Kristus je po smrti na križu takoj živel v raju
ali šel prej še na obisk v pekel?

Spisal fr. Bruno Korošak OFM

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Vir: rutars.net

     
v slovenskem jeziku - in Slovenian language

        Kakor poroča evangelist Luka 23, 43, je Jezus na križu skesanemu hudodelcu zatrdil: »Danes boš z menoj v raju«. Da bomo to trditev bolje razumeli, moramo imeti pred o]čmi, da po svetem Pavlu (v 2. pismu Korinčanom 4, 16), v tem zemeljskem življenju »naš zunanji človek« polagoma »razpada«, med tem ko »se naš notranji človek iz dneva v dan obnavlja« in se po smrti tako obnovljen prikaže v raju. Če se pa v življenju ne trudimo za to prenavljanje notranjega človeka, nas v raju čaka druga, duhovna smrt, kakor to natanko določa sveti Janez v Razodetju 2, 11.
        Da je torej Jezus precej dopolnil starozavezne pojme o posmrtnem življenju s tem, da je učil, da se po smrti zbudiš v raju, da je tam takoj po smrti sodba, da tam nespokorjene čaka po telesni še duhovna smrt, katoliški teologi večinoma ne jemljejo v obzir. Temu sta, kakor se zdi, krivi dve verski bajki: prva ki pripoveduje, kako so se vsi apostoli po binkoštih sešli in sestavili tako imenovano apostolsko veroizpoved, v kateri se omenja Jezusov sestop v šeol, in druga, ki jo na dolgo navaja neki izmišljeni Evangelij po Nikodemu, v katerem se popisuje Jezusov sestop v pekel.
        Prvo bajko, ki je kot gola izmišljotina označena v vseh novejših kritičnih izdajah veroizpovedi Enchiridion symbolorum (v uvodu, pred št. 10) in pred par leti tudi na Internetu (splet »Il Credo o Simbolo apostolico«, španski prevod), je navedel neki oglejski menih Rufin, po rodu Vend († 410), ki je v drugi polovici 4. stoletja sestavil razlago krstne veroizpovedi (italijanski prevod na Internetu, Spiegazione del Simbolo, št. 2), v katero je vrinil dodatek, da je »Kristus po smrti šel dol v spodnji svet (descendit ad inferna)« in ne »gor«, v raj (prim.Enchiridion symb. št. 16), kakor to on sam priznava v svoji razlagi Veroizpovedi (cit. prevod št. 16): »Moram še povedati, da se v Rimskem Credo ne dodaja: 'šel je v pekel', in prav tako tudi ne v Vzhodnih Cerkvah, kjer je isti smisel izražen z besedami, da 'je bil pokopan'«. Verjetno je Rufin želel Kristusovo vstajenje napraviti sprejemljivo kristjanom judovskega pokolenja in ga je zato moral prilagoditi starozaveznemu nauku o posmrtnem življenju, po katerem se vsi ljudje, dobri in hudobni, po telesni smrti zbirajo v nekem šeolu, v nekem ogromnem kletnem skladišču, kjer hudobni še ne trpijo peklenskih muk, ampak skupaj z dobrimi v globoki komi čakajo na skupno vstajenje in na skupno sodbo poslednji dan (prim. Iz 38, 18; Ps 6,6; 88, 5-13, itn. Kako pa je možno govoriti ali pisati, da duhovi spijo, o tem se hebrejci ne sprašujejo). Kristus naj bi torej po telesni smrti ostal duhovno živ in prenovljen ter bi naj šel v to skladišče obudit iz kome vse dobre, Adama in Evo ter njihove potomce, vse do dobrega hudodelca, ter jih vse skupaj na dan vstajenja svojega telesa povedel s seboj. Kot dokaz za to razlago so potem teologi navajali neki zagonetni citat iz 1. Petrovega pisma 3, 18-19, v katerem je rečeno, da je Kristus »po duhu bil oživljen«, da je »v tem duhu šel in pridigal tudi duhovom, ki so bili v ječi«. Globoke kome pa so bili obvarovani nekateri svetniški liki, kakor na pr. Kajnov sin Henoh (prim. 1 Mz 5,24; Sir 44, 16; 49, 14; Heb 11, 5), Abraham (Lk 16, 22), Mojzes in Elia (Mt 17, 3), Jeremija (Mt 16, 14), ki se nahajajo budni v raju, med tem ko so teologi pošiljali v komo sv. Jožefa, sv. Janeza Baptista, Nedolžne otročiče, makabejske mučence, ki naj bi jih Jezus povedel v raj šele po svoji smrti!
