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he apocalypse must occur, according to Revelation, the concluding book of the New Testament. According to research at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz led by Dr. Michael Hölscher of the Faculty of Catholic Theology, the book contains apocalyptic visions and language known less from the temple and more from curses that people from Mesopotamia to Rome and the Holy Land have been hurling at each other for centuries.

The enigmatic language of the Book of Revelation — noted for its exotic imagery, including a red beast with seven heads and a symbolic female figure akin to the evils of Babylon — is purposely similar to language used in ancient Roman “curse tablets,” according to new research.

The Apocalypse

What is very emphasized in the book of revelations is the apocalypse that is supposed to come in very defined details. Interestingly enough the same details given about the apocalypse are similar Defixio tabella with an opisthographic curse in Greek against Kardelos.

What is more famously known as a curse thabled from the 4th BC in Rome, the pagan curse tablet seem to have similar details about the apocalyptic events mentioned in the book of revelations.

Defixio tabella (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The curse on this lead tablet is written in Greek against someone called Kardelos. It dates from the fourth century A.D. and was found in a room in ancient Rome that held funerary urns.

It is very important to understand that we are not speaking only about this tablet, but many other similar Roman curse tablets from the era that seem to be an inspiration for the book.

The Book of Revelation — also known as Revelation, the Revelation to John, or the Apocalypse of John — is interpreted by most modern scholarsbas an attempt to prophesize the end of the world and the second coming of Christ. According to Revelation, nonbelievers would be cast into hell, while Christians would ascend to heaven during the second coming.

The Book of Revelation depicts the end of the world – the Apocalypse — using pictures that early Christians would have recognised. It also introduces the “number of the beast,” which is most likely a reference to the Roman emperor Nero, whose name may be read as “666” in Hebrew numerology and who was notorious for viciously persecuting Christians.

Hölscher claims that Roman curse tablets impacted not only the terminology in Revelation, but also the activities it portrays — for example, an angel casts a big stone to destroy Babylon, which is a form of curse rite.

Satan (the Dragon) gives to the Beast of the sea (on the right) power represented by a scepter in a detail of panel III.40 of the Apocalypse Tapestry, a large medieval French set of tapestries commissioned by Louis I, the Duke of Anjou, and produced between 1377 and 1382. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

We also have a representation of the seven head beast that is supposed to bring apocalypse to the world, as well as the mention of the apocalypse knights.

Who is the real author of Revelations?

Most Christians believe that the book is written by John, but because this name was so common during the biblical era, it is very difficult to define who actually wrote revelations. As per the book, John (the presumed author) shows how a chirstian should live his life in order to get into heaven.

Depicition of author John writing the book of revelation (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The assumption made by the researcher Michael Hölscher is that the way the book of revelation it is written does not necessarily follow with the character of what is believed to be the author.

“The prophet John gives instructions on how to live a Christian life at this time. He refers to the concrete situation in western Asia Minor under Roman rule. “Nevertheless, tradition has done exactly that,” Hölscher says. “It saw behind the John of Revelation the apostle John, whom it also understood as the author of the Gospel of John. Today’s scholarship distinguishes the author of John’s Revelation from both John the Evangelist and John the Apostle.”


The Roman Curse

The issue is that curse tablets, of which over 1,700 have been discovered so far, predate the Book of Revelation by centuries. The Greeks may have been the first to have such tablets properly carved by professional magician/scribes.

But why link the phrase found in Revelation to tabella defixionis specifically, rather than the more general activity of wishing someone bad luck?

“What is special about the New Testament book of Revelation is that it seems to blend so many traditions,” Hölscher explains – including elements of the Hebrew Bible, whence many of its motifs originate. “There is also a scholarly approach that examines the Revelation against the backdrop of contemporary history in western Asia Minor at the end of the 1st century C.E. Previous scholarship has already seen, in part, specific parallels between the Revelation and the ritual of the curse tablets,”


After being some of the tablets have been decyphered we can see similarities between the cursed tablets and quotes that are presented within Revelations. One very good example is This phrase that have been written in a very similar manner, both in the book as well as presented on curse tablets.

“With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.”

(Revelation 18:21)

Another aspect that makes Holscher believe that Revelations has been inspired by Pagan rituals is the way John (the presumed author) talks about Rome and its emperors having demonic qualities from which the early Christians aspired to distinguish themselves.

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