Mike Aquilina

Our Old Haunts

Tuesday October 31st 2006, 3:01 am

“Thus, in 1 Peter 3:19, Jesus is actually declaring victory over the demonic realm; he is not preaching to the righteous dead. The second passage, 1 Peter 4:6, on the other hand, does say that the gospel was preached to the dead.” Thus say Heidi J. Hornik and Mikeal C. Parsons, in a study titled The Harrowing of Hell, which appeared in Bible Review in June 2003. The authors cite St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Melito of Sardis, the Odes of Solomon, the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, and many other sources — establishing that the credal statement “He descended into hell” has a remarkable patristic pedigree. They won’t say, in the end, whether they consider it the Fathers’ “misreading” of the Scriptures. For some of us, the councils have settled that question by affirming the creeds. In any event, Jesus is indeed victorious over the demons, and He has indeed preached to the righteous dead. So happy Halloween, everyone!