Jesus and the New Testament.
THE EVIL ONE played an important part in the imagination of the people in the time of Christ. Satan is mentioned repeatedly by the scribes and the people of Israel in the synoptic gospels, by the Apostles, especially by St. Paul, and very often in the revelation of St. John. Jesus follows the common belief of the time in attributing mental diseases to the possession of demons, and we may assume that he shared the popular view. Nevertheless, he speaks, upon the whole, less of the Devil than do his contemporaries.
The Jesus of the Gospels is said to have been tempted by the Devil in much the same way that Buddha was tempted by Mâra, the Evil One. Even the details of the two stories of temptation possess many features of resemblance.
Christ is very impressive in depicting the evil consequences of sin. He compares the last judgment to the selection made by fishermen who gather the good fishes into vessels, but cast the bad away (Math. xiii., 47). He speaks of the reward of "the good and faithful"
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JESUS CASTING OUT DEVILS. (After Schnorr von Carolsfeld.)
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THE FIEND, SOWING TARES AMONG THE WHEAT. (From a German Picture-Bible.)
while "the unprofitable servant" will be cast "into outer darkness where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Hell is described as "the fire that shall never be quenched" and "the worm that dieth not." And the wicked people are compared to goats to whom the Son of Man will say: "Depart from me ye cursed ones, into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels."
Christ represents the Devil as the enemy that sows tares among the wheat, and once addresses as Satan one of his favorite disciples who speaks words that might lead him into temptation. We read in Mark, viii., 33, and Matth., xvi., 23:
"He rebuked Peter, saying: 'Get thee behind me, Satan, for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.'"
This fact alone appears sufficient to prove that, while it is natural that Christ used the traditional idea of Satan as a personification of the evil powers to furnish him with materials for his parables, Satan to him was mainly a symbol of things wicked or morally evil.
If the Gospel stories actually reflect the real views of the historical Jesus, it appears that his idea of justice was based on the notion that the future life would be an exact inversion of the present order of things. According to the literal meaning of the language of the parable, Dives is not punished for his sins, and Lazarus is not rewarded for his good deeds: the future fate of the former in Hell and the latter in Heaven is the result of an equalisation, as we read in Luke xvi. 25:
"But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime
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DIVES, ENJOYING LIFE, AND LAZARUS SUFFERING. (From a German Picture-Bible.)
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DIVES TORMENTED IN HELL. (From a German Picture-Bible.)
receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.'"
And as on earth Dives had the distress of Lazarus before his eyes, so now Lazarus, seated in the bosom of Abraham, sees with complacency the pains of Dives.
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CAST INTO OUTER DARKNESS WHERE THERE SHALL BE WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH.
(From a German Picture-Bible.)
The keynote of the Christian sentiment of the apostolic age is expressed in the second epistle to the Thessalonians, where St. Paul says:
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
"That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, that the day of Christ is at hand."
St. Paul's belief "that the day of Christ is at hand is based upon Christ's own utterances. We read in Mark ix. 1:
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THE DAY OF THE LORD. (After Michelangelo.)
"And he (Jesus) said unto them: 'Verily I say unto you that there be some of them that stand here which shall not taste of death till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power."
That in this passage the second advent of Christ is referred to there can be no doubt, especially as there are parallel passages which are written in the same spirit. In Matt. x. 23, Christ declares that his disciples preaching the Gospel in Palestine and fleeing from one city to another when persecuted for his name's sake, "shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of Man be come."
St. Paul confidently expected that he himself would see the day of the Lord, and in consideration of its nearness he deemed all worldly care unnecessary. Having explained in his epistle to the Corinthians the significance of the events in Jewish history and the punishments of sinners, he adds:
"Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and they are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come." 1 (I Cor. x. ii.)
When some of the Thessalonian Christians died, St. Paul comforted them by declaring that those who sleep will be resurrected and taken together up to heaven with those who survive. And the words of Paul expressly implied that he himself, together with the Thessalonians whom be addresses, will remain, of which fact he is so sure as to pronounce his opinion as being "the word of the Lord." He says:
'But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
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THE LAST JUDGEMENT: Fresco in Campo Santo, Pisa.
Illustrating St. Paul's prophecy: "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first."
"For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.
"Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
"Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
When the early disciples became more and more disappointed at the non-appearance of the Lord in the clouds of heaven, a prominent leader of the Christian Church wrote an epistle to revive their faith, which was apt to suffer by the ridicule of those who did not share this belief. We read in the second epistle of St. Peter:
"This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
"That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior:
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
"And saying, 'Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.'
". . . . The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the
elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burnt up.
"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
"Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
"Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
The present world remains in the power of Satan until the prophecy of the second advent of Christ be fulfilled, and we had better be prepared for meeting his onslaughts; as says the author of the first epistle of St. Peter:
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the Devil, as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."
In addition to his old names of Satan, Beelzebub, and Devil (which latter appears first in Jesus Sirach), the Evil One is called in the New Testament the prince of this world, the great dragon, the old serpent, the prince of the devils, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disbelief, the Antichrist. Satan is represented as the founder of an empire that struggles with and counteracts the kingdom of God upon earth. He is powerful, but less powerful than Christ and his angels. He is conquered and doomed through Christ, but he is still unfettered.
The newly discovered fourth book of Daniel 1 contains a story which characterises the expectations of the
early Church. We read of a certain man, holding the office of president (προεστώσ) in a Christian congregation of Syria:
"He persuaded many of the brethren, with their wives and children, to go out into the wilderness to meet the Christ, and they went wandering In the mountains and wastes, there losing their way; and the end was that all but a few were apprehended as robbers and would have been executed by the mayor of the city (ἡγεμών) had it not been that his wife was a believer and that in response to her entreaties he put a stop to the proceedings to prevent a persecution arising because of them."
Cases of this kind happened frequently. We read of another Christian officer (also a προεστώσ) in Pontus that he also preached the approaching day of judgment:
"He brought the brethren to such a pitch of fear and trembling that they abandoned their lands and fields, letting them become waste, and sold, the most of them, their possessions."
The belief in the imminent approach of the day of judgment waned during the third century, but was temporarily revived in the year 1000, which was commonly believed to be the end of the millennium prophesied by St. John the Divine in the Revelation. The disorder and misery which resulted from the foolish acts that people committed in anticipation of the approaching day of judgment all over Christendom are beyond description. Some squandered their property in order to enjoy the last days of their lives; some sold all they had and gave to the poor; some invested all their possessions in masses and Church donations; and thus almost all who were filled with the belief in the coming of the Lord fell a prey to the most wretched poverty and distress.
The Revelation of St. John, written between 68 and 70 A. D., after Nero's death and before the destruction of Jerusalem, propounds the eschatology of early Christianity, which closely follows such traditions of the Jews as are preserved in the prophetic books of the Old Testament Apocrypha.
The author of the Revelation is a Jew-Christian, who in the name of the son of man informs the seven churches of Asia Minor that God hates the Nicolaitanes (i., 6 and 15), an antinomistic sect among the Gnostics who according to Irenaeus (I., Chap. 26) regarded the Mosaic law, the nomos, as unessential to salvation. The warning given out against "those who say that they are Apostles and are not" seems to be directed against St. Paul, who, like the Nicolaitanes, is also known for his strong antinomistic principles and finding no sin in eating with pagans, even though the meat might have been offered as a sacrifice to idols. 1
An unpleasant denunciation of a follower of antinomistic, i. e., Pauline Christianity in the city of Thyatira, is mentioned in chapter ii., verses 20-29, which probably has reference to Lydia, a seller of purple, who was baptised by Paul (Acts xvi. 14-15). The great promises of the Lord offered to the faithful through John the Divine, are strictly limited to the Jew Christian, to him who keeps the law and holds fast to it till Christ's second advent (ii. 25). As a reward Christ, according
to John the Divine's vision, allows him the great pleasure of destroying the Gentiles, saying:
"And he that overcometh and keepeth my works (i. e., the law) unto the end, to him will I give the power over the nations;
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THE CHRISTIAN WORLD DISPENSATION ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN THE DIVINE.
(After Schnorr von Carolsfeld.)
and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers; even as I received from my Father."
