The Venerable Bede once reported that an old pagan compared human life to a swiftly-flying sparrow in flight from a darkened to an illuminated hall and then again to a darkened one. Light, however momentary, offered a reason to convert. Ideas about the afterlife have ever been central to the Christian Church’s thinking. Notions about the fate of souls after death seasoned debates between Eastern and Western traditions, were crucial to the Reformation, and ordered the spread of Christianity beyond Europe. Arranged chronologically, thirty essays by ecclesiastical historians grace this pricey but impressive tome whose central theme embraces the impact of belief in the afterlife on the Church’s history and evolution, as well as the manifold ways in which that belief has impinged upon and been reflected in the lives, expectations, and aspirations of Christians across the centuries. By considering the whole sequential spread of the Church’s experience, these authors, both senior and junior, seek to highlight and share the current excitement of scholarly study of the afterlife. Frequently questioned are such deeply-held assumptions as the late development of purgatory in Christian thought and the divorce between the living and the dead in the western tradition after the
Church History and Religious Culture (formerly Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis) – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2011
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