Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Sobornost » Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:04 pm

[Ad/mod edit: deleted an accidental double-post.]
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Sobornost » Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:04 pm

Hi Catherine :)

I didn’t see Andrew Marr’s programme – but hope to see the repeat. It is an extraordinarily moving story and I’m glad it was aired on a popular history programme.

The thing about the post mortem salvation/healing of Perpeptua’s brother is that, according to Augustine’s doctrine of ECT –and Augustine was the architect of EC T in its ‘hard’ form and the major influence on the Protestant ECT of Calvin and Luther – anyone who died ‘unsaved’ goes to hell. And for Augustine this meant anyone dying without the saving grace of water baptism rather that the saving grace of accepting Christ as saviour which meant that babies who died unbaptised, and indeed new Christians who died during the period of instruction before baptism were destined for eternal damnation (although I understand he did waver about this sometimes). SO Perpetua’s vision of the post mortem salvation of her brother differed from official Church teaching two centuries later and does seem t be an example of a more flexible and merciful strand of expectation in the earlier church.

I obviously don’t know what Andrew Marr had to say about Perpetua – but I do know that she is of special interest to Christian feminists. It seems that her ‘vision diary’ narrative is the only real intimate glimpse we get into the mid of a woman in the patriarchal classical world – so she s enormously important to feminist historians. Her dictated account shows her real tenderness for her brother, for her baby, and for her fellow martyrs (and tenderness is a quality often lacking in the male church fathers). But as well as tender hearted she was also incredibly, incredibly brave. She was obviously only in her early twenties – but it was her who kept the other martyrs from her household in good heart during their hour of trial – including her household’s Christian priest who was hysterical with terror at the prospect of being gored by a wild boar. So her story gives the lie to all of the gender stereotyping of Christian patriarchy goons by showing a woman giving real leadership in the early Church.

Her visions are incredible. The one of her brother’s healing in the next world that creatively combines the baptismal font and the chalice of sacrament is haunting. Also – and I’m sure Andrew Marr probably mentioned this – her vision of herself as turned into a man and being greased up for gladiatorial combat against a giant Ethiopian gladiator – representing both Satan and Roman cruelty – is very striking (of course she defeats the giant with Christ’s help and is crowned victor).
I know that on the day of her martyrdom, she and her servant girl St Felicity entered the arena together naked. Perhaps they chose to do this to shame the crowd (as a protest against the barbarity of the games and of Roman power). Felicity had just had a baby herself and was lactating - and this did indeed shame the crowd; both martyrs had to be clothed for their ordeal at the crowds demand.

The last astonishing detail I know of is that when Perpetua was tethered to a stake and the beast made its first onslaught, her hair fell down freely over her shoulders. She defiantly secured her it again with a pin – because for a Roman matron wearing your hair down was a sign of mourning, not appropriate for Perpetua on her day of triumph.

I think we can say ‘peace brave soul – you will rise in glory’.

Blessings



Dick
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Sobornost » Sun Oct 14, 2012 2:22 pm

One last thought about her Perpetua –I guess we have to focus on her tender courage – gentle but fierce - rather than the grimness of her ordeal long since passed. Some of the martyrs in the early church were just enthusiastic to get killed so that they could earn a crown in paradise – the church was aware of this tendency and tried to discourage these ‘pseudo-martyrs’. But in the case of Perpetua I think we can be assured that she was a martyr to love – rather than a martyr to the death wish. She obviously loved life, and loved people and acted out of a higher love to heal the broken loves in her life.
I’ve read Peter Brown’s book on perceptions of the Body in the ancient church and he makes the point that as well as earning the victor’s crown as blood witnesses, these early martyrs were also actually engaged in political protest – they wanted to stop the cruelty of Roman State religion and protested with the only thing available to them – their bodies.