        Prav posebej pa večina teologov ni mogla prebaviti podmene, da vsi zlobni in hudobni ljudje po smrti čakajo na poslednjo sodbo samo v globoki komi in ne v peklenskih mukah in da hudi duhovi ne bivajo samo na zemlji ali v zraku, ki nas obdaja, kakor sta to učila apostola Janez in Pavel (Raz 12, 4; Ef 2, 2), ampak so raje prevzeli pripovedke, da bivajo tudi v nižjih posmrtnih prostorih. Te pripovedke je neki neznani pravljičar začel širiti v 3. in 4. stoletju pod imenom novozaveznega Nikodema, ki so imele nezaslišan uspeh, ne samo kot eden najbolj razširjenih rokopisov, ampak tudi kot svete podobe na ikonah in priljubljen predmet v pridigah (med njimi naj omenim govore lažnega Evzebija, lažnega Epifanija, lažnega Avguština). Eno od teh pridig neimenovanega avtorja so rimski izvedenci za svete obrede vrinili celo v novi brevir na veliko soboto. Lažni Nikodem se pa v svoji pravljici ni naslonil na starozavezni nauk o šeolu, ampak na grško-latinske bajke o posmrtnem življenju. Med njimi so najbolj znane tiste, ki jih opeva pred Kristusom živeči Vergil v Eneidi, v kateri opisuje sestop Eneja v podzemeljske prostore (inferi), ki naj bi se delili na Tartar, ali naš pekel, na Elizej, kjer naj bi živeli vsi, ki so v življenju bili pošteni in dobri, in na neke vrste vežo ali preddvor, kjer naj bi prebivali razne vrste demoni in druge pošasti. Za vstop v te podzemeljske prostore je bilo treba plačati prevoz preko reke brodarju Karontu, (našemu Korantu ali Kurentu), ki so ga pozneje katoliški teologi prekrstili v sv. Krištofa. Sestop Eneja pa je »evangelist Nikodem« uporabil za podrobni opis sestopa Kristusovega duha v podzemlje. V teh pravljicah so stari teologi našli vse potrebno za podrobni oris strogo omejenih »prostorov«, v katere so trpali duše hudobnih grešnikov, podvrženih vsem mogočim mukam od strani demonov (pekel, v molitvah tudi tartar), spokorjencev in pravičnih (predpekel, v srednjem veku tudi limbus ali obrobje), ter omadeževanih, ki so bili potrebni dolgotrajnega ali tudi kratkotrajnega čiščenja (vice, očiščevalnica). Nobeno od teh duhovnih bitij ni bilo v komatoznem stanju, ampak vsa naj bi bila toliko živa in budna, da bi lahko prenašala muke ali uživala začasno medlo tolažbo vse do poslednje sodbe. Profesorji teologije se med seboj večkrat pogovarjajo o težavah, ki jih imajo pri razlagi stvarnosti onostranstva; vsi namreč živimo in mislimo v okviru kategorij prostora in časa, ki pa v onostranstvu ne obstajajo in ne veljajo za duhovni svet. Tako med pastoralnimi delavci včasih krožijo pripovedke, da je za nekatere grehe treba v vicah prestajati 7 let in 280 dni pokore, ki se pa dajo vsa skrajšati na 30 dni, če duhovnik za te grešnike nepretrganih 30 dni mašuje 30 maš po zvišani tarifi. Drugi zopet trdijo, da na onem svetu mora obstajati neki »prostor v zubljih trpljenja«, kjer naj bi se lahko pridobilo odpuščanje nekaterih manjših grehov, ne pa onih proti Svetemu Duhu (Mt 12, 32). Ti seveda pozabljajo, da Jezus po mnenju nekaterih starih teologov te manjše grehe odpušča na onem svetu med prehodom iz časovnosti v večnost s trenutno osvetlitvijo njihovega celotnega življenja, ki ni vezano na neki prostor z gorečo pečjo, ampak na posebno izostren čut sramu za vsega obžalovanja vredna dejanja v prejšnjem življenju (glej moja Teološka spodbujanja, Ljubljana 2000, str.115-116).
