Heavens Purge: Purgatory in Late Antiquity

Paperback | April 8, 2014

byIsabel Moreira

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The doctrine of purgatory - the state after death in which Christians undergo punishment by God for unforgiven sins - raises many questions. What is purgatory like? Who experiences it? Does purgatory purify souls, or punish them, or both? How painful is it? Heaven's Purge explores the firstposing of these questions in Christianity's early history, from the first century to the eighth: an era in which the notion that sinful Christians might improve their lot after death was contentious, or even heretical.Isabel Moreira discusses a wide range of influences at play in purgatory's early formation, including ideas about punishment and correction in the Roman world, slavery, the value of medical purges at the shrines of saints, and the authority of visions of the afterlife for informing Christians of thehereafter. She also challenges the deeply ingrained supposition that belief in purgatory was a symptom of barbarized Christianity, and assesses the extent to which Irish and Germanic views of society, and the sources associated with them - penitentials and legal tariffs - played a role inpurgatory's formation. Special attention is given to the writings of the last patristic author of antiquity, the Northumbrian monk Bede.Heaven's Purge is the first study to focus on purgatory's history in late antiquity, challenging the conclusions of recent scholarship through an examination of the texts, communities and cultural ideas that informed purgatory's early history.

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From the Publisher

The doctrine of purgatory - the state after death in which Christians undergo punishment by God for unforgiven sins - raises many questions. What is purgatory like? Who experiences it? Does purgatory purify souls, or punish them, or both? How painful is it? Heaven's Purge explores the firstposing of these questions in Christianity's ea...

Isabel Moreira is Professor of History at the University of Utah. She is the author of numerous studies of religion and society in late antiquity and the early middle ages, including Dreams, Visions and Spiritual Authority in Merovingian Gaul and is co-editor of the forthcoming Hell and Its Afterlife: Historical and Contemporary Persp...

other books by Isabel Moreira

Format:PaperbackDimensions:322 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:April 8, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199375011

ISBN - 13:9780199375011

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Table of Contents

Introduction. Purgatory in Late Antiquity1. Purgatory in Early Christian and Patristic Thought2. Of Sons and Slaves: Violence and Correction in the Afterlife3. O Purgatorium Caeleste!: Purging Body and Soul at St. Martin's Shrine4. Purgation in the Sixth and Seventh Centuries5. Purgatory, Penitentials, and the Irish Question6. Purgatory in Bede and Boniface7. Missionary Eschatology and the Politics of Certainty8. Barbarians, Law Codes, and PurgatoryConclusion