I know that the gladiatorial games continued when Rome eventually became ‘Christian’ at least in name. When I was a boy I read the story of a Christian hermit who leapt into the arena in ‘Christian’ Rome, placing himself between tow gladiators, and was killed. And finally Christian Rome was shamed into abolishing what was left of the ‘funeral’ games, which had sanctified to Roman power. I’ve never seen this story again, nor do I know the name of the hermit. If anyone reading this knows his name – please drop me a line.
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Catherine » Sun Oct 14, 2012 11:12 pm

Hi Dick :D

You can watch the episode with Perpetua on BBC IPlayer. I've just checked and it's episode 3 'The Word and the Sword' and if you don't want to watch the whole hour, just forward to 26 minutes and it starts with Saul and the stoning of Stephen, and then goes on to Perpetua.

I think the account of Perpetua serves to demonstrate just how wrong Augustine was about certain doctrinal matters. He was way off the mark and infected the truth with his poison. I've just finished Derek Flood's book 'Healing the gospel' and when I watched Perpetua last week, I was struck by her 'enemy love' that Derek talks about (indeed a martyr to love), and it helped me to understand what Derek was trying to explain in his book. Due to people like Augustine, there's a lot about the 'gospel' that isn't good and needs healing.

I haven't heard about the Christian hermit, so I hope someone on here has. Thanks again Dick.

Catherine.
''Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.'' Isaiah 45:22. (sounds like a command to me. Don't God's commands always come to pass?)
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby JaelSister » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:25 am

Just an observation from me. Death is often called sleep in scripture. But sleep is not total unconsciousness. Nor is even a coma come to think of it. We are unconsciousness in a sense when we sleep. And then we rise again every morning refreshed, perhaps a beautiful parallel every day that one day out of 'true sleep', of which our nightly sleep is just a shadow, we will rise from the dead refreshed. Even in sleep though we dream, we move, some even walk. Some say that the process of resting and dreaming cleanses the body and the mind. It makes me wonder if death is called sleep because it is, in the spirit world, a similar process. That our spirit isn't conscious, much like when we sleep, but that there is still something 'going on' with our spirits, like when we dream. That our death-sleep is a time that the spirit interacts in some way with God, in a parallel to our dreams, but is still needing to be united to a resurrected body in order to be a living soul that praises God. It would make sense to me too, why necromancy was forbidden. It was possible to call a dead 'sleep walker' up from their rest, but you are not supposed to. The spirit is to be resting and refreshing with God, awaiting the day of resurrection.

This is just me throwing thoughts out there. I have no formed opinion on this topic. But it seems to me there is more going on here than we realise.
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Catherine » Mon Oct 15, 2012 5:32 am

JaelSister wrote:Just an observation from me. Death is often called sleep in scripture. But sleep is not total unconsciousness. Nor is even a coma come to think of it. We are unconsciousness in a sense when we sleep. And then we rise again every morning refreshed, perhaps a beautiful parallel every day that one day out of 'true sleep', of which our nightly sleep is just a shadow, we will rise from the dead refreshed. Even in sleep though we dream, we move, some even walk. Some say that the process of resting and dreaming cleanses the body and the mind. It makes me wonder if death is called sleep because it is, in the spirit world, a similar process. That our spirit isn't conscious, much like when we sleep, but that there is still something 'going on' with our spirits, like when we dream. That our death-sleep is a time that the spirit interacts in some way with God, in a parallel to our dreams, but is still needing to be united to a resurrected body in order to be a living soul that praises God. It would make sense to me too, why necromancy was forbidden. It was possible to call a dead 'sleep walker' up from their rest, but you are not supposed to. The spirit is to be resting and refreshing with God, awaiting the day of resurrection.

This is just me throwing thoughts out there. I have no formed opinion on this topic. But it seems to me there is more going on here than we realise.


