The literal interpretation of the parable of the rich man and poor lazarus in luke's narrative is incompatible with the Old Testament
Writter: Evangelos Kepenes (July 14, 2023, 15:40)
The myth of eternal suffering
"Nowhere in the Old Testament is Hades mentioned as a place of punishment or Hell." (Prof: Agouridis Savvas)
The obsessive and mythic religious belief in posthumous eternal torments of the "non-believers" caused by unspecified tormentors in some "place," where fire, the element of nature, is kept constantly burning with sulfur (=a chemical element known since the time of Homer as a snake repellent and as a pesticide), is an absurd and arbitrary pairing of the antinomy "Immortal or Abrotos (Greek) - Mortal or Brotos (Job 15:14 LXX)." This paradox is a result of Mythology and the false and problematic theology of Greek patristic thought, which assimilated the distinction between natural and metaphysical / visible and invisible / light and darkness / spiritual and carnal / life and death / earthly and heavenly, and canceled the distinct definition of biblical concepts, thus overturning the divine logic and order, "Howbeit that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; then that which is spiritual." (1 Cor. 15:46). This profane reversal is the result of misunderstanding biblical anthropology by ancient philosophical diarchic influences that dichotomize the earthly man into two elements, a mortal body and an immortal soul, and the result of misunderstanding biblical cosmogony from One Principle to mythological cosmogonic theories of two principles, a Good one and an Evil one.
Modern uninvited "servants" of God, ministers of Death and the condemnation of the ΟΤ instead of the love, the justification, the redemption, the absolution, the grace, and the gift of immortality of the NT preached by Christ and His apostles, reproduce the abominable myth of eternal suffering and spiritual terror sown by their like-minded forefathers, who were followers of the ancient religions.
The covering that was there when the Old Testament was read remains to this day and can only be removed through the Almighty Jesus Christ who fulfilled the Law and the prophets, crushed the kingdom of Death that kept mortals away from the "tree of Life," subjugated angels, powers, and forces, gave new birth, i.e., a new spiritual man, "a new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17), and granted eternal life on the condition of faith in Him and love for one's neighbor.
The myth of eternal suffering has as its background the myth of the immortality of the soul of Platonic dualism as an immaterial entity that is incarnated and imprisoned in the tomb / sepulcher of the material body (temporary union) and seeks its liberation and return to its original state through reincarnations. This idea, which according to Josephus was also adopted by the Pharisees (The Jewish War 2.8.14), is contrary to the biblical view of the soul where:
Ι) The whole man is a soul
“These [are] the sons of Rachel, which she bore to Jacob; all the souls eighteen”. Gen. 46:22, LXXE)
“Crafty souls go astray in sins: but just men pity, and are merciful.” (Prov. 13:9, LXXE)
“Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers.” (Rom. 13:1, ERV)
“They then that received his word were baptized: and there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:41)
ΙΙ) The soul dies
“… the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ez. 18:4)
“neither shall he go in to any dead body (Grk txt. Soul), nor defile himself for his father, or for his mother;” (Lev. 21:11)
“& (Samson) saide: My soule dye wt the Philistynes”. (Judges 16:30, Coverdale Bible of 1535)
"Dualisms within the human person: Soul-Body"
The late Dr. Ioanna Sahinidou, founding member of the Greek section of the Ecumenical Forum of European Christian Women, author, editor of the children's magazine "Rainbow" (1980-1993) and columnist in the Christian magazine "Star of the East", in her article "Dualisms within the Human Person: Soul-Body" states: "We must separate the concept of "soul" in the Septuagint translation from Platonic dualisms and consider the biblical understanding where people are viewed in relation to their own selves, an idea found in the Old Testament in the concept of “nephesh (נֶ֫פֶשׁ nép̄eš)”. It is fundamental to reclaim the concept of "soul" as used in the New Testament, as the relationship of the individual to God and to each other. Let us study the relationship of the "living soul" and the "image of God" that lead to an interrelated creation united with the creator who breathes life into people.
Modern Bible scholars consider that biblical anthropology does not divide man into soul and body, but treats him holistically. Dualism misinterpreted human nature due to influences of Hellenistic Platonic doctrines. In the New Testament, the body is sanctified, the whole person exists and salvation is complete. The angel said to Joseph: "Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life (Grk txt Soul)" (Matt. 2:20). In Matthew 6:25, “Godbey N.T.” we read: "Therefore I say unto you, Be not solicitous for your soul what you may eat, nor for your body what you may put on. Is not your soul more valuable than food, and your body than raiment?” There is no reference to disembodied souls that will be reunited with their bodies, the whole man is a soul". (Star of the East, September 2015, Issue 8)
The Hades of the ancient religion
The information about the Hades of the ancient religion is drawn from Homer and other ancient narratives/epics and poems, where the invented gods of the mortal earthly men imitate their evil or good deeds, fall in love, commit adultery, have intercourse with one another, have lineages and sovereign boundaries, make enemies, fight with weapons, die, resurrect, and benefit or punish.
Hades (Greek: Άδης, from the privative prefix a- + ιδείν "see") was the kingdom of the homonymous ideal anthropomorphic god. Hades or Pluto, brother of Zeus and Poseidon, was the god of the dark, sad, musty, silent underworld of the dead and death, and his weapon was a pitchfork. He was also called Άιδης (=invisible because of the magic cap he had taken from the Cyclops). His companion was Persephone, chthonic goddess of rural societies, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, whom he kidnapped. Hekate or Perseis, the three-faced deity of white and black magic, also ended up consorting with Hades. Servants of Hades were the Keres and the Erinyes, mythical winged spirits of death and revenge who were active mainly on the battlefields. The Gates of Hades were guarded by Cerberus, a mythical monster that had the body of a three-headed dog and three poisonous snakes for a tail. Keyholder of Hades was the pious and righteous Aeacus, son of Zeus and the nymph Aegina, first king of Aegina and judge of the underworld together with Minos and Rhadamanthys. Other deities who lived there were Hypnos (=Sleep) and Thanatos (=Death). The ferryman Charon, the psychopomp boatman of the river Acheron of Epirus also worked there, because the dead had to pass the water element to reach the underworld. Those alive who prayed to Pluto sacrificed black animals and clapped their hands on the ground to be heard. The Myth mentions communication and descents of living heroes into Hades such as Heracles, Orpheus, Pirithus with Theseus, Dionysus, Odysseus, Aeneas accompanied by the Sibyl, each for their own reasons.
The Hades of Mythology was divided into areas, such as Erebus (a symbol of silence and deep darkness, in which the Thrones of Pluto and Persephone, the Hecatoncheires, the Erinyes, Cerberus as well as the cave of Scylla were located), the Asphodel Meadows (asphodel was a plant with the roots of which some dead people were fed), the Elysian Fields (with two kingdoms, the Isle of the Blessed and the Lethean Fields), and Tartarus. There were also the springs of Forgetfulness and Remembrance and the famous spring of Styx where the Gods and the Sun swore. All the dead inhabitants of the underworld, rich, poor, famous, infamous, good, and evil, were incorporeal, like shadows with their physical outline, and lived a conscious form of life, retaining in their memory their former earthly life after they drank blood. After they were judged, they were either rewarded or punished. Although incorporeal, their punishments according to their sins, such as hunger, thirst, forced labor, attack by vultures, caused them to experience physical suffering.
Hermes, as the messenger of the gods, carried news and prayers from the upper world to the underworld and as a psychopomp (the position of the psychopomp was later taken by Charon) led the "immortal souls" to Hades, and brought them back to the upper world for new incarnations.
Entry to the Underworld was forbidden to the unburied dead who roamed outside its gates restlessly, trapped between the two worlds.
Diodorus Siculus (80-20 BC) in whose era the Olympian Gods were still worshiped, characterizes the mythology of Hades, which differed significantly among the mythologists, fictitious but beneficial.
