Posts Tagged ‘Theology’

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The Maccabee – Locating Purgatory

October 3, 2011

The Maccabee – Locating Purgatory

‘Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, ‘and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?’

– Jeremiah 23:29

 

The Location of Purgatory

Use of the word “Purgatory” (in Latin purgatorium) as a noun appeared perhaps only between 1160 and 1180, giving rise to the idea of Purgatory as a place (what Jacques Le Goff called the “birth” of Purgatory),

– Purgatory, Wikipedia

Most scholars believe that, at the beginning of Christianity, Purgatory was imagined as a completely spiritual realm with no physical location. The early Church Fathers saw Purgatory as a process of purification which most souls underwent before going on to Heaven. The exact doctrine, as promulgated by the earliest Christian theologians, saw Purgatory as a ‘condition or process of purification or temporary punishment’ rather than a physical location, which is meant for the souls of deceased to be purified in preparation for their eventual salvation and entrance into Heaven.

In 1999 Pope John Paul II declared that the term Purgatory does not indicate a place, but “a condition of existence”.

– Purgatory, Wikipedia

However, the theory of Purgatory as being a process, rather than a place, simply reflects the complex intellectual theology of Christian experts rather than the beliefs of common folk as they have actually been throughout the centuries. It seems far more likely that Purgatory has its deeper roots in the Jewish world of the dead, called the Sheol, and the Greco-Roman world of the dead, known as Hades, places sanctified by Jesus Christ when ‘He descended into Hell.’ In both places, it was believed to be specifically located underground in what was generically called the Underworld, a dark world of ghosts (souls), a place most everyone went to after death, before moving on to Paradise, called the “Heart of Abraham’ by the Jews, alternatively designated as ‘Elysium’ by the Greeks and the Romans. In other words, the road to Heaven was considered to be down and through rather than above and upwards. One source notes aptly:

The envisioning of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory as places in the physical universe was never a Church doctrine. Nonetheless, in antiquity and medieval times, Heaven and Hell were widely regarded as places existing within the physical universe: Heaven “above”, in the sky; Hell “below”, in or beneath the earth. Similarly, Purgatory has at times been thought of as a physical location.

– Purgatory, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thus, it should seem more than obvious that Purgatory has always been thought of as having a general location, namely below the earth and buried ‘six feet under’, to put it bluntly. Saint Frances de Sales hit it on the nail when he claimed Purgatory to be below the earth. Nonetheless, there has been numerous different speculations as to where the world of Purgatory is actually located. Some of them can be described as follows:

 

Precise Location of Purgatory

I. Under the earth

II. In the air

III. By the graves of the dead

IV. Near Church altars

V. Amid past places and occurrences of sin

The general consensus of today is that Purgatory was considered by the early Church Fathers as a condition or process that had no exact material location. Even so, by the Middle Ages, discussion of the precise location of Purgatory once again became a topic of interest. One scholar in particular claims the following:

Medievalist Jacques Le Goff defines the “birth of purgatory”, i.e. the conception of purgatory as a physical place, rather than merely as a state, as occurring between 1170 and 1200.

– History of Purgatory, Wikipedia

According to the French historian Jacques Le Goff, the conception of purgatory as a physical place dates to the 12th century, the heyday of medieval otherworld-journey narratives and of pilgrims’ tales.

– Purgatory, Encyclopedia Britannica

 

Indeed, throughout the Middles Ages, ‘The idea of purgatory as a physical place became widespread on a popular level.’ The contention that Purgatory truly did have a location ‘was defended also by some theologians.’ However, most scholars today tend to assume that ‘the conception of purgatory as a geographically situated place is largely the achievement of medieval Christian piety and imagination.’ Located below are just a few examples of Purgatory as a place rather than just a process, condition, or metaphysical state of being.

In Search of Purgatory

– ‘The legend of St Patrick’s Purgatory’ (Tractatus de Purgatorio Sancti Patricii) which was originally written by Hugh of Saltry, also known as Henry of Sawtry, claimed that the entrance to Purgatory was located on a remote island in Ireland.

