"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Life after Death

It is an occasion of some dispute among some Orthodox as to what happens after we die. Some wholly reject Latin notions of purgatory; some entertain theories of "toll houses"; some simply say we do not know exactly what happens after we die other than we are judged, and the prayers of the living can be efficacious to those who have died. A new book by one of francophone Orthodoxy's important writers today, Jean-Claude Larchet, whose articles we have published in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies, may shed some light here: Life after Death according to the Orthodox Tradition, trans. G.J. Champoux (Orthodox Research Institute Press, 2012), 348pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
Life after Death according to the Orthodox Tradition presents the teachings from Orthodox Church tradition. On a few points, these teachings differ significantly from those of the Catholic and Protestant confessions. Some divergences between eastern and western traditions have existed since the fifth century, but have been considerably accentuated since the twelfth century, when the West, to borrow an expression from the historian Jacques Le Goff, 'invented Purgatory.' The Latin tradition is, however, in its roots, in perfect agreement with the eastern tradition. Also, although in our references we give the greatest space to the Greek Fathers, we will surely cite convergent or complementary teachings and testimonies of the Latin Fathers and hagiographers of antiquity. We hope in this way to make better known to Orthodox the teachings of their own often scattered about and poorly known tradition, and also to acquaint Catholic or Protestant readers with teachings unknown to them or which long ago ceased being within the compass of their faith, but which nevertheless belong to the rich patrimony of an ancient Christian tradition which, in its origins, is or should be common to all.

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