Michael McClymond vs Dr. Ramelli on patristics


#61

McClymond is definitely commiting guilt by association.


#62

Yes Qaz :slight_smile: I think in this instance he certainly is and I am being fair to him in saying this - even though Mike annoys me greatly for a number of reasons :smiley: I’ve read exactly the same translation of The Treatise on the Resurrection as Mike has and I’ve read exactly the same introduction to this as him too. But we have both come away with completely different things. Mike accuses Ramelli of ‘selection bias’ in his book. Of course we are all guilty of that - and he and I have both made our own selections in this case. I find Mike’s argumentation heavy going and often obscure - but I have done my best to attend to what he is saying in my post above; and I do think in this instance he is definitely committing the error of guilt by association. Will post again next week on this matter.

All good wishes

Dick


#63

I’d love to hear what @JasonPratt thinks of McClymond’s book.


#64

Ach - I won’t do any more here :slight_smile: I’ve given y’all a hint and that’s enough :slight_smile: Good luck to JP and blessings :slight_smile:


#65

We all would like you to continue on as you find time and motivation to do so, Dick!! I find your explanations fascinating, Old China!!


#66

Yes, i second that.


#67

Ramelli’s 2015 response to an earlier review of her book by McClymond is available here:

In the chapter of The Devil’s Redemption (2018) critiquing Ramelli’s tome, once again McClymond relies on “The Hope of the Early Church” by Brian E. Daley, 1991.


#68

In his Vol.I of “The Devil’s Redemption”, & chapter 2 titled “Ancient Afterlives: The Gnostic, Kabbalistic, and Esoteic Roots of Christian Universalism”, Michael McClymond quotes from a book re Jewish Mysticism:

“Originally [in Jewish Kabbalah]…The emphasis is on the restoration of the original coexistence and correlation of all things…They speak of ‘ha-sabbat kol ha-dabarim le-hayatim’ [the Sabbath of all living things] which corresponds exactly to the term ‘apokatastasis’ that has played so large a part in the ideas of many Christian mystics. — Gershom Scholem” (p.125-126).

This reference to “the Sabbath of all living things” as “apokatastasis” recalls the Epistle of Barnabas’ (70-135 AD) 15:7-8 remark in the context of an eschatological 8th day Sabbath rest, when wickedness ceases to exist, all things are made new & God will be “giving rest to all things”:

15:7-8 Behold, therefore: certainly then one properly resting sanctifies it, when we ourselves, having received the promise, wickedness no longer existing, and all things having been made new by the Lord, shall be able to work righteousness. Then we shall be able to sanctify it, having been first sanctified ourselves. Further, He says to them, “Your new moons and your Sabbath I cannot endure.” Ye perceive how He speaks: Your present Sabbaths are not acceptable to Me, but that is which I have made, [namely this,] when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world.
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/barnabas-roberts.html

Page 128 of McClymond’s tome again remarks on the “Sabbath of all living things” in relation to ‘apokatastasis’:

“As Gershom Schloem noted, Kabbalah conflicted with an eternal hell. By the seventeenth century, when Kabbalah in its Lurianic form spread throughout the Jewish world, a fervent debate over eternal punishment broke out among the rabbis of Amsterdam (D R 2.8). The Jewish notion of a “Sabbath of all living things” functioned as an analogue to the Origenist teaching on ‘apokatastasis’ or universal restoration. The ‘Shekinah’ would return from exile, the primal separation would be undone, and all existing things would once again attain unity in the realm of the divine ‘Sefiroth’.”

A third McClymond reference to those who “experience the rest” (cf. Epistle of Barnabas above) of ‘apokatastasis’ or universal restoration occurs on p.146. In regards to an early gnostic writing, “The Wisdom of Jesus Christ”, McClymond says:

“Another Nag Hammadi text, the ‘Wisdom of Jesus Christ’, seems to teach the same nuanced universalism. Some know the Father “in pure knowledge”, and others “in a defective way”, and yet both groups will finally “experience the rest” appropriate to each group.”

