Elaine Pagels on The Influence of the Book of Revelation on Modern Conceptions of Evil

Professor Elaine Pagels (Princeton University) delivered a talk on April 11, 2014, at the Facing History and Ourselves’ Day of Learning, “Confronting Evil in Individuals and Societies”.

Pagels explains that many interpretations of evil throughout history are inspired by the Book of Revelation, and she uses artistic depictions to describe the events of the story. She then illustrates examples of people using the imagery from the Book of Revelation at different times of war to justify their position and vilify their enemy.



Elaine Pagels Examines the Book of Revelation

Professor Elaine Pagels, of Princeton University, presented various lectures on Revelation to coincide with publication of her book Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation (2013).

Pagels’ lecture at the Walter H. Capps Centre for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life can be found halfway down the page.


Elaine Pagels examines the Book of Revelation and asks questions about its origin and importance. Who wrote the Book of Revelation, when, and why? What other “books of revelation”–Jewish and Christian–were written at the time but left out of the Bible? What accounts for the enduring appeal of this book during the past 2000 years, and even today?

The following is an audio of a radio interview with Pagels on Revelations:

Pagels also delivers the Vanderbilt Divinity School Cole Lecture, “Art, Music and Politics in the Book of Revelation”: