On the Soul and the Resurrection concludes, as the dying St. Macrina speaks to her brother about the body as compared to the resurrected body as the seed compares to the ear of wheat, and compares this to the unfallen bodies of humans when first created.
On the Soul and the Resurrection continues. St. Greg and St. Mac finish talking about the soul and purgatory, St. Macrina tells everybody to quit complaining and just suck it up when it comes to the divine plan, we move onto talking about the resurrection of the body, and we learn why believing in reincarnation takes all the fun out of food.
On the Soul and the Resurrection continues, as we learn about the life of the soul after its initial separation from the body. We also learn that St. Macrina was of opinion that Purgatory and Hell were pretty much the same thing – the love of God drawing out what was good and destroying what was evil in the soul. I don’t think this is the current view (Hell is the absence of God is the usual view today), but I’m not really up on the theology of Hell. (Other than “Stay out of it.”)
On the Soul and the Resurrection continues. St. Macrina discusses Jesus’ parable of Dives the rich man and Lazarus the poor man, and why it’s good to get your suffering done on Earth. Then just in time for Halloween, we even have a patristic discussion of ghosts!
St. Macrina is such a theology/science geek. I mean, would this even occur to the average person on their deathbed? She’s either awfully tough-minded or giving her brother Greg a hard time to get him out of his grief rut. “Woooooooo… here I am on my deathbed, speculating about ghooooooosts….”
On the Soul and the Resurrection continues, as St. Macrina moves back into more speculative territory. She really seems to have liked the idea of the soul swanning around in the world in atoms. Well, that hadn’t all been worked out yet, so she had a right to speculate.
We also get some very fun similes, which she uses for how the soul hangs out with atoms, but which St. Greg points out are more suited to proving the possibility of resurrection in the exact same body.
We also have more fun with Greco-Roman speculation about the antipodes. Apparently some people, pagans and otherwise, thought Hades was logically on the opposite part of the globe to where they lived, and that this constituted “the underworld”. If St. M had believed this, she’d have believed her soul was somewhere out in the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and South America. So it’s a good thing she knew souls were immaterial and not bound by place! (Antipodemap.com figures this stuff out for you, btw.)
Well, okay, not really. But you could pretty clearly use this kind of recapitulation argument that way. And why not? It would be really amusing to watch Dawkins’ head explode if you did argue from the divine. St. Mac didn’t even know about all the little plants and bacteria and virii that live inside us and the various kinds of cell, all of which would improve her argument that humanity encapsulates bits of all the orders of Creation, and thus had to come along later than their beginnings. Evolution as an important part of God’s toolbox would seem to fit very naturally into this view.
On the Soul and the Resurrection continues the dialogue between St. Macrina and her brother St. Gregory of Nyssa. In this installment, we have some kinda iffy Greek ideas about atoms, emotions, and the soul, but there’s a strong ending.
On the Soul and the Resurrection is a philosophical and theological dialogue between St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Macrina, when she was on her deathbed, and he was freaking out. (Another brother, St. Basil the Great, had just died a few months back, and St. Gregory was still mourning him when he found out his eldest sister was about to kick the bucket, too.) It’s probably fictionalized for educational purposes, but also seems to try to preserve St. Macrina’s teaching as faithfully as possible. I think you’ll find it interesting, especially once it really gets rolling next week.
This dialogue comes chronologically right after Part 2 and before Part 3 of The Life of St. Macrina. I’ll finish up The Life next week or so (there’s about three parts to go); but On the Soul and the Resurrection will take a lot longer.
I have to say that I really love the 4th century habit of calling the religious life or the Christian life “philosophy”, and of calling religious and hermits “philosophers”. It’s beautiful and fitting, but also very very Greek.
The Life of St. Macrina is a biography — or to be exact, a panegyric or praise — of a brilliant, well-educated, well-born, rich, and beautiful lady of the Roman Empire, (from what today is Turkey) who chose the religious life over any other form of happiness. (Also, there’s a lot about her mother, St. Emmelia. That lady’s not named in the book, but you probably wanted to know.)
It was written by one of her little brothers, St. Gregory of Nyssa. He was the comparative black sheep of the ten children in this extremely Christian family descended from confessors of the faith, and yet he turned out to become a bishop and famous theologian. Some black sheep.