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Jesus and Apocalyptic

Everything we know about Jesus was written about thirty or forty or fifty years after He died; but as far as you can tell from that, He looks like a Jewish prophet who thought that the end of the world was coming very soon, as John the Baptist said it was, and other Jews at the time, had that expectation. 

I mean, we call it apocalyptic because it’s about revelation of what happens at the end time.  And, the first thing that the Gospel of Mark, which is the earliest account says, is that Jesus said, you know, good news, the Kingdom of God is coming soon and thought it would come within the lifetime of his disciples, which would have been, say, thirty years.  So, if there’s accuracy in that, we think he probably was somebody who thought the end time was coming right away.

  • Elaine Pagels

    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).