St. John believes that the judgment of the world is near at hand. The Lamb opens the seven seals, and four
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THE FOUR RIDERS OF THE APOCALYPSE. Wall-painting on the Campo Santo, Berlin (By P. Von Cornelius.)
men on horseback, one with a crown, one with a sword, one with a pair of balances, and the last one Death, followed by Hell, are let loose. The martyrs of God receive
white robes, the sun becomes black as sackcloth, and the moon becomes as blood. Then an angel pronounces a triple woe upon the inhabitants of the earth. The pit is opened and four angels who had been bound are loosed to slay the third part of men. A struggle ensues between a women that travaileth and the dragon, but the dragon is cast down. A beast with seven heads and ten horns appears; another beast follows and makes an image of the first beast that should be worshipped by men. "The number of the beast" is "six hundred and three score and six," which according to cabalistic symbolism means "Nero." The Roman Emperor is thus regarded as an incarnation of Satan, and for a short time power is given to the pagan government over the world. But the victorious Lamb stands on Mount Zion; the Gospel is preached, and the sickle of the harvest is ready for gathering in the clusters of the vine. Then the seven vials of wrath are poured out upon mankind. The city "which reigneth over the kings of the earth" (i. e., Rome), the old Babylon, the mother of abominations, shall fall, and the fowls of the air are called to fill themselves with the flesh of the slain. Satan is bound for a thousand years, but let loose again. In a final struggle, Gog and Magog are conquered, whereupon a new heaven and a new earth are created. A heavenly Jerusalem descends upon earth and the twelve tribes inhabit the city, which needs no sun because God is its light. The pagan Christians remain outside: "The nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it."
Such is briefly the contents of the Revelation of St.
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THE WOMAN OF ABOMINATION. After the Revelation of St. John, (By Albrecht Dürer.)
[paragraph continues] John the Divine, which is a very important book, as it embodies the views of the early Jew-Christians concerning God's plan in the history of the world, and the powers of evil play in it a most important part.
The main prophecy of the Jewish Christian author of the revelation remained unfulfilled. By a strange irony of fate Judaic Christianity disappeared from the face of the earth, while Rome became the centre of the Gentile Christianity, in which capacity she rose almost to more glorious power than pagan Rome ever possessed through her political superiority. Christianity was thoroughly Romanised and remained under the sway of Rome until the Reformation split the Church in twain and opened new possibilities for a progressive development of Christianity, no longer subject to the dictates of a conclave of Italian cardinals and a Roman pope.
The Descent Into Hell.
The belief in Satan and Hell form an essential part of early Christianity, and Christ was believed immediately after his death on the cross to have battled with and to have conquered the prince of hell. Although the oldest manuscripts of the so-called Apostle's Creed do not contain the passage "descended into hell," which is an addition of the seventh century, there can be no doubt that the idea actually prevailed as early as the second century. The Gospel of Nicodemus, which is commonly regarded as a product of the third century, dwells on this part of the Christian belief and offers a detailed account of Christ's descent into Hell, which in Chapters xv-xvi reads as follows:
"Satan, the prince and captain of death, said to the prince of hell, Prepare to receive Jesus of Nazareth himself, who boasted that he was the Son of God, and yet was a man afraid of death, and said, My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death. 1 Besides he did many injuries to me and to many others; for those whom I made blind and lame and those also whom I tormented with several devils, he cured by his word; yea, and those whom I brought dead to thee, he by force takes away from thee.
"To this the prince of hell replied to Satan, Who is that so powerful prince, and yet a man who is afraid of death? For all the potentates of the earth are subject to my power, whom thou broughtest to subjection by thy power. But if he be so powerful in his nature, I affirm to thee for truth, that he is almighty in his divine nature, and no man can resist his power. When, therefore, he said he was afraid of death, he designed to ensnare thee, and unhappy it will be to thee for everlasting ages.
"Then Satan, replying, said to the prince of hell, Why didst thou express a doubt, and wast afraid to receive Jesus of Nazareth, both thy adversary and mine? As for me, I tempted him and stirred up my old people, the Jews, with zeal and anger against him. I sharpened the spear for his suffering; I mixed the gall and vinegar, and commanded that he should drink it; I prepared the cross to crucify him, and the nails to pierce through his hands and feet; and now his death is near at hand, I will bring him hither, subject both to thee and me.