I have heard this explanation before and it does seem to make sense. ;) I still favour the idea that our thoughts cease when we die (Psalm 146:4). I see the 'spirit' in us, as our life force that goes back to God. I've had a couple of general anaesthetics and you really don't know anything whilst 'under'. (well I didn't). It felt like only a second had passed but a couple of hours had passed during my operation. I see death like that: someone dead six thousand years will think only a second has passed when they are 'awakened' at the 'last trump' (or later after the thousand years.) Then again, maybe Jesus was demonstrating that people are conscious after they die, when he told the parable of the Richman and Lazarus? :?
''Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.'' Isaiah 45:22. (sounds like a command to me. Don't God's commands always come to pass?)
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Sobornost » Mon Oct 15, 2012 6:05 am

Catherine –

Thanks for the info about the Andrew Marr documentary Catherine :) I know that the main part of this conversation is about soul sleep - but as for the testimony of the Early Church about universalism – I think you are right that Perpetua showed love for enemies. It is my hunch that ECT doctrine was originally intensified by the experience of persecution by the Early Church. Tertullian – Perpetua’s near contemporary, appalled by the brutality of the funeral games came up with the horrible idea that in heaven Christians would be able to get a ringside seat for the eternal torture of the damned and would laugh the damned to scorn in their torment. Augustine seems t have drawn no his tradition, modifying it for the church as triumphant rather than the church as persecuted.

Origen was the son of a martyr. When persecution flared up in Alexandria between 206 and 210 Origen, in his early twenties and already a teacher of great authority stayed, when the rest of the clergy vanished and as Peter Brown says – ‘Daring the hostile crowd – no small act of courage in a city notorious for its lynch law – the young teacher would step forward to bestow on his spiritual ‘children’ the solemn kiss that declared they had become worthy of a martyr’s death’. But as we know Origen believed in universal salvation; his soul at least was not corrupted by enemy hate.
My hunch is also that strong ECT went hand in hand with an increasing tendency to devalue women and maternal tenderness in the latter period of the Early Church. Again, Tertullian insisted that women should be fully veiled in Church because of their corrupting role in the ‘sin of the marriage bed’. When a group of young Christina women, committed to virginity, stood in a Carthage Church unveiled (with the approval of the congregation), they were the butt of the fullness of his bile and were forced to veil themselves again as a matter of Church discipline.
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Sobornost » Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:11 am

Hi Catherine -

Just a quick note to say that I've now watched Andrew Marr's episode 3 and really enjoyed it :) - especially the dramatisation of Perpetua's story. Isn't it funny how we both had Perpetua on our minds for different reasons (I've recently read an article about her).

Well I was right about Andrew Marr's choice from her vision diary: lol: - I know he's got a strong sense of drama. I note that stories always have to be simplified for the purpose of television - for example the documentary did not mention that Perpetua and her fellow martyr's endured trial by beasts before being put to the sword (I guess some of the details were too unpleasant to act out in a documentary); and I also know that the consensus seems to be that Perpetua probably shouted out her visions and feelings to a scribe rather than writing them down herself (but perhaps we will never know).
But there we go - one of her visions that prepared her and her fellow martyrs for death (she probably shouted the visions out to them in the noisy prison to give them courage) was a vision of post mortem salvation/healing of a much loved brother. And that’s of special interest to us I guess :)
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby JaelSister » Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:52 am

Catherine wrote:
JaelSister wrote:Just an observation from me. Death is often called sleep in scripture. But sleep is not total unconsciousness. Nor is even a coma come to think of it. We are unconsciousness in a sense when we sleep. And then we rise again every morning refreshed, perhaps a beautiful parallel every day that one day out of 'true sleep', of which our nightly sleep is just a shadow, we will rise from the dead refreshed. Even in sleep though we dream, we move, some even walk. Some say that the process of resting and dreaming cleanses the body and the mind. It makes me wonder if death is called sleep because it is, in the spirit world, a similar process. That our spirit isn't conscious, much like when we sleep, but that there is still something 'going on' with our spirits, like when we dream. That our death-sleep is a time that the spirit interacts in some way with God, in a parallel to our dreams, but is still needing to be united to a resurrected body in order to be a living soul that praises God. It would make sense to me too, why necromancy was forbidden. It was possible to call a dead 'sleep walker' up from their rest, but you are not supposed to. The spirit is to be resting and refreshing with God, awaiting the day of resurrection.