        Še mnogo več pomilovanja so pa vredna opisovanja »spodnjih prostorov«, kakršna so se razvila v celotni zahodni Cerkvi, kjer so dolga stoletja vsi duhovniki morali študirati grščino in latinščino ter dobro poznati Vergila in njegov opis posmrtnega življenja skupaj z njegovo krščansko enačico lažnega Nikodema. Dober povzetek tega razvoja se nahaja v Katekizmu Pija X (iz leta 1905, ponatisnjen 1992), kjer se najprej navaja latinsko besedilo veroizpovedi z Rufinovim dodatkom, v katerem je napisano da je Kristus iz groba »descendit ad inferos«, šel dol v spodnja bivališča, med tem ko v italijanskem prevodu, ki takoj sledi, začudeni beremo: »discese all'inferno«, dobesedno »v pekel«. Prav tako v ameriškem krstnem obredniku iz leta 1962 morajo verniki moliti, da je Kristus »descended into hell«, v sam pekel. V Nemčiji in v nemško govorečih deželah je še vedno razširjen Lutrov prevod, po katerem naj bi se Kristus »niedergefahren zur Hölle«, zapeljal (!) v pekel. Tukaj naj omenim še veliki stenski mozaik v cerkvi sv. Marka v Kopru, ki nazorno prikazuje Jezusa, ki se iz odprtine v grobu po vseh štirih plazi dol v povsem črni rov peklenskega brezna in steguje roke po Adamu in Evi, ki sta do vratu pogreznjena v močvaro.
        Namen namišljenega Kristusovega sestopa v neki prostor v peklu ali pred peklom naj bi torej po mnenju nekaterih bogoznancev bil ta, da iz te fantastične ječe v približno 36. urah izvleče vse pravične umrle vernike Stare zaveze, od Adama in Eve pa vse do svetega Jožefa in sv. Janeza Krstnika. Toda že v Stari zavezi Modrost, ki upodablja Svetega Duha, utelešenega v Jezusu Kristusu, zatrjuje, da je Adama prav ta modrost »varovala in ga rešila njegovega prestopka« (10, 1); potem pa navaja imena drugih pravičnih (Noe, Lot, Jakob, Jožef, Mojzes), med njimi tudi Abrahama, ki ga Jezus sam, pred svojo smrtjo, omenja kot že prisotnega v raju (Lk 16, 22). Še daljši seznam pravičnih v raju se nahaja v knjigi, ki jo je spisal Jeruzalemski pismouk Sirahov sin (pogl. 44-50); med njimi izstopa Kajnov sin Henoh, »ki je hodil z Bogom«, ki ga je Bog vzel k sebi v raj, tako da »ni videl smrti«, »kajti preden je bil vzet, je bilo zanj pričano, da je Bogu všeč« (1 Mz 5, 16; Sir 44, 16; 49, 14; Heb 11, 5). Jezus torej v peklu ni imel kaj iskati, ampak se je takoj po smrti prikazal vsem pravičnim, poganom in hebrejcem, v raju, kakor to pravilno trdi sv. Luka. Pa tudi evangelist Matej nikjer ne omenja tega 36 ur trajajočega obujanja in prevažanja pravičnih iz predsobe pekla v raj, ampak beleži samo, da je Jezus takoj po telesni smrti obudil od mrtvih nekaj jeruzalemskih meščanov, ki so jih njihovi domači lahko gledali ne v raju, ampak na zemlji doma (Mt 27, 53). Prav tako sveti Peter v svojem 1. pismu 3, 19-20 ne govori o sestopu umrlega Kristusa v neko »ječo«, ampak o Modrosti, ki je v dneh vesoljnega potopa duše ljudi, ki so bili kot ujeti v svoje strasti, v njihovi zadnji uri navdihovala, da se svojih pregreh pokesajo (glej 1 Pt 1, 9-12).
        Razlago o tem Jezusovem »sestopu« je torej treba iskati drugje. Gre za resnične dogodke, ki jih je Jezus doživel v treh urah svoje agonije na križu, ko je trpel nepopisne bolečine. Danes smo o takih neznosnih bolečinah že kar dobro poučeni iz spisov znanih zdravnikov, kot na primer dr. Elizabete Kübler Ross, dr. Rajmunda Moody (Življenje po življenju), in dr. Glorije Polo, katere knjiga Zadela me je strela se prevedena v slovenščino nahaja tudi na Internetu, gloriapolo.net. Vsi ti avtorji opisujejo ponesrečence, navidezno nezavestne, ki začasno osvobojeni telesnih spon odkrivajo duhovni svet, ki jih obdaja, ter se nato vračajo v svoje razbolelo telo. Tako recimo dr. Glorija Polo piše o sebi, potem ko jo je strela zadela, da se v nekem trenutku notranje