The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Professor Ilaria Ramelli & her Apokatastasis project



[tag]DaveB[/tag] has called my attention to a book review of Dr. R’s Tome in The Journal of Analytical Theology, from Steven Nemes at Fuller Seminary. The pdf can be downloaded from the link, if your browser is like mine (and I know mine is) and won’t present it. :wink:

It doesn’t really cover anything which anyone who has already heard about the book has probably heard already, or words to that effect :stuck_out_tongue: , but it’s a highly favorable review, and accurate so far as I recall the information. Like SN, I wish more of the languages (particularly Latin) had been translated for reader convenience – I suspect this just wasn’t a problem because Dr. R teaches patristic history at THE Catholic University in Italy, home of all Latin. :mrgreen: :ugeek: And after all the book is meant to be a professional resource which is why it costs about fifty cents a page to buy.

SN doesn’t however mention the most annoying thing I found about the book, which is Dr. R’s somewhat spastic treatment (probably due to late editing, possibly thanks in part to something I noticed in conversation with Dr. K long ago) of how {aidios} is used in the scriptures: sometimes she remembers it was used to describe the punishment of rebel angels in hades (or their chains more specifically), other times she continues to forget the occurrence and then to insist that the scriptures never use the term for that purpose, as a way of comparing congruently with later patristic habits. Her point isn’t entirely undermined by that; and the congruent comparisons are indeed helpful (much less does the problem touch any other part of her arguments); but I still wince whenever I run across another ongoing instance of it.

(Edited to add: I should clarify that SN does mention the topic, but doesn’t mention Dr. R’s flipflopping on it. He only reports the part(s) where she says {aidios} is never used to describe punishments of this age in the scriptures, or similar descriptions.)

Anyway, I thought I should drop a link here for future reference. :slight_smile:

Also, SN starts the paper by calling her book a tome. Thus am I vindicated for my habit. :mrgreen:

Hi Jason,

I found this reference to my book review by doing a Google ego-surfari (see this post for the origin of the phrase).

Re: Ramelli’s back-and-forth about aidios, I think strictly speaking the punishments of the next world are not described as aidioi, and that is sufficient for her purpose. The chains of the angels are described as aidioi in Jude, but these are present chains, not belonging to the next world, since the implication there is that the chains will not restrain them ad infinitum but only “until the judgment of that great day” (Jude 6). So here the chains are aidioi but not strictly speaking everlasting, and they are a present reality, not one of the next world. If I am not mistaken, Ramelli makes precisely this point on at least one occasion in Terms for Eternity. So there is no flip-flopping per se.

Hi, Steven! Oooh, that reminds me I’ve never yet gotten around to reading Silence.

The problem is that her purpose is to contrast how {aidios} is used compared to {aiônios}, with a significant contrast being that {aidios} is a stronger word for eternity, which is why she originally stressed that it is never used in regard to punishments in the scriptures; but on the interpretation you’re giving there is no significant contrast. Chains are pretty obviously as much a factor of punishment as fire, so do the chains last eternally or not? If not, then there has been a change in how {aidios} is used between the (few) canonical uses and a long-running patristic usage (even among patristic universalists); or at any rate Jude('s author) isn’t using it the normal way.

The problem is that she talks strongly about {aidios} being a proper term for eternity, compared to the adjective for eon, but then has trouble accounting for how {aidios} used in Jude 6: it doesn’t matter that the chains are present chains – certainly they’re being used on spiritual rebels, and so no hard line can be drawn there between them being punished in this world or the next world – do they have the permanence she insists {aidios} (typically) means in the patristics, or do they not? If not, then either {aidios} has a variance of meaning like {aiônios} (in which case she shouldn’t be contrasting them so strongly); or Jude is an outlier usage. If {aidios} has the strength she regularly insists it has elsewhere, then either we shouldn’t be counting Jude as inspired authority on matters of faith and morals, since its provenance is shaky anyway; or universalism is false (at least for the rebel angels, maybe also for rebel humans, too, whose punishments are compared to those of the rebel angels in close context) despite any other evidence or logic otherwise, on the strength of {aidios} being applied there consistently with how the patristics used the term (which is what Dr. R otherwise wants to stress in order to help demonstrate that ‘eonian’ isn’t always as strong as it looks); or the whole problem is a category error because {ai-dios} isn’t the word being used there at all but rather {a-idios} – a meaning which happens to contextually fit very well with Jude’s parallels in the Petrine epistles on this topic. (Though arguably Jude is making some kind of neologism by doing so, or misunderstanding a pun to be a real word, and may be using shoddy grammar while doing so.)

Obviously, I go with the last option. :wink:

A simple solution seems to me to be that “eternal chains” refers to God’s power that is keeping these angels imprisoned
until the day of judgement.

What else would be keeping them imprisoned? Compare Rev.20:7 “When the thousand years are complete, Satan will be
released from his prison”.

Whether or not His power will continue to imprison them after that day is not stated in this passage. So it does not
support endless imprisonment.

Even an endless imprisonment in chains would not mean those in chains could not be saved, regenerated, or born again.
Chains & prisons tend to restrict human inmates from freedom of movement in the world, not from becoming Christians.

This interpretation also is harmonious with Ramelli’s view re aidios.

And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. (Jude 6, KJV)

Although I agree that’s a feasible interpretation (though as noted I tend to go with “invisible”), that doesn’t at all harmonize with how Dr. R was presenting aidios in the Tome.

On the contrary, she repeatedly empahsized that {aidios} was the word that meant true ongoing never-ending eternity, and contrasted this with how the Patristics used eonian and how they would switch the two terms out (unless they were quoting from the scriptures of course) in their own discussions in order to emphasize or de-emphasize when something really lasted forever. This factors into her occasional claim that unlike aionios, aidios is never used for punishment topics in the Bible. But then in other places she qualifies it, because of Jude, that it’s never used for the topic of human punishment.

Her comments in the Tome on aidios are quite janky, and look a lot like a quick revision very late in editing where she suddenly remembered Jude’s use of aidios and so had to hunt back through her text looking for whenever she talked about aidios to try to account for Jude’s usage in some way that didn’t blow her thesis – but she didn’t catch all the times she referred to aidios in her massive text and so some of her original statements are left over appealing to aidios absolutely as eternal over-against the adjective for eon as a comparative / contrast point.

I think Ramelli is basically correct… that on some level <ἀϊδίος> aidios is considered synonymous with <αἰώνιον> aiōnion in terms of eternal, though being more true in terms of eternal expressing the QUALITATIVE meaning of awe, wonder or majesty etc; as opposed to the quantitative sense of longevity, even though in itself <αἰώνιον> aiōnion CAN likewise be viewed in similar qualitative terms, e.g., Mt 25:46… BUT again <ἀϊδίος> aidios being much more so the case.

Interestingly the apocryphal LXX also uses <ἀϊδίος> aidios twice, but again NOT in any negative sense…

I would translate that as “the lasting punishment of the tyrant, and the eternal life of the pious.”

Eternal” is indeed an option, as some translate it as such; I think “glorious” better reflects the descriptive (qualitative) nature of the word… similar to describing God’s power of Rom 1:20 as matchless or something of equal magnitude.

Is there a purchasable DVD or free online source for this info re aionios & aidios in ancient writings?

For starters I find these ones useful… HERE and HERE and HERE.

Thanks davo. Those are useful sources.

Re the angels in chains there is no mention of them being punished as in torments or pain. This wouldn’t count as a punishment if its the modern ankle type bracelets that allow convicts to stay at home in the comfort of their Playboy Mansions. Though their being “under darkness” could be terrifying if they’re afraid of going to sleep without the lights on.