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The First Intimation of Purgatory?

As I said in my last post, the definitive doctrine of Purgatory did not exist before the 12th century, even though the basic *idea* had been around for a long time – the idea that even though Christ’s death brought salvation to the world, most people, except for the most holy saints, such as those who had been martyred for their faith, had still to pay for their sins.   By the 13th century Purgatory had become an actual place of torment.  Before then it was not so much a place as a condition of suffering to purge away sins.

The question is how early this idea existed.  How long had Christians maintained that suffering was necessary for the sinner – even the believing Christian sinner – before they would be allowed into their eternal bliss in heaven?   The idea is not part of the New Testament, although as we will see in a later post, there are some passages that could be used in support of the view.

The first place we find any reference to suffering in the afterlife that was incurred prior to being given an eternal reward is in the dream of the martyr Perpetua which I mentioned a couple of days ago.  This dream is not exactly about a “purgatory.”  But it is a dream about someone experiencing post-mortem torment before being blessed with a happy afterlife.

Perpetua is in prison, awaiting her execution for being a Christian.   In the “diary” written in her own hand …

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Did Jesus Teach About Purgatory?
The Birth of Purgatory

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    RVBlake  March 30, 2018

    Modern Catholics do not agree on the nature of Purgatory. When I was in RCIA years ago, prior to entering the Church, we were taught that Purgatory was not unpleasant, merely to be tolerated while being “de-sinned”, but made more tolerable by the certainty of Heavenly destination. I have since seen it depicted as a more inflammatory experience.

    1
    • Bart
      Bart  March 30, 2018

      Ha! That’s an inflammatory comment!

      10
    • Avatar
      godspell  March 30, 2018

      Modern Catholics mainly don’t talk much about Purgatory, in my experience. But it depends a lot on what brand of Catholicism you grew up with. We’re not all living in the same world. That’s what happens with a religion found all over the planet. Culture impacts religion at least as much as religion impacts culture.

      I like the general notion that we’re all sinners, but that God will just give us a bit of a time-out after we die. Obviously some dismal types will want to emphasize how bad Purgatory is. Begrudgers, is what the Irish call ’em. 😉

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    • Avatar
      mockferret  March 30, 2018

      No less a person than J.R.R Tolkien – in his allegorical story “Leaf by Niggle” – has it both ways. His protagonist Niggle, after his death, ends up in a place like a harsh (although not cruel) prison. Later, he’s sent to an almost idyllic land based on Niggle’s own paintings. It’s definitely not Heaven, however. The story talks about how both stages were important to Niggle’s spiritual development and it ends with him hoping to soon move on further.

      I realise this is just fiction, but it gives some insight into to what one particular more-or-less modern Catholic thought. And it’s an entertaining and rather charming story to boot.

      1
  2. talmoore
    talmoore  March 30, 2018

    Dr. Ehrman, don’t you find it a little suspicious that Perpetua’s name means “eternal” and Dinocrates’ name means “suffering”? I mean, if you ask me, I think that is a strong indication that this entire story is a fabrication. But that’s just me.

    “Is there a heaven? Or is there simply a place (like Sheol) that everyone goes to, some of whom are happy but some of whom are in torment – and it’s possible to move from one state or another?”

    Two points:
    1) Perpetua sees a ladder going up “to heaven,” with angels climbing up and down it, so, clearly, there is a heaven in this story. Not only that, but in her dream “vision” Perpetua actually climbs up the ladder to heaven, suggesting that a (former) mortal can go to heaven.

    2) Sheol can also be translated as “pit”. Dinocrates emerges from a pit. Hence, maybe the early version of Purgatory was like Sheol, a pit into which a person’s body remained until their sins were thoroughly absolved.

    Dr. Ehrman, consider this for a moment. There was already a kind of purgatory built into the Jewish eschatology. Namely, upon death, a person’s remains would stay in that state (traditionally, as bones in a tomb or ossuary) until the T’qumah, at which point the bones would be literally re-incarnated, and all the dead (traditionally only dead Israelites) would be judged, along with all those living at the time, and those found righteous would have a place the ‘Olam ha-Ba and the New Kingdom on earth, and the wicked would be thrown into Gehenna, possibly to suffer for an eternity.

    However, there was also a loophole for those special saints (Qodeshim) who, upon death, would have their souls go to heaven to await the T’qumah. So in that sense, those exceptional individuals get something like a VIP waiting room, while the rest must “suffer” in the grave. That waiting in the grave is purgatory-esque when compared to the VIPs who get to party in heaven in the meantime, is it not?