The same text makes reference to the “rest that the eighth realm provides”, or “the rest of the Eighth”. Compare the “eighth day” & “rest to all things” in the Epistle of Barnabas quote above (The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, ed. Marvin Meyer, 2008, p.296, subsection titled “The Restoration and Unification of Humanity”, p.295f, in the chapter on “The Wisdom of Jesus Christ”). http://gnosis.org/naghamm/sjc.html

https://archive.org/stream/pdfy-LqDdstXrtZTFYXgc/The+Wisdom+Of+Jesus+Christ+[Nag+Hammadi+Library]_djvu.txt

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/sophia.html

“The Wisdom of Jesus Christ”, like the Epistle of Barnabas, is connected with Egypt, quite possibly Alexandria where Clement of Alexandria (c.150-215 AD) & Origen (c.184-253 AD) resided:

“…the ‘Wisdom of Jesus Christ’ can be dated in the middle of the third century, in Egypt. Parrott proposes, on the contrary, a date of composition in the second half of the first century, shortly after Egypt was Christianized” (The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, ed. Marvin Meyer, 2008, p.286).

For some additional comments relating the Epistle of Barnabas (70-135 AD) to universal salvation, this may be of interest:


Lawrence R. Farley
#69

I find it interesting that McClymond claims universalism is a kabbalistic idea. I’ve studied Judaism a fair bit and only recall reading universalism in one kabbalistic text, and it was one that wasn’t accepted as ‘standard’. Does McClymond give any quotes from kabbalists about everyone being saved?


#70

Hiya Origen 

That’s very interesting information about the ‘Epistle of Barnabas’. I had no idea:-). I know that Illaria Ramelli, somewhere in her great tome, looks at several Universalist Church Fathers who associated the ‘Apocatastasis’ as the eight day of creation. Eight is a week plus one, so it symbolises all things new on the day of resurrection. Perhaps there is some significant link between the ‘eighth day’ and the ‘rest that the eighth realm provides’ in the Gnostic resurrection dialogue named ‘The Wisdom of Jesus Christ’. It is possible both can be seen as having the archetype of eight in common, as a special number widely used in ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures to indicate idea of total completion and consummation.

But I am cautious when drawing analogies. I need to think carefully about how complete the match is between the two things under comparison. Thus the ‘eight day’ is a concept of time that in visual terms is moving in a horizontal/forward direction towards its end/telos. And in some of the writers of the Christian tradition of ‘Apocatastasis’ the eight day is the ‘telos’ which is the holistic completion of all God’s creation – both the physical and the spiritual.

By way of contrast ‘the eight realm’ in the ‘Wisdom of J.C.’ is visually a vertical idea drawn from ancient cosmology. It is about moving soul upwards from the earth (the place where matter is found in its most heavy and debased form) through the seven planetary spheres (where matter becomes progressively refined the higher we soar), up to the ethereal eighth realm/’Ogdoad’. This eighth realm is on the threshold of the ‘Pleroma’ – the perfect fullness of the Father’s Spirit - but wonderful as it may be is still falls short of this fullness of the ‘Pleroma’.

Yes, the biggest contrast between ‘Barnabas’ and ‘Wisdom of J.C.’ is their basic assumptions about reality. For Barnabas the world is the creation of God in His Goodness that needs redemption but is still a good creation. In ‘Wisdom’ the material world is the creation of an evil lesser god who has cruelly imprisoned immortal humanity in mortality. Therefore the creation is to be escaped like a sinking ship rather than redeemed. And that is a Gnostic view of creation.

Let’s pause for thought here. . Actually, I’d strongly dispute Mike’s contention that the ‘Wisdom of J.C.’ is in any way a ‘Universalist’ text. It clearly is not and there is no valid interpretation that can make it so. It is true that the close immortal humanity is saved by knowledge from the prison of the material world as the spiritual powers are judged and despoiled of their captives. It is also true that ‘Jesus’ speaks of two classes of those who are set free – those with imperfect knowledge who attain the ‘rest of the eight realm’ (a great blessing but not the absolute blessing) and those with perfect knowledge who attain the full beatitude of the ‘Pleroma’. However, the idea that this redemption is not universal comes earlier in the text (and you can check this out because you seem to have access to the Myers edition).

