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Brandi Cruz Greek 131T Dr.

Chapman Revelations Precis Elaine Pagels Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation (Viking, 2012) examines many points in the story of Revelations and its relation to Christianity, Judaism as well as the Bible. The author addresses several main issues surrounding the New Testaments Revelations. Pagelsdiscusses the issue of whether the author of the Gospel of John was the same individual who wrote Revelations. Another topic the author analyzes is the birth of Christianity by looking at when and how Christians split from Judaism. Pagels also examines the reasons for the inclusion of Johns Revelations in the New Testament over other revelations. In addition, the author deals with the topic of reasons for Christian persecution during Roman Empire and its ties to John of Patmos book. Pagels book is a religious, political, social, and historical work. The author utilizes such primary sources of Judaic literature to form a connection between the New and Old Testaments for her readers. Pagels also uses secondary sources to provide socio-political history in order to provide readers with context for the period from the writing of Johns Revelations to its inclusion into Anthanasius cannon. The author also uses historical sources such as The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the Declaration of Independence in order to tie the importance of revelations and its interpretation by readers all the way to the present. Within the book, Pagels discusses the issue of John of Patmos faith. She raises the interesting question of whether he was a Christian or a Jew. While Johns Revelations were adopted into the New Testament or the Christian Testament, the author argues that John did not see himself as changing religions when accepting Christ as the messiah. Pagels contends that John saw himself as Jew and not a Christian by writings such passages as John expresses

alarm at seeing Gods holy people increasingly infiltrated by outsiders who had no regard for Israels priority (47). The fear of gentiles converting to Jewish faith was not only concern for Jews but it brought about persecution by the Roman state because political officials viewed these early Christians as atheists, who were angering the gods by not sacrificing to them. The author when discussing deviation of faith in the followers of Jesus, Pagels demonstrates that it is a debate even Jesus disciples Peter, Paul, and James argued over. For instance, on the issue of assimilation, the three argue about whether Jews should be able to eat unclean meat (50). James and Peteradvocated against the consumption of such meat while Paul did not.This division of interpretation spreads to later generations which Pagels indicates over several chapters leads to a split in followers and the beginnings of Christian beliefs from the teachings of Hebrew Scriptures. Pagels writes about the existence of other revelations beyond that of John of Patmos like the Secret Revelation of James (90). The author raises the question of how these dialogues were written after Jesus death. The answer is that the writers imagined themselves as Jesus earliest disciples in order to try to come to their own interpretations of Jesus teachings. Inconsistencies, contradictions, and radical ideas came from these writings. In addition, they did not necessarily reflect the same revelations as John of Patmos and were repressed because they did not fit with that of the orthodox ideas that Irenaeus wanted. Pagels book is well written and organized. It is also easy to read. The author presents fascinating perspectives on and insights into Christianity, Judaism as well as many religious documents. However, since her book is intended for popular consumption means that it does not have to meet academic standards and therefore, at timesdoes not hold up under such scrutiny.

One glaring omission is the absence of citations to support key claims that Pagels makes.For instance, the author writes although John apparently envisioned Israel as, in effect, Jesus mother, many Christians in later generations have taken the woman clothed with the sun as an image of Mary but Pagels does not provide a cited source to indicate that Johns view of the woman is actually Israel (30).