Revelation and Conflict Resolution by Elaine Pagels


I have a problem with the Book of Revelation, which is that it teaches people to interpret conflict as if there is a good side and a bad side; and with the bad side you can’t negotiate, you just have to kill them. 

So, that is a very archaic way of dealing with conflict.  People still do it all over the world; they try to kill the people they don’t like.  It’s an old habit of the human race; and it’s worked, unfortunately, very often. 

I don’t think it should work in the 21st century.  So, this way of dealing with conflict, I would think, is maybe getting obsolete. The other books of revelation which didn’t make it into the Bible are, really, they have a universal vision of the human race.  It’s not about the good people or the bad people. Because in the Book of Revelation, the good people go into Heaven; the bad people go into fire and burn forever.  It’s kind of awful.  So, if that’s not the only way to solve conflict, you need another kind of vision.

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Elaine Pagels

Elaine Pagels
Professor, Princeton University

Elaine Pagels is the Harrington Spear Paine Foundation Professor of Religion at Princeton University. She is the author of The Gnostic Gospels, and more recently of Revelations (Penguin, 2013).

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