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, as St. Gregory of Nyssa talks with his dying(!) sister about stuff that doubters say about the Resurrection, continuing to ask her as his old teacher to assuage his fears about her passing.
The freaky thing is that St. Greg was apparently really bothered by the whole question of how it works to be resurrected, to the point of imparting all these complicated Greek worries that sound like Dr. McCoy and the transporter. I guess St. Macrina was used to her little brother freaking out, though. (Indeed, his life story lends one to suppose that he did fret and jump to weird conclusions about something weird all the time. This isn’t to say that he couldn’t be reasonable; he was a great theologian and teacher. But it took him a long hard road to get there, and in this case he may have reverted a bit, under stress.) It’s obvious that he has no hesitation about asking her this stuff; he’s not afraid at all that he might make her lose faith. There’s something very family about that.
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.)