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September 22, 2006

Comments

Saint Cecilia

Thank you for this. I often have a hard time understanding and discussing purgatory.

Christine

excellent post...
thank you for the clarification.

Dan

Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep [i.e., we won't all

I've been on the Internet too long -- I read that as LOL, and wondered why the apostle would write like that

Ed Pie

I'm glad you said it first, Dan.

Karl Rahner

Purgatory has a link to reincarnation in other religions

Brother Cadfael

Karl,

Purgatory has a link to reincarnation in other religions

OK. I'll bite. What is it?

Allena

Almost all religons get something right, or close to right.

SDG

Purgatory has a link to reincarnation in other religions

OK. I'll bite. What is it?

They were both mentioned in the same sentence by KR.

Agostino Steuco

There have always been Catholics that can be called Perenialists in that they recognize the presence of Truth outside of Catholicism.

Consider the words of St. Iranaeus: “There is only one unique and the same God the Father, and his Word has been present to humanity from all time, although by diverse dispositions and manifold operations he has from the beginning been saving those who are saved, that is, those who love God and follow his word, each in his own age.” (Against Heresies, IV, 28, 2) And again: “Christ did not only come for those who, since the time of the Emperor Tiberius have believed in him, nor has the Father exercised his providence only in favor of people now living, but in favor of all without exception, from the beginning, who have feared God and loved him and practiced justice and kindness towards their neighbors and desired to see Christ and hear his voice, in accordance with their abilities and the age in which they were living.” [ibid, IV, 22,2 (SC bis, p. 688.,)

“Christ is the first-born of God, his Logos, in whom all people share. That is what we have learned and what we bear witness to. All who have lived in accordance with the logos are Christians, even if they have been reckoned atheists, as among the Greeks, Socrates, Heraclitus and the like. ” Justin Martyr, Apology I, 46 (PG 6, 397)

St Allbert the Great; “Examining the teachings of pagan philosophers in the light of sound reason, he demonstrated clearly that they were in fundamental accord with the tenets of the faith.” From the second Nocturn of St. Albert the Great, Nov. 15. )(Breviary Pius X). One could provide many similar quotations from the saints.

St Thomas Aquinas held with St Ambrose that all Truth, no matter where it was found had the Holy Spirit for its author, and further that extrinsic proofs could be used in support of the Catholic Faith. Indeed his Summa is full of quotes from extrinsic sources.

How could it have been otherwise when the Word was made flesh in the beginning. Did Moses not teach the truth? Some Catholic theologians have postulated a primordial tradition to explain this truth. Be that as it may, there is nothing that forbids a Catholic from having such an outlook.

Meretrice

Or maybe... God forgives us for our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and doesn't play silly games like purgatory aka "prison."

Meretrice

Brother Cadfael

Meretrice,

God forgives us for our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and doesn't play silly games like purgatory aka "prison."

But you do agree, don't you, that the blood of Christ actually does purify you before you enter heaven, right?

Mr. Flapatap

Meretrice,

So let's imagine that between the time Hitler pulled the trigger to kill himself and dying he had a perfect contrition for his sins; does he go to Heaven the same way as someone like, say, Mother Theresa? That is an extreme case but it conveys the point. A priest heard Timothy McVey's confession before he was executed, for example.

Maybe the answer is that before the End of Times humanity will have perverted to a point where most will not be saved and the rest will have worked and prayed so hard to convert them that they will not have to spend time in Purgatory. Sadly we seem to be heading that way.

they will not have to spend time in Purgatory

Do they like to ski? Nearly a foot of snow fell on Purgatory over the last two days.

bill912

I look at Purgatory as a shower, where all the mud we have accumulated is washed off. C.S. Lewis had a similar thought(but, what did he know?)

Maureen

More to the point, Meretrice, don't you believe Jesus when He tells you you'll have to pay back, to the very last penny? Just because your sins are forgiven doesn't mean that the bad things you've done no longer have any consequences. Don't you believe Isaiah when he talks about his lips being purged, as with a coal? If you want to see God, you must be made perfect as the Father is perfect. Purgatory isn't about suffering and punishment. But for all but the most holy of life, it is part of the process of Heaven.

Catholics don't just pull this stuff out of nowhere, and we didn't make it all up for our own amusement. These are the ancient teachings of the Church, taught by Jesus and the Apostles.

Claudia

don't you believe Jesus when He tells you you'll have to pay back, to the very last penny?

That's not what Jesus said! Jesus said, "Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny." (Matthew 5:25-26)

Paying to the last penny is in reference to those who did not settle beforehand, who were handed over to the judge and sent to prison.

In addition, Jesus said, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.

"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"

Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.

And as Psalm 49 reminds, "One cannot redeem oneself, pay to God a ransom. Too high the price to redeem a life; one would never have enough."

Purgatory is not in the Bible. Period.

I dunno, lots of people say reading the Bible is like going to Purgatory.

Veronica

Well, neither is the word "Trinity" and pretty much all Christians believe in it.

Basil

The Eastern Christian view of purgatory is different, something as good

Meretrice

"So let's imagine that between the time Hitler pulled the trigger to kill himself and dying he had a perfect contrition for his sins; does he go to Heaven the same way as someone like, say, Mother Theresa? That is an extreme case but it conveys the point. A priest heard Timothy McVey's confession before he was executed, for example."

Are you suggesting that Jesus's death was not enough so save us from our sins? Are you further suggesting that confessing to a priest (which I don't believe in, btw, but many here do) is not sufficient to obtain heavenly forgiveness?

How sad... why are you a Christian at all?

To answer your question... Yes! If Hitler, McVey, or even Judas himself, professed their belief in Jesus as the Messiah and prayed to Him for forgiveness. He would. And they would be forgiven seventy times seven.

Meretrice

bill912

I was not aware that Purgatory had anything to do with our sins being forgiven. I thought that those in Purgatory were already saved. I thought that Purgatory was the place where anything about us that was not completely holy was made holy. But then, what do I know? I've only read what the Church teaches about Purgatory. Those who haven't--as several have proven--must have some different source for their misconceptions.

Matt

Bill912,

you're right on there.

Or maybe... God forgives us for our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and doesn't play silly games like purgatory aka "prison."

Meretrice

1 Cor 3:13-15 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire

There's tremendous scriptural support for a properly understood teaching on purgatory. The early fathers of the Church accepted this teaching, it was universally held for until the time of Luther.

God Bless,

Matt
AMDG

1 Cor 3:13-15

According to the footnotes for the New American Bible, "The text of 1 Cor 3:15 has sometimes been used to support the notion of purgatory, though it does not envisage this."
http://www.nccbuscc.org/nab/bible/1corinthians/1corinthians3.htm#foot8

bill912

Says who?

Meretrice

Matt:

Read the rest of the chapter. It is a metaphor as to the relationship between Christian faith (a "foundation") and the spiritual growth ("that is built upon it") that each person makes as they continue in the faith. What is built upon the foundation will be tested, the fire, by the carnal "wisdom" of the world. If your Christian spirituality built upon the foundation created by Christ is constructed of straw rather than gold, it will burn in the testing fire of worldliness. Despite this loss, you will be saved because the Christian foundation is still there.

