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New Pagels Book

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  • Mike Grondin
    Elaine Pagels has come out with a new book titled Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation. ($17.52 on Amazon) This is of
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 5 11:27 AM
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      Elaine Pagels has come out with a new book titled Revelations: Visions,
      Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation. ($17.52 on Amazon)
      This is of interest to me because Revelation's interest in numbers is akin
      to that of the Apocryphon of John. The one uses numbers in describing the
      end of the world as we know it, while the other uses numbers to describe
      the emanation of the cosmos in the beginning. (Both are works of fantasy, of
      course.) The titles are actually closer than they appear, because in the one a
      Greek word is translated into English, while in the other it isn't. To put the titles
      on a par with each other, one ought to use 'apocalypse' instead of 'revelation'
      or something like 'hidden book' instead of 'apocryphon'. Of course, the word
      'apocalypse' has taken on a different meaning from the original Greek word.
      Nowadays it's taken to mean 'cataclysmic event' or even 'end of the world',
      whereas originally it simply meant a "revelation" about anything at all. Such is
      the power of religious writings on natural language.
       
      One might also quibble about whether Rev. should be said to be 'of John'.
      Strictly speaking, as the intro makes clear, it's the "revelation" (apokalypsis)
      of Jesus Christ, given to him by God, and then passed on to John via an
      angel. Oh well.
       
      Finally, there's this: Rev. is famous for the use of the number 666 (although it's
      apparently 616 in some manuscripts). That brings to mind for me the numeric
      value of the nominum sacrum IH, as represented by 6+6+6. My understanding
      from Hurtado is that in manuscripts of the New Testament, IH disappeared after
      a time, and only IS (and to a lesser extent IHS) was left. It's tempting to say that
      this change might have reflected a progressive shift from Jewish Christians to
      Gentile Christians, with the former favoring 6+6+6 (IH) and the latter favoring
      7+7+7 (the tens value of IS), but I don't suppose that can ever be proven.
      It's interesting, though, that the Gospel of Luke (which presumably reflects a
      Gentile view) has an extended section in which the number 18 is mentioned three
      times in none too favorable a light, and is contrasted with healing on the Sabbath.
      Is this an allusion to the falling out of favor of a Jewish-centered name for Jesus
      as the ratio of Jewish to Gentile Christians declined? It might also be noticed that
      whereas Mark and Matt say that the transfiguration occurred six days after Jesus
      was supposed to have made the apparently false prophecy that "some standing
      here won't taste death until they see the Kingdom of God", Luke has eight days.
       
      Mike Grondin
    • chaptim45
      So, does anyone else think that Dr. Pagels was persuaded to publish this book on Revelation because it is the year 2012? I do hope that her emphasis on the
      Message 2 of 6 , Mar 7 8:57 AM
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        So, does anyone else think that Dr. Pagels was persuaded to publish
        this book on Revelation because it is the year 2012? I do hope that
        her emphasis on the political aspects of Revelation will help folks
        understand apocalyptic literature better, ie, that it speaks to the
        times it was written in.

        I see from his post that Mike is anxious to read her take on numerology
        in chapter 13, so I hope she does not disappoint him!

        Tim
        Chaplain
        Indianapolis, IN




        --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Grondin" <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
        >
        > Elaine Pagels has come out with a new book titled Revelations:
        > Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation.
      • Bob Schacht
        ... [snip] ... Pagels was on the Diane Rehm show this morning. Bob Schacht Northern Arizona University
        Message 3 of 6 , Mar 7 10:32 AM
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          At 09:57 AM 3/7/2012, chaptim45 wrote:
          So, does anyone else think that Dr. Pagels was persuaded to publish
          this book on Revelation because it is the year 2012? I do hope that
          her emphasis on the political aspects of Revelation will help folks
          understand apocalyptic literature better, ie, that it speaks to the
          times it was written in.

          I see from his post that Mike is anxious to read her take on numerology
          in chapter 13, so I hope she does not disappoint him!

          [snip]

          --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Grondin" <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
          >
          > Elaine Pagels has come out with a new book titled Revelations:
          > Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation.

          Pagels was on the Diane Rehm show this morning.

          Bob Schacht
          Northern Arizona University
        • chaptim45
          ... I m listening to Dr. Pagels now on NPR this evening. She just said that 666 was applicable to either Nero or Domitian. She emphasized the importance of
          Message 4 of 6 , Mar 7 4:31 PM
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            > Pagels was on the Diane Rehm show this morning.
            > Bob Schacht

            I'm listening to Dr. Pagels now on NPR this evening. She just said
            that 666 was applicable to either Nero or Domitian. She emphasized the
            importance of understanding Revelation as document written in "a time of
            war" and that it was dangerous for John to accuse the Emperor in writing
            so he used the numbers.

            Here is the link to the NPR site for this program which has both the
            audio and a text version of the interview.

            http://www.npr.org/2012/03/07/148125942/the-book-of-revelation-visions-p\
            rophecy-politics

            Chaplain Tim
            Indianapolis
          • Mike Grondin
            ... Actually, I m interested in the use of numbers throughout Rev. It gives us an idea of what those numbers meant to John, and presumably other Christians as
            Message 5 of 6 , Mar 8 10:46 AM
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              > I see from his post that Mike is anxious to read [Pagels'] take
              on numerology
              > in chapter 13, so I hope she does not disappoint
              him!
              Actually, I'm interested in the use of numbers throughout Rev. It gives us an idea
              of what those numbers meant to John, and presumably other Christians as well.
              In chapter 1, for example, there's the seven churches, seven golden lampstands,
              and seven stars (to say nothing of a sharp two-edged sword). At first, that looks
              like three times seven, but then the three are compressed down to two, since John
              tells us that the lampstands represent the churches and the stars are the angels of
              the churches. So we have twice seven, which is better than seven - a number of
              fulfillment, completion, etc. That's reminiscent of Matt's genealogy (which may
              actually have come later), where a supposed 42 generations under the Law are
              divided into three groups of 14 generations each. (Three was also a number of
              completion.) That John (or his redactors, which is a more intriguing possibility)
              used the number 666 to represent evil tells us something about how some Christians
              regarded the number six, versus the number seven. Six is featured prominently in
              the Letter of Barnabas, which explicitly mentions the abbreviation IH (6+6+6), but
              in GLk, it has fallen out of favor (as mentioned in earlier note). All this is of interest
              to me, because I see in Coptic Thomas a conscious attempt to incorporate both
              six and seven in various ways, among which:
               
              (1) Agreeing with Matt's genealogy, its shortest saying is 42.
              (2) The name 'Didymos Judas Thomas' represents both 18 and 210, because the
                  sum of its sizes (7+6+5) is 18, while the product of its sizes is 210.
              (3) The theme of (spiritual) "life", associated with 18, is prominent throughout,
                  while in its prologue the number 21 features in two independent ways.
               
              I think a list of the numbers explicitly used in the NT would tell us more than we
              might think it would (has that been done?), because the writers weren't unaware
              of the symbolic associations and scriptural usage precedents of numbers, and
              often chose one over another on that basis. (Forty days in the desert and forty
              days on earth after resurrection being obviously not historical details, e.g.)
               
              Mike Grondin
            • Mike Grondin
              I see that April DeConick has posted a blog entry about Pagels new book, with links to two reviews:
              Message 6 of 6 , Mar 10 12:18 PM
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                I see that April DeConick has posted a blog entry about Pagels' new book,
                with links to two reviews:
                 
                Mike G.
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