    And, of course, who is the VIP of VIPs? Who is the one who gets to go to heaven first to get the party started, while the rest of us wait their turn in the grave? Jesus.

    If you find this hard to swallow, consider reading 1 Corinthians 15 with this idea in mind. Jesus was unique that he was literally fast-tracked from death, to purge (in the tomb during Shabbat), to resurrection in just 3 days. And then — according to Luke at least — the resurrected Jesus ascended into heaven 40 days later to await his return to earth. And in later traditions, Jesus literally goes to hell on the Sabbath in order to literally purge it. These ideas seemed to already existed in Jewish tradition, waiting to be further developed.

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    • Bart
      Bart  April 1, 2018

      How are you getting “suffering” as the meaning of the name Dinocrates?

      • talmoore
        talmoore  April 1, 2018

        Doesn’t δεινος mean suffering in Greek? If so, that would mean that Dinocrates means “suffering state”.

        Also, I should clarify in my above comment that I don’t think that the Jewish idea of the time in the grave before ha-T’qumah ha-Motim (The Mass Resurrection of the Dead) was necessarily expurgatory, although in some Jewish traditions there is a notion of an expurgatory period for those Jews who were not wicked enough to deserve eternal torment but who still needed “purification” of some sort, normally with a short sojourn in Gehenna, where, via the fire, their pure self is assayed from their impurities, like how a precious metal is separated from its impurities — a metaphor used so often by Jesus in the Gospels that I’m convinced that, as a keen Jewish soteriologist, the historical Jesus actually spoke that way.

        For a more detailed exploration of this idea by scholars, go here: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/6558-gehenna

        Note this paragraph in particular:
        “There are three categories of men; the wholly pious and the arch-sinners are not purified, but only those between these two classes (Ab. R. N. 41). A similar view is expressed in the Babylonian Talmud, which adds that those who have sinned themselves but have not led others into sin remain for twelve months in Gehenna; “after twelve months their bodies are destroyed, their souls are burned, and the wind strews the ashes under the feet of the pious. But as regards the heretics, etc., and Jeroboam, Nebat’s son, hell shall pass away, but they shall not pass away” (R. H. 17a; comp. Shab. 33b). All that descend into Gehenna shall come up again, with the exception of three classes of men: those who have committed adultery, or shamed their neighbors, or vilified them (B. M. 58b).”

        • Bart
          Bart  April 2, 2018

          It’s an adjective that means “terrible, horrible, fearful.” It comes from δέος which is the noun for “fear” or “alarm,” and can also mean something like reverence or awe (as something that inspires fear), but which, so far as I know, never means suffering. The normal term for “suffering” is πάθημα. (Of course if you experience something horrible that could be considered “suffering” but it’s not the normal word, and certainly not the noun for it)

          • talmoore
            talmoore  April 2, 2018

            Fair enough. But does that undercut my original point? Not so sure it does.

          • Bart
            Bart  April 3, 2018

            Except that no one reading the name Dinocrates would think that it is referring to someone who suffers.

  3. Avatar
    godspell  March 30, 2018

    Also, the notion that the living could, through prayer, improve the situation of the dead.

    Most people, Christian or otherwise, feared the afterlife might be an awful place (and were not crazy about the idea of ceasing to exist in any form at all either).

    The goal, for Christianity, is to create a convincing scenario. If you tell everybody that they’ll be happy when they die, nobody’s going to buy that. If you tell everybody it’s equally bad for everyone (like many earlier religions did), that may be convincing, but it’s depressing, and there’s no impetus to do better, live a moral life.

    Catholicism’s solution became to say “Some people are so awful, they go right to hell. A rare few may be so blessed they ascend to heaven. But most of us go through a sort of initiation rite for heaven, where we pay for our mistakes, are cleansed of our sins. This is not hell, but it’s unpleasant, and you can shorten it by praying for them.”

    Eventually, the Church hit upon the idea that the way this happens is that the excess merits of the saints are used to redeem us ordinary folks. The Pope, as God’s vicar on earth, controls this spiritual reserve, holds the keys to Heaven. Hence the practice of selling indulgences to raise money for various ill-considered projects like the Crusades–this ultimately triggered the Reformation.

    But the Reformation ultimately led to a different afterlife equation–Predestination. God knows everything that ever happened or ever will happen. Therefore God already knows who is saved or damned. You were saved or damned from the moment of your birth (from the moment of creation, in fact), and it doesn’t matter what you do.