praznine ni več »zavedala niti svojega telesa niti dimenzije časa in prostora… V enem samem trenutku sem videla vse ljudi svojega življenja istočasno, in sicer žive in mrtve. Objela sem svojega pradeda in svojo prababico, svoje stare starše, svoje starše, ki so že umrli, skratka vse… Prav zares in čisto gotovo smo se zdaj objeli in v enem samem trenutku sem vse srečala. Tako je bilo z vsemi ljudmi, ki sem jih kdaj poznala in sicer z živimi in mrtvimi – in vse to v trenutku« (cit. knjiga, odstavki 147 in 149). Tako je tudi Kristus na križu v trenutku zagledal vse pravične Stare Zaveze, od Adama in Eve pa do svetega Jožefa in Janeza Krstnika.
        Ista zdravnica potem opisuje svojo vrnitev k zavesti, združeno z občutenjem telesnih bolečin: »Samo moja hčerka je reagirala prestrašeno, ko sem jo objela. Takrat je ravno dopolnila 9 let in je moj objem v istem trenutku občutila v svojem resničnem življenju na tem svetu« (odst. 150). Isto se je dogodilo Jezusu, ko je hotel objeti svojo mater, ki jo je dal v varstvo sv. Janezu (Jn 19, 26).
        Glorija Polo je zatem znova padla v nezavest ter je »nenadoma zagledala, da prihaja iz sten operacijske dvorane mnogo temnih postav. Zdelo se je, da so čisto normalni in običajni ljudje, vsi so pa imeli strašen, grozljiv pogled. Iz njihovih oči je sijalo pravo sovraštvo. Takoj sem vedela, da imam pri njih dolgove. Prišli so, da bi poračunali, ker sem sprejela njihovo ponudbo za greh… Grehi so satanova last, niso njegovo zastonjsko darilo, treba jih je plačati. Cena smo mi sami… Te grozljive temne pošasti so me obkrožile in povsem jasno je bilo, da so prišle z enim samim ciljem, da me vzamejo s seboj… Ti grehi nas torej vlečejo v globino, navzdol, k ˝očetu laži˝ (odst. 193-201) »Pomikala sem se po tem predoru naprej, dokler ni postalo nenavadno temno« (odst. 212). »Pojavljalo se je vedno več grozljivih postav in bitij, ki so bila tako zelo deformirana, da si tega ne morete predstavljati« (odst. 216). »V tem stanju sem prišla spodaj v nekakšno močvirno pokrajino, kjer so bile mnoge osebe do vratu v močvirju in so stokale« (odst. 220). »Pod menoj je bilo grozljivo brezno« (odst. 237). O istih grozljivih temnih pošastih govori tudi sv. Bernard, ko opisuje ˝pekel˝ (glej Liber meditationum cap. 3). Sv. Martin je v svoji agoniji prav tako doživljal pričujočnost hudega duha. »Kaj čakaš, krvoločna zver«, je vprašal. »Pri meni, zlodej, nimaš kaj iskati. Abraham me bo sprejel v svoje naročje« (glej 2. berilo v brevirju za 11. november). Zato bi lahko pravilno sklepali, da je tudi Jezus na križu doživljal nekaj podobnega, ko je zaradi silnih telesnih bolečin znova padel v nezavest in v trenutku zagledal vse grozljivo duhovno spačene like grešnikov in potem še satana, ki ga je ves izčrpan od posta v podobni nezavesti zrl že v začetku svojega odrešilnega oznanjevanja (Mt 4, 8-11; Lk 4, 5-8). Ker pa v njem ni bilo greha, je te muke za nas pretrpel. Te duhovne muke so bile tako grozne, da je Jezus zavpil: »Moj Bog, moj Bog, zakaj si me zapustil?« (Mt 27, 46).
        Ker torej nekega sestopa Kristusa v pekel ali predsobe pekla po smrti na križu ne omenjajo ne evangeliji ne stare krstne veroizpovedi vse do one carigrajske iz leta 381 po Kr., in tudi ne moderni deželni katekizmi, kakor n. pr. nemški iz leta 1973, ameriški iz leta 1977 in italijanski (»Signore, da chi andremo?« iz leta 1981), in ker se njegove verske vsebine dajo tudi drugače razložiti, bi bilo bolje, če bi se dogmatiki raje poglabljali v Jezusovo triurno agonijo pred smrtjo, kot pa v razne verske pripovedke o njegovem tridnevju po smrti na križu.