"Then the prince of hell answering said, Thou saidst to me just now, that he took away the dead from me by force. They who have been kept here till they should live again upon earth were taken away hence, not by their own power, but by prayers made to God, and their almighty God took them from me. Who, then, is that Jesus of Nazareth that by his word hath taken away the dead from me without prayer to God? Perhaps it is the same who took away from me Lazarus, after he had been four days dead, and did
both stink and was rotten, and of whom I had possession as a dead person, yet he brought him to life again by his power.
"Satan, answering, said to the prince of hell, It is the very same person, Jesus of Nazareth, which, when the prince of hell heard, he said to him, I adjure thee by the powers which belong to thee and me, that thou bring him not to me. For when I heard of the power of his word, I trembled for fear, and all my impious company were at the same time disturbed; and we were not able to detain Lazarus, but he gave himself a shake, and with all the signs of malice he immediately went away from us; and the very earth in which the dead body of Lazarus was lodged, presently turned him out alive. And I know now that he is Almighty God who could perform such things, who is mighty in his dominion, and mighty in his human nature, who is the Saviour of mankind. Bring not, therefore, his person hither, for be will set at liberty all those whom I hold in prison under unbelief, and bound with the fetters of their sins, and will conduct them to everlasting life.
"And while Satan and the prince of hell were discoursing thus to each other, on a sudden there was a voice as of thunder and the rushing of winds, saying, Lift up your gates, O ye princes; and be ye lift up, O everlasting gates, and the King of Glory shall come in.
"When the prince of hell heard this, he said to Satan, Depart from me and begone out of my habitations; if thou art a powerful warrior, fight with the King of Glory. But what hast thou to do with him? And then he cast him forth from his habitations. And the prince said to his impious officers, Shut the brass gates of cruelty and make them fast with iron bars, and fight courageously, lest we be taken captives.
"But when all the company of the saints heard this they spake with a loud voice of anger to the prince of hell, Open thy gates that-the King of Glory may come in.
"And the divine prophet David cried out, saying, Did not I when on earth truly prophesy and say, O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men. For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the
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CHRIST'S DESCENT INTO HELL (By Sasha Schneider.)
bars of iron in sunder. He hath taken them because of their iniquity, and because of their unrighteousness they are afflicted.
"After this another prophet, namely, holy Isaiah, spake in like manner to all the saints, Did not I rightly prophesy to you when I was alive on earth? The dead men shall live, and they shall rise again who are in their graves, and they shall rejoice who are in earth; for the dew which is from the Lord shall bring deliverance to them. And I said in another place, O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?
"When all the saints heard these things spoken by Isaiah, they said to the prince of hell, Open now thy gates, and take away thine iron bars, for thou wilt now be bound, and have no power.
"Then there was a great voice, as of the sound of thunder, saying, Lift up your gates, O princes; and be ye lifted up, ye gates of hell, and the King of Glory will enter in.
"The prince of hell perceiving the same voice repeated, cried out as though he had been ignorant, Who is that King of Glory? David replied to the prince of hell, and said, I understand the words of that voice, because I spake them by his spirit. And now, as I have above said, I say unto thee, the Lord strong and powerful, the Lord mighty in battle: he is the King of Glory, and he is the Lord in heaven and in earth. He hath looked down to hear the groans of the prisoners, and to set loose those that are appointed to death. And now, thou filthy and stinking prince of hell, open thy gates, that the King of Glory may enter in; for he is the Lord of heaven and earth.
"While David was saying this, the mighty Lord appeared in the Form of a man, and enlightened those places which had ever before been in darkness, and broke asunder the fetters which before could not be broken; and with his invincible power visited those who sate in the deep darkness by iniquity, and the shadow of death by sin. Impious Death and her cruel officers hearing these things, were seized with fear in their several kingdoms, when they saw the clearness of the light, and Christ himself on a sudden appearing in their habitations; they cried out therefore, and said,
[paragraph continues] We are bound by thee; thou seemest to intend our confusion before the Lord. Who art thou, who hast no sign of corruption. but that bright appearance which is a full proof of thy greatness, of which yet thou seemest to take no notice? Who art thou, so powerful and so weak, so great and so little, a mean and yet a soldier of the first rank, who can command in the form of a servant as a common soldier? The King of Glory, dead and alive, though once slain upon the cross? Who layest dead in the grave, and art come down alive to us, and in thy death all the creatures trembled, and all the stars were moved, and now hast thou thy liberty among the dead, and givest disturbance to our legions? Who art thou, who dost release the captives that were held in chains by original sin, and bringest them into their former liberty? Who art thou, who dost spread so glorious and divine a light over those who were made blind by the darkness of sin?