‘’He (the risen Jesus) spoke out and said. ‘’Whoever has ears to hear about infinite things should hear – It is to those who are awake that I speak.’’
He went on and said. ‘’Everything from the perishable will perish since it is from the perishable. But everything from the imperishable does not perish but become imperishable, since it is from the imperishable. Many people have gone astray because they did not know about this distinction, and they have died.’’ (97-98)

This clear enough. There will be two classes among the ‘saved’ in the end, but also there is a third class. This class is of people whose knowledge is neither complete nor defective but actually non-existent. They have identified themselves so completely with finite matter that they simply perish when they die because they are already spiritually dead.

Actually I think nearly all of the Gnostic texts which Mike McClymond declares may well be Universalist are demonstrably nothing of the kind. I will say more sometime… but the next post will be something about the Kabbala :slight_smile:


#71

I want to say something for Qaz and Origen about Kabbalah and Universalism (using Origen’s quotations from ‘The Devil’s Redemption’ as scaffolding)

‘’In his Vol.I of “The Devil’s Redemption”, & chapter 2 titled “Ancient Afterlives: The Gnostic, Kabbalistic, and Esoteic Roots of Christian Universalism”, Michael McClymond quotes from a book re Jewish Mysticism:

“Originally [in Jewish Kabbalah]…The emphasis is on the restoration of the original coexistence and correlation of all things…They speak of ‘ha-sabbat kol ha-dabarim le-hayatim’ [the Sabbath of all living things] which corresponds exactly to the term ‘apokatastasis’ that has played so large a part in the ideas of many Christian mystics. — Gershom Scholem” (p.125-126).

This is a footnote quotation from Gershom Scholem who revolutionised the study of Kabbalah with his seminal work ‘Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism’ that was published in 1945. The footnote is for p.402 of this great work of scholarship. I note the obvious here – Scholem’s area of expertise was Jewish mysticism and not Christian mysticism or the Christian doctrine of Apocatastasis. Indeed his term ‘many Christian mystics’ is a bit vague – and footnotes are often no more than afterthoughts. There obviously is an analogy between the two terms in his view– that much is clear; but no specifics of comparison and contrast.

Mike McClymond is interested in at least suggesting a very strong kinship between the two. It’s part of his schtick of tracing a lineage from second century ‘Gnostic universalism’ through to Origen through to the medieval Cathars, through to the Jewish Kabbalists, through to the Christian Kabbalists (Knorr and van Helmot et al.). My problem with Mike’s generalisations about Universalism and Jewish Kabbalah is that he obviously has not steeped himself in the primary/original texts as Scholem had. He’s read Scholem and bits and bobs of others like Moshe Idel who are secondary sources – but he’s no expert (nor am I – but I wouldn’t trust him as my guide).

I have my own questions. For starters, I wonder whether Jewish Kabbalah is actually Gnostic – it is esoteric and mystical but is certainly not dualistic, unlike many schools of Christian and Pagan Gnosticism; it doesn’t assume the idea that the physical creation is evil. Kabbalists would not have been able to operate within the Jewish fold if this were so (see ‘Major Trends’ p.13).

Also I think it is legitimate to ask, as Qaz does, whether Jewish Kabbalists were/are necessarily Universalists. The Zohar of Moses de Leon, a key Kabbalistic text from the thirteenth century, is not Universalist. Like a key text in the Talmud it envisages that most sinners will stay in Gehenna for a short period. However, the most heinous sinners – murderers, apostates etc. – will enter the purifying fires of Gehenna but never emerge from these because the flames will annihilate them (see ‘Major Trends’ p. 242).

“As Gershom Schloem noted, Kabbalah conflicted with an eternal hell’’.