"For if it be true that the myths which are related about Hades, in spite of the fact that their subject-matter is fictitious, contribute greatly to fostering piety and justice among men, how much more must we assume that history, the prophetess of truth, she who is, as it were, the mother-city of philosophy as a whole, is still more potent to equip men's characters for noble living!" (Diodorus Siculus, Book I, 2)
The Hades of the Bible
“The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.” (1 Sam. 2:6)
Hades is a Greek word that renders the Hebrew word Sheol. In the Masoretic text, it is also rendered as "tomb." Hades was a dark and gloomy land, a land of eternal sleep and darkness (Jer. 51:39), where no one could see the life of mortals or communicate with them.
“before I go whence I shall not return, to a land of darkness and gloominess; to a land of perpetual darkness, where there is no light, neither [can any one] see the life of mortals.” (Job 10:21-22 LXXE)
It was a place in the lower, earthly regions
“Now this, He ascended, what is it but that he also descended into the lower parts of the earth?” (Eph. 4:9 ERV)
“If they dig into Sheol, from there shall my hand take them …" (Amos 9:2 ESV2011).
In Hades was no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom
“Whatsoever thine hand shall find to do, do with all thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Hades wither thou goest.” (Eccl. 9:10 LXX)
It was the common destiny of every mortal
"For I know that death will destroy me for the earth is the house for every mortal." (Job 30:23, LXX).
In Hades, there was no remembrance of God nor praise
“For in death no man remembers thee: and who will give thee thanks in Hades?” (Ps. 6:5 LXX)
“For they that are in the grave shall not praise thee, neither shall the dead bless thee, neither shall they that are in Hades hope for thy mercy.” (Is. 38:18 LXX)
Hades was a forgotten place, forgotten by God and by people
“Shall thy wonders be known in darkness? and thy righteousness in a forgotten land?” (Ps. 87:12 LXX, see also Ps. 30:12)
Descriptions of Hades like that in Isaiah, 5:14 CPDV, “For this reason, Hell Sheol has expanded its soul, and has opened its mouth without any limits” are anthropomorphisms that we read in the Bible even about God, who is described as having a mouth, hands, feet, heart, eyes, etc.
God never promised non-immortal people - whose biological death is a given - eternal postmortem suffering, but He promised eternal death, that is, cut off from immortality and loss.
“Say to them, Thus saith the Lord; [As] I live, I desire not the death of the ungodly, as that the ungodly should turn from his way and live (eternally): turn ye heartily from your way; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ez. 33:11 LXX)
“But the adulterer through want of sense procures destruction to his soul.” (Pr. 6:32 LXX)
“… are ye not children of perdition? a lawless seed?” (Is 57:4 LXX)
The Hades of the OT, the ministry of death, was a place of rest and undisturbed sleep for all the dead and not a place of suffering.
“For why died I not in the belly? and [why] did I not come forth from the womb and die immediately? and why did the knees support me? and why did I suck the breasts? Now I should have lain down and been quiet, I should have slept and been at rest, with kings [and] councillors of the earth, who gloried in [their] swords […] There the ungodly have burnt out the fury of rage; there the wearied in body rest.” (Job 3:11-17 LXX)
“Look on me, hearken to me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep in death;” (Ps. 12:3 LXX)
And Jacob, the patriarch of the carnal Israel, expected to go to Hades, implying that he would die, not that he would go to a place of eternal suffering.
“And all his sons and his daughters gathered themselves together, and came to comfort him; but he would not be comforted, saying, I will go down to my son mourning to Hades; and his father wept for him.” (Gen. 37:34 LXX)
Job completely deconstructs the belief of eternal suffering, wishing that God would hide him in Hades until His wrath passed and he was freed from his earthly suffering.
“Oh that thou wouldest hide me in Sheol, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!” (Job 14:13)
Of particular note is Psalm 9:17 (LXX), which clearly teaches that all sinners, from whom God had turned away His face, ended up in the eternal sleep of Hades, and not in a place of suffering, which is, however, misrepresented arbitrarily by Greek Orthodox hermeneutical renditions of the scriptures.
