Jesus' Descent to the Underworld

Jeffrey A. Trumbower

in Rescue for the Dead

Published in print October 2001 | ISBN: 9780195140996
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834747 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Historical Theology

 Jesus' Descent to the Underworld

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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

Chapter.  8919 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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