In works like The Gnostic Gospels and Beyond Belief, Elaine Pagels has offered a fresh, fascinating perspective on the Bible and its place in history. With Revelations, she turns to the New Testament's most controversial book and finds a first century AD condemnation of Rome's decadence, as well as evidence of the early struggle to define who could and could not become a Christian.

April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…