Elaine Pagels on Revelation

I previously blogged on Pagels’ most recent project. She lectured at UW Madison a couple of years ago. Here’s what I said then:

she seemed to suggest that the author’s Judaism was in some way more important for making sense of the visions than his belief that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. I think you can do that only if you separate out the letters to the seven churches from the visions. For if the same audience is implied then the most important context is the relationship between Christianity and the empire, not Judaism and the empire.

More troubling is her blaming Athanasius for the canonization of Revelation. His wasn’t the leading or primary voice. There were too many other things in its favor, particularly, by that time, the universal assumption that the author of the gospel of John and the author of Revelation were the same person. And it wasn’t just Athanasius who attacked alternative visions or revelations. Early Christianity is filled with such visions, and attacks on them. Unfortunately, Pagels’ bias against orthodox Christianity, the Great Church, whatever you want to call it, in favor of the personal experience emphasized by the Gnostics and others, blinds her to historical reality

Adam Gopnik’s review in the New Yorker is here.

Martin Marty comments here.

An interview with Pagels is here.

One excerpt is here. Another is here.

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