aggression will go all the way back to John’s bad mushroom trip on the Isle of Patmos, which millions of mislead souls now see as being the key to the second coming.

    • Marcus

       You’re talking out of your ass.

      • Dunzain

        More like John of Patmos was talking out of his ass.

  • Marcus

    Kudos for admitting the best known date of origin. Many try to early date it to support, despite the best evidence, the preterist view that nearly all prophecy has been fulfilled–that Revelation was written after the Roman siege of 70 AD, and that’s what the plagues and battles of the book refer to. Granted, it’s clear that John’s Babylon the Great is indeed a masked reference to Rome, but the idea that he was writing about a battle that had already occurred doesn’t wash.

  • Govindacharya

    What alot of people for the last 1,700 years miss to see, is that the book of Revelation is a Gnostic allegory of Inner Spiritual Awakening or Re-realizing our original Spiritual consciousness as Spirit-souls. If you study the greek word Apocalypse or Revelation, it is talking about Inner Spiritual Revelation or Realization or Awakening. The book is dealing with the end of our materialistic, polluted consciousness and the beginning and Awakening to our intrinsic Christ consciousness or Spiritual consciousness. The four horsemen represent those things in the material world and in material consciousness that afflict us when we are absorbed in this realm of existence. But, when we Gnostically Awaken to and abide in our inner Christ Consciousness/Soul consciousness…they will not affect us. Gnostically, the “seven” churches are the 7 higher powers within us that we need to unlock in order to Innerly-Spiritual progress. To the Ancients, the 7 planets at that time known, corresponded to the 7 planetary energies within us. “The End of the World”…is really the End of our limited material consciousness and misguided material perceptions….The End of the World is the End of the material world and the Beginning of our Heavenly Godly Spiritual consciousness and state of being. Everything is the Book of Revelation is about Gnostic Inner Awakening and Spiritual Realization. Taken from an Esoteric,Intuitive, Gnostic, inwardly-focused, Meditational “looking within” stance…..the Book of Revelation makes TOTAL sense. To understand The Book of Revelation is to KNOW the basis of Gnostic Self-Realization or Awakening to our original Spiritual Consciousness as a soul or spark of God.

    • Dunzain

      Well, anyone can interpret this pile of rubbish anyway they fancy. Maybe the seven are the 7 dwarwes in snow white for all I care.

      You can probably pick up some diary or other written ramblings of a schizophrenic patient in a delirium at a mental ward and find all kinds of deep meaningful shit in that too. The difference is this rambling fool John happened by some strange fluke to be incorporated in the bible by some group of superstitious priests.

  • Andrew

    666 = Nero

    616 = Caligula

  • Lifobryan

    There was a good interview with Elaine Pagels on NPR today – 
    http://www.npr.org/2012/03/07/148125942/the-book-of-revelation-visions-prophecy-politics – 

    I grew up with this nonsense, in a fundamentalist Baptist church. Even understanding the idea of metaphor, I could never reconcile the Jesus of Revelation with the Jesus of the gospels. Gnostic interpretations aside, the book is rather toxic & vindictive – and was embraced as such by my church.
    (“Woo hoo! Ringside seats at Armageddon! We get to watch sinners-liberals-democrats-&-fags annihilated in sadistic hellfire!!”) Nor could I reconcile the blatant contradiction of that bloodthirsty sentiment with the ‘homosexual’ underpinnings of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb that follows the global destruction. 

    Nevertheless, the imagery of Revelation still describes my perception of heaven: a sterile, bejeweled mausoleum built around a luminous dead sheep, encircled by rings of genuflecting elders & multi-eyed winged monsters, all chanting “Worthy is the Lamb that was Slain” for all eternity. 

    Sign me up!

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