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Purgatory: Worldly Functions Of An Otherworldly Notion

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Chapter Summary

The term purgatory seems to call forth manifold associations, which obscure the real meaning of the underlying term. Therefore, the author likes to clarify what he mean by purgatory before coming back to the functions of this notion. According to Catholic belief, the souls of the deceased who are destined for heaven, but who have not yet rendered complete satisfaction for their sins, will go to purgatory. Between death and the vision of God these souls have to undergo purification, which can be described by the image of fire. The basic idea of purgatory first occurred in North Africa and Alexandria at the turning-point of the second to the third century. Purgatory primarily fulfils an integrative function, wherein its ecclesiological and sociological significance lies. The idea transports a certain image of God as well as a certain view of the world.

Keywords: Alexandria; Catholic; God; North Africa; purgatory

10.1163/ej.9789004186262.i-402.107
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