“Let sinners be driven away into Hades, [even] all the nations that forget God.” (Ps. 9:17 LXX)
The false renditions
1) Ιωάννης Θ. Κολιτσάρας: «Ας καταδικασθούν και ας ριφθούν εις τας οδύνας του άδου οι αμετανόητοι αμαρτωλοί, όλα τα ειδωλολατρικά έθνη, τα οποία λησμονούν και καταφρονούν τον Θεόν». (Ps. 9:18)
Translation in English
"Let the unrepentant sinners, all pagan nations, who forget and despise God, be condemned and thrown into the torments of hell." (Prof. John Kolitsaras)
2) Παναγιώτης Ν. Τρεμπέλας: «Εἴθε νὰ ριφθοῦν καὶ νὰ ἐπιστρέψουν οἱ ἀμετανόητοι ἁμαρτωλοὶ εἰς τὸν Ἅδην, τοῦ ὁποίου εἶναι ἀποβράσματα, καὶ εἴθε νὰ ὑποστοῦν ἐκεῖ τὰς τρομερωτέρας τιμωρίας ἐκεῖ ἂς ἐγκλεισθοῦν ὅλοι οἰ ἐθνικοὶ καὶ εἰδωλολάτραι, οἱ ὁποῖοι λησμονοῦν τὸν Θεὸν καὶ δὲν συγκροτοῦνται ἀπὸ τὸν φόβον του». (Ps. 9:18)
Translation in English
"May the unrepentant sinners be cast down and returned to Hades, of which they are the scum, and may they there suffer the most terrible punishments; there let all the heathens and idolaters be imprisoned, who forget God and are not constituted by the fear of him." (Prof. Panagiotis N. Trebelas)
Editor's Note: These deliberate interpretive distortions of biblical texts expose the religious exploitative purpose of producing fear, which is a necessary tool of political or religious domination. The fabricated religious antidote to fear is the hope of salvation, with the necessary inclusion of "the fearful" into man-made churches as a requirement, whose statutes, traditions, and false prophecies, contribute to the complete spiritual deconstruction of the members.
The Old Testament, the ministry of death (II Cor. 3:7), was to be abolished by Christ, the Life, along with Hades and eternal Death
The Old Testament Law made the recipients liable (accused) before God (Rom. 3:19). Paul rightly explains that "the law worketh wrath" (Rom. 4:15) and makes a clear distinction between the ministry of the letter and death and condemnation (the Old Testament) that was about to be abolished (Heb. 8:13), and the ministry of righteousness and quickening (the New Testament) that remains forever, "for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Cor. 3:6).
The ministry of death was a "heaven," a "covering," over all mortals (Rom. 5:12) that kept them away from the Immortality which only God has. (1 Tim. 6:16)
In order for the mortal to be united with eternal Life and receive the gift of immortality, the Old "heaven" of death had to leave and Christ, the New "heaven" of Life, of Regeneration, had to come. For as long as "the heaven" of the OT existed, man was dead, "let the dead bury their dead" (Matt. 8:22), and could not be quickened, nor wake up from the eternal sleep of death (Jer. 51:39). When the seed of the promise came (Christ, the Life and Resurrection), He "abolished (eternal) death, and brought (eternal) life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Tim. 1:10).
Job foresaw the hope of the resurrection of the dead from Hades when heaven would cease to exist, not the physical heaven, but the heaven of death of the Old Testament Law
“So man sleepeth and riseth not: for hee shall not wake againe, nor be raised from his sleepe till the heauen be no more.” (Job 14:12 Geneva 1587)
The same hope of resurrection is revealed by the angel of the Lord to Daniel when he spoke to him about the last days of the kingdom of the carnal Israel and the end of the Law.