This is just me throwing thoughts out there. I have no formed opinion on this topic. But it seems to me there is more going on here than we realise.


I have heard this explanation before and it does seem to make sense. ;) I still favour the idea that our thoughts cease when we die (Psalm 146:4). I see the 'spirit' in us, as our life force that goes back to God. I've had a couple of general anaesthetics and you really don't know anything whilst 'under'. (well I didn't). It felt like only a second had passed but a couple of hours had passed during my operation. I see death like that: someone dead six thousand years will think only a second has passed when they are 'awakened' at the 'last trump' (or later after the thousand years.) Then again, maybe Jesus was demonstrating that people are conscious after they die, when he told the parable of the Richman and Lazarus? :?


Then again, many people experience a form of consciousness under anaesthetic. And on the flip side, many either have no or do not remember their dreams.

I have an agnostic approach to what happens immediately after death. I do not believe we are alive and human without a body. So I don't believe in a spirit immortality. But I do believe our spirit goes back to God, whatever that means, till the resurrection. And the endor medium story, stories of Paul being caught up out of the body etc, lead me to believe that a spirit is more than just life force. Whatever it is, it seems that at death it is with God, that it is possible to be called up as a ghost but is forbidden by God. Seems the soul is supposed to be resting in God.

I would however caution from taking psalms, which are afterall poetry, as a concrete description of death.
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Catherine » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:21 am

Sobornost wrote:Hi Catherine -

Just a quick note to say that I've now watched Andrew Marr's episode 3 and really enjoyed it :) - especially the dramatisation of Perpetua's story. Isn't it funny how we both had Perpetua on our minds for different reasons (I've recently read an article about her).

Well I was right about Andrew Marr's choice from her vision diary: lol: - I know he's got a strong sense of drama. I note that stories always have to be simplified for the purpose of television - for example the documentary did not mention that Perpetua and her fellow martyr's endured trial by beasts before being put to the sword (I guess some of the details were too unpleasant to act out in a documentary); and I also know that the consensus seems to be that Perpetua probably shouted out her visions and feelings to a scribe rather than writing them down herself (but perhaps we will never know).
But there we go - one of her visions that prepared her and her fellow martyrs for death (she probably shouted the visions out to them in the noisy prison to give them courage) was a vision of post mortem salvation/healing of a much loved brother. And that’s of special interest to us I guess :)


Hey Dick, glad you enjoyed it. It is a happy coincidence we both had Perpetua on our minds. Thanks for all the extra info. When I've got time, I'll check her out more thoroughly. She is certainly an encouragement to us, even all these centuries. :D
''Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.'' Isaiah 45:22. (sounds like a command to me. Don't God's commands always come to pass?)
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Catherine » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:24 am

JaelSister wrote:
Catherine wrote:
JaelSister wrote:Just an observation from me. Death is often called sleep in scripture. But sleep is not total unconsciousness. Nor is even a coma come to think of it. We are unconsciousness in a sense when we sleep. And then we rise again every morning refreshed, perhaps a beautiful parallel every day that one day out of 'true sleep', of which our nightly sleep is just a shadow, we will rise from the dead refreshed. Even in sleep though we dream, we move, some even walk. Some say that the process of resting and dreaming cleanses the body and the mind. It makes me wonder if death is called sleep because it is, in the spirit world, a similar process. That our spirit isn't conscious, much like when we sleep, but that there is still something 'going on' with our spirits, like when we dream. That our death-sleep is a time that the spirit interacts in some way with God, in a parallel to our dreams, but is still needing to be united to a resurrected body in order to be a living soul that praises God. It would make sense to me too, why necromancy was forbidden. It was possible to call a dead 'sleep walker' up from their rest, but you are not supposed to. The spirit is to be resting and refreshing with God, awaiting the day of resurrection.

