By Elaine Pagels

A profound exploration of the Bible's so much arguable book—from the writer of Beyond Belief and The Gnostic Gospels

The strangest booklet of the hot testomony, packed with visions of the Rapture, the whore of Babylon, and apocalyptic writing of the tip of instances, the publication of Revelation has involved readers for greater than thousand years, yet the place did it come from? And what are the meanings of its surreal photos of dragons, monsters, angels, and cosmic war?

            Elaine Pagels, New York Times bestselling writer and "the preeminent voice of biblical scholarship to the yankee public" (The Philadelphia Inquirer), elucidates the genuine historical past of this debatable ebook, uncovering its origins and the roots of dissent, violence, and department within the world's religions. Brilliantly weaving scholarship with a deep figuring out of the human must which faith speaks, Pagels has written what could be the masterwork of her distinctive profession.

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A few 40 years after that dispute, while John of Patmos met with teams of Jesus’ fans all through Asia Minor, he used to be dismayed to find substantial version between them. John came across a few teams, maybe predominantly Jewish, that adhered heavily to Jewish culture and welcomed him as a revered prophet. Having chanced on the sort of crew within the urban of Philadelphia, John wrote that Jesus praised them and promised to “write on you the identify of my God, and the identify of … the hot Jerusalem that comes down … from heaven, and my very own new identify. ”69 yet John additionally encountered teams of believers, lots of them Gentiles, who it appears had approved “Paul’s gospel”—and clashed with them. these John encountered within the decade of the 90s belonged, after all, to the second one iteration of Paul’s converts, because it used to be approximately thirty years seeing that “the nice apostle” had preached there. but ever for the reason that Paul had labored in Ephesus and neighboring towns, teams dedicated to his educating had sprung up in the course of the quarter, attracting progressively more Gentiles from the locations we all know this present day as Syria, Turkey, Africa, and Lebanon. 70 As John observed it, Paul’s converts weren't just like the Gentiles whom Jews had referred to as “those who exhibit reverence for God” and who had lengthy sought to affix with them to worship their God. these out of date Gentiles had recognized their position, retaining a deferential distance from these born Jews, because they learned that gaining complete entry to the Jewish neighborhood will require them to alter their complete lifestyle. males might have needed to endure surgical procedure to turn into circumcised; either women and men could have needed to undertake sexual, social, and nutritional practices that might separate them from their former households and pals prior to they can qualify to affix God’s holy humans. against this, a few of Paul’s converts have been announcing that, having been “baptized into Jesus Christ,”71 they have been pretty much as good as these born Jews—maybe even larger. John, who sees Israel’s privilege associated with the duty to stay “holy,” is offended that they declare to belong to Israel whereas ignoring what the Torah calls for. To justify such negligence, those “wouldbe Jews” invoke the authority of the famous—or, John can have felt, infamous—missionary Paul, self-professed “apostle to the Gentiles. ” Even worse, from John’s viewpoint, is that rather than respecting Israel’s precedence, such novices communicate of themselves—and Gentiles of each kind—as in the event that they themselves have been Jews, claiming either Israel’s identify and her prerogatives. John turns out to have such humans in brain while he says that Jesus instructed him to inform his humans in Philadelphia that “those who say they're Jews, and aren't, yet are lying,” are not anything yet a “synagogue of devil. ”72 John provides that Jesus assures his actual fans in Smyrna that he is familiar with what slander such humans sling at them: “I recognize the slander at the a part of those that say they're Jews and aren't, yet are a synagogue of devil. ”73 yet, a few readers may well ask, while John assaults the “synagogue of Satan,” isn’t he speaking approximately real Jews, that's, contributors of neighborhood synagogues who're adverse to Christians?

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