"In like manner all the legions of devils were seized with the like horror, and with the most submissive fear cried out, and said, Whence comes it, O thou Jesus Christ, that thou art a man so powerful and glorious in majesty, so bright as to have no spot, and so pure as to have no crime? Then the King of Glory trampling upon death, seized the prince of hell, deprived him of all his power, and took our earthly father Adam with him to his glory.
"Then the prince of hell took Satan, and with great indignation said to him, O thou prince of destruction, author of Beelzebub's defeat and banishment, the scorn of God's angels and loathed by all righteous persons! What inclined thee to act thus? Why didst thou venture without either reason or justice, to crucify him, and hast brought down to our regions a person innocent and righteous, and thereby hast lost all the sinners, impious and unrighteous persons in the whole world?
"While the prince of hell was thus speaking to Satan, the King of Glory said to Beelzebub, the prince of hell, Satan the prince shall be subject to thy dominion forever, in the room of Adam and his righteous sons, who are mine. Then Jesus stretched forth his hand, and said, Come to me, all ye saints, who are created
in my image, who were condemned by the tree of the forbidden fruit, and by the devil and death; live now by the wood of my cross; the devil, the prince of this world, is overcome, and death is conquered."
The idea of Hell among the early Christians has found a detailed description in the revelation of St. Peter, which was counted as canonical by Clement of Alexandria who annotated it together with the Catholic Epistles, while the Muratorian Fragment mentions it as,!. book of the New Testament. According to the testimony of Sozomenos it was read in some of the churches of Palestine annually, as a preparation for the celebration of Easter in about 440 A. D. 1 It was used in Rome and Alexandria at the end of the second century, together with the revelation of St. John, where, according to Eusebius, both writings belonged to the contested canonical books, that is to say, they were received as canonical but not without protest in some quarters.
According to the revelation of St. Peter, Heaven and Hell are places. Heaven is described by St. Peter as follows: 2
"And I spake to him (the Lord): 'And where are the just, and what is their æon in which, they that possess this glory live?' And the Lord showed me a large space outside of this world overflowed with light, and the air there was illuminated all through by the rays of the sun. And the earth itself was blooming with unfading flowers, and filled with sweet odors, and grandly blossoming and imperishable and blessed fruit-bearing plants. Such was the fulness
of flowers that the sweet odor thence penetrated even unto us. The inhabitants of that space were clothed with the robes of radiant angels; and similar were their robes to their surroundings. Angels were hovering about them. The glory of all who lived there was the same, and with one voice they sang in gladness responsive hymns of praise to God the Lord in that place. Said the Lord to us That is the place of your high priests, of the just people.'"
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CHRISTIAN REPRESENTATION OF THE LAST JUDGMENT.
Sculptures on the main entrance of the Cathedral at Bourges, France. Fourteenth century. (Reproduced from Klassischer Skulpturenschatz.)
Hell is described in the following words:
"And I saw another place right opposite, rough and being the place of punishment. And those who are punished there and the punishing angels had their robes dark; as the color of the air of the place is also dark: and some people were hung up by their tongues: they were those who had blasphemed the path of righteousness; and underneath them a bright baneful fire was lit. And
there was a pit large and filled with burning dirt (βόρβοροσ), in which several people stuck who had perverted justice, and the avenging angels assaulted them. There were others there: women hung up by their braids above the seething dirt. They were those who had adorned themselves for adultery; but those who had soiled themselves with the miasma of the adultery of those women were hung up by their feet and had their heads in the dirt, and I said, 'I did not believe that I should enter into this place.' I saw murderers
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CHRISTIAN REPRESENTATION OF HELL.
