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Rescue for the DeadThe Posthumous Salvation of Non-Christians in Early Christianity$
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Jeffrey A. Trumbower

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195140996

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195140990.001.0001

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Jesus' Descent to the Underworld

Jesus' Descent to the Underworld

(p.91) 5 Jesus' Descent to the Underworld
Rescue for the Dead

Jeffrey A. Trumbower (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The fifth chapter categorizes various early Christian opinions on who exactly was saved during Christ's descent to the underworld or Hades, an event known in later theology as the “harrowing of hell.” Most early theologians posit that only the righteous of the Old Testament were saved, but some texts, like the Odes of Solomon, infer that a general offer of salvation to all the dead was made at that time. Clement of Alexandria interpreted 1 Peter from the New Testament in the same direction. John Chrysostom and Philaster of Brescia were adamant that no one “converted” in hell; only those who had been righteous in this life were eligible to receive Christ in the underworld. Two different versions of the Gospel of Nicodemus give two different answers to this question.

Keywords:   1 Peter, John Chrysostom, Clement of Alexandria, Gospel of Nicodemus, Hades, harrowing of hell, Odes of Solomon, Philaster of Brescia, underworld

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