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The Functions of Postmortem Judgment in Greek and Roman Traditions

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Chapter Summary

Students of Paul's judgment language have been remarkably inattentive to the importance of Greco-Roman judgment traditions. This chapter demonstrates that the language and conceptions of postmortem judgment were widely known and used on both the philosophical and popular levels, and is divided into three sections: (i) the classical Greek period as the source for later conceptions, (ii) the late hellenistic and early Roman uses of judgment language, and (iii) the ways in which Greco-Roman judgment conceptions were used to emphasize individual attainment of honor rather than corporate identity. Two dominant images of judgment emerged for later Greeks and Romans to use: these were (i) the mythology of the underworld as set forth above all by Homer, and (ii) the belief in the transmigration and judgment of the soul as set forth above all by Pindar and Plato.

Keywords: Greek traditions; Homer; Paul; Pindar; Plato; postmortem judgment; Roman traditions; underworld mythology



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