Chapter 9 Patristic Views on Why There Is No Repentance after Death

In: The Unity of Body and Soul in Patristic and Byzantine Thought
Author: David Bradshaw

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Following biblical texts such as the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, there was broad agreement in the Greek patristic tradition that the soul cannot repent after death. Nonetheless, a closer look reveals some complications. One is that at least some such souls did repent, namely those who responded favorably to Christ’s preaching in Hades. Another is that the precise reason why souls cannot repent remained unclear; there was general agreement that the reason has to do with the soul’s bodiless condition, but little consensus as to precisely why this is decisive. This paper traces the development of patristic thought on these topics and what it reveals about patristic views of the relationship of soul and body.