This chapter has nothing to do with men's souls or what happens after death. It does not support the notion of purgatory.

Meretrice

bill912

Meretrice, please define "Purgatory".

Meretrice

bill912: Apparently it's a shower. :)

Maureen: The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

To clarify my earlier comment: 1 Corinthians 3 is about spirtual development while alive. The references in that chapter to "fire" and "saved" have to do with the fate of your spiritual growth and foundation of faith and in this life, not your soul's fate after death.

Meretrice

Meretrice, I would also like to know what you think the definition of Purgatory is, because, based on your posts, I don't think you know.

Scott W

Sounds like the usual and erroneous Purgatory-means-Christ's-sacrifice-insufficient definition.

Charlie

I spent a month in the south of Texas a few years back.THAT,my friends was purgatory with a P.

Lily

Your Friendly Neighborhood Methodist sees a close relationship between the Catholic belief in Purgatory, & John Wesley's teaching of the need for what is often called Entire Sanctification.
Neither one has to do with casting doubt on the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice. Both are saying, that none of us are ready for Heaven as we are.
Indeed, I often think that Wesley must be having some really, really interesting conversations with Catholic theologians, on just this subject, in Heaven...even as we speak. :-)

Howard

Judaism does have a concept of reward and punishment in the afterlife. However, since words we use bring to mind certain images, particularly “Heaven” and “Hell,” it is better to use the Jewish terminology which comes without the baggage.

When someone dies, the disembodied soul leaves this sensory world and enters “Gan Eden,” the spiritual Garden of Eden (a.k.a. “Heaven”). In the Garden of Eden, the soul enjoys the “rays of the Divine Presence,” a purely spiritual enjoyment dependent on the Torah learning and good deeds done while in a body. Every year on the yahrtzeit, the day of passing, the soul ascends to another level closer to G-d. This gives it tremendous pleasure.


In order to restore the level of purity the soul had possessed before entering the physical world, it must undergo a degree of refinement commensurate to the degree which the body may have indulged itself
Before entering the Garden of Eden, though, every soul must be refined, for it cannot enjoy the Divine Presence to the fullest degree with the pleasures and coarseness of our physical world still engraved on it. These would give the soul poor “reception” of divine radiance, and must be removed.


In order to restore the level of purity the soul had possessed before entering the physical world, it must undergo a degree of refinement commensurate to the degree which the body may have indulged itself. If a person sinned in this lifetime, as most of us do, then, to continue the radio analogy, we have serious interference. This means there is even more cleaning to be done. This cleaning process hurts, but is a spiritual and mental process designed not for retribution, but to allow one to truly enjoy his/her reward in Gan Eden. This cleaning process is called “Gehinom,” or, in the vernacular, “Hell

Meretrice

You're right, I don't know. Could you please direct me to the "tremendous scriptural support" that will help me to understand purgatory?

Meretrice

Tim J.

"1 Corinthians 3 is about spirtual development while alive..."

Why? How do you get this from the text?

Brother Cadfael

Meretrice,

To repeat myself, you do believe that the blood of Christ actually does purify you before you enter heaven, don't you?

There is a very good book out about the souls in Purgatory. I just now forgot the title but it is an interview of Maria Simma. She recently died, but the souls in Purgatory asked her for help regularly, Masses, rosaries, sufferings, etc. She says we can also call on them to help us as God allows them to help.

Moshe Jacobius

LISTEN TO THE JEWS YOU FOOLS
YOUR HELLENIC SYLLOGISMS AND ATTEMPTS TO EXPLAIN CONCEPTS IS HILARIOUS


wouldn't that mean everyone, after the "painful" process of removing the bodily layer, will end up in heaven? From your reasoning, I gather that sinful people will receive a longer, more painful, disembodyment, but will eventually be reduced to pure soul... ready to accept the divine radiance. Please clarify.

Editor's Comment


Your reasoning is impeccable. Every G-dly soul ends up in "Heaven."


Does Judaism believe in Heaven and Hell?
Posted by: Sharon on Jul 28, 2005

Where are you getting your information? I have either listened or read the entire Old Testament from beginning to end, and never heard or read anything about a "cleansing process". Based on the Old Testament, you have to obey EVERY law handed down in Leviticus in order to be in God's good grace....I'm totally confused.

Editor's Comment


Much of the Jewish tradition, especially the mystical aspects of the Torah are not stated clearly in the Bible. See "What exactly is the Oral Torah, and what's its connection to the Written Torah?" (http://www.askmoses.com/qa_detail.html?h=417&o=2807) Regarding afterlife, see "Is there an explicit mention of the afterlife in the Torah?" (http://www.askmoses.com/qa_detail.html?h=215&o=311)

Tim J.

"wouldn't that mean everyone, after the "painful" process of removing the bodily layer, will end up in heaven?"

No, not by a long shot, according to Jesus.

LISTEN TO YOUR MESSIAH, YOU FOOL!

Dr. Eric

St. Matthew 5:25-26

St. Luke 12:58-59 & 16:19-31

Isaiah 6:6-7

2 Timothy 1:16-18 (Onesiphorus is dead.)

2 Maccabees 12:41-46 (Conveniently thrown out by members of the Protestant Revolt.)

1 Corinthians 3:10-15

1 Peter 1:6-7; 3:18-19; & 4:6

Wisdom 3:1-8

When all of these verses are read together in context of the Holy Scripture being written by the Holy Ghost, then we see that all the doctrines of the Church are Biblical.

Dr. Eric

I meant the Holy Ghost as the Inspiration of Scripture, with the books being written by human authors.

Our "Book" didn't drop out of the sky.

Brother Cadfael

From your reasoning, I gather that sinful people will receive a longer, more painful, disembodyment, but will eventually be reduced to pure soul

body bad + soul good = bad theology

J.R. Stoodley

To whatever degree Purgatory is supported by scripture (remember we as Catholics accept not only Scripture but Apostolic Tradition to be Divine Revelation) it certainly makes sence, is not contrary to the message of scripture, and in no way takes away from the power of Christ.

First of all only the saved may go to purgatory, meaning the reconciliation to God through the forgiveness of sins brought about through the sacrifice of Christ takes place during life on earth. I think most of the Protestant objections to purgatory come from the mistaken idea that purgatory is some kind of second chance or something besides the sacrifice of Christ that would allow reconciliation with God, as if that sacrifice were not sufficient. Any objections to purgatory along those lines then can be dismissed because they have no relation to the actual Catholic idea of purgatory.

The main point is that even after we have been justified by Christ we are not completely perfect beings. We may incur minor sins which while they do not separate us from God they weaken charity and if we do not ask forgiveness for them in life then it is right that we be forgiven them after death.

