Elaine Pagels, American Historian ( February 13, 1943 - )

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I got to thinking about the Book of Revelation that was written by a Jewish prophet who was also a follower of Jesus who hated the Roman Empire. I realized that the Book of Revelation could be a way to reflect on the issue of religion's relationship to politics.~Elaine Pagels

Relationship Religion Book

The Secret Revelation of John opens, again, in crisis. The disciple John, grieving Jesus' death, is walking toward the temple when he meets a Pharisee who mocks him for having been deceived by a false messiah. These taunts echoed John's own fear and doubt.~Elaine Pagels

Death Fear Walking

Throughout the ages, Christians have adapted John of Patmos's visions to changing times, reading their own social, political and religious conflicts into the cosmic war he so powerfully evokes. Yet his Book of Revelation appeals not only to fear and desires for vengeance but also to hope.~Elaine Pagels

Hope War Fear

I am enormously susceptible to religious environments - the music, the liturgy and the prayers.~Elaine Pagels

Music I Am Prayers

For nearly 2,000 years, most people assumed that the only sources of tradition about Jesus and his disciples were the four gospels in the New Testament.~Elaine Pagels

People Tradition New

People who are comfortable with very clear boundaries and group definitions don't like the instability and ambiguity of people who say they are more advanced Christians, or they don't have to do what the bishop says.~Elaine Pagels

People Group Say

The Gospel of Judas really has been a surprise in many ways. For one thing, there's no other text that suggests that Judas Iscariot was an intimate, trusted disciple, one to whom Jesus revealed the secrets of the kingdom, and that conversely, the other disciples were misunderstanding what he meant by the gospel.~Elaine Pagels

Surprise Secrets Jesus

The Gospel of Thomas claims to be the secret sayings of Jesus. There are 114 of them, so it says many things, but the central message is that Jesus is the one who reveals the divine light that brought the universe into being, and that you and I also reveal that light.~Elaine Pagels

Light Universe You

The Antichrist is often identified with the second beast in the Book of Revelation that arises from the land, the beast that tries to make everyone worship the power of evil.~Elaine Pagels

Power Book Evil

The author of the Gospel of Judas wasn't against martyrdom, and he didn't ever insult the martyrs. He said it's one thing to die for God if you have to do that. But it's another thing to say that's what God wants, that this is a glorification of God.~Elaine Pagels

God Die You

After Ann Godoff, who was editor-in-chief at Random House, left and went to Viking, I got to know Viking and the people there, and liked them very much. I also found a wonderful editor there, Wendy Wolf. It's a very congenial press.~Elaine Pagels

People Wolf Random

What is clear is that the Gospel of Judas has joined the other spectacular discoveries that are exploding the myth of a monolithic Christianity and showing how diverse and fascinating the early Christian movement really was.~Elaine Pagels

Christian Early Movement

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.~Elaine Pagels

Dreams War Book

There are some kinds of Christianity that insist you have to believe literally in doctrine. The Gnostic gospels open out the complexity and multiplicity of approaches to this. If you think the story of the virgin birth is mistranslated, for instance, it doesn't mean you have to throw out the whole thing.~Elaine Pagels

Believe You Think

What survived as orthodox Christianity did so by suppressing and forcibly eliminating a lot of other material.~Elaine Pagels

Other Material Suppressing

I have sympathy for anyone who finds consolation anywhere we can. And many people do find it in religious tradition as it has been. I mean, I love much of that tradition. But somehow, that just didn't speak to me in the way that it does to some.~Elaine Pagels

Love Sympathy People

The Book of Revelation is all about the conflict, the contest between the forces of Good and Evil.~Elaine Pagels

Good Book Evil

I realized that conventional views of Christian faith that I'd heard when I was growing up were simply made up - and I realized that many parts of the story of the early Christian movement had been left out.~Elaine Pagels

Faith Growing Up Christian

I realize that I cannot live without a spiritual dimension in my life.~Elaine Pagels

Life Spiritual My Life

What's different about the Gospel of Thomas is that, instead of focusing entirely on who Jesus is and the wonderful works of Jesus, it focuses on how you and I can find the kingdom of God, or life in the presence of God.~Elaine Pagels

Life God You

People who study the way religions develop have shown that if you have a charismatic teacher, and you don't have an institution develop around that teacher within about a generation to transmit succession within the group, the movement just dies.~Elaine Pagels

Teacher Generation People

The Romans weren't trying to kill all the Jews, but they did destroy Jewish resistance to Roman rule. Jerusalem was turned into a Roman army camp, and it was a total devastation.~Elaine Pagels

Trying Resistance Army

I never thought I would write about the Book of Revelation. It's so dense; it's so complex and puzzling. But then I found I was thinking about a number of themes, one of which has to do with politics and religion.~Elaine Pagels

Religion Politics Book

Really, I don't like to do any household chores. There was a time when I loved to cook, but that was when I wasn't writing books.~Elaine Pagels

Time Writing Loved

Orthodox theologians insisted that the rest of humankind were only transitory creatures, lost in sin - a view that would support what would become their dominant teaching about salvation, offered only through Christ, and, in particular, through the church they claimed to represent.~Elaine Pagels

Support Lost Rest

The Book of Revelation is such a dream landscape that you can plug any major conflict in it.~Elaine Pagels

Book Conflict Dream