In my summaries of the Apocalypse of Peter and the Apocalypse of Paul, as a couple of readers noticed, there was a striking difference in emphasis. Both of these early Christian texts (the first from the second century, the other from the fourth or possibly the fifth?) narrate guided tours of the realms of the blessed and of the damned, and both seem more interested in describing the torments of the lost than the ecstasies of the saved.
The former focuses on moral sins that lead to eternal punishment: seductresses, adulterers, murderers, children who are disobedient to parents, slaves who are disobedient to masters, women who had sex before marriage; and sundry other things. To be sure, some of the sins are “religious” – blasphemy, socerery, and so on. But in this case, “torment is for everyone forever according to his deeds.”
The Apocalypse of Paul, on the other hand, is far more concerned about sins within the church, sins of ecclesiastical and doctrinal error: ascetics who break their vows; church people not commited completely to the Christain life (boiled in fire forever); those who took communion even while being in extra-marital affairs; bishops who did not conduct themselves properly; and most notably, heretics who do not agree that Christ was fully human or that he was physically raised in the flesh.
I am puzzled by …
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