“[…] and I have come to inform thee of all that shall befall thy people in the last days: for the vision is yet for [many] days.” (Dan. 10:14 LXX)
“And from the time of the removal of the perpetual sacrifice, when the abomination of desolation shall be set up, [there shall be] a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waits, and comes to the thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.
But go thou, and rest; for [there are] yet days and seasons to the fulfillment of the end; and thou shalt stand in thy lot at the end of the days.” (Dan. 12:11-13 LXX)
The same message was prophesied by Isaiah “And all the powers of the heavens shall melt, and the sky shall be rolled up like a scroll: and all the stars shall fall like leaves from a vine, and as leaves fall from a fig-tree.” (Is. 34:4)
Hades followed Death (Rev. 6:8)
Death had gates, and Hades had porters, "Ανοίγονται δέ σοι φόβῳ πύλαι θανάτου (=gates of death), πυλωροὶ (=porters) δὲ ᾅδου ἰδόντες σε ἔπτηξαν (=they were frightened and wrinkled with fear)". (Ιώβ 38:17 Greek txt)
“And do the gates of death open to thee for fear; and did the porters of hell Hades quake when they saw thee?” (Job 38:17 LXX)
The Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, descended to the lower parts of the earth and smashed the gates of Death, which he identifies with the gates of Hades (Matt. 16:18)
“Lift up your gates, ye princes, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the king of Glory shall come in. Who is this king of Glory? the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” (Ps. 23:7-8 LXX)
When Christ, the Life and Resurrection, appeared, the end of the kingdom and ministry of Death and Hades came, "Christ is the end of the Law". Life overcame Death and darkness (John 1:5). In the historical book of Revelation where allegory and symbolism prevail, Jesus says:
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (Rev. 1:17-18)
Defeated, Death and Hades "delivered up the dead which were in them" to the leader of Life, Jesus Christ, to judge them according to their works, and they either received immortality or lost it. (Rev. 20:13)
Eternal Death and Hades no longer have a place in the endless Age of the Kingdom of grace and Life through Jesus Christ, "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire." There is no longer any need for books of remembrance, nor records of names and deeds, nor the Book of Life, because Life, Christ, is now within His children.
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Cor. 13:5)
“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12)
The narrative of Luke and the other books of the New Testament
Before examining the incompatibility of the parable with the Old Testament, it must be said that in the "Catholic Church" the canon of the 27 books of the New Testament was not definitively established until the 4th century AD at the Council of Carthage. "The Gospels of the New Testament are four in number, the Acts of the Apostles is one book, the Epistles of Paul the Apostle are fourteen in number, the Epistles of Peter the Apostle are two in number, the Epistles of John the Apostle are three in number, the Epistle of James the Apostle is one book, the Epistle of Jude the Apostle is one book, the Revelation of John is one book" (Canon 24). At the same time, the Council of Rome under Pope Damasus I recognized the Biblical canon, listing the accepted books of the Old and New Testament.
Christos Sp. Voulgaris, professor of the theological faculty of the University of Athens, in his work "Introduction to the New Testament," volume I, pages 215-217, states that "for the writing of the Gospel, Luke used the Gospel according to Mark, various sources of scholars (Q) and exclusively his own material […] the material coming from Q constitutes about 20% of the Gospel according to Luke”
"The Q source (also called The Sayings Gospel) is the text which, according to the findings of modern science, was used by the authors of the synoptic gospels Matthew and Luke to present the teaching of Jesus. In the scientific world, the Q Source has been established internationally to be identified by the symbol Q, the first letter of the German word Quelle (=Source)." (Wikipedia)
Papias, in his memorandum Words of Jesus, states the following:
“Matthew in the Hebrew tongue wrote the Words, and interpreted them as every man might." (Eusebious, ecclesiastical history C΄39, 16)
The traces of this most important text of primitive Christianity, after its use by the evangelists, were lost in time.
Additions, removals, and misrepresentations of the epistles were already known from the apostolic and post-apostolic times.
