Throughout the ages, Christians have adapted John of Patmos's visions to changing times, reading their own social, political and religious conflicts into the cosmic war he so powerfully evokes. Yet his Book of Revelation appeals not only to fear and desires for vengeance but also to hope.
The author of the Gospel of Judas wasn't against martyrdom, and he didn't ever insult the martyrs. He said it's one thing to die for God if you have to do that. But it's another thing to say that's what God wants, that this is a glorification of God.
I got to thinking about the Book of Revelation that was written by a Jewish prophet who was also a follower of Jesus who hated the Roman Empire. I realized that the Book of Revelation could be a way to reflect on the issue of religion's relationship to politics.
I am enormously susceptible to religious environments - the music, the liturgy and the prayers.
For nearly 2,000 years, most people assumed that the only sources of tradition about Jesus and his disciples were the four gospels in the New Testament.
The Antichrist is often identified with the second beast in the Book of Revelation that arises from the land, the beast that tries to make everyone worship the power of evil.
The Gospel of Judas really has been a surprise in many ways. For one thing, there's no other text that suggests that Judas Iscariot was an intimate, trusted disciple, one to whom Jesus revealed the secrets of the kingdom, and that conversely, the other disciples were misunderstanding what he meant by the gospel.
The Book of Revelation is the strangest book in the Bible, and the most controversial. Instead of stories and moral teaching, it offers only visions - dreams and nightmares, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, earthquakes, plagues and war.
People who study the way religions develop have shown that if you have a charismatic teacher, and you don't have an institution develop around that teacher within about a generation to transmit succession within the group, the movement just dies.
People who are comfortable with very clear boundaries and group definitions don't like the instability and ambiguity of people who say they are more advanced Christians, or they don't have to do what the bishop says.
The Gospel of Thomas claims to be the secret sayings of Jesus. There are 114 of them, so it says many things, but the central message is that Jesus is the one who reveals the divine light that brought the universe into being, and that you and I also reveal that light.
The Secret Revelation of John opens, again, in crisis. The disciple John, grieving Jesus' death, is walking toward the temple when he meets a Pharisee who mocks him for having been deceived by a false messiah. These taunts echoed John's own fear and doubt.
There are some kinds of Christianity that insist you have to believe literally in doctrine. The Gnostic gospels open out the complexity and multiplicity of approaches to this. If you think the story of the virgin birth is mistranslated, for instance, it doesn't mean you have to throw out the whole thing.
What is clear is that the Gospel of Judas has joined the other spectacular discoveries that are exploding the myth of a monolithic Christianity and showing how diverse and fascinating the early Christian movement really was.
I realize that I cannot live without a spiritual dimension in my life.
Really, I don't like to do any household chores. There was a time when I loved to cook, but that was when I wasn't writing books.
The Book of Revelation is all about the conflict, the contest between the forces of Good and Evil.
What survived as orthodox Christianity did so by suppressing and forcibly eliminating a lot of other material.
After Ann Godoff, who was editor-in-chief at Random House, left and went to Viking, I got to know Viking and the people there, and liked them very much. I also found a wonderful editor there, Wendy Wolf. It's a very congenial press.
I have sympathy for anyone who finds consolation anywhere we can. And many people do find it in religious tradition as it has been. I mean, I love much of that tradition. But somehow, that just didn't speak to me in the way that it does to some.