Sculptures on the main entrance of the Cathedral at Bourges, France. Fourteenth century. (Reproduced from Klassischer Skulpturenschatz.)
and their accomplices thrown into a narrow place filled with evil vermin and tormented by those animals and squirming under this punishment. Worms like dark clouds assaulted them. The souls of the murdered people, however, stood by and gazed at the punishment of their murderers and said: 'O God, just is thy judgment.' But near unto that place I saw a place of torment in which the blood and the stench of the punished flowed down so as to
make a pool, and there were women to whom the blood reached up to the neck; opposite them many infants sat who had been brought into the world before their season, and they were weeping. And fiery rays proceeded from the children and bit the eyes of the women. For they were the cursed ones who had conceived and made abortions. And there were men and women standing in flames with half their bodies, and they were thrown into a dark place and were scourged by evil spirits. And they were devoured in their bowels by worms which do not die. They were those who had persecuted the righteous and surrendered them; and near by to those again were women and men who bit their lips and were punished and received hot irons on their eyes. They were those who had blasphemed and betrayed the path of righteousness. Opposite them were other men and women who bit their tongues and had burning fire in their mouths. They were those who bore false witness. In another place were flints sharper than swords and lances, rendered burning hot, and women and men in dirty rags were wallowing on them in torment. They were the rich and those who relying on their riches had not taken compassion on orphan,; and widows, who had a contempt for the commands of God. In another large field with matter and blood and seething dirt were those who take interest and interest on interest. Other men and women were thrown from a high precipice, and having reached the bottom were urged up again by their assaulters to climb the precipice, and were then again thrown down, and they were given no respite from this torment. They were those who had polluted their own bodies. 1... And by the side of this precipice was a place which was filled entirely with fire, and there stood the people who had made with their own hands carved images and worshipped them instead of God, and near them were men and women with switches who beat them and did not cease from this castigation. And again other women and men stood near by, burning, and wriggling, and roasting. They were those who had left the path of God."
Another description of Hell according to the views of the Christian Gnostics of the third century is contained in the Pistis Sophia, where all the places of torment are described at considerable length in all details. "It is remarkable," says Professor Harnack, 1 "that the Pistis Sophia anticipates on this subject as well as in many other respects the development of the Catholic Church . It insists on the power of salvation of the sacraments, of the mysteries, of penance, and ascetic practices. At the same time it recognises Apostolic authority, and attempts in every respect to base its doctrines on the canon of the Old and New Testament." Its date has been fixed with great accuracy on the second part of the third century. 2 This strange book contains questions of Mary and of some of the apostles, which Christ after his resurrection answers on the Mount of Olives, and it is probably identical with a gnostic book mentioned by Epiphanius under the title The Minor Questions of Mary. Harnack calls attention to the fact that the book is an evidence of the astonishing agreement of this later Gnosticism with later Catholic Christianity. The author of the Pistis Sophia is apparently imbued with the spirit of Syrian Gnosticism or Ophitism; but he wrote in Egypt where the Syrian Gnostics exercised quite a powerful influence. The revelation of mysteries culminates in the doctrine of Christ's identity with his disciples, which is uttered repeatedly and with emphasis. 3 The peculiarly
[paragraph continues] Gnostic features of the book consist in the idea of reincarnation. So, for instance, St. John is directly said to be a reincarnation of Elias, and the Apostles are, as much as Christ, regarded as being possessed of a mystical pre-existence.
The Pistis Sophia reveals all the mysteries of the world, among them the mysteries of Hell, or, as the Egyptians called it, Amenti, which is described as follows:
"And Mary continued further and said unto Jesus: 'Again, Master, of what type is the outer darkness? How many regions of punishment are there therein?'
"And Jesus answered and said unto Mary: 'The outer darkness is a huge dragon, with its tall in its mouth; it is outside the world and surroundeth it completely. 1 There are many regions of punishment therein, for there are in it twelve [main] dungeons of horrible torment.
"'In each dungeon there is a ruler; and the faces of the rulers are all different from one another.
"'The first ruler, in the first dungeon, is crocodile-faced, and it hath its tail in its mouth. From the jaws of this dragon there come forth cold of every kind and freezing; and all diseases of every kind: it is called by its authentic name, in its region, Enchthonin.
"'And the ruler in the second dungeon; its authentic face is a cat's it is called, in its region, Charachar.
"'And the ruler in the third dungeon; its authentic face is a dog's: it is called, in its region, Acharôch.
"'And the ruler in the fourth dungeon.; its authentic face is a serpent's: it is called, in its region, Achrôchar.
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THE TYPICAL CONCEPTION OF HELL.
German Woodcut of the age of the Reformation.