    However, those who are saved will be respectable people, who do well in life, improve themselves. So this creates an impetus to work hard, save money, live a moral and somewhat rigid existence (obviously this came with certain problems), to convince yourself and those around you that you are one of the Elect.

    It got expressed differently in different cultures, and the whole born-again thing came later, where everybody is damned until they accept Jesus as their personal savior. Whatever that means.

    Personally, I like Purgatory better (without the indulgences, which I must agree with Luther never made any sense). I think of it as a really long sauna. I don’t like saunas, so serves me right for committing all those sins. Pass the loofah. 😉

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  4. Avatar
    jhague  March 30, 2018

    “…most people, except for the most holy saints, such as those who had been martyred for their faith, had still to pay for their sins.”

    It seems that initially, it was thought that the payment for sins was painful punishment. Then it was added that someone could pray for a dead person to bring them out of purgatory early.
    When did the Catholic church add that people could give money to the church in order to bring someone out of purgatory?

    • Bart
      Bart  April 1, 2018

      I’m not sure when that started.

      • talmoore
        talmoore  April 1, 2018

        Often wealthy aristocrats and benefactors would donate money for the construction and maintenance of churches and monastaries under the stipulation that the clergy and monastics would pray for the donor’s salvation. It might be safe to assume that the idea of paying the church for your salvation goes back to this practice.

        1
  5. Avatar
    Wilusa  March 30, 2018

    I remember that to the extent I ever thought of “Purgatory,” I thought of it simply as a way-station, not including “suffering” at all.

    But one Catholic teaching was that by doing certain things – like reading the Bible, being careful not to question it in any way – you could earn “indulgences,” which would limit your future stay in Purgatory by set numbers of days. (I doubt many people paid close enough attention to even know that, let alone take it seriously.)

  6. Avatar
    clongbine  March 30, 2018

    I think it’s interesting that Dinocrates (pronounced “Dyno-crayts” by Bill and Ted) still has a scar, which implies an incomplete restoration? Compared to those who climbed the ladder of death instruments and seem to be fine. She is comforted that her brother is doing better even though he obviously doesn’t receive the same afterlife she does, at least he can be happy. She climbs a ladder of death instruments, he climbs out of a dark hole. Both get clean clothing and something to drink (water vs milk). Her milk comes straight from the hand of Jesus, his water from a really nice bucket. Her brother gets better treatment, not by anything he does, but because of her prayers. Couldn’t the same be said of her and the grace extended to her by Jesus? And could this ideology also be linked to prayers to saints who then pray on behalf of sinners?

    • Bart
      Bart  April 1, 2018

      I think it’s usually understood that her faithfulness to the point of death is what brings her her immediate salvation, and that this faithfulness is what makes her prayer for Dinocrates especially efficacious.

  7. Avatar
    fmurphy925  March 30, 2018

    Well this has taken an interesting turn with the Pope’s recent remarks (2 days ago) intimating that there is no hell.
    He seems to have suggested souls who repent are forgiven (current Catholic doctrine) but those who can’t be redeemed he said simple “disappear.” That will cause a doctrinal stir in the College of Cardinals. I believe the Vatican spokespeople are walking this back a bit.
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/03/29/did-pope-francis-say-there-no-hell-not-quite-vatican-insists/470442002/

  8. Avatar
    Monty  March 30, 2018

    Bart, the Pope has just been quoted (allegedly) to say he does not believe there is a hell, but that damned souls simply disappear. The Vatican has denied he said it. Nevertheless, it has caused quite a stir, and from the comments I’ve seen on related news stories, I would say interest in your latest topic is manifestly high.

    • Bart
      Bart  April 1, 2018

      Yes, it’s not clear now that he actually said it.

      • Avatar
        SidDhartha1953  April 6, 2018

        Even if he did say it, it’s not so scandalous as all that. Pope (now Pope St.) John Paul II was quoted in one of his weekly audiences as having said that the Church teaches that hell exists, but not that anyone is there. Progressive revelation?

  9. Avatar
    doug  March 30, 2018

    The innocent child Dinocrates “died horribly of cancer of the face”, then after he died he was made to suffer even further. The idea of Purgatory suggests that was true for other people, too. I wonder what that says about some people’s attitude toward humanity.