Furthermore there are attatchements to sin and the psychological and spiritual repercussions of having lived a sinful life in this fallen world. God certainly can heal us of these things in this life, but anyone honest with themselves will have to admit that they are not yet completely perfect in every way.

The power of God, the effects of accepting Jesus, do not consist in the mere ignoring of our sins and faults by God, but the actual obliteration of them, the total sanctification of ourselves. The saved will ultimately not have a single stain or spot on their soul in any sense. Can any objector to purgatory here honestly say they are not in any sence imperfect? That they have no attachment to sin or imperfect mental, emotional, or spiritual health?

Since, despite the omnipotence of God and his power to perfect us in life if we would cooperate with his grace, most of us do die with at least some small faults, God has revealed to us that before entering into the Beatific Vision of heaven we are by the power of God purified of all these imperfections.

This is all purgatory is, essentially. There are popular perceptions of Purgatory in the Catholic Church, especially the Western Church, involving fire and greater or lesser periods of "time", which are supported by private revelation, but all this is optional. The essential point is that any imperfections will be wiped away, any little sins forgiven, any spiritual wounds healed, before we enter fully into the joy of heaven.

Why would anyone object to this?

Brother Cadfael

Lily,

Your Friendly Neighborhood Methodist sees a close relationship between the Catholic belief in Purgatory, & John Wesley's teaching of the need for what is often called Entire Sanctification.
Neither one has to do with casting doubt on the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice. Both are saying, that none of us are ready for Heaven as we are.

I do not know much about Wesley's teaching on this subject, but I agree that what you have described sounds like purgatory.

MissJean

Purgatory is NOT Remedial Hell. :)

J.R. Stoodley

I know several Methodists who believe in purgatory. Also C.S. Lewis did and he was and Anglican.

Yacuv

Our Sages say that the story of the daughters of Lot was in order to extract two good sparks, or portions. One is Ruth the Moabite and the other is Na'ama the Amonite. Clearly these two sparks are related to the rectification of the two daughters of Lot who gave birth to the two peoples of Moab and Amon. They erroneously thought that the entire world had been destroyed, as in the time of the Flood, and that they had to retain the existence of the human race. Their good intention, which is the good spark within them, returned as the two converts, Ruth the Moabite and Na'ama the Amonite. Mashiach, whose role is to bring the earth to its final rectification, also descends from them.

All of the basic soul-roots from Adam on reincarnate in order to continue to elevate their rectification.

Spiritually, there is a relation between a ba'al teshuva ("returnee") and a convert, even though the ba'al teshuva is born a Jew. His spiritual service of being lost and reestablishing his identity is a process which is similar to conversion. This is the general state of being of our generation prior to the coming of Mashiach. When Mashiach comes he will cause all righteous Jews to become ba'alei teshuva.

Everyone must experience "conversion." On Shavuot, the giving of the Torah, the entire Jewish People are called converts. This is why we read Megilat Ruth on Shavuot.

There is definitely something unique about female converts. This is not only with regard to Moab and Amon, where Jewish law explicitly dictates that only females may convert and immediately marry into the Congregation of Israel. The intention of King Solomon by marrying the thousand princesses of the different nations was to elevate the holy spark of those Peoples. The holy spark of every People is in the princess, the female element, of the People and not in the male element. This is because the female is primarily a receiver. All nations of the earth are relatively receivers in relation to the Jewish People.

Simon

Many books have been written explaining the teachings of the Ari on the subject of gilgulim (or gilgul neshamot), "reincarnation." These books explain when and how reincarnation takes place and give details regarding many soul-roots and how we find them reincarnated in the Bible and afterwards in the time of the sages, and even up to the time of the Ari himself.

The Ari traced the gilgulim of archetypal souls from Adam until his own generation and explained that in addition to the purpose of rectifying blemishes of previous lifetimes, each successive incarnation is in order to manifest and rectify a new, different dimension of the same soul.

According to the teachings of the Ari, Adam becomes David who will finally be reincarnated as the Messiah, as indicated by the fact that the initial letters of Adam David Messiah (alef, dalet, mem) spell Adam. All were contained within the soul of Adam. Similarly, the three letters that comprise the name of Moses, Moshe, (mem, shin, hei) stand for the initials of Moses Seth Abel, the three primary incarnations of this archetypal soul from future to past.

The Ari was able to reveal to his disciples their past incarnations so that they would be able to rectify the blemishes of the previous lifetimes in this one and continue to reach new and higher levels of consciousness.

According to the Ba'al Shem Tov, it is not necessary to reveal this information to every individual. Sometimes knowing our last life history can be detrimental to our rectification in this life. This knowledge can confuse the mind and not allow us to be open to achieve good in a simple and pure fashion; thus, that kind of knowledge can narrow our consciousness as opposed to broadening it.

It is important to understand that in Judaism reincarnation is in no way cruel or fatalistic, as may be found in other traditions. Judaism instructs us to always be concerned to change the reality of this world for the better. For a Jew, the world in which we live exists and has meaning and purpose. Indeed, all of the worlds were created for the sake of this world, in order that by our good deeds we make this lowest realm of existence a dwelling place for the Infinite One, blessed be He. Every successive incarnation is another chance, enjoying new input of Divine energy, to succeed in one's holy mission on earth. In the end we will all succeed in this mission. Helping another succeed in his life's mission is an intrinsic part of one's own success.

Mendel

Talmud says that those who have achieved a level of holiness in life will be given the power to endure this searing blast of revelation. Their strengthened and refined sensitivities will allow them to bask in this experience of God that would otherwise be a consuming fire.

While the sages of the Talmud tell us that we will all reach that level of holiness someday, there remains the problem of how? After all, we are obviously far from it now.

Of course, those who have devoted their lives to good, seekers of truth and God are already at a level of holiness and need no final adjustments. They have spent their lives preparing for this unrestrained revelation of Godliness, and when it arrives, they will make the transition smoothly, rejoicing and embracing it with ultimate pleasure. They have, in their lives, only desired God, and now they are able to experience Him without the frustrating barrier of gross physicality.

Others who have pursued material and temporary pleasures, abandoning a relationship with good as defined by Torah, will not have done the work of refining themselves and cultivating a taste for Godliness. Since these souls have rejected or neglected truth in their lives, they will be unable to enjoy the pleasures of the World to Come (where there only exists the Light of Divine Truth) until their coarseness and impurity are purged from them through suffering the ordeal of "embarrassment." This is what is popularly called "hell"--the burning shame that a person feels when "his deeds and utterances march before him and make proclamation concerning him."

This is the consequence we face after death for not having devoted ourselves in life to the truth as it is now revealed. This purgation, though momentarily painful, is in fact a great blessing for it transforms all who pass through it, rendering them capable of appreciating the spiritual pleasures of the World to Come. It works something like the process of refining gold. In both instances the raw ore is placed in an oven, at extremely high temperatures until the impurity turns to ash, and all that remains is a pure golden nugget.