"'And the ruler in the fifth dungeon; its authentic face is a black bull's: it is called, in its region, Marchour.
"'And the ruler in the sixth dungeon; its authentic face is a boar's: it is called, in its region, Lamchamôr.
"'And the ruler in the seventh dungeon; its authentic face is a bear's: it is called, in its region, by its authentic name, Louchar.
"'And the ruler in the eighth dungeon; its authentic face is a vulture's: it is called, in its region, Laraôch.
"'And the ruler in the ninth dungeon; its authentic face is a basilisk's: it is called, in its region, Archeôch.
"'And in the tenth dungeon are many rulers; each of them, in its authentic face, hath seven dragons' heads: and that which is above them all, in their region, is called Xarmarôch.
"'And in the eleventh dungeon, in this region also, are many rulers; each of them, with authentic faces, hath seven cats' heads: and the great one that is over them, is called, in their region, Rhôchar.
"'And in the twelfth dungeon there are also many rulers exceedingly numerous, each of them in its authentic face, hath seven dogs' heads: and the great one that is over them, is called in their region, Chrêmaôr.
"'These rulers, then, of these twelve dungeons, which are in the inside of the dragon of outer darkness, each hath a name for every hour, and each of them changeth its face every hour.
"'And each of these dungeons hath a door which openeth to the height, so that the dragon of outer darkness containeth twelve dungeons of darkness, each of which hath a door that openeth to the height; and an angel of the height watched at each of the doors of the dungeons.
"'These Ieou, 1 the first man, the overseer of the light, the ancient of the first statute, hath set to watch over the dragon, lest
the dragon and its rulers should turn the dungeons that are in it, upside down.'
"And when the saviour had thus spoken, Mary Magdalene answered and said: 'Master, are the souls, then, that are brought into that region, led into it by these twelve doors, by each according to the judgment they have merited?'
"The saviour answered and said unto Mary: 'No soul is brought into the dragon by these doors; but the souls of blasphemers, and of them that remain in the doctrines of error, and of those who teach such doctrines, and also of them that have intercourse with males, of the polluted and impious, atheists, murderers, adulterers, sorcerers, all souls, then, of this kind, if they have not repented while still in life, and have remained persistently in their sin, and all the other souls which have remained without [the light-world], that is to say, who have exhausted the number of the cycles apportioned to them in the sphere without repenting,--they take hold of these souls, in their last cycle, them and all the souls which I have just enumerated to you, and carry them through the opening in the tail of the dragon into the dungeons of the outer darkness. And when they have finished bringing those souls into the outer darkness by the opening in its tail, it putteth back its tail again into its mouth and shutteth them in. This is the way in which souls are brought into the outer darkness. 1
"And the dragon of the outer darkness hath twelve authentic names which are written on its doors, a name for the door of every dungeon; and these-twelve names are all different from one another, but all twelve are contained one in the other, so that he who uttereth one name will utter all. And these will I tell you, when I explain the emanation of the pleroma. This, then, is the way in which is the outer darkness, which is also the dragon.'
"When the saviour had spoken these things, Mary answered
and said unto the saviour: I Master, are the torments of this dragon terrible beyond the punishment of all the judgments?'
"The saviour answered and said unto Mary: 'Not only are they more painful than all the chastisements of the judgments, but every soul that shall be carried into that region shall be imprisoned in relentless ice, 1 in the hail and scorching fire which are therein. And in the dissolution of the world, that is to say, in the ascension of the pleroma, these souls shall perish in the relentless ice and scorching fire, and shall be non-existent for the eternity.'
"Mary answered and said: 'Woe for the souls of sinners! Now, therefore, O Master, whether is the fire in the world of human kind or the fire in Amenti the fiercer?'
"The saviour answered and said unto Mary: 'Amen, I say unto thee, the fire in Amenti scorcheth far more than the fire among men, nine times more.
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WEIGHING THE EVIL AND THE GOOD OF THE SOUL
Reminding one of similar notions prevalent in ancient Egypt. (About 1150. From the cathedral in Auntun, France.)
"'And the fire which is in the punishments of the great chaos is nine times fiercer than the fire in Amenti.
"'And the fire which is in the judgments of the rulers who are in the way of the midst, is nine times fiercer than the fire of the punishments which are in the great chaos.
