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Unread 07-25-2021, 04:56 PM   #16
Dwight Schrute
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Joined: Apr 2003
Location: Scranton, PA
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having recently read Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife by Bart D. Ehrman, I find it interesting how (according to Ehrman) the concept of the afterlife seems to have evolved over many hundreds of years, both before and after Christ. Christ's view of death (ie. Gehenna, the horrible place where children were burned in sacrifice to Moloch) seems to have evolved after Christ (ie. the later gospels of Luke & John introduces some pretty out there, post-Christ theology on the afterlife like Abraham's bosom that are not present in the first two gospels that were written, Matthew & Mark). Paul's letters seem to go even further on the afterlife than Luke & John, and further yet from the most reputable writings of Christ in Matthew & Mark. it appears people continually added on to what went before, causing an evolution of the afterlife. as Ehrman believes, this would be the logical by-product of 40-60 years of oral tradition that bridged the gap between the life of Christ among the largely uneducated Aramaic-speaking lower class, and these oral traditions being documented by highly educated Greek-speaking (and writing) believers.

Ehrman writes that even the methods for getting into the afterlife seem to have evolved: in Matthew & Mark, Christ indicates its an individual's actions in this life that determine their state in the afterlife. the word "salvation" doesn't even show up until Luke & John, which go in another direction (belief or faith in Christ), and Paul evolving it even further (believing -> faith -> repentance, sanctification). then it all changed even more through the season of martyrdom (hell is for those who don't stand firm in persecution), into the season of state religion of Constantine (hell is for those who live mediocre lives), then purgatory dragged it in another direction, Martin Luther went in yet another direction, and so on until today. it's all very fascinating. I don't personally accept the bullet points WorshipJesus mentioned, though I'd be hard-pressed to state what exactly I DO believe on the afterlife at this moment. it's an overly simplistic (or optimistic) view to say that the Bible (in its entirety) has one simple, unified message on the afterlife.

my two cents; against my better judgement, I returned to Theology after a very long break. I still have nightmares from some of the knock-down Calvinist brawls in here. some of the stuff I once posted in here is cringe-worthy. being realistic, what I just wrote above will be equally cringe-worthy in another ten years: we're all in a perpetual state of refinement in our beliefs.


"Every man is my superior in that I may learn from him." -Thomas Carlyle
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