This is just me throwing thoughts out there. I have no formed opinion on this topic. But it seems to me there is more going on here than we realise.


I have heard this explanation before and it does seem to make sense. ;) I still favour the idea that our thoughts cease when we die (Psalm 146:4). I see the 'spirit' in us, as our life force that goes back to God. I've had a couple of general anaesthetics and you really don't know anything whilst 'under'. (well I didn't). It felt like only a second had passed but a couple of hours had passed during my operation. I see death like that: someone dead six thousand years will think only a second has passed when they are 'awakened' at the 'last trump' (or later after the thousand years.) Then again, maybe Jesus was demonstrating that people are conscious after they die, when he told the parable of the Richman and Lazarus? :?


Then again, many people experience a form of consciousness under anaesthetic. And on the flip side, many either have no or do not remember their dreams.

I have an agnostic approach to what happens immediately after death. I do not believe we are alive and human without a body. So I don't believe in a spirit immortality. But I do believe our spirit goes back to God, whatever that means, till the resurrection. And the endor medium story, stories of Paul being caught up out of the body etc, lead me to believe that a spirit is more than just life force. Whatever it is, it seems that at death it is with God, that it is possible to be called up as a ghost but is forbidden by God. Seems the soul is supposed to be resting in God.

I would however caution from taking psalms, which are afterall poetry, as a concrete description of death.



Good points. ;) I too am agnostic about this. Certain OT verses seem to suggest no consciousness and may just be 'poetry' and some NT verses seem to suggest consciousness, so I'll have to say 'I don't know'. 8-)
''Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.'' Isaiah 45:22. (sounds like a command to me. Don't God's commands always come to pass?)
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Paidion » Wed Oct 17, 2012 11:55 am

Catherine wrote:I need early church writings and early Jewish writings that support the Bible verses that seem to teach that death really is death and that 'hell' really is the grave. Do these earliest writings exist? Is it really possible that most 'Christians' and most 'Jews' are wrong on this?


I think there have been very few quotes in response to Catherine's request. I quoted Justin Martyr who said to the Jews whom he was debating that if they encounter any who say there is no resurrection and that when they die their souls go to heaven, do not even believe that they are Christians. Those to whom Justin was referring were doubtless gnostics.

It was a fairly common belief in the early days of the church that people's souls go into the underworld at death, there to await the resurrection. There was disagreement whether or not these souls are conscious. Here are a couple of quotes concerning the intermediate state:

Irenæus 130-200 A.D.
If the Lord followed the normal course of death that he might be the "firstborn from the dead", and stayed till the third day in "the lower parts of the earth", and then rose in his physical body to show the marks of the nails to his disciples, and thus ascended to the Father; this must needs overthrow the contention that this world of our is the underworld, and that the "inner man" leaves the body here and ascends into the region above the heavens. For the Lord "departed in the midst of the shadow of death" (Psalm 22:23), where are the souls of the departed, and then arose in bodily form and after his resurrection was taken up [into heaven]. Therefore it is clear that the souls of his disciples, for whom the Lord performed this, will depart into an unseen region, set apart for them by God, and will dwell there until the resurrection which they await. Then they will receive their bodies and arise entire, that is, in bodily form as the Lord arose, and thus will come into the presence of God (Irenæus - Against Heresies v.xxxi.2)

Tertullian — About 200 A.D.
"Are all souls, then,"in the realm of the underworld?" Yes, whether you like it or not. And there are punishments there and refreshments... Why cannot you suppose that the soul undergoes punishment or comfort in the underworld, in the interval while it awaits judgment, either of punishment or reward, with a kind of anticipation?... Otherwise, what will happen in that interval? Shall we sleep? But [i]souls cannot sleep... Or do you think nothing happens there?... Surely it would be the height of injustice if in that place the souls of the wicked prospered, and the good still failed of happiness! (Tertullian De Anima 58)[/i]
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Catherine » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:09 pm

Paidion, many thanks for your help in this matter. :D
''Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.'' Isaiah 45:22. (sounds like a command to me. Don't God's commands always come to pass?)
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Melchizedek » Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:48 pm

Interesting bit from Justin Martyr there.
As far as I know, most of the church today believes that one either goes straight to heaven or (ECT) hell upon death. If pressed on it, they'd probably say that is the resurrection to life or condemnation. This presents some obvious problems from the biblical witness though. If our resurrection is immediate, then why is there another ("general") resurrection?
Ultra-U's would probably say much the same, except everyone goes straight to heaven.