Scholem actually says something slightly different here (his pp. 242-43). He’s not talking about all Kabbalistic literature. He’s talking about the Zohar of Moses de Leon. In this work there are two conceptions of divine punishment. First, punishment in Gehenna – either temporal and purifying or eternal and annihilating (depending on the gravity of sins); second, punishment through reincarnation/transmigration. However, there is no real conflict because in the Zohar reincarnation is the penalty for one sin only – that is a sin against procreation. If a man fails to obey the command to be fruitful and multiply then he must be reincarnated to be given another opportunity to do this. (I find it confusing that Mike McClymond frequently summarises someone else’s arguments making a small change to the original – this small change makes a chap start to think that all Kabbalistic texts have no concept of hell in them. Lots of small changes can and do become very misleading in his book)

On the question of whether later texts which seem to speak of universal restoration are actually Universalist, see Konstatin Burmistov, Christian Kabbalah and Jewish Universalism (p. 151)

‘’In this context, one of the key questions has much to do with understanding of the nature of human soul: are all human souls alike or the souls of Jews, as a chosen people, differ essentially from those of the rest of humanity? The early Spanish Kabbalah of the 13th c. made no distinction between Jewish and non-Jewish souls, whereas later Kabbalistic systems established a crucial difference between them, which was caused by the fact that they had stemmed from different sources4. On the whole, it is advisable to remember that the notion of the “otherness” of the Jewish people and its status of a chosen group is retained in all Kabbalistic systems. That is why we are entitled to speak only of a relative universalism present in some of them— in those that treat the “Jewish/non-Jewish” ratio in terms of “more perfect/less perfect”, without implying that these two elements differ in their very essence.

(Note that Mike McClymond uses Burmistov as one of his secondary sources). So the Lurianic Kabbalistic texts of the sixteenth century – the ones that speak most clearly of universal restoration -are actually only speaking about pan-Jewish Universalism because gentiles are not perceived as spiritual beings that can be restored (which is not surprising given the severity of persecution endured by Jews at this date, during and after the catastrophe of the Spanish expulsion). To call this ‘Universalism’ would be a bit like calling five point Calvinism a ‘Universalism of the elect’ (well the analogy is not exact here I guess - so forgive me for playing for laughs).

Even the defender of ‘Universalism’ in the famous debate about eternal punishment between two prominent Rabbis in Amsterdam in the seventeenth century only maintained that ‘all Israelites would be saved’ and not all people. And he did this only because he was concerned that the teaching that Apostates are annihilated in Gehenna was pushing Jews who had converted to Christianity under pressure away from the possibility of reconverting. And even Mike McClymond has to acknowledge this.

What is certain is that the Protestant Christian Kabbalists of the seventeenth century – Knorr, van Helmont, Lady Anne Conway etc…, - reinterpreted Kabbalah to fit their Christian Universalist sympathies . That’s a long story … but I find it difficult to affirm that universalism was part of Jewish Kabbalah before it was Christianised and universalised.

:


#72

Good stuff sobornost. A while ago I looked into whether or not Judaism teaches universalism. The only kabbalistic text I’m aware of that (maybe?) teaches it is Emek haMelech.


#73

Tell me more Qaz :smile: - I’m very interested :slight_smile:


#74

I don’t know loads about Kabbalah Qaz - but it seems that the work you’ve cited above is also cited in the Kabbalah Denudata - the work of the universalist Christian Kabbalists from Knorr’s circle, and it is cited with warm commendation.


#75

In “The Devil’s Redemption”, Michael McClymond refers to Brian Daley’s “The Hope of the Early Church” in remarks re Illaria Ramelli’s tome “The Christian Doctrine…”. He states:

“In his [Daley’s] analysis, a large number of authors or texts affirmed the idea of everlasting punishment and so should be regarded as anti-universalist. I list them here in roughly chronological order…” p.1097). Then he goes on to list 68 authors or texts. McClymond’s conclusion re “the early Christian data” is that “the support for universalism is paltry in comparison with opposition to it. There is not much of a universalist tradition during the first centuries of the Christian church. The sixty-eight non-universalist authors come from each of the centuries surveyed, from both East and West, and wrote in Greek, Latin, Coptic, Syriac, and Armenian” (p.1098). He states the “data that Daley has carefully sifted show sixty-eight authors and texts that clearly affirm the eternal punshment of the wicked, while seven authors are unclear, two teach something like eschatological pantheism, and perhaps four authors appear to be universalists in the Origenian sense” (p.1097). But is this true?