Lest we err in thinking that it makes no difference whether we indulge ourselves in this world and pays our dues in the next, or whether we suffer by restraining our passions here, in order to collect our pleasure in the World to Come, a word from the great 12th century Kabbalist Nachmanides should serve as caution. He writes that God has done human beings a great kindness by allowing us to work off our debt in the physical world where all pain and discomfort are only temporary (at most for a lifetime), are of bearable proportions, and there is always joy and pleasure interspersed. All of Job's seventy years of suffering (which include the loss of all his property and children as well as a permanent plague of boils and physical disease) do not compare to even one instant of the soul's suffering in the afterlife. This is because the body acts as an insulating barrier that protects the soul from too much discomfort. The body or mind goes into shock if the pain becomes too intense. In the afterlife, the soul is totally exposed and there is no protection and no place to hide. Therefore, the opportunity to face the consequences of our transgressions in this world, rather than the next, is a gift of love that God has built into the system for our benefit

Tzvi

There isn't anything after life, because life never ends. It just goes higher and higher. The soul is liberated from the body and returns closer to her source than ever before.

The Torah assumes this in its language many times—describing Abraham’s death, for example, as "going to rest with his fathers" and similar phrases. The Talmud discusses the experiences of several people who made the trip there and back. Classic Jewish works such as Maavor Yabok describe the process of entering the higher world of life as a reflection of the soul's experiences while within the body: If the soul has become entrenched in material pleasures, she experiences the pain of ripping herself away from them so that she can experience the infinitely higher pleasure of basking in G-dly light. If she is soiled and injured by acts that sundered her from her true self while below, then she must be cleansed and healed.


The Zohar tells us that if it were not for the intercession of the pure souls above, our world could not endure... Grandma’s still watching over you
On the other hand, the good deeds and wisdom she has gained on her mission below serve as a protection for her journey upwards. You want a real good spacesuit to make this trip.

The Zohar tells us that if it were not for the intercession of the pure souls above, our world could not endure for even a moment. Each of our lives is strongly impacted by the work of our ancestors in that other world. Grandma’s still watching over you.

Why should souls basking in divine light above be at all concerned about what’s happening in your mundane life below? Because, there they feel the truth that is so easy to overlook while down here, that this lowly, material world is the center-stage of G-d’s purpose in creating all that exists.

That is also why, at the final resolution, all souls will return to physical bodies in this world.

Dover

This is one of the questions that is asked and re-asked continuously in medieval Jewish thought. This question has vexed the greatest minds throughout the ages, beginning with the 10th century Iraqi sage Rabbi Saddiah Gaon, to the present. One of the prominent Jewish thinkers of 15th century Spain, the Abarbanel, offers that the answer is quite simple.

He argues that the Torah does not mention the rewards of the World to Come because that is not what the Torah is about. The rewards that will be received in the future, after life on this realm has ceased, should not be a pertinent factor in one's behavior in the present life. What is relevant to the discourse of life, is life as it is now, life at this very moment.


The intention of performing Mitzvot should not be for the attainment of rewards in the after life, nor, should one feel that life is being lived to rectify that which has been done in a previous incarnation. What occurred in previous lives is not important, nor is it important to know what will become of us in a future world, what is relevant is Today. Any diversion of one's attention into the future or the past is a stolen moment from the extraordinary opportunity to live life in the present, and to make it special and worthwhile.

Sarah Levy

Judaism's idea of the afterlife is very different then that of other Western traditions. For one, Judaism does not believe that Hell is a punishment, rather a process of refinement for the soul to rinse free of its collected "dirt" so that it can enter a state of paradise.

A Chassidic master once explained to his disciples the difference between Heaven and Hell. In the afterlife, he said, all souls' hands are bound by splints and heavy ropes. This is done so that they cannot bend their arms. Then each soul is given a ridiculously long utensil and told that it is theirs to attain what ever they desire. Above the souls hang great quantities of food and delights, but they cannot bring the food to their mouths for their hands cannot bend. In hell, the souls are emaciated and starving, breakfast is served, but since their hands cannot bend, and their utensils are too long to feed themselves, they starve. In heaven, however, it is paradise. Souls are smiling and enjoying the delights. In heaven each soul uses his or her own fork to feed the soul siting across the room.


When a person is able to love and extend themselves for another human being, then that person has tasted what heaven is on this earth
The existentialist Sartre once said, that hell is other people. The truth is that he is quite right. If a person feels that other people are others then sharing life with them is a living hell. However, when a person is able to love and extend themselves for another human being, then that person has tasted what heaven is on this earth.

Jeff Singer

Judaism does have a concept of reward and punishment in the afterlife. However, since words we use bring to mind certain images, particularly “Heaven” and “Hell,” it is better to use the Jewish terminology which comes without the baggage.

When someone dies, the disembodied soul leaves this sensory world and enters “Gan Eden,” the spiritual Garden of Eden (a.k.a. “Heaven”). In the Garden of Eden, the soul enjoys the “rays of the Divine Presence,” a purely spiritual enjoyment dependent on the Torah learning and good deeds done while in a body. Every year on the yahrtzeit, the day of passing, the soul ascends to another level closer to G-d. This gives it tremendous pleasure.


In order to restore the level of purity the soul had possessed before entering the physical world, it must undergo a degree of refinement commensurate to the degree which the body may have indulged itself
Before entering the Garden of Eden, though, every soul must be refined, for it cannot enjoy the Divine Presence to the fullest degree with the pleasures and coarseness of our physical world still engraved on it. These would give the soul poor “reception” of divine radiance, and must be removed.


In order to restore the level of purity the soul had possessed before entering the physical world, it must undergo a degree of refinement commensurate to the degree which the body may have indulged itself. If a person sinned in this lifetime, as most of us do, then, to continue the radio analogy, we have serious interference. This means there is even more cleaning to be done. This cleaning process hurts, but is a spiritual and mental process designed not for retribution, but to allow one to truly enjoy his/her reward in Gan Eden. This cleaning process is called “Gehinom,” or, in the vernacular, “Hell

Blue

wouldn't that mean everyone, after the "painful" process of removing the bodily layer, will end up in heaven? From your reasoning, I gather that sinful people will receive a longer, more painful, disembodyment, but will eventually be reduced to pure soul... ready to accept the divine radiance. Please clarify.

ronnie

I have been a Christian for many years and have always believed that hell was an eternal destination as was heaven. I was doing mission work in an Arab country and began to really struggle with the idea that hell was an eternal destination made by G-d for some. I came to the place where I could not believe in hell (at least as an eternal destination). This article has helped me see the Jewish perspective that hell is not an eternal destination. I wonder if Jesus, who was Jewish, when talking about hell, was referring to the Jewish ideology that hell was a temporary destination and not an eternal one and that CHristians have misinterpreted it as being an eternal destination. What do you think

Chloe

Gehinom consists of seven "chambers." The fifth chamber is known as known as "She'ol." It, too, is a place where the soul is cleansed of its sins. Think of it like washing a soiled garment: First it must be soaked and spinned in the washer and then it must go through the dryer. Then it must be pressed. The soul, too, must undergo seven stages of cleansing before entering Gan Eden.

