Noted theologian, Elaine Pagels has a new book out on the book of Revelation – that last book included in the New Testament. You know that book – with apocalyptic images of death, destruction, violence. And The Beast marked with the number 666.
For years that beast has been identified as specific politicians, the pope, technology, any perceived evil threat.
When I taught scripture classes, the women wanted to dive into the book of Revelation and so we did. But the book, as Pagels explains, is not a future forecast, but a look at John’s (John of Patmos, the author) current events, the mess of 66A.D. and his longing for justice.
The beast is Nero, whose Greek version of his title (Nero Caesar) transliterates into Hebrew (Nrwn Qsr) and yields a numerical value of 666. “A man is known by his number.” You don’t get the pope or your Uncle Sam.
While I have not read Pagel’s new book, her reputation for excellent scholarship is recommendation enough. Amen.
What “beastly” threat prevents you from living your faith as you wish?