  1. 1 Clement is the first of 68 in McClymond’s list of 68. The only index reference to “Clement of Rome, First Letter of (c.96)” is on p.10-11 of Daley’s book. But, contrary to McClymond’s claim, there is nothing there stating that Clement of Rome did “clearly affirm the eternal punshment of the wicked”. Daley does not comment upon Clement’s view of final destiny, whether it be Annihilationism, Endless Tormentism, or Universalim, etc.

  2. 2 Clement (c. 150 AD) is the second of 68 on McClymond’s list of 68. Daley remarks re this pseudonymous homily on p.14-15 of his book. He refers to the “endless torments and undying fire” (17:7; cf. 6:7; 7:6), though none of theses passages speak of “endless torments”. Daley’s remarks do not provide any evidence of 2 Clement being anti-UR.

  3. The Epistle of Barnabas (70-135 AD) is the 3rd of 68 on McClymond’s list of 68. Daley’s remarks on it occur on p.11 of his book. Contrary to McClymond’s claim, there is nothing there stating that the Epistle of Barnabas did “clearly affirm the eternal punshment of the wicked”. Daley does not even hint re the Epistle of Barnabas’ view of final destiny, whether Annihilationism, Endless Tormentism, or Universalim, etc.

  4. The Shepherd of Hermas (c. 100-150 AD) is the 4th of 68 on McClymond’s list of 68. Daley’s remarks on it occur on p.16-17 of his book. He says of its theology some “sinners are capable of repentance, but for those who are not, eternal destruction lies ahead”. Daley doesn’t comment re whether he thinks that refers to Annihilationism or Infernalism (ECT).

  5. Ignatius of Antioch (d. c.110) is the 5th of 68 on McClymond’s list of 68. Daley’s remarks on him occur on p.12-13 of his book. Daley interprets Ignatius as saying “all who fail to accept in faith “the grace we have” - even the heavenly powers - are doomed to destruction in eternal fire (Eph.11:1; 16:2; Smyrn 6:1)”. Though none of those passages speak of “destruction” or “eternal fire”. Daley thinks, BTW, as do some others, that Ignatius’ view was that unbelievers would not obtain a bodily resurrection. Daley doesn’t offer an opinion as to whether Ignatius was an annihilationist or an infernalist.

Conclusion: It seems that Michael McClymond’s claim re 68 authors he has listed as being “anti-universalist” and “that clearly affirm the eternal punshment of the wicked”, according to Brian Daley’s “The Hope of the Early Church”, does not hold up to scrutiny. Moreover, it appears that Daley’s conclusions themselves are suspect.

Illaria Ramelli herself is quoted responding to McClymond’s claims here: The Early Church Father issue


#76
  1. The Sibylline Oralces (c.80-195 AD) is the 6th of 68 on McClymond’s list of 68. Daley remarks on these writings occur on p.8-9 of his book. McClymond interprets Daley as seeing “eternal punishment of the wicked” in the “Sibylline Oracles (except for one passage)”. That is, in what Daley refers to as “books vii and viii of the Sibylline Oracles (Or Sib): Christian, probably Alexandrian [where Clement & Origen lived], compositions in Greek hexameters from the latter half of the second century - as well the Christian interpolations in book ii, which may come from the mid third century” (Daley, p.8).

Daley comments re book 2 “and the righteous shall all be saved, but the impious perish”, citing book ii 313-316, which does not say how long they shall perish for, or what is meant by “perish”. Evidently not forever since they are later saved. Thereafter, Daley says “Eternal fire will be the lot of those found to be sinners (Or Sib vii. 119-128)”, yet the entire book 7 makes no reference to everlasting or “eternal fire”: http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/sib/sib09.htm.