Yehudis Cohen

Judaism believes in a soul which is distinct from the body. When the soul leaves the body it continues to experience various things. Part of that may be to receive the rewards for the service in this world: to appreciate G-dliness, to see the fruits of its labors below.

For example, if a person was successful in purifying the world, his or her soul will see his or her children growing up to be successful.


Ultimately, there is a second stage where the soul returns to its old body for the ultimate reward. In the meantime the soul continues its refinement and ascends into more and more spiritual realms. This is what the Talmud means when it says, “The righteous have no rest--in this world and in the World to Come.” Work is only in this world, but the appreciation of G-dliness continues beyond.


“The righteous have no rest--in this world and in the World to Come.”... the appreciation of G-dliness continues beyond...
The body comes back to life in the times of Moshiach, but there is an advantage to existence without a body, too. The body is very tied to matters of this world and can limit our appreciation of things spiritual. The soul on its own is more sensitive to G-dliness.


By the way, there is an excellent book about the soul, the afterlife, and the revival of the dead, called To Live and Live Again, by Rabbi N. Dovid Dubov.

It seems many of you Catholics forgot about the "ROOT" religion of Jesus and went to combine new thought with Greek philosophy. The concepts of purgatory and reincarnation revisited have profound historical implications as well as theological implications for views of the afterlife and what Jesus taught and believed.

Vlad

This is not Judaism but post Temple Babylonian Talmud and "Oral Tradition" in the Qabbala (even the Talmud has no reincarnation discussion). The Qabbala texts did not get on the scene until after the 10th Century AD(or CE whatever you prefer)and 12th and 15th, and 16th Centuries and than later in Poland and Lituania and Ukraine with the Chassidic movement starting with the Baal Shem Tov. The Babylonian exile brought in a lot of Gnostic ideas and Zoarastian at least external concepts (like a deeper explanation of angels, demons etc). This is NOT the Torah, it is NOT explicit in the Torah nor anywhere else in what Christians would call the Old Testament. This is pagan mystical esoteric occultic thought through the words of Judaism and the Old Testament.

Arizal

To Vlad (the impaler) YOU ARE WRONG:
Kabbala is integral to Judaism, Kabbala is the esoteric where the Torah and Halacha is exoteric.
Classic works of the Kabbalah, Shaar ha Gilgulim ("Gate of Reincarnations") of Arizal or Isaac Luria, describes complex laws of reincarnation gilgul and impregnation ibbur of 5 different parts of the soul. It shows many references of reincarnation in the Hebrew Bible (the Tanach).

The notion of reincarnation is not openly mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. The classical rabbinic works (midrash, Mishna and Talmud) also are silent on this topic.

The concept was elucidated in an influential mystical work called the Bahir (Illumination) (one of the most ancient books of Jewish mysticism) which was composed by the first century mystic Nehunia ben haKana, and gained widespread recognition around 1150. After the publication of the Zohar in the late 13th century, the idea of reincarnation spread to most of the general Jewish community.

While ancient Greek philosophers like Plato and Socrates attempted to prove the existence of reincarnation through philosophical proofs, Jewish mystics who accepted this idea did not. Rather, they offered explanations of why reincarnation would solve otherwise intractable problems of theodicy (how to reconcile the existence of evil with the premise of a good God.)

Rabbis who accepted the idea of reincarnation include the founder of Chassidism, the Baal Shem Tov, Levi ibn Habib (the Ralbah), Nahmanides (the Ramban), Rabbenu Bahya ben Asher, Rabbi Shelomoh Alkabez and Rabbi Hayyim Vital. The argument made was that even the most righteous of Jews sometimes would suffer or be murdered unjustly. Further, children would sometimes suffer or be murdered, yet they were obviously too young for them to have committed sins that God would presumably punish them for. Jewish supporters of reincarnation said that this idea would remove the theodicy: Good people were not suffering; rather, they were reincarnations of people who had sinned in previous lifetimes. Therefore any suffering which was observed could be assumed to be from a just God. Yitzchak Blua writes "Unlike some other areas of philosophy where the philosophic battleground revolves around the truth or falsehood of a given assertion, the gilgul debate at points focuses on the psychological needs of the people." (p.6)

Martin Buber's collection of Legend of the Baal-Shem (Die Chassidischen Bücher) includes several of the Baal Shem Tov's stories that explicitly discuss concrete cases of reincarnating souls.

Leon

Judaism had NO concept of reincarnation until after the 12th Century. The idea that the Zohar (illumination) text was written in the 1st Century has no NONE support at all. Sephardic Jews in Spain had some literature in Muslim Spain in those centuries, and Arizal (who was like a wizard of the day) was in Egypt and the Holyland during the 16th Century. This is a much later adaptation and a corruption.

Rabbis who rejected the idea of reincarnation include Saadia Gaon(סעדיה הגאון), Hasdai Crescas, Yedayah Bedershi (early 14th century), Joseph Albo, Abraham ibn Daud and Leon de Modena. Saddia, in Emunoth ve-Deoth, concludes Section vi with a refutation of the doctrine of metempsychosis. Crescas writes that if reincarnation was real, people should remember details of their previous lives. Bedershi offers three reasons why the entire concept is dangerous:

There is no reason for people to try and do good in this life, if they fear that they will nonetheless be punished for some unknown sin committed in a past life.
Some people may assume that they did not sin in their past life, and so can coast on their success; thus there is no need to try hard to live a good life. In Bedershi's view, the only psychologically tenable worldview for a healthy life is to deal with the here-and-now.
The idea presents a conundrum for those who believe that at the end of days, God will resurrect the souls and physical bodies of the dead. If a person has lived multiple lives, which body will God resurrect?
Joseph Albo writes that in theory the idea of gilgulim is compatible with Jewish theology. However, Albo argues that there is a purpose for a soul to enter the body, creating a being with free will. However, a return of the soul to another body, again and again, has no point. Leon De Modena thinks that the idea of reincarnation make a mockery of God's plans for humans; why does God need to send the soul back over and over? If God requires an individual to achieve some perfection or atone for some sin, then God can just extend that person's life until they have time to do what is necessary. De Modena's second argument against reincarnation is that the entire concept is absent from the entire Bible and corpus of classical rabbinic literature.