– Another Purgatory legend contended that the ‘entrance to Purgatory’ was located in ‘a cave on the volcanic Mount Etna in Sicily

– In his work called ‘Purgatorio’, Dante described Purgatory as ‘a seven-story mountain situated’ on the exact opposite end of the world from the actual city of Jerusalem,

– In 1220, Caesarius of Heisterbach, a Cistercian monk and preacher, theorized ‘that purgatory could be in several places at once.’

– Some prominent scholars claim that Peter the Lombard, who died in 1160, ‘to have contributed significantly to the birth of purgatory in the sense of a physical place.’

– Francis de Sales, a Christian Saint, insisted that Purgatory was located beneath the Earth

– In the Divine Comedy, Dante had his Purgatory as a mountain with seven levels, with each level corresponding to one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

– In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI discussed Saint Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510), stating ‘that in her time the purification of souls (Purgatory) was pictured as a location in space. Nonetheless, she ‘saw Purgatory as a purifying inner fire, such as she experienced in her profound sorrow.’

– After His crucifixion, Jesus Christ is assumed to have ‘descended into Hell,’ and then, with His angels, is presumed to have attacked the stronghold of the Greco-Roman god Hades, along with the Devil. According to some, His presence in Hell sanctified the area, thus creating Purgatory.

Given everything, it must be concluded that, if there truly are spiritual realms of existence, then Purgatory is one of them, a definite ‘place’ in the metaphysical world, a land of the dead filled with the ghosts of those who have passed away, who are patiently awaiting entrance into Heaven.

May the LORD God bless you in the name of St. Judas Maccabaeus.

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The Judeo-Christian Ikons of Neoliteralism

November 10, 2010

I. The Holy Bible is the most published, read, studied, documented, analyzed, interpreted and discussed book ever known in the history of the world.
II. The Holy Bible is currently available in more alphabets, languages, and versions which are spoken and written by more ethnicities and cultures than any other book on earth today.
III. The Holy Bible is the the single most influential book underlying the development of nearly all the written languages still used on earth today.
IV. The Holy Bible is the official text of Christianity, the largest religion with the most followers in the entire world.
V. The Holy Bible is the cornerstone of monotheism, represented by the three great religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
VI. The Holy Bible is the chronological story of a single family’s relationship with a specific supernatural entity that began in 3760 B.C. with Adam and ended with Joshua ben Joseph (Jesus) in 33 A.D.
VII. The Holy Bible is the most powerful piece of literature in the modern world that has inspired, motivated, and influenced more individuals to think and act in more ways than any other written document in the history of the world.

Even if the simple generalizations just mentioned may appear controversial to some readers, each one of them is not only true, but a scientific fact that cannot be denied or dis-proven. In other words, Neoliteralism is willing to make ample use of the Statistical Sciences in order to further its primary agenda, simplicity. Is simplicity an objective goal? Is simplicity biased or politically motivated? The answers to both of those questions depend on the assumptions of what simplicity will do to the fields of Theology and Religious Studies. Put bluntly, there is an infinite number of ways of interpreting Neoliteralism’s emphasis on simplicity. The non-believer might suspect that it is simply a code word for fundamentalist Christianity intent on quashing complex, sophisticated dissent of traditional Biblical belief systems. On the other hand, the believer may mistake simplicity as either an attempt to water down or dilute Christian truth or an absurd strategy to tear down the Church which has been built upon a continuing accumulation of scholarship compiled and studied throughout the centuries.