I understand where both viewpoints come from (immediate resurrection vs. non-immediate). I wonder if the early church still had an OT-based "pre-resurrection of Christ" viewpoint; they didn't have the NT in it's entirety yet (at least not in the form we have today), and so some of their viewpoints may have reflected a more OT influence. I do see some biblical merit for the idea that things changed after Christ was raised from the dead.
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Sobornost » Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:18 am

I was just pondering Dives and Lazarus. I knew that Evagrius (345-399), Christian monk and ascetic, follower of Origen had said the following in his (Commentary on the Book of Proverbs):

‘The seeds of virtue are indestructible. And I am convinced of this by the Rich Man almost but not completely given over to every evil who was condemned to hell because of his evil, and who felt compassion for his brothers; for to have pity is a very beautiful seed of virtue'

And I thought ‘Yay’ but presumed this was an isolated insight. However I have recently come across wider confirmation of Evagrius’ view. First D.P. Walker in ‘The Decline of Hell’ states that tow medieval Fathers realised the problem in Dives’s compassion for his brothers in terms of their doctrine of hell:

There is the awkward problem raised by the parable of Dives and Lazarus. If this parable is taken as representative of the afterlife, which it appears to be, then Dives charitable concern for the fate of his five brothers is difficult to fit in with the orthodox conception as the damned as immutable evil and locked in selfishness. The medieval theologians Bonaventura and Aquinas suggested that Dives would have liked everyone to be damned, but that, knowing that this would not happen, he preferred that his brothers should be saved rather than anyone else. Leibniz in his theodicy states – ‘ I do not think there is substance in this response’ (and it does seem torturous to me an unwarranted by the parable)

Again I recently have read a footnote to one of Fredrick Farrar’s sermons on ‘Eternal Hope’ where he tells us that Dives is in ‘Hades’ ) the exact equivalent of the Hebrew Sheol meaning ‘the unseen world of the dead’ which Farra argues is an intermediate condition of the soul after death and before Final judgement. And Farrar argues that it shows how rapidly in that condition improvements have been wrought in a sinful and selfish soul. Apparently Luther taught that the whole conversation between Dives and Lazarus took place in Dives’ conscience.
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby watchman1706 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 3:16 pm

just tell him no-one is in hell now because the great judgement has not yet occurred. 8-) Even under their own teachings, judgment needs to occur first before punishment or reward,
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Wormwood » Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:43 am

Sobornost wrote:There is the awkward problem raised by the parable of Dives and Lazarus. If this parable is taken as representative of the afterlife, which it appears to be, then Dives charitable concern for the fate of his five brothers is difficult to fit in with the orthodox conception as the damned as immutable evil and locked in selfishness. The medieval theologians Bonaventura and Aquinas suggested that Dives would have liked everyone to be damned, but that, knowing that this would not happen, he preferred that his brothers should be saved rather than anyone else. Leibniz in his theodicy states – ‘ I do not think there is substance in this response’ (and it does seem torturous to me an unwarranted by the parable)


Hang on, something bad has happened here. That isn't the Jewish view of the afterlife.

http://www.asktherabbi.org/DisplayQuestion.asp?ID=131

As fas as I can see Jesus is talking to a Jewish audience who are already universalist. Given that first century belief was the same, and the rabbis I have asked assure me it was, Jesus is using a model of hell that everyone knows is false as an illustration. It's a bit like my thermostat joke in the humour section. I really hate to say this but I think the whole parable is rhetorical mickey-taking by Jesus which has become fossilised into theology. Does Jesus use the same device elsewhere? Think of camels and needles, or the man with a plank in his eye- he does. He uses an obvious absurdity to make a point. It's very clever, and very funny, presentation.

