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Preliminary Remarks: The Function Of The Afterlife Scene

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Chapter Summary

The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus contains several themes intertwined. It is a powerful exhortation to repent and use one’s wealth properly. The function of the afterlife scene is to strengthen the moral exhortation. In this respect, the story is an apocalyptic story, revealing the fate of the dead and thus comparable with many apocalypses. However, the story differs from many other apocalyptic accounts, as the fate of the dead is not revealed for its own sake but with the aim of moral exhortation. The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus is analogous to the story of Er in Plato’s Republic and other stories that use eschatological myth to promote a right way of life. In the description of the otherworldly conditions of the two men, the story makes use of several images and themes familiar to its audience to underline the severity of the otherworldly retribution.

Keywords: afterlife scene; apocalypses; eschatological myth; fate; Lazarus; moral exhortation; Rich Man



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