I. Neoliteralism is Catholic: Catholic Christianity is emphasized because it is older and has more adherents than Protestantism. The reason is simple, St. Peter was specifically chosen to be the leader by Joshua (Jesus) (NOTE: the author of this essay is a practicing Roman/Ukrainian Catholic scholar.)
II. Neoliteralism is Judaic: Athens, Greco-Roman Philosophy, and Hellenism are ignored in favor of Jerusalem, Mysticism, and Judaism. The reason is simple, Joshua (Jesus) was and is a Jew.
III. Neoliteralism is Iconoclastic: Extreme anti-Christian sentiments and assumptions found in the visual arts proves their inherently Pagan and demonic tendencies. The reason is simple, God prohibited the graven image as one of the Ten Commandments
IV. Neoliteralism is Scientific: Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is losing ground due to scientific dissent among experts. Natural law is concurrent with biological behavior of other mammalian species.
V. Neoliteralism is Evangelical: The continued popularity of the Bible, of Christianity, and their combined historical influence clearly indicates supernatural forces that cannot be explained scientifically. The probability of Christianity’s success and the Bible’s best-selling status are statistically impossible. Judeo-Christian theology is a statistically significant reality.
VI. Neoliteralism is Judeo-Christian: Numerous sayings and parables found in the Gospels have exact parallels in the Talmud, the Apocrypha, and in modern Orthodox Judaism.

VII. Neoliteralism is a Catholic, Judaizer, Iconoclast, Scientist, Evangelist, and Judeo-Christian.

May the LORD God bless you in the name of St. Judas Maccabaeus.

Jason Nicholas Korning

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Neoliteralism, a 21st Century Theology

November 6, 2010

Neoliteralism, the Cornerstone of Judeo-Christian Theology

Today, there are a countless number of methods along with differing schools of thought when it comes to Bible Studies and Theology. At least some astute observers might say there are already far too many, with each ‘method’ or ‘school’ contradicting another so that these traditionally Christian fields of study have become nothing more than a ‘Mystery Babylon’ intellectual enterprise. Obviously, adding yet another catchy term to the list would seem to be compounding the problem, rather than providing a solution. Nevertheless, the project of Neoliteralism, a new term for a new scholarly outlook, has only one intent and that is simplification. Neoliteralism, as the word implies, presumes to take the Bible literally, but it also includes a basic understanding of what the Bible represents. This understanding is simple, not complex, and general, rather than specific. Thus, a perfect example of Neoliteralism can be seen in the following comments and remarks:

I. The Holy Bible is the most published, read, studied, documented, analyzed, interpreted and discussed book ever known in the history of the world.
II. The Holy Bible is currently available in more alphabets, languages, and versions which are spoken and written by more ethnicities and cultures than any other book on earth today.
III. The Holy Bible is the the single most influential book underlying the development of nearly all the written languages still used on earth today.
IV. The Holy Bible is the official text of Christianity, the largest religion with the most followers in the entire world.
V. The Holy Bible is the cornerstone of monotheism, represented by the three great religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
VI. The Holy Bible is the chronological story of a single family’s relationship with a specific supernatural entity that began in 3760 B.C. with Adam and ended with Joshua ben Joseph (Jesus) in 33 A.D.
VII. The Holy Bible is the most powerful piece of literature in the modern world that has inspired, motivated, and influenced more individuals to think and act in more ways than any other written document in the history of the world.

Even if the simple generalizations just mentioned may appear controversial to some readers, each one of them is not only true, but a scientific fact that cannot be denied or dis-proven. In other words, Neoliteralism is willing to make ample use of the Statistical Sciences in order to further its primary agenda, simplicity. Is simplicity an objective goal? Is simplicity biased or politically motivated? The answers to both of those questions depend on the assumptions of what simplicity will do to the fields of Theology and Religious Studies. Put bluntly, there is an infinite number of ways of interpreting Neoliteralism‘s emphasis on simplicity. The non-believer might suspect that it is simply a code word for fundamentalist Christianity intent on quashing complex, sophisticated dissent of traditional Biblical belief systems. On the other hand, the believer may mistake simplicity as either an attempt to water down or dilute Christian truth or an absurd strategy to tear down the Church which has been built upon a continuing accumulation of scholarship compiled and studied throughout the centuries.