We do the same thing today. I once opened an engineering meeting with a slide of a spaceship, and the words, "What's that? It's science fiction. So is most of the project documentation. This is how we are going to fix it..."
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Sobornost » Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:53 am

Hi Wormwood -

Hi Wormwood –

(Nice to speak to a fellow countryman!!! And I love your posts :) )

I agree with you. Not sure this parable is humorous - although others certainly are, and very funny too - but Dives is not in eternal hell. He's in Hades being purified in conscience. Which is why Aquinas and pals had such a difficult time explaining in ECT terms the inconvenient detail of Dives compassion for his brothers (Aquinas explanation is pretty pathetic IMHO).

Regarding the Rabbis - while it's true today that the Jewish consensus is that God's punishment is temporary and remedial and I see from you that this was Maimonides view - aren't there passages in the Mishnah, close to the traditions of First Century Judaism - which suggest that Jewish views of Divine punishment in Jesus’ time were more varied? All that I have read is some footnotes at the back of the printed universalistic sermons of a C of E clergyman on 'Eternal Hope' (Fredrick Farrar) – he had written to prominent English Rabbis who confirm your view, but quotes passages from the Mishnah which suggest some had far harsher beliefs in the first century, although there was no consensus. I’d be interested to know more about the Mishnah. I want to agree wholeheartedly with you – but think perhaps your point needs a nuance to it.

A last thought – something you haven’t asked but hits me on reflection; regarding the difference between Hades and the place of Aeonian punishment after the Last Judgement - I'll have to pass on that. I really don't know. But I do understand that the idea of Purgatory developed from the NT hints about Hades.

All very good wishes

Dick
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Sobornost » Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:34 am

Hi Wormwood - I've just had a look at Rabbinic debates about hell. I think your view is right in a general sense; but the total picture is more complex –

Jews who followed the teachings of the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection – therefore blessings or curses were to be had in this life only (adn the same is true of some Orthodox Jews today)

Some Rabbis seemed to have believed in annihilation or even ECT for the especially wicked. However neither destiny was expected to be the lot of the majority of mankind. And even Rabbis who believed in limited ECT seemed to have held out some hope of repentance for those tormented.

I guess we also have to reckon with some of the blood curdling passages from the Targums (Rabbinic paraphrases of the Hebrew Bible) from Jesus’ day, and the apocalyptic literature, and inter-testamental book of Esdras. Here there seems to be evidence of a more vengeful eschatology in sectarian Judaism than in later Rabbinic Judaism – and may scholars argue that Jesus uses but subverts this tradition in his teachings.

However as Farrar points out in ‘Eternal Hope’ it seems remarkable that the Jews – who have every reason for vengeful resentment – have on the whole held to a compassionate eschatology.
If you want quotes from Rabbis – I can give them.

Dick
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Cindy Skillman » Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:21 pm

What if the parable of Lazarus and the rich man isn't even about the afterlife? I've been told Augustine first put forth this interpretation (hey, nobody's ALL bad) and it just seems too perfect to me to not consider it as at least one explanation for the parable. Here are my thoughts on it: http://www.journeyintotheson.com/2012/0 ... g-lazarus/ and http://www.journeyintotheson.com/2012/0 ... us-part-2/. I'd be interested to know what you think about it -- either here or at my blog.
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Sobornost » Wed Mar 27, 2013 4:52 pm