This a Sephardic idea of those who accept Kabbalah (influenced by the Mystery religions of the Middle East and a corruption of true and ancient Judaism) The only other Jews are the Chassidic (Hassidic) Jews from Eastern Europe (Ashkenazi) started in the 1800s on but with increased influence today because of the secular nature of most Jews and the "prostelytitic" (at least among other Jews) and high profile nature of Chabad (the Lubavitcher(s) sect of Hassidim)


The idea of reincarnation, called gilgul, became popular in folk belief, and is found in much Yiddish literature among Ashkenazi Jews. Among a few kabbalists, it was posited that some human souls could end up being reincarnated into non-human bodies. These ideas can be found in a number of Kabbalistic works from the 1200s, and also among many mystics in the late 1500s. A distinction was made, however, between actual Transmigration and this form of reincarnation; the non-human subject had its own soul already, the human soul simply 'rode along with' the rock, or tree, or giraffe waiting to be 'elevated,' that is, to be raised to a higher level and to gradually approach the level of human again. The cow eats the grass, elevating the soul within it, the soul rides with the cow a while until a person eats the cow, and then the soul is elevated to the max. Rabbi Chaim Vidal, when asked how he came to be the foremost disciple and sole transmitter of the teachings of his teacher, the great Issac Luria, credits, not study or mitzvot, but his diligence in blessing his food: "For this way I elevate the souls therein. These souls then become my witnesses in the Heavenly Realm, and empower me to receive even greater revelations."

"Over time however, the philosophical teaching limiting reincarnation to human bodies emerged as the dominant view. Nonetheless, the idea that one can reborn as an animal was never completely eliminated from Jewish thought, and appears centuries later in the Eastern European folk tradition". [Simcha Paull-Raphael,Jewish Views of the Afterlife, p.319]

While many Jews today do not believe in reincarnation, the belief is common amongst some (not all)Orthodox Jews, particularly and/or specificially amongst Hasidim; some Hasidic siddurim (prayerbooks) have a prayer asking for forgiveness for one's sins that one may have committed in this gilgul or a previous one

Origen

Almost all present official Christian denominations reject reincarnation: exceptions include the Liberal Catholic Church and the Rosicrucian Fellowship. Doctrines of reincarnation were known to the early Church (before the 6th century A.D.), and believers in reincarnation claim that these doctrines were embraced or at least tolerated within the Church at that time. Two Church Fathers, Origen and Clement of Alexandria are frequently cited as supporting this. However, this cannot be confirmed from the existent writings of Origen. He was cognizant of the concept of reincarnation (metensomatosis "re-embodiment" in his words) from Greek philosophy, but he repeatedly states that this concept is no part of the Christian teaching or scripture. He writes in his Comment on the Gospel of Matthew: "In this place [when Jesus said Elijah was come and referred to John the Baptist] it does not appear to me that by Elijah the soul is spoken of, lest I fall into the doctrine of transmigration, which is foreign to the Church of God, and not handed down by the apostles, nor anywhere set forth in the scriptures" (ibid., 13:1:46–53).

Some reincarnation followers state that Origen's writings have only come down to us heavily edited 'to conform to Church doctrine', and some Origen's writings were later declared heretical by the Church (though Origen himself was not).

They also state that before the Church expurged what it considered his heretical ideas from editions of his works, other quotes of Origen were also recorded by early Church fathers that make it clear that he did indeed teach reincarnation. A discussion of Origen's relationship to reincarnation, including many more quotes, can be found at Kevin Williams' Near Death Experiences website.

Kurt Eggenstein claims that "Jerome wrote in a letter to Demetrius that among the early Christians, the doctrine of reincarnation had been passed on to the elect, as an occult tradition." He also gives a (supposed) quote from Gregory of Nyssa, saying "It is a necessity of nature that the soul becomes purified in repeated lives". The source and the translation are uncited. His book claims many more Christian authorities supported a belief in reincarnation.

In the New Testament, there are several passages that some people use to demonstrate that a belief in reincarnation was prevalent amongst those of Jesus' inner circle. He is asked if he is Elias, for example, in John 1:21; in Matthew 16:13-14 Jesus asks his disciples, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ And they said, ‘Some say that you are John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the other prophets.’ According to those people, such statements are only comprehensible if Jesus' disciples believed in reincarnation - although one can argue that this merely confirms that they knew this kind of belief, or that, even if the disciples held such beliefs at that moment, that does not confirm that Christ himself endossed it. Finally, in Matthew 11:13-14, Jesus says: For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. This can be understood in the light of the traditional Jewish prophecy that Elijah (Elias) would return one day, bringing on the Messianic age. John however denied that he was literally Elias John 1:21. And further, Elijah was transfigured and taken up into heaven (2Kings 2:11). Since he did not die, he would have no need of reincarnation to return again as prophesied by Malachi. However, the whole descriptive image of the transfiguration does not state that Elijah did not die, just that "went up by a whirlwind into heaven", and what this process of ascending to heaven implies to the physical body is not known in the mainstream theological study. On the other hand, the orthodox interpretation of Elijah's entering heaven in the physical body would contradict, among other passages, the New Testament's statement that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (1Corinthians 15:50); unless "heaven" is considered not to be a part of the "kingdom of God" and that concept would contradict, among other passages, the preaching of John the Baptist "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:1-2) and the statement of Christ: "In my Father's house are many mansions" (John 14:2-3).

Matthew 19:28 states: "Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration (Greek -- pale-genesia literally, rebirth) when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." A more well-known passage from John 3:3 reads, "...Except a man be born again (Greek -- ano-then), he cannot see the Kingdom of God." The quote from John is sometimes translated as "born from above", and is the inspiration for the modern evangelical movement. Some readers interpret these passages to indicate reincarnation; however, Christian churches read them to refer to baptism or conversion, in a manner similar to what we know today as Born-again Christian.

In John 9:1, the discples put the question to Jesus, regarding a man who was blind from birth, "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" The disciples appear to be citing two of the most plausible theories of the time: reincarnation, and sins of the parents (or, effects of parenting). This suggests that reincarnation was known to the disciples. Jesus's answer, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" is open to interpretation, but it is apparent that he did not rebuke the disciples for suggesting the idea of reincarnation itself. In fact, one could interpret that he tacitly affirmed both hypotheses, while pointing to a third explanation in this particular case.

The Gnostic gospels include clear references to reincarnation, and it is clear that this early Christian (heretical) sect believed in this (see above). In the Gospel of Thomas, Nag Hammadi documents, passage #109 (Thomas O. Lambdin translation), we read: "The kingdom is like a man who had a hidden treasure in his field without knowing it. And after he died, he left it to his son. The son did not know (about the treasure). He inherited the field and sold it. And the one who bought it went plowing and found the treasure. He began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished." The "field" can be interpreted as our phenomenal world of sense experience; the "treasure" the essential Self; "inheriting" as reincarnating; and "plowing" as spiritual search and spiritual discipline.

A number of Evangelical and (in the USA) Fundamentalist Christian groups denounce any belief in reincarnation as heretical, and explain any phenomena suggestive of it as deceptions of the devil, using the Bible as source for such claims. In fact, although the Bible never mentions the word reincarnation, there are several passages through New Testament that Orthodox Christians interpret as openly rejecting reincarnation or the possibility of any return or contact with this world for the souls in Heaven or Hell (see Hb 9:21 and Luke 16:20-31)

There are various contemporary attempts to reconcile Christianity and reincarnation. See:

Geddes Macgregor, Reincarnation in Christianity : A New Vision of Rebirth in Christian Thought
Rudolf Steiner, Christianity and Mystical Fact.