Origen (185-253/4) states: “Now the corruption of the copies was very great, either because of the wantonness of some scribes, or because of the maliciously boldness of some of the workers in correcting what was written, or even because of those who gave themselves in the added to or subtracted from the correction." (ΡΟ 13 12934)
Also, the historian Hegesippus (110-180 AD) in his work "Memoranda" III, LGFCW (=Library of Greek Fathers and Church Writers), due to the confusion created by the sects and especially Gnosticism, mentions that there are some "who try to corrupt the sound canon of the saving preaching".
And Irenaeus (2nd - 3rd century) in his work "Against Heresies" mentions that Gnostic groups had created and adduced "an unspeakable number of apocryphal and spurious writings". (1, 20, 1)
Also, Celsus, a Greek philosopher and critic of Christianity, states: "I have even heard that some of your interpreters, as if they had just come out of a tavern, are onto the inconsistencies and, pen in hand, alter the original writings, three, four and several more times over in order to be able to deny the contradictions in the face of criticism." (Celcus, The True Word, 176)
The apostle Paul sounded the alarm of the danger of counterfeiting the truth by noting the following: “not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.” (2 Thess. 2:2).
And he urged Timothy “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.” (1 Tim. 6:20-21)
The parable of the anonymous Rich Man and poor Lazarus (Luk. 16:19-31)
The literal interpretation of the parable has puzzled many Bible scholars, and various interpretations have been put forth from time to time, which we see here: "Poor Lazarus".
Throughout the sixteenth (16th) chapter of Luke's narrative, Jesus criticizes the avarice of the Jewish rich, who despised others by breaking the Covenant of their God. The name Lazarus means "God is my salvation" (Lexicon: Man. Triantafyllidis) or "God has helped" (Lexicon: Babiniotis). The anonymity of the Rich Man weakens the version of the story, but the Word of the Lord is confirmed, who said about the ungodly, "nor take up their names into my lips" (Ps. 16:4), and about the righteous, "but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven" (Luk. 10:20).
The rich Hebrew "was clothed in purple and fine linen".
In general, the use of the purple, which was an outer garment dyed with purple, and the byssus, which was a type of silk, was a sign of wealth and power. However, the same materials were also used for priestly garments (Ex. 28:3-5). The "testimony" of the Rich Man that he had "five brothers" leaves room for some interpretations, such as that the Rich Man was Annas, who was a high priest together with his son-in-law, Caiaphas (Luk. 3:2), about whom Josephus states:
"It is said that the elder Ananus (Annas) was extremely fortunate. For he had five sons (Eleazar, Jonathan, Theophilus, Matthias, Annas the Younger), all of whom, after he himself had previously enjoyed the office for a very long period, became high priests of God - a thing that had never happened to any other of our high priests." (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities XX, 9.1)
Annas and his sons were rich because they managed the Temple's revenues and had turned the Temple into a "den of thieves" (Matt. 21:13).
But conversations in Hades where "there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom" cannot take place, "the dead know nothing" (Eccl. 9:5-10). Also, the verse "no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven..." excludes the fact that Abraham was in heaven (paradise) before the resurrection of Jesus who "tells" the parable. Nor was there a separate place for the righteous in the biblical Hades, so the speculation that the Rich Man was the high priest Annas is unsupported.
Editor's Note: Catholic theology, influenced by Mythology, describes Hades as divided into three parts: a) hell of the damned, b) limbo (=the border place between heaven and hell) of the unbaptized dead infants, because they deserve neither punishment nor salvation, and c) limbo of the patriarchs, such as Abraham, David, Noah, etc., who died and were waiting for the coming of Christ to enter Paradise. Source
Also, in the apocryphal book of Enoch, separate parts for the righteous and eternal suffering for the wicked after death are mentioned (1 Enoch 22:1-44, 27:1-4).