In other words, religious scholars may well be skeptical of this new contraption, this intellectual tool known as Neoliteralism. All things considered, they have every right to be. Indeed, for most readers this is the first mention of the word Neoliteralism. This original piece of jargon could end up being nothing more than another case of self-promotion. Theologians and Religious Scholars, just like nearly everybody in today’s world, crave attention. They crave readers, listeners, endowments, large offices, and higher salaries. For some, the spread of Christian intellectual truth is also a strong underlying motivation.

With that in mind, Neoliteralism must be honest with itself and with others about what the term really means. This includes the inventor of the word and author of this essay. In other words, who is the man behind the curtain pulling the strings of Neoliteralism? Well, for starters, Neoliteralism is obviously a self-interested attempt to be different. Are not all ‘methods’ and ‘outlooks’ found in Theology the same way? Of course they are. Theologians, like all intellectuals, entered the field out of a desire to have their religious ideas read and listened to by others. Assuming the factor of self-interest remains, here are the basic, and specific, agendas underlying Neoliteralism.

I. Neoliteralism is Catholic: Catholic Christianity is emphasized because it is older and has more adherents than Protestantism. The reason is simple, St. Peter was specifically chosen to be the leader by Joshua (Jesus) (NOTE: the author of this essay is a practicing Roman/Ukrainian Catholic scholar.)
II. Neoliteralism is Judaic: Athens, Greco-Roman Philosophy, and Hellenism are ignored in favor of Jerusalem, Mysticism, and Judaism. The reason is simple, Joshua (Jesus) was and is a Jew.
III. Neoliteralism is Iconoclastic: Extreme anti-Christian sentiments and assumptions found in the visual arts proves their inherently Pagan and demonic tendencies. The reason is simple, God prohibited the graven image as one of the Ten Commandments
IV. Neoliteralism is Scientific: Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is losing ground due to scientific dissent among experts. Natural law is concurrent with biological behavior of other mammalian species.
V. Neoliteralism is Evangelical: The continued popularity of the Bible, of Christianity, and their combined historical influence clearly indicates supernatural forces that cannot be explained scientifically. The probability of Christianity’s success and the Bible’s best-selling status are statistically impossible. Judeo-Christian theology is a statistically significant reality.
VI. Neoliteralism is Judeo-Christian: Numerous sayings and parables found in the Gospels have exact parallels in the Talmud, the Apocrypha, and in modern Orthodox Judaism.

VII. Neoliteralism is Catholic, Judaizing, Iconoclast, Scientist, Evangelist, and Judeo-Christian.

Honesty should not condemn a new idea, theory, or paradigm. In short, these particular aspects of Neoliteralism cannot, and should not, disqualify it from being taken seriously. No type of Theology can ever be objective due to the pre-existing preferences of their creator or inventor. Most importantly, the above statements of subjectivity represent a key component in Neoliteralism. How so? By admitting the simple, unspoken truth of Theology and Biblical Studies. Rather than remain in denial, Neoliteralism simply accepts the reality of dualism embedded in the historical differences of Judeo-Christian thought.

Sometimes, like a coin with only two sides, objective study of these differences is impossible to achieve. Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, even nonbelievers and Pagan, are either Catholic or Protestant because, regardless of their personal faith, they will always prefer one over another. This understanding is also true concerning the traditional Christian stereotypes which have, at times, erupted into violent opposition. Historically speaking, the Glorious Revolution of England and the Iconoclasm Rebellion of the Byzantine Empire are perfect examples of ideas armed with swords. Everyone, including every theologian is, in the end, either a Judaizer or a Hellenizer, an Iconophil or an Iconoclast, an Artist or a Scientist, who is Private or Evangelical about being Christian or Judeo-Christian. To summarize, Neoliteralism is brutally honest about its intentions of being barbarically simple about Theology and Biblical Studies. Complexity and sophistication are both acceptable, but there must be balance instead of a one-sided journey into obscurity and obsolescence.

May the LORD God bless you in the name of St. Judas Maccabaeus.


Jason Nicholas Korning

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