Joe

Bavli or the "Babylonian Talmud":
(compiled ca. 430-560 A.D.) Contains around half of the Mishnah and commentary called Gemara (the word "Gemara" is often used interchangeably with "Talmud"). It is the Babylonian Talmud that is most often referred to when one speaks of "the Talmud." This is the most important literature in modern Judaism, even more important than Torah.
Kabbalah:
(codified ca early 14th c.) Claimed to be a part of Torah given to Adam, the Kabbalah (the word means "tradition") is a mystical system that concerns itself with the process of creation. Because of its esoteric, gnostic elitist nature and its emphasis on magic, the conjuring of supernatural forces, numerology, astrology, reincarnation, etc., watered-down Kabbalah has become a trendy, New Age fashion.

True Kabbalah, however, is for initiates and is not supposed to be studied until one is firmly grounded in basic Judaic principles (usually around the age of 40 among the non-Hassidic). Parts of Kabbalah are in print (the Zohar --"Book of Splendor"-- by Moses de Leon, for example), but other parts are a matter of orally transmitted, deeply secret tradition. Kabbalah has played a great role in the development of many diverse movements, including Masonry, Rosicrucianism, Renaissance-era secular and Christian thought, Aleister Crowley's Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (and other Hermetic systems), and Mormonism.
Tosefta:
(12th c.) another compilation of Oral Law, like the Mishnah, but treated with less authority and as a supplement, a practical guide to the Mishnah
The rabbi is not the equivalent of the Israelite priest, for they offer no sacrifices and the Temple is no more. The equivalent of the Israelite priest is the Catholic priest who is ordained after the order of Melchizedek and who re-presents the once and for all Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary.


Jewish subcultures
Ashkenazi Jews:
the Central and Eastern European Jews. Most of the Eastern European Jews are descended from the Turkish Kingdom of Khazaria (an area of land known to the Greeks as "Scythia"; to the Church Fathers as "Magog"; and to moderns as various Eastern European and Southern Russian States) which converted to Judaism in the 8th and 9th centuries. The vast majority of modern Jews fall into this category. The Jewish historian, Josephus, writes that the people of this area descended genetically from Japheth, son of Noah and brother of Shem, the father of the Semites. Shem's descendant, Eber, gave his name to the Hebrews.)

There are actually two Talmuds, one being the Babylonian Talmud, also called the Bavli, which was compiled ca. A.D. 430-560, the other being the Palestianian Talmud, also called the Yerushalmi and codified ca. A.D. 400. When Jews speak of "the Talmud," they refer to the Babylonian Talmud, and it is to this Talmud that I refer in this paper. "Kabbalah" means "tradition," and it was to these "traditions of men" Christ and Paul were referring in verses such as Mark 7:8 and Colossians 2:8, not to priestly authority and Sacred Tradition which we are admonished to follow in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, etc.

Ben

Reincarnation is not Purgatory. Rahner is near a heretic. Qibala, Kabbala, Qabbalah or whatever is not from Adam nor Abraham but from Satan.

During the Babylonian Captivity, the Old Testament religion became further corrupted by pagan Babylonian-Chaldean practices -- by magic, astrology, numerology, ideas of reincarnation, and ritual designed to draw on preternatural forces (commonly, but mistakenly, referred to as "supernatural forces"). I say "further corrupted" because the Old Testament religion was constantly tested by apostasy -- even by Solomon who built temples to pagan gods. These corruptions gave rise to Pharisaism and its oral Talmud (Mishnah) and oral Kabbalah, which were written down ca A.D. 450 and the 14th c. respectively 3. Luke, in Acts 7:43 writes:

Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.
These occultic dabblings were spoken of as far back as Amos, too, who wrote of the apostasy in verse 5:26:

But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves. [Remphan = Rephan or Raephan in the LLX = Moloch = Saturn]

But a closer look at the sources clearly show that all those arguments are a cheap effort to disguise what the Talmud REALLY say about Jesus. The problem is that most non-Jews are not familiar either with the language in which the original sources were written, or they don't have access to the sources themselves. In my particular case I have most of the sources with me and also I am able to read them in their original languages (Hebrew and Aramaic), so I speak with confidence that whatever I say on this regard can be supported with the evidence. Here I give you some titles in English that can help you to understand this most interesting matter.

Christ in the Talmud, Midrash, Zohar (by Gustaf Dalman - Arno Press, 1973)
Christianity in Talmud and Midrash (by Travers Herford - Ktav Publishing House, 1975)
Jewish Polemics Against Christianity in the Middle Ages (Daniel J. Lasker - Ktav Publishing,1977)
Das Leben Jesu Nach Judischen Quellen (Samuel Krauss - S. Calvary & Co, 1902) this book is in German, but it has many Hebrew texts taken directly from talmudic and other rabbinic sources
The Jewish People and Jesus Christ - A Study in the Relationship Between the Jewish People and Jesus Christ (by Jakob Jocz, Ph.D. - S.P.C.K., 1949)
The Censorship of Hebrew Books (by William Popper - Ktav Publishing,1969)
Censorship and Freedrom of Expression in Jewish History (by Moshe Carmilly Weinberger - Yeshiva University Press, 1977)
Judaism on Trial - Jewish-Christian Disputation in the Middle Ages (by Hyam Maccoby - Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1982)

J.R. Stoodley

Wow. What happened here?

I don't understand any of this

Matt McDonald

There must be a full moon...

I wonder if Jesus, who was Jewish, when talking about hell, was referring to the Jewish ideology that hell was a temporary destination and not an eternal one and that CHristians have misinterpreted it as being an eternal destination. What do you think

Ronnie,

by scripture we have the eternity of hell:

2 Thessalonians 1 Who shall suffer eternal punishment in destruction, from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of his power

but there are plenty of passages talking about something temporary
and Gehenna was a garbage dump that was temporary
and if the Jews believed in something more temporary than Jesus certainly would of been aware or believed in (if true)

J.R. Stoodley

The Jews, then as now, had less revelation from God than we do. Whether or not they knew that there was an eternal hell before Jesus, after Jesus we know that there is one.

Of course much of what is written above comes from post-Christian Jewish tradition and is just the imagination of some Rabbis.

Do Jews believe in reincarnation?

Are most people in purgatory rather than hell?
Is that was Hans Balthazar believed?

Josephine Gatchell

Iam in the desert and Im NOT FOOLING AROUND, comment to earlier posts

Lily

Wow. What happened here?

Posted by: J.R. Stoodley | Sep 23, 2006 7:44:59 PM

*********************
I don't know; maybe Chulthu didn't like the cartoon?? ;-)

Brother Cadfael

Are most people in purgatory rather than hell?
Is that was Hans Balthazar believed?

No, that is not what Hans Balthasar taught.

Yates

What did Hans Urs von Balthasar teach?

Mary

Arizal, I note you cite as your first example someone in the first century.

