The redemption of an arch-heretic: Elisha ben Abuya and the flames of gehenna

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Abstract

Christ's descensus ad inferos and the Rabbinic story of the arch heretic Elisha show some remarkable parallels: the temporary abode of the deceased in the netherworld, God’s compassion which reaches to the deepest depths, the power of repentance which reaches beyond the grave; the importance of solidarity which transcends the boundaries between life and death. Although the Rabbinic story is told as a personal story only while the descensus ad inferos refers to Christ and his salvific work, both stories reveal the condition humaine, by inviting people to have profound compassion with all of humanity, with the dead and the living, a compassion which may even contribute to salvation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Apostles’ Creed
Subtitle of host publication‘He Descended Into Hell’
EditorsArchibald Van Wieringen, Marcel Sarot
PublisherBrill publishers
ISBN (Print)9789004366626
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameStudies in Theology and Religion
Volume24

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Poorthuis, M. (2018). The redemption of an arch-heretic: Elisha ben Abuya and the flames of gehenna. In A. Van Wieringen, & M. Sarot (Eds.), The Apostles’ Creed: ‘He Descended Into Hell’ (Studies in Theology and Religion; Vol. 24). Brill publishers. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004366633_006