HI Cindy –

Your blog is really well written, and I love prefigurative links you make to the Hebrew Bible in your interpretation of the parable on your blog – very stimulating and great detective work. The idea that the Rich Man represents the Jews and Lazarus the Gentiles, and that the Parable has nothing to do with the afterlife seems to be pretty much that Augustinian view from what I can see. And yes I’m sure this is a layer of meaning and valid interpretation (but I’m no expert). I think you are right to emphasise that on this level of interpretation the Rich Man represents the Pharisees rather than the Jews per se. And I think ‘Pharisees’ is probably a loose term for the Judean Temple Authorities who presided over the whole mechanism of purity taboos, temple taxation etc that excluded the Jewish ‘sinners’ from the Kingdom of God; that is the poor who could not afford to pay the Temple tax or buy animals to sacrifice and who had to take on work that made then ritually unclean, the prostitutes who slept with Roman Soldiers out of desperate poverty etc... I perhaps think it was the Jewish outsiders who were originally represented by Lazarus in this parable.

My tentative point about the parable isn’t really about meaning. It’s just that Hades as represented in it seems to be the Hades that crops up in other Jewish and later Christian literature – including Perpetua’s vision of Dinocrates - as an intermediate state that souls go to when they die before the final judgement (and where they can progress). This suggests to me that Dives and Lazarus seems to have informed a certain type of early Christian eschatology; that’s it, and it may be of little consequence I guess. :)
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Cindy Skillman » Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:25 pm

Hi, Dick

I didn't mean to downplay what you said, and now I realize it sounded that way. :oops: I think it's a great point about the rabbinical view of hell/hades as a place of purification. I've just been reading your other post, but at the moment I'm too tired to take it in so I'll try again later. I do think it's a hugely important matter to see that the rabbinical view of hell at the time of Christ was of a temporary duration. This works so much better for me than any other exegesis of Jesus' comments about Gehenna. It's simple and sweet and I'm always fond of the Occam's razor principle. I don't think it can always be true, but so much of the time, it IS. I really appreciate your posting that. It makes perfect sense that Jesus would play to His crowd, and knowing that His crowd held a certain view of hades/gehenna/hell, He would work with that.

So, as you pointed out, that picture of hell works perfectly in the Lazarus parable. I realize now (which I didn't realize before a couple of years ago) that Jesus' stories were often just like ours -- they included furniture and atmosphere. But this parable in particular doesn't seem to me to have any fat at all. It's pure protein through and through. ;) (But don't take that literally!) :lol: BTW, I also really appreciate your recommending those books on Jesus' parables -- Poet & Peasant, etc. So helpful. Thanks! I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed them.

Love, Cindy
. . . we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:10)

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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Sobornost » Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:50 am

Jesus' stories were often just like ours -- they included furniture and atmosphere. But this parable in particular doesn't seem to me to have any fat at all. It's pure protein through and through.


Wonderful :D

love

Dick
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Paidion » Fri Mar 29, 2013 6:17 pm

My thinking is that Jesus used a belief which was common among the Pharisees as a basis for this parable to teach them that even if someone could return from the dead and warn them, they would not believe. I know I wrote in another thread that the Pharisees believe in reincarnation. I think that was also a common belief among some of them.

You can read the same description of Hades (but even more detailed) in Josephus' discourse on Hades. Josephus was a Jew who wrote Antiquities of the Jews and Wars of the Jews. He apparently believed in Hades as a literal place where all souls go after death, the righteous to "Abraham's Bosom", and the unrighteous to a place of discomfort right next to the Lake of fire.

http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/hades.htm
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Re: Earliest church writings on the state of the dead.

Postby Sobornost » Fri Apr 05, 2013 4:04 pm

I've just been reading 'Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes’ on Dives and Lazarus – and although I don’t with Kenneth Bailey that one lesson of the Parable is that there is no chance of repentance after death I do find his argument that Dives, in demanding leave to warn his brothers, is probably acting like a rich man who is accustomed to being obeyed (and perhaps there is a note of dark comedy here in the contradiction between his self assurance and the reality of his situation. However, I guess the history of how the parable has been interpreted – by universalists and by non-universalists – is interesting. Yes and the parallelism of Lazarus the poor man and Lazarus of Bethany who Jesus raises from the dead is also significant.
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