    1
  10. Avatar
    James Chalmers  March 30, 2018

    –When you die, you (body and all) will soon enough be resurrected (or, if you’ve been bad, you will be annihilated/punished.
    –When you die, your soul will ascend to heaven or descend to hell.
    I take it Jesus and early Christians believed in resurrection. Christians today seem to believe some version of soul-goes-to-heaven (or hell).
    About when did the latter notion, the one prevalent today, displace the former? Did Augustine hold a semblance of today’s view? Others before him? When did the soul-to-heaven view begin to prevail? Did the soul to heaven view begin to prevail as soon as it began to be accepted the arrival of the kingdom was not imminent?

    • Bart
      Bart  April 1, 2018

      The “soul to heaven” may be already found in Paul (Phil 1:21-23; 2 Cor. 5), even though he strongly believed that at the end would be a resurrection.

      • Avatar
        Eskil  April 7, 2018

        Was Paul inconsistent because in 1 Thess 4:13 he wrote that dead are in asleep?

        • Bart
          Bart  April 8, 2018

          It’s not clear, at least in that passage, if he means they’re conscious or not. “Sleep” was a common euphemism for “dead.”

  11. Avatar
    Apocryphile  March 30, 2018

    Very interesting. I’m surmising (albeit with no evidence) that with this story, we’re getting a hazy view of some ancient Greco-Roman speculations about the soul’s possible journeys or range of experiences in the afterlife(?) Reminds me of your earlier posts about Odysseus’ strange, dream-like journey into the underworld. Perpetua’s dream sounds very much like an ancient myth from deep in Greek history being resurrected and given a Christian varnish. Fascinating how (in my view) this ancient mythos influences our later “invention” of Purgatory.

    1
  12. Avatar
    AlbertHodges  March 30, 2018

    St. Perpetua, no matter what imagery she experienced or someone else used to describe her experience of her dead brother’s afterlife, certainly believed that prayers on behalf of him made a difference in his fate. This was not something she cooked up. She did not present it as an novel idea. Rather, it seems that it is evident to her that praying for the dead could be effective in relieving their suffering.

    All generations of all faiths have an imagery that is used to help them comprehend spiritual truths. Ancients believed the Sun went around the Earth. Every culture had a different picture of what heaven was like. It should be expected that the Catholic visual understanding of purgatory would be different in the Middle Ages than it was in the first centuries after Christ and from the imagery used today. That is all that changes is the imagery, not the core belief.

  13. Avatar
    Adam0685  March 30, 2018

    Do you think 1 Peter 3:18–20 alludes to an afterlife? The “imprisoned spirits” idea is interesting. Why is it called a prison?

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    • Bart
      Bart  April 1, 2018

      It’s a highly mysterious, fraught, and debated passage. I hope to deal with it anon. But it would be a prison because it would be a place of confinement that no one can escape.

  14. Avatar
    Stylites  March 30, 2018

    How much influence did II Maccabees 12:42-45 have in the development of the concept of purgatory?

    • Bart
      Bart  April 1, 2018

      It appears to have had some impact on some Christian thinkers who laid the groundwork for the concept.

      • Avatar
        AlbertHodges  April 3, 2018

        Wouldn’t it also seem to mean that there were Second Temple Jews who believed that prayers for the dead could free them from their sins? I mean, it seems sorta obvious to my mind they didn’t offer prayers for their dead without thinking it had some salvific value?

        What would be your alternative explanation?

        • Bart
          Bart  April 4, 2018

          Yup, apparently so.

          • Avatar
            SidDhartha1953  April 6, 2018

            All this discussion of prayers for the dead makes me think of the rhyme set to the opening phrase of Chopin’s famous dirge: “Pray for the dead and the dead will pray for you.” Are there any music historians who know when or where that pairing originated?

  15. Avatar
    Morphinius  March 31, 2018

    I thought many Catholics believe that the Shepherd of Hermas contains the earliest non-biblical intimations of purgatory. For instance, the stones that were rejected had to undergo prolonged torments and complete the days of their sins in a less humble place than the tower before being transferred. What is not clear is if this is during their life or after their death, although the latter seems more probable. Do you agree that this represents an early concept that Christians who sinned after conversion would have to pay for their sins before being allowed into heaven?

    • Bart
      Bart  April 1, 2018

      Yes, that’s the problem — is it referring to a post-mortem fate of souls? I don’t think so, but the passage could have played a role.