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After death did Christ go immediately to Paradise,
or did he first visit Limbo and Hell?

By Bruno J. Korošak OFM

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Vir: rutars.net

     
in English language - v angleškem jeziku

        I – Usual position

        As it is written in the gospel according to Luke, 23:43, while still on the cross, Jesus stated to the repentant sinner, “I promise you that today you will be in Paradise with me.” In order to better understand this statement, we have keep in mind that according St. Paul (2 Cor. 4:16), in this earthly life “our physical being” is gradually “decaying”, yet “our spiritual being is renewed day after day” and after death it appears in Paradise thusly renewed. If we do not make an effort for the renewal of our internal being, there awaits for us in Paradise a second death, as described precisely by St. John in Revelation, 2:11.
        The fact that Jesus considerably added to Old Testament concepts of the afterlife with his teaching that after death one awakens in Paradise, where there is a judgement immediately after death, and where for the unrepentant there is only a total death, is something that Catholic theologians for the most part do not take into consideration. This seems to be due to two religious fairy-stories: the first tells of how after Pentecost all the Apostles came together and composed the so-called Apostles’Creed, and another, which from a fictitious gospel according to Nicodemus describes Jesus’ descent or visit of penal institutions of the other world.
        The first story, which has been denoted as a blatant fiction in all newer critical editions of the verities of Faith [1] and a few years ago also on the Internet [2], was mentioned by a monk named Rufin from Aquileia, a Vend by birth, in the second half of the 4th century. He had composed an explanation of the Baptismal Creed [3], in which he – and not the Apostles - inserted the addition that “after his death Christ went down into the under ground (descendit ad inferna)” and not “up” to Paradise He later admitted to doing so himself in his explanation of the Apostles’ Creed, when he wrote “I must also say that in the Roman Creed ‘went to under ground’ is not added, and neither is it added in Eastern Churches, where the same meaning is expressed with the words ‘he was buried’ ” [4].
        Most likely Rufin sought to render Christ’s resurrection acceptable to Christians of the Jewish extraction. For that reason he adapted it to conform to the Old Testament teaching on life after death [5], in which all people, good and evil, assemble after their physical death in Sheol, a kind of immense basement storehouse, where the evil do not yet suffer the tortures of Hell, but rather together with the good wait for a common resurrection and common judgment on the final day in a deep coma (e.g. Is. 38:18, Ps. 6:5, 88:5-12, etc. The question of how it is possible to say or write that spirits are sleeping is something the Hebrews did not care about). Christ then supposedly remained spiritually alive and renewed after his physical death, and went to this storehouse to wake all the good from their comas – Adam, Eve and all their descendents, all to the good-hearted criminal from the crucifixion – and take them all up together with him on the day of his resurrection. As proof for this explanation, theologians quoted a mysterious citation from the First Letter of Peter, 3:18-19, in which it is said that Christ was “made alive spiritually”, that “in his spiritual existence he went and preached to the imprisoned spirits.” Some saintly figures were protected from the deep coma, like Abraham (Lk. 16:22), Moses and Elijah (Mt. 17:3), all of which could be found in an already wakened state in Paradise, while theologians reserved comas for St. Joseph, St. John the Baptist, Innocent children, and Maccabees Martyrs, who were supposedly led to Paradise by Jesus only after his death! The majority of theologians had particular problems digesting the hypothesis that all evil and wicked people wait for their final judgement after their death merely in a deep coma, and not in hellish torments, and that evil spirits exist only on the earth and in the air which surrounds us, as was taught by the apostles John and Paul (Rev. 12:4, Eph. 2:2; see Job 1:7). Rather, they entertained stories that these spirits exist also in the lower, post-mortem spheres. These stories were promulgated by an unknown storyteller in the 3rd and 4th centuries under the New Testament name of Nicodemus. They attained an unheard of success, not only as one of the most diffused manuscripts, but also in the holy images on icons, and as a favourite subject in homilies (among them I could mention the speeches of Pseudo-Eusebius, Pseudo-Epiphanius, and Pseudo-Augustinus). One of these homilies by an unknown author was inserted into the new breviary by Roman experts for Holy Rites on Holy Saturday. Pseudo-Nicodemus did not depend on the Old Testament teaching of Sheol for his story, but instead on the Greco-Latin tales of life after death.