Daley continues, saying, “sinners will be plunged into its depths forever, to burn without hope of release (Or Sib ii. 285-310)”. Though book 2 doesn’t say that. It says, according to the aforementioned sites translation, “And then shall all pass through the burning stream Of flame unquenchable; but all the just 315 Shall be saved; and the godless furthermore Shall to all ages perish,…”. Yet that is something that Universalists, such as those of the school of Origen, could also say, with Universalism occurring at the end of “all ages”.

Daley continues to comment re the same book from a few lines after that: “Or Sib ii. 330-38, presents an alternative to the doctrine of eternal punishment for all sinners: God will allow the just to interced for those whom they wish to save, and they will be brought to share in the comforts of the Elysian fields. This same hope may be represented in the “Rainer Fragment”, related to Apoc Pet 14, but the text is uncertain” (p.9)."

The passage Daley refers to as “Or Sib ii. 330-38” occurs in verses 404-416 in the aforementioned sites translation above as follows:

And to the pious will the almighty God
405 Imperishable grant another thing,
When they shall ask the imperishable God:
That he will suffer men from raging fire
And endless gnawing anguish to be saved;
And this will he do. For hereafter he
410 Will pluck them from the restless flame, elsewhere
Remove them, and for his own people’s sake
Send them to other and eternal life
With the immortals, in Elysian field,

http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/sib/sib04.htm

“And God, immortal and omnipotent, will grant another gift to these pious
persons: when they will ask him, he will grant them to save the human beings
from the fierce fire, and from the otherworldly [αἰώνιος] gnashing of teeth, and
will do so after pulling them out of the unquenchable flame and removing
them [ἀπὸ φλογὸς ἀκαμάτοιο ἄλοσ’ ἀποστήσας], destining them, for the sake
of his own elect, to the other life, that of the world to come, for immortals
[ζωὴν ἑτέραν καὶ αἰώνιον ἀθανάτοισιν], in the Elysian Fields, where there are the
long waves of the Acherusian Lake, imperishable, which has a deep bed.
(2,330–338)”

(Ilaria Ramelli, The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis: A Critical Assessment from the New
Testament to Eriugena (Brill, 2013. 890 pp., p.73)

And from a blog by Robin Parry:

“The widely-used Oracula Sibyllina, Book 2 (around 150 AD), says:”

“And God, immortal and omnipotent, will grant another gift to these pious persons: when they ask him, he will grant them to save human beings from the fierce fire, and from the gnashing of teeth of the age to come, and will do so after pulling them out of the unquenchable flame and removing them, destining them, for the sake of his own elect, to the other life, that of the age to come, for immortals, in the Elysian Fields, where there are the long waves of the Acherusian Lake, imperishable, which has a deep bed. (2.330–38)”


#77
  1. Epistula Apostolorum (Ep Ap, c. 160 AD) is 7th on McClymond’s list of 68 allegedly clear cases of everlasting punishment in early church writers. It is addressed on p.7-9 of Daley’s book. Daley describes Ep Ac as speaking of “a final, righteous judgement of all who have ever lived…(Ep Ap 26)”, though i see no reference there to it being stated as being “final”. It says “so shall the judgement be accomplished with strictness” and refers to men being delivered “unto everlasting torment”, but whether the word for “everlasting” is aionion (eonian) or another ancient language word is not revealed by Daley. As Illaria Ramelli noted:

"Of course there were antiuniversalists also in the ancient church, but scholars must be careful not to list among them — as is the case with the list of “the 68” antiuniversalists repeatedly cited by McC on the basis of Brian Daley’s The Hope of the Early Church — an author just because he uses πῦρ αἰώνιον, κόλασις αἰώνιος, θάνατος αἰώνιος, or the like, since these biblical expressions do not necessarily refer to eternal damnation. Indeed all universalists, from Origen to Gregory Nyssen to Evagrius, used these phrases without problems, for universalists understood these expressions as “otherworldly,” or “long-lasting,” fire, educative punishment, and death. Thus, the mere presence of such phrases is not enough to conclude that a patristic thinker “affirmed the idea of everlasting punishment”. https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2016/04/03/the-christian-doctrine-of-apokatastasis-the-reviews-start-coming-in/