  16. Avatar
    Steefen  March 31, 2018

    Easter 2018

    Professor, I have found that the resurrection of the body is a Hellenistic concept more than a Jewish concept:

    The resurrection of the flesh was a marginal belief in Second Temple Judaism, i.e., Judaism of the time of Jesus. The idea of any resurrection at all first emerges clearly in the 2nd-century-BC Book of Daniel, but as a belief in the resurrection of the soul alone. A few centuries later the Jewish historian Josephus, writing roughly in the same period as Paul and the authors of the gospels, says that the Essenes believed the soul to be immortal, so that while the body would return to dust the soul would go to a place fitting its moral character, righteous or wicked.

    The Greeks had long held that a meritorious man could be resurrected as a god after his death (the process of apotheosis).

    According to the theology of Imperial, Roman apotheosis, the earthly body of the recently deceased king, later, emperor, vanished, he received a new and divine one in its place, and was then seen by credible witnesses.

    In a story similar to the Gospel appearances of the resurrected Jesus and the commissioning of the disciples, Romulus, the founder of Rome, descended from the sky to command a witness to bear a message to the Romans regarding the city’s greatness (“Declare to the Romans the will of Heaven that my Rome shall be the capital of the world…” – Livy, History of Rome, Book 1, Ch. 16) before being taken up on a cloud.

    Question: without post-resurrection appearances in Mark, were later post-resurrection appearances in Matthew, Luke, and John written after AD 70 more reflective of Greek and Roman thought rather than Jewish thought?

    • Bart
      Bart  April 1, 2018

      The idea that a person could be physically taken up to heaven and transformed into a divine being is indeed found in both Greek and Roman circles. But Jewish as well. Even in the Hebrew Bible there is Enoch and Elijah. And in later Jewish traditions there is Moses, e.g.. So I would say it’s an idea shared among cultures. I talk about this at length in my book How Jesus Became God.

      • Avatar
        Steefen  April 1, 2018

        Post-resurrection appearance is the issue, not being physically taken up to heaven which is only leg one of the trip. Are you saying Enoch, Elijah, and Moses reappear to people?

        Yes, I see the pages of the two resurrection chapters in “How Jesus Became God.”

        A thunder storm arose and King Romulus was enveloped in a dense cloud and was no longer seen on earth. Seeing how deeply the community felt the loss of King Romulus, a man whose authority had weight in matters of grave importance, Proculus Julius spoke to the Assembly: at dawn, King Romulus, Father of this City, suddenly descended from Heaven [leg two of the trip] and appeared to me. He told me Rome should be the head of all the world. Apparently King Romulus went back up to Heaven [leg three of the trip].

        After reading the Hebrew Bible, I’m not left with the impression that Moses, Elijah, or Enoch appeared to one or more people. I do recall the New Testament as well as the testimony of Josephus that on the third day after death, he appeared alive again to those who loved him. After the royal seat of King Romulus was made vacant when his regular life on earth had come to an end in the thunder storm that took his life, there is a claim that he came back, alive.This is what is replicated from Roman literature in the Christ story.

        If you have a heroic or holy person ascending to heaven with one or more return appearances in the TANAK, please let us know. That would take away the exceptionalism of Jesus, an exceptionalism which is actually Hellenistic and also based on / borrowed from the “Easter” of Romulus. After the death of Julius Caesar, a comet in the sky was seen as his exaltation.

        You seem to see in Judaism reappearances after death but Romulus and Julius Caesar were gods. Unlike others in Judaism, Jesus underwent the process of apotheosis also to become god. Neither Abraham nor David reappeared after death to Jews in the TANAK.

        The ancient Egyptian god Imhotep actually was a historical figure who served in the court of the pharaoh Djoser, and due to his historical reputation as a healer and wise man, became a god of wisdom and medicine about two thousand years later. Imhotep, while also falling under the blanket of literal apotheosis, is also an example of an abstract apotheosis: his reputation over time evolved to a point where he embodied wisdom and healing itself, and was deified as the manifestation of those abstractions.

        Your words: The idea that a person could be physically taken up to heaven and transformed into a divine being is indeed found in both Greek and Roman circles. But Jewish as well.

        A person referred to at Mark 1:1 the Son of God adds apotheosis to what was not added to Moses and Enoch. Because of this, would you agree that the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus is not Judaic because apotheosis is not Judaic?

        • Bart
          Bart  April 2, 2018

          Elijah, for example, shows up on the Mount of Transfiguration. But on the whole they don’t appear. (THough Romulus definitely did)

  17. Telling
    Telling  March 31, 2018

    Entities that are beyond the grave offer a message quite like that of Eastern religions, as follows:

    When we die, we lose some of our cells but remain aware, the Self being eternal.

