Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Purgatory

I've heard Purgatory dismissed as something Catholics "just made up" so I thought I'd look into the issue.  This is a violation of the Melchizadek Rule of course, but I held out for a few days.  I will investigate this matter then go back on the MR.
 
To investigate I picked up a book called "The Resurrection of the Son of God" by a historian who looks into ancient Jewish and Greek thinking about the afterlife.
 
It's interesting (to me anyway).  I'm only partway into the book, but it would appear that Purgatory would be eminently defendable from the Old Testament alone.
 
For example:
 
    1.  David in the Psalms is quite certain that when he dies he will go to Sheol.
    2.  The author of Ecclesiastes says that a ticket to Sheol is our lot in life, so we better get used to it and enjoy the sun while it shines.
    3.  Job argues that all the damage done to his life has to be repaired NOW because when he gets to Sheol and becomes a mere shadow, it will be too late.
 
 
So, is Sheol hell?   When I was brought up Protestant, I was taught that "Sheol was just another word for hell".  THAT seems like a gross oversimplification.   Sheol doesn't even seem like a place where you get punished ... it's just a place where you barely exist. 
 
I was also taught that when Jesus died, he went and preached in hell/Sheol for three days, and folks like Moses, David, then got their chance to leave hell and go to heaven.
 
Well, isn't hell a place of ETERNAL punishment (aka damnation?).   If David went to hell for a couple thousand years ... doesn't that start to sound like purgatory?  If not, why not?
 
I realize that Jesus said to the thief "this day you will be with me in paradise", but Elijah also rode a fiery chariot to heaven.    There's treatment for special cases, and then there's treatment for the general case.
 
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Anyway, I'm only 100 pages into a 700 page book so I'm horribly ignorant on this subject.  All I can say is anyone who thinks Jewish and/or Greek thinking on the afterlife was consistent and unchanging from the time of Adam till the time of Jesus should read the book.
 
  

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