This is an interesting time to put it. Being a Christian, I believe that Judaism went astray during that century.

Mary

The disciples appear to be citing two of the most plausible theories of the time: reincarnation, and sins of the parents (or, effects of parenting). This suggests that reincarnation was known to the disciples.

That's reading reincarnation into the passage. Another interpretation is that children are capable of sin, even in the womb, and therefore newborns could suffer the effects of their own sins.

Brother Cadfael

What did Hans Urs von Balthasar teach?

Needless to say, his method of teaching does not lend itself to bullet points or combox expositions, but he taught the same thing as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Namely, that the Church does not positively affirm that any person is in hell, that God wills all people to be saved, that we must therefore hope that all people are saved, recognizing that each man is free to resist grace and suffer the consequences of eternal damnation.

Children sinning in the womb is absurd. So is an explanation that this passage is about infants sinning or children in the womb sinning.

A more probable explanation, although reincarnation is logical or at least not illogical here, is that God is not bound by time to know sin, or that sins follow families in groups (I am a jealous God visiting on the iniquities of your fathers of the 3rd and 4th Generations)--the Law of Ezekiel. The sins of parents are visited upon children (Read Kenneth McCalls Healing the family Tree) (also current psychological recognition of early childhood development and emulation of parents) (Protestant popular pastor TD Jakes also talks about sin running in families in "group" sin)

It is possible that Jews believed in reincarnation in the 1st Century. However, there is no 1st Century Jewish text to indicate it, the so called 1st Century texts are 10th, 12th, and 17th Century texts called 1st Century (although some use Aramaic). There is no explicit or known teaching of reincarnation until the 10th Century.
Certainly, many Jews borrowed Greek philosophy (the allegory of the Cave by Plato)and other Far East religions. Although Zoarastianism does not believe in reincarnation.

Mary

Children sinning in the womb is absurd. So is an explanation that this passage is about infants sinning or children in the womb sinning.

Sez who?

Sez about any student of the Bible. Sez the early Jews of the same period (the Essenes believed in reincarnation at least some)
Sez any logical reading of the text.
There is NOT ONE other example of children sinning in the womb, there is NOT ONE mention of it anywhere in the Bible and no precedent in the Talmud, the Jewish Tradition, the Catholic tradition or any other tradition that I am aware of.
CHILDREN SINNING IN THE WOMB??? That is a great justification for abortionists. With what intent? With what capacity?

Mark

What is the bottom line concerning Karl Rahner and if he linked Purgatory to reincarnation directly or by analogy?

bill912

In the Jerusalem Bible, the footnote to the verses in question states that some ancient rabbis *did* believe it was possible for an unborn child to sin.

Meretrice

Dr Eric -

Thanks for the list of scripture verses. I took the time to read them all in context. I had to look up Book of Wisdom and 2 Maccabees online as they are not in my Bible.

With the exception of the verse in 2 Maccabees that you referenced, none of the verses you cited have anything to do with purgatory or what happens after a person dies. Of course, 2 Maccabees is apocrypha (sp?), so there you go.

Thanks anyways though.

Meretrice

P.S. I would have replied earlier, but Typepad was on vacation. :)

J.R. Stoodley

Anon, certainly we Catholics do not believe a child can sin in the womb, not that that would be an excuse for abortion even if they could. Even if it is possible for them to do anything objectively disordered in the womb or infancy, which may in fact happen from something I have read, they have no culpability because they do not have the use of their reason yet.

However, consider this psalm (Psalm 51) that Catholics are very familiar with from the liturgy of the hours:

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.
My offences truely I know them; my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done.
That you may be justified when you give sentence and be without reproach when you judge.
O see, in guilt I was born, a sinner was I conceived.
Indeed you love truth in the heart; then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.
O purify me, then I shall be clean; O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear rejoicing and gladness, that the bones you have may revive.
From my sins turn away your face and blot out all my guilt.
A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me.
O cast me not away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit.
Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervor sustain me.
That I may teach transgressors your ways and sinners may return to you.

All right, I love that psalm which is why I quoted so much of it, but notice the part about being a sinner since birth and since conception, which means that in the womb a child is a sinner. We Catholics know that this refers to original sin, not personal sin. Still, it is not at all a stretch to expect that some Jews thought that by "sinner" is meant "one who commits sins", which would mean that from the time of conception a child sins. With this consideration it is quite understandible why they would ask Jesus if this man's blindness was due to his parents' or his own sin, without resorting to a supposed belief in reincarnation which there is apparently no real evidence of in Judaism until the Middle Ages.

J.R. Stoodley

Meretrice,

2 Maccabees is not apocrypha, it evidently appeared in every Christian Bible prior to the Protestant upheaval. It was also in the origial King James Bible but the Presbyterian publishers didn't like it so they did something, either remove it or separate it and the other protested books into a section called Apocrypha, I forget which. The book like the others still appears in most Anglican bibles though as well as of course the pre-Protestant Churches like the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

The real apocrypha are things like 3 and 4 Maccabees, Enoch, 3 Peter, etc.

It is true that some of these "deuterocanonical" books were disputed and finally rejected by the Jews (definitively rejected post-Jesus) but who cares? They were also disputed in the early Church but then so were Hebrews, 2 and 3 John, and Revelation. 2 Peter too I think. The same Catholic Church that settled that dispute and gave us those deuterocanonical books settled the OT dispute (actually long before Martin Luther, though not bindingly until after) and gave us assurance that 1 and 2 Macabees, Tobit, Wisdom, Sirach, etc. are canonical.

You should give those books a try. Even when their canonicity was disputed they were considered important in the early Church and were read in the liturgy. A less controvercial term for them I once read in a Protestant textbook is "Ecclesial books", from the fact that these books were important to the Church even when their biblical canonicity was questioned. They in fact contain some of the most interesting parts of the OT, like the moving martyrdom stories of 2 Maccabees and the beautiful wisdom literature of Wisdom and Sirach.

Being born and conceived in sin (original sin) is not the same as sinn(ing).
How does a baby (or fetus for the non Catholic pro-aborts who may be here)sin?
Bill, I am looking in the Jer Bible and don't see it. Which rabbis? When?

J.R. Stoodley

Being born and conceived in sin (original sin) is not the same as sinn(ing).

duh.

How does a baby (or fetus for the non Catholic pro-aborts who may be here)sin?

It doesn't. Read my post again.

Where is Madonna to help us understand the mysteries of Kabbalah?

Matt McDonald

we must therefore hope that all people are saved, recognizing that each man is free to resist grace and suffer the consequences of eternal damnation.

Br. Cadfael,

I should like to clarify that our hope is for each person to end up in heaven, we know by revelation that many are in hell. That knowledge should sadden us and cause us to be all the more fervent in our important work of catechesis and evangelism.

Matt
AMDG

Mary

How does a baby (or fetus for the non Catholic pro-aborts who may be here)sin?

The question is not whether an unborn baby can sin. It is whether anyone at the time of that miracle believed that they could.

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