    What happens next depends on the stability of our mind, both from past incarnational development and from development in the life just lived.

    An unstable mind will have nowhere to go but fall into a new incarnation drawn by his emotions. He will be reborn into a world not of his choosing, perhaps into a lower world, even a “hell”. He will go where his thoughts take him, and will be in a world created by minds of like development.

    Others may find they can hover about their former cravings in the spirit world, called “hungry ghosts” in Eastern religions. Some may not even know they have died, particularly if their death was sudden and unexpected. This accounts for the haunted houses we hear of, where the former inhabitants remain attached there , perhaps finding nothing there but amusement by frightening earth-dwellers who dare enter.

    Those having a strong religious belief are better off, for they find residence in a heaven created by the group minds of others of their faith. Here they can dwell for a while before deciding on what direction to take next. For these entities, they have not died, they have gone to heaven! The glass is not half empty, it is half full.

    Others who have worked at stilling and taming the wandering mind will have choices that will include incarnating again into the physical world, or in other worlds, or become a teacher and move among worlds, or, I guess just about anything may be possible.

    This is why serious Buddhists will spend an entire lifetime working to rid the mind of frivolous thoughts and to still it so that it “awakens”.

    And the universal message from those beyond the grave is: Wake people up. A physical life on earth is a rare opportunity that they are throwing away by seeking what pleasures them, something they’ll realize and be sorry about upon passing into the beyond.

    A careful land cautious look through the metaphysical section of your neighborhood bookstore should bring up all such information.

  18. Avatar
    jjacob  March 31, 2018

    Dear Prof. Ehrman~

    This post caused me to reflect on a YouTube video that I had recently viewed, by Rabbi Tovia Singer, who suggested that the Catholic church “stole” the concept of postmortem forgiveness from Judaism:

    This is where the Rabbi begins to address the concept in the video:

    https://youtu.be/3xUhAniNhu4?t=420

    I haven’t really investigated it to any extent, but am curious as to your thoughts on the Rabbi’s claim. .

    Best Regards,
    Jeffrey Jacob

    • Bart
      Bart  April 1, 2018

      The Christian faith emerged out of Judaism, so I’m not quite sure what it would mean for Christians to steal an idea from teh jewish tradition.

      • Avatar
        SidDhartha1953  April 6, 2018

        I’ve also heard a professor of Jewish history (I wish I remembered her name) say that Judaism as we understand the term did not exist prior to Christianity – that Judaism and Christianity are more like sisters than mother and daughter.

    • Avatar
      godspell  April 1, 2018

      Well, it all evens out. The author(s) of Genesis ‘stole’ the idea of the Great Flood from the Sumerians, who wrote about it centuries before, in the myth of Gilgamesh. But Genesis added something, with Noah.

      And Jesus added some things too. And people added to what he said (while crediting it to him). And you know, nobody had copyright back then. Nobody ever sued for plagiarism. And this is all supposed to be coming from God, anyway. Is the Rabbi saying it all came from men?

      People get so obsessed with originality! I mean, it’s not like anybody’s getting a patent on any of these ideas. Or residuals. 😉

  19. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  April 1, 2018

    So it was an editor who claimed Perpetua was 22 and married, not Perpetua herself. The story says a lot about suffering and children. Felicity suffers while giving birth prematurely (and after praying fervently). A sister raises her daughter. Perpetua suffers through the separation of her infant son. Her father says he won’t be able to survive without her, but then the baby has no need of nursing while Perpetua, is symptom-free from the sudden weaning of her child—by the will of God. I suppose these events aren’t impossible, but I’m highly skeptical of them.

    Perpetua’s brother suffers in the afterlife then enters into a paradise. The mothers of the two babies are alleviated of their worries as well: no nursing issues while the other is raised by a sister. Is the story suggesting that a parent must be saved in order for children to be saved? Or at least a prayer must be made by a Christian for the salvation of children if their parents are unbelievers?

  20. Avatar
    madmargie  April 2, 2018

    I realize I am a very liberal Christian but I believe this life is all there is. I don’t believe in a resurrection or an afterlife at all….even Jesus’. A body that had been in the grave even three days would not be a pretty sight.

    I also do not believe in salvation theology. I am only interested in Jesus’ teachings.

    I am very interested in your up coming new book though.

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