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Christian Hell: From the Apocalypse of Peter to the Apocalypse of Paul

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Although the Apocalypse of Paul is just one of the hell-scapes that were produced by early Christianity, it is the most important step in the direction that would find its apogee in Dante. It is also a product of a specific place and time, undoubtedly produced for certain needs, even though these are no longer recoverable. In my contribution I first look at its place and date of origin, probably a monastic milieu in Egypt around AD 400. I then consider the sins in the Apocalypse of Paul and note that the author has mostly concentrated on matters of religious concern, whereas, in the Apocalypse of Peter, more general ethical problems, such as murder or false witnesses, still play a role. Moreover, there is no longer a border drawn against the pagans outside the Church, but against those who do not profess the orthodox doctrines. Finally, I discuss the question to what extent the punishments have been inspired by the penalties and tortures of the martyrs. Were they mainly inspired by literary tradition or by the historical reality?

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen, Oude Boteringestraat 38, 9712 GK Groningen, Netherlands;, Email:


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