        Among them the most well known are the ones which are sung by Virgil in the Aeneid, in which he describes the descent of Aeneas into subterranean spheres (Inferi). They were divided into Tartarus, or our Hell, Elysium, where everyone who was good and honest in his life would live, and some kind of entrance hall or vestibule, where there were allegedly various kinds of demons and other creatures. The descent of Aeneas was used by the “gospeller Nicodemus” for a detailed description of the descent of Christ’s spirit into the underground [6]. In these tales older theologians found all they required for a detailed description of the strictly bordered “spaces” in which: the souls of evil sinners were packed and subjected to all possible tortures from demons in Hell (known also as Tartarus in Christian prayers), the souls of the repentant and the just packed in an anti-room of hell, (called Limbo, edge or boundary in the Middle Age), and finally those who were spiritually stained waited, requiring either long or short-term purification (Purgatory, Cleansing). None of these spiritual beings was in a coma-like state, but rather, all were apparently alive and awake enough to be able to either bear tortures or enjoy a temporary and dim consolation until the final judgement arrived.
        Often, theology professors will discuss the problems that they experience in connection with interpretations of the reality of the other world beyond this one; namely, we all live and think within the framework of the categories of space and time, which do not exist in the world beyond and do not apply to the spiritual world. So, among pastoral workers there occasionally circulate stories about how for certain sins it is necessary to endure 7 years and 280 days of penance in Purgatory, which can be reduced to 30 days if a priest says 30 masses for those sinners in 30 continuous days at a higher tariff. Others again maintain that in the other world there must exist some kind of “place in the high flames of suffering”, where the forgiveness of certain more minor sins could be obtained, though not those against the Holy Spirit (Mt. 12:32). They all of course forget that Jesus, according to the opinion of certain older theologians, forgives these minor sins in the other world between the passage from the temporal into eternity with an instantaneous elucidation of their entire lives, something which is not bound to some place with a burning oven, but rather is tied to a specific and sharpened sense of shame for all the actions of the previous life, which are worthy of regret [7].
        Even more pitiable are the descriptions of the “lower regions”, as developed by the entire western Church, where for many centuries all priests had to study Greek and Latin and become quite familiar with Virgil and his description of the posthumous life, together with his Christian equivalent or counterpart Pseudo-Nicodemus. A good summary of this development can be found in the Catechism of Pius X, where the Latin text of the Creed with Rufin’s addition is consistently cited, in which it is written that from his grave Christ “descendit ad inferos” (should be “inferna”), or went down to the under ground areas, while at the same time in the Italian translation, which immediately follows, we can with some astonishment read: “discese all’inferno”, meaning literally into Hell [8]. Similarly, in the American Baptismal Rite from 1962 the faithful must pray that Christ “descended into Hell” itself [9]. In Germany and other German speaking countries Luther’s translation is still well disseminated, in which Christ is “niedergefahren zur Hölle”, or drove (!) into Hell [10]. At this point, allow me also to mention the large wall mosaic in the Church of St. Mark in Koper-Capodostria, which clearly shows Jesus crawling on all fours from the opening in his grave into the completely black trench of a hellish pit, and is stretching out his hand to Adam and Eve, who are sunk up to their necks in a bog.
        The intention of Christ’s imagined descent into some area within Hell or to the region in front of Hell, according to the opinion of certain theologians, was that from this fantastic prison, and in approximately 36 hours, Jesus should pull out all the righteous deceased believers of the Old Testament, from Adam and Eve all the way up to St. Joseph and St. John the Baptist. However, already in the Old Testament the Wisdom, which represents the Holy Spirit as united to Son of God, asserts that for Adam it was precisely Wisdom which “protected the father of the world... saved him from his own sinful act” (Ws. 10:1). Afterwards, the names of other righteous people are mentioned (Noah, Lot, Jacob, Joseph, Moses), among them also Abraham, who Jesus himself, before his death mentions as already present in Paradise (Lk. 16:22). An even longer list of the righteous in Paradise can be found in the book written by a scribe from Jerusalem, Sirach’s son (Si. 44-50); among them Cain’s son Enoch stands out, “who walked with God”, whom God took up to Paradise, so that “he never saw death”, “the scripture says that before Enoch was taken up, he had pleased God” (Gn. 4: 17, Si 44:16, 49:14, Heb. 11:5) Jesus therefore did not have anything to look for in Hell, but rather he immediately after death showed himself to all the righteous, the pagans and Hebrews, in Paradise, as St. Luke correctly asserts. Even the gospel according to Mathew does not in any place mention the 36 hour long waking and transporting of the righteous from the anti-room of Hell to Paradise, but only remarks, that Jesus, immediately after his physical death, rose from the dead some of Jerusalem’s townspeople, whose kin where able to see them not in Paradise, but on Earth and in their homes (Mt. 27:53). In the same way St. Peter, in his First Letter, 3:19-20, does not speak of the descent of the deceased Christ into some kind of “prison”, but about Wisdom, which in the days of the flood inspired the souls of people, who were imprisoned by their own passions, to repent for their sins in their final hours (see 1 Pt. 1:9-12).