The following translation of the Epistula Apostolorum says:

40 And we said unto him: O Lord, verily we are sorrowful for their sake. And he said unto us: Ye do rightly, for the righteous are sorry for the sinners, and pray for them, making prayer unto my Father. Again we said unto him: Lord, is there none that maketh intercession unto thee (so Eth.)? And he said unto us: Yea, and I will hearken unto the prayer of the righteous which they make for them. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/apostolorum.html

And another translation has:

‘And we said to him, ‘O Lord, we are truly troubled on their account.’’ And he said to us, ‘You do well, for so are the righteous anxious about the sinners and they pray and implore God and ask him. ‘And we said to him, ‘O Lord, does not one entreat you?’’ And he said ‘Yes I will heed the request of the righteous concerning them’ (Epist. Apost. 40, Ethiopic; Coptic is substantially the same, trans. Elliot). List of those of who reject traditional hellism

  1. Aristides (c. 117-138 AD) is the 8th of 68 on McClymond’s list of 68. Daley’s brief remarks on Aristides occur on p.20 of his book. Here is everything Daley has to say there re Aristides:

“The earliest apologist whose work we possess is Aristides, who addressed a defence of Christianity to the Emperor Hadrian (117-138). Aristides repeatedly emphasizes the ethical uprightness of Christians, which he attributes to their expectation of a resurrection, followed by divine judgement and recompense for their deeds (Apology 15f.). When a member of their community dies who was known to be virtuous, Aristides asserts, Christians “rejoice and thank God…as if he were only being transferred from one place to another”; but when a sinner dies, they weep bitterly over him, because they know he is sure to be punished (idid.)” (p.20).

Here again, as with a number of other writers, i fail to see how Aristides should be included in McClymond’s list of 68. McClymond said the “data that Daley has carefully sifted show sixty-eight authors and texts that clearly affirm the eternal punshment of the wicked”. How can McClymond include Aristides on that list of 68 that he alleges “clearly affirm the eternal punshment of the wicked” based on what i have quoted from Daley’s book? There is no clear statement of eternal punishment there.

  1. Athenagoras (c. 133 – c. 190 AD) is the 9th of 68 on McClymond’s list of 68. Daley’s remarks on Aristides occur on p.23-24 of his book. Once again, as with other authors, i see nothing Daley has written to support McClymond’s conclusion that Athenagoras “clearly affirm(s) the eternal punshment of the wicked”. OTOH, this thread presents some comments suggesting he may have been a universalist: Does this prove Athenagoras (133–190) was a universalist?

  2. Justin Martyr (d. c. 165 AD) is the 10th of 68 on McClymond’s list of 68. Daley’s remarks on Justin occur on p.20-22 of his book. Daley describes Justin’s doctrine that sinners will “undergo eternal punishment (I Apol 8) with Satan and the demons (ibid., 28; 52) in Gehenna (ibid., 19). Justin almost invariably describes this punishment as everlasting fire…” Yet, once again, whether the word for “eternal” or “everlasting” is aionion (eonian) or another word is not revealed by Daley. And, again, Illaria Ramelli has pointed out that:

"Of course there were antiuniversalists also in the ancient church, but scholars must be careful not to list among them — as is the case with the list of “the 68” antiuniversalists repeatedly cited by McC on the basis of Brian Daley’s The Hope of the Early Church — an author just because he uses πῦρ αἰώνιον, κόλασις αἰώνιος, θάνατος αἰώνιος, or the like, since these biblical expressions do not necessarily refer to eternal damnation. Indeed all universalists, from Origen to Gregory Nyssen to Evagrius, used these phrases without problems, for universalists understood these expressions as “otherworldly,” or “long-lasting,” fire, educative punishment, and death. Thus, the mere presence of such phrases is not enough to conclude that a patristic thinker “affirmed the idea of everlasting punishment”. https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2016/04/03/the-christian-doctrine-of-apokatastasis-the-reviews-start-coming-in/

Conclusion: of the first 10 early church authors/writings on McClymond’s list of 68 based on Daley’s work, at most only one of the 10 (Shepherd of Hermas) has been shown by Daley to clearly support everlasting punishment. At this rate his list of almost 70 “clear” cases will be whittled down to a “paltry” 7.