“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels into Abraham's bosom: and the rich man also died, and was buried. And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things: but now here he is comforted, and thou art in anguish. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that they which would pass from hence to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from thence to us.” (Luk. 16:22-26)
The passage is highly problematic because it presents the "judgment" of the dead before it takes place, characterizing the "speaking Jesus" as deviating from the Scriptures, according to which both were to rest in Hades and the day of the resurrection of the dead to be judged according to their works. Furthermore, the fact that the Rich Man, being mortal but not immortal (he was immortal according to plato's ideology), has full consciousness in Hades, experiences suffering, has eyes that can see Abraham and Lazarus in the gloomy darkness, and has a loud voice (he cried) that Abraham can hear it despite the "great gulf" between them, and asks Lazarus to come to him and dip the tip of his finger in water that was in the flames and "cool" his "tongue," looks like a science fiction movie, with a script based on life in the mythical Hades.
Also, deeply troubling is what Abraham says to the Rich Man: "remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony." It is impossible that Abraham did not know that "the dead know nothing," that "on that very day (of death) their plans come to nothing," and that the wicked "spend their years in prosperity, and go down to the grave (Sheol) in peace." (Eccl. 9:5, Ps. 146:4, Job 21:13)
Is the parable literal or allegorical?
If we accept the parable in question in Luke's narrative as the word of the Lord, and not as an interpolated addition, then it becomes understandable and comes into harmony with the Bible, only with the overall understanding of the words of Jesus and the Apostles, and on the basis that "the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." The ungodly Rich Man, living under the letter of the Law which kills and not under the spirit of grace which quickens, was already dead, “And I lived some time without the law. But when the commandment came, sin revived, And I died. And the commandment that was ordained to life, the same was found to be unto death to me. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, seduced me, and by it killed me.” (Rom. 7:9-11 DRC)
And his conversations, what he saw, and the sufferings he experienced, did not concern his afterlife but the time of his biological life where, according to the Scriptures, he had neither rest nor joy.
“But the unrighteous shall be tossed as troubled waves, and shall not be able to rest. There is no joy to the ungodly, said God.” (Is. 57:20-21)
Likewise, elsewhere: “Remember then who has perished, being pure? or when were the true-hearted utterly destroyed? Accordingly as I have seen men ploughing barren places, and they that sow them will reap sorrows for themselves.” (Job 4:7-8 LXX)
“For sin is [as] divination; idols bring on pain and grief …” (1 Sam. 15:23)
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Tim. 6:10)
And the "Poor", while living, received the message of grace and love from the messengers (angels) of Christ, and died according to the Law of death which was the OT, so that he could be united with life, Christ,
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.” (Rom. 8:2)
He was buried with Christ "by baptism into death" (Rom. 6:4), and so he was carried "to Abraham's bosom," to whom the promise of eternal life had been given, becoming his child. (Rom. 4:16-17)
"But now he is comforted." The "Poor Man" of the parable now walks "in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4) maintaining the hope of eternal life "through the comfort of the Scriptures" (Rom. 15:4)
The study of biblical subjects is aimed at understanding the words of Jesus and contributes to the attestation of the reliability of the Scriptures. It motivates those who love the truth to research.
The understanding of the parable is understood within the overall context of the Biblical narrative.
The literal interpretation of the parable of the Rich Man and the Poor Lazarus refers to mythology and the unorthodox "patristic" dogma, overturns the apostolic teaching, and denies the redemptive work of Jesus Christ for the "mortals" and the "gift" of immortality.
References in the historical book of Revelation, such as:
"The smoke of their torment (14:11)" (smoke=a mixture of gases and solid particles of carbon, with a characteristic odor emitted by a material body when it burns).
"The lake of fire and brimstone (20:10)” (=a chemical element known since the time of Homer as a snake repellent and as a pesticide).
"They have no rest day nor night (14:11)" (the sun rules over the day and the moon over the night, there is no night in heaven).
All these refer to natural elements and phenomena, and must be understood as earthly punishments deriving from the Law of the OT for the transgressors of the Law (Lev. 26:14-43) and not as postmortem states.
No form of life exists after death except that which God gives, "who only hath immortality" (1 Tim. 6:16).
Amen. Christ our life
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