        II – A new approach

         The reason for Jesus’ “descent” must be searched for elsewhere. This truly concerns actual events, which Jesus experienced in the three hours of his agony on the cross, when he suffered indescribable pains. Today we are more than well informed about these kinds of unbearable pains from the writings of well known doctors, such as M.D. Elisabeth Kübler Ross [11], M.D.. Raymond Moody [12], and M. D. Gloria Polo Ortiz [13]. All of the mentioned authors describe victims, who, while seemingly unconscious, were temporarily freed from their bodily shackles and discovered the spiritual world, which surrounded them. Following that experience, they return to their aching bodies. So, for ex., Mrs Gloria Polo writes about herself after being struck by lightning, that in a moment of internal emptiness she was no longer aware of either her body or the dimensions of time and space. “I saw everybody in a single instant, at the same time, both the living and the dead. I embraced my great-grand parents, my parents, who had passed away. I hugged everyone, it was a full and beautiful moment…I met with them in an instant, we embraced and I embraced all the people I had anything to do with in my life, everywhere, at the same instant” [14]. Similarly, on the cross Christ saw in a moment all the righteous from the Old Testament, from Adam and Eve to St. Joseph and John the Baptist.
         Mrs. Gloria Polo then describes her return to consciousness, accompanied with the feelings of bodily pain: “When I hugged my daughter, she got scared. She was nine years old. She felt my embrace” [15]. The same thing happened to Jesus, when he had wanted to hug his mother, whom he placed in the protection of St. John (Jn. 19:26).
         Gloria Polo once again fell into unconsciousness and suddenly “saw many people coming out of the walls of the operating room. At first sight they looked normal, but with a look of hatred on their faces, a horrible look… I run away… I went into some tunnels heading downward… in pitch darkness… At that point I saw a huge mouth opening up on floor and I felt immense emptiness in my body, a bottomless abyss… The hole sucked me and I felt terrified” [16].
         St. Martin similarly experienced the presence of an evil spirit in his agony. “What are you waiting for, you bloodthirsty beast?” he asked, “You have nothing to find with me you devil. Abraham will accept me into his arms.” [17]. For that reason we can correctly conclude that even Jesus on the cross experienced something similar, when due to extreme physical pain he again fell into unconsciousness and in a moment saw all the terrible spiritually deformed shapes of sinners and then even Satan, whom he saw in a similar kind of unconsciousness when he was completely exhausted from his fasting at the beginning of his redemptive work (Mt. 4:8-11; Lk. 4:5-8). As he was without sin, he suffered those tortures for us. Those spiritual tortures were so terrible, that Jesus called out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt. 27:46).
        

