Souls between Adam and Christ


#1

6th grade RE students asked what happened to people’s souls before Jesus rose from the dead. I told them I believed they were either in purgatory or hell, but I promised I would find what the church teaches on this. Help would be appreciated. Thank you.


#2

They were in a state refered to as Abraham’s bosom. This is where Jesus decended when he ‘decended into Hell’ from the Apostles creed.

Hell in this case was not the fire and brimstone hell, but a hebrew word that reflects a place of seperateness.

These links are to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

The Bosom of Abraham

Info on Hell


#3

[quote=btotitanic]6th grade RE students asked what happened to people’s souls before Jesus rose from the dead. I told them I believed they were either in purgatory or hell, but I promised I would find what the church teaches on this. Help would be appreciated. Thank you.
[/quote]

Thank you for your service to the RE program. With all due respect, it would be better if you first get the correct answer rather than give a false answer (as you did here) and later try to correct it. The first answer you give is the one they will remember, and you are not there to tell them what you believe.

Next time you are not sure of the correct answer, just say:

“I’m not sure about what the Church teaches on that. Let me find out and I’ll tell you next time.”

God bless you,
Paul


#4

Copied from a November 26 posting:
Generally that parable is used in defense of purgatory not to say that he is in purgatory but to assert that a place other than heaven and hell exists. Note that Lazarus is described as being in the bosom of Abraham. Many theologians believe that Lazarus was in the Limbo of the Fathers (this is just a speculative place and definitely not doctrinal). They also believe that the rich man was in Sheol (the abode of the dead). I think the theory goes that after Jesus resurrection those in the Limbo of the Fathers went to Heaven and those in Sheol descended to Hell. I think, though, that the Limbo of the Fathers and Sheol were essentially the same place but separated by some great gulf.


#5

[quote=btotitanic]Copied from a November 26 posting:
Generally that parable is used in defense of purgatory not to say that he is in purgatory but to assert that a place other than heaven and hell exists. Note that Lazarus is described as being in the bosom of Abraham. Many theologians believe that Lazarus was in the Limbo of the Fathers (this is just a speculative place and definitely not doctrinal). They also believe that the rich man was in Sheol (the abode of the dead). I think the theory goes that after Jesus resurrection those in the Limbo of the Fathers went to Heaven and those in Sheol descended to Hell. I think, though, that the Limbo of the Fathers and Sheol were essentially the same place but separated by some great gulf.
[/quote]

Limbo, [Limbo of the Fathers (Limbus Patrum or Abraham’s bosom)] is actual teaching based on Catholic Tradition. Purgatory is something different. (Child’s Limbo is just speculation on the part of the Church.)

Previous to Jesus’ Resurection, just people who died could have had their course in purgatory if they needed cleansing of the temporal effects of sin, and then they would have resided in Sheol or Limbus Patrum or Abraham’s Bosom (all the same thing) until Jesus came, fulfilled the Gospel, and opened Heaven for them.

Purgutory and Limbo are two seperate states. Obviously we do not need Limbus Patrum anymore since Jesus opened the Gates of Heaven. Hades was seperated from Sheol by a great abyss, and was and had always been the “eternal damnation” Hell.

In Summary from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Though it can hardly be claimed, on the evidence of extant literature, that a definite and consistent belief in the limbus patrum of Christian tradition was universal among the Jews, it cannot on the other hand be denied that, more especially in the extra-canonical writings of the second or first centuries B.C., some such belief finds repeated expression; and New Testament references to the subject remove all doubt as to the current Jewish belief in the time of Christ. **Whatever name may be used in apocryphal Jewish literature to designate the abode of the departed just, the implication generally is

that their condition is one of happiness,
that it is temporary, and
that it is to be replaced by a condition of final and permanent bliss when the Messianic Kingdom is established.**


#6

This is right from the “Hell” link above:

The Latin infernus (inferum, inferi), the Greek Hades, and the Hebrew sheol correspond to the word hell. Infernus is derived from the root in; hence it designates hell as a place within and below the earth. Haides, formed from the root fid, to see, and a privative, denotes an invisible, hidden, and dark place; thus it is similar to the term hell. The derivation of sheol is doubtful. It is generally supposed to come from the Hebrew root meaning, “to be sunk in, to be hollow”; accordingly it denotes a cave or a place under the earth. In the Old Testament (Sept. hades; Vulg. infernus) sheol is used quite in general to designate the kingdom of the dead, of the good (Gen., xxxvii, 35) **as well as of the bad ** (Num., xvi, 30); it means hell in the strict sense of the term, as well as the limbo of the Fathers. But, as the limbo of the Fathers ended at the time of Christ’s Ascension, hades (Vulg. infernus) in the New Testament always designates the hell of the damned.


#7

Does that mean there may be more than one hell?


#8

[quote=777]Does that mean there may be more than one hell?
[/quote]

No, it just means that the translators of the original hebrew texts applied the word ‘Hell’ to overly generalize three foreign words that do not all mean the same thing.


#9

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