"'And the fire which is in the dragon of outer darkness, and all the torments which it containeth, are fiercer far than the fire
which is in the chastisements and judgments of the rulers who are in the way of the midst,--this fire is fiercer than they seventy times.'
"And when the saviour had said this unto Mary, she smote her breast, she cried out aloud, with tears, and all the disciples with her, saying: 'Woe for the sinners, for their torments are exceedingly great'"
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THE DOOM OF THE DAMNED. (After Luca Signorelli.)
The Gnostic Christian view of Doomsday and Hell embodies many ancient traditions of Egyptian, Indian, and Persian mythology and foreshadows at the same time the later Roman Catholic view as represented in mediæval art, finding its poetical consummation in Dante's Divina Comedia.
Satan was regarded by the early Christians as the
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THE TRINITY IDEAL OF MEDIÆVAL CHRISTIANITY. (Old German.)
Representing God as Emperor, Christ as King, and the Holy Ghost as the principle of light, of order and good government. (Reproduced from Muther.)
[paragraph continues] Prince of this World, and this belief dominated in the Church as long as pagan authorities remained in power. As soon as they were replaced by Christian rulers, and when Christianity became established as the state religion of the Roman Empire, Satan was gradually dethroned and God reinstated in the government of the world.
The empire of the Cæsars broke to pieces under the repeated assaults of Vandals, Huns, and Goths, but Charlemagne founded a new empire on its ruins, which, being based upon the rising power of the Teutonic tribes, the Franconians and the Germans, was called the "Holy Roman Empire of German nationality," lasting about a thousand years, from 800 until 1806. This period (by Stahl actually regarded as the realisation of the millennium of Revelation) is the age in which Christianity was officially recognised and the attempt was made to apply its ethics by all means to the private and public affairs of the people. It is natural that the Trinity was now conceived after the pattern of the Imperial government of the age; God was represented as the emperor, Christ as the king, vicegerent and heir, while the Holy Ghost hovered above them as the spirit of order and authority.
The most essential and at any rate practically most important dogma of the early Christian Church, the doctrine of the imminent approach of the day of judgment, faded away when the Church rose to power, but it reappeared from time to time, sometimes not unlike an acute attack of a frightful alienation of men's minds rendering them forgetful of the duties of the living present for the sake of trying to escape the imaginary evils of the
doom to come. The scenes of the last judgment, however, have always remained a favorite subject of Christian artists and poets, the keynote of which vibrates through the old Church hymn:
"Dies irae, dies illa,
Solvet sæclum in favila,
Tests David cum Sibylla."
163:1 τὰ τέλη τῶν αἰώνων. See also Hebr. ix. 26, where the appearance of Christ is said to have taken place at the consummation of the time (ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰώνων).
166:1 Edited by Dr. Ed. Bratke, Bonn, 1891.
168:1 Rom. 14 and I Cor. 8.
174:1 See Matth., xxvi. 38.
179:1 See Harnack, Bruchstücke des Evangeliums und der Apokalypse des Petrus, p. 5-6.
179:2 Translated into English from Harnack's edition.
182:1 We prefer to omit further details.
183:1 See Harnack, Texte und Untersuchungen, etc., p. 98.
183:2 Ibid., pp. 94 et seq.
183:3 "Qui acceperit μυστήριον Ineffabilis, ille est ego."--"Ego sum isti, isti sum ego."--"Ego sum mysterium illud."--"Vis quae est in vobis, e me est." Harnack says (p. 30): "These brief significant sentences are not invented by the author who p. 184 makes his Christ express himself in quite different sermons: they point, in my opinion, to an older gnostic book, or a gnostic gospel."
184:1 This reminds us of the myths of the Midgard-serpent and anticipates the innumerable mediaeval representations of Hell as a big-mouthed dragon.
186:1 The idea of "Ieou, the first man, the overseer of the light, the ancient of the first statue," reminds us of the archetypal man of Simon Magus and other Gnostics and also of the Adam of the Cabala.
187:1 In mediæval Hell-representations, which rarely are lacking in coarse humor, the souls are thrown with pitchforks into the open jaws of the dragon. The coarseness of the description of Hell in the Pistis Sophia is apparently serious.
188:1 An anticipation of Dante's ice hell.