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        Since there is no mention of Christ’s descent into Hell, or into the vestibule of Hell, after his death on the cross, by the Gospels or the old Baptismal Creed, all the way up to the Byzantine creed from 381 A.D., and not even by modern national catechisms, such as the German from 1973 [18], the American from 1975 [19] and the Italian from 1981 [20]; and since their religious content can be interpreted differently, it would be preferable that dogmatic theologians deepen Jesus’ three hour agony before his death, rather than various religious stories about the three days after his death on the cross.

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Footnotes
[1] See Henricus Denzinger – Adolfus Schönmetzer S.J., Enchiridion symbolorum definitionum et declarationum de rebus Fidei et Morum, Romae 1967, introd. to Nr 10: “Ad explicandam hanc apostolicam symboli originem fabula illa nimio formalismo indulgens orta est, qua textus symboli ex totidem quot erant Apostoli articulis consarcinatus fingitur”.
[2] Internet, website Apostolska veroizpoved: “Legenda pravi, da so to molitev sestavili Apostoli na binkoštni dan”.
[3] Rufinus Aquileiensis, Exposiio in symbolum, n.2 (Patrologia Latina 21, col.337; su Internet Italian version, website Rufino di Aquileia, Spiegazione del simbolo, par. 2).
[4] See Enchiridion symbolorum, n.16; Rufino, Spiegazione del simbolo, par. 16.
[5] See John L. McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible, London 1968, 800-801.
[6] See Internet, website The Gospel of Nicodemus, or Acts of Pilate, edited by M. R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament, Oxford 1924; the Italian edition by my dear collegue Mario Erbetta, Gli Apocrifi del Nuovo Testmanto, Vangeli I/2, Casale 1981, p. 265-287.
[7] See Origen, The principles II, 10, 4 (Patrologia graeca 11, 237);Gospel of Matthew 14, 8-9 (Patr. Gr. 13, 1204-1205); card. Lotario, afterwards Pope Innocent III, De contemptu huius mundi, II, 42 (Patrologia Latina 217, 735).
[8] See Catechismo della dottrina Cristiana, pubblicato per ordine del sommo Pontefice san Pio X, Milano 1992, p. 7.
[9] Priest’s Ritual compiled from the Vatican typical edition, New York 1962, p. 12.
[10] Internet,website“Simbolo degli apostoli”/Apostolisches Glaubens- bekenntnis
[11] Elisabeth Kübler- Ross, On Death and Dying, Touchstone 1969. About this groundbreaking book see Internet, website Elisabeth Kübler – Ross.
[12] Raymond Moody, Life after Life: the investigation of a phenomenon – survival of bodily death, San Francisco 2001. See Internet, website Raymond Moody.
[13] Internet, website “gloriapolo.com”. Interview of Dr. Gloria Polo by Radio Maria (Colombia), pp. 1-18. Near Death Experience
[14] Polo, Near Death Experience, nr. 7.
[15] Ibidem, nr. 8.
[16] Ibid, nr. 13-14.
[17] St.Martin, 11. Nov., the reading in the Breviary from Sulpitius Severus, letter 4.
[18] Neues Glaubensbuch, Freiburg i.Br. 1973.
[19] An American catholic Catechism, New York 1975.
[20] Catechismo per la vita Cristiana, 6, Il catechismo per gli adulti “Signore da chi andremo?”, Roma 1981.

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A.D. MMXII

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