#78

Hi Origen :slight_smile:

Of course you are completely right that the Apocalypse of Peter (in the so called Rainer Fragment which preserves the original Greek text) says that God will allow the just to intercede on behalf of the damned after the final judgement, and those they intercede for will be saved/rescued and translated to the ‘Elysian Fields’ (the classical equivalent term for ‘Paradise’). And this continuation of the drama of redemption beyond the last judgement is also expressed in one place in the Sibylline Oracles.

(Interestingly, Dr Ramelli also says later in her tome that the same motif crops up in the twelfth century in Abbess Hildegard of Bingen’s Scivias. There is a final strict judgement – but after this a voice of mercy for the damned arises from the elect in intercession that results in their salvation (she gives Latin text for this and my Latin isn’t brilliant so I checked an English translation of Scivias and I can confirm that Dr Ramelli is spot on :slight_smile: )

I’ll give what I see as one important point of nuance here. The motif of the intercession of the elect for the damned after the last judgement does not necessarily add up to full blown universalism. It all depends on which specific sinners they choose to intercede for. As far as I can see none of the above texts explicitly say that all sinners in torment will be saved in this way. However, it was an important element in what quickly became the doctrine of Apokatastasis. Indeed, Dr. Ramelli sees it as highly significant that Clement of Alexandria thought that the Apocalypse of Peter was an inspired text and also refers in several places in his writings to the Sibylline Oracles.

With the Epistula Apostolorum, I’m not entirely sure of Dr Ramelli’s anlaysis. She is a fantastic, brilliant scholar, and I but a poorly informed former humanities teacher. However, it is still good to trust whatever scholarly instincts you have I reckon  (Oh and by the way, it is Ramelli’s translation of Epistula Apostolorum that is given on the List of Universalists at EU; I put it there before I’d had second thoughts :slight_smile: ).

I’ve read through the relevant portions of the Epistula (a tract in which the Apostles describe their conversation with the risen Lord to edify their fellow Christians). Jesus indeed does speak sternly of the last judgement in this and at some length. However, he also commends the prayers of the righteous for those who are perishing. It looks analogous to the relevant passages in the Apocalypse of Peter and the Sibylline Oracles – but I’m not entirely convinced that these prayers have an eschatological context. I think Jesus may be exhorting his disciples to pray for the wicked now so that they repent, or perhaps to pray for the dead now. I keep an open mind on this one – but that’s how is seems to me at the moment :slight_smile:


#79

Is there any reason to think that the reference to human beings in general, “the human beings” in the fire, is any less than every single individual, i.e. all of them, there:

"And God, immortal and omnipotent, will grant another gift to these pious
persons: when they will ask him, he will grant them to save the human beings
from the fierce fire, and from the otherworldly [αἰώνιος] gnashing of teeth, and
will do so after pulling them out of the unquenchable flame and removing
them [ἀπὸ φλογὸς ἀκαμάτοιο ἄλοσ’ ἀποστήσας], destining them, for the sake
of his own elect, to the other life, that of the world to come, for immortals
[ζωὴν ἑτέραν καὶ αἰώνιον ἀθανάτοισιν], in the Elysian Fields, where there are the
long waves of the Acherusian Lake, imperishable, which has a deep bed.
(2,330–338)”


#80

The elect human beings are not in the flames - they have already been chosen for salvation at the judgement. But after this their judgement on those condemned to the fire is to ask God for mercy - and God listens to their intercession. That’s how I read it :slight_smile: