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7 - Vindicating Divine Justice

from Part II - Themes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 March 2021

Francis Watson
Affiliation:
University of Durham
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Summary

In contrast to the synoptic gospels and the Pauline letters, the author of the Epistula is concerned to present a coherent and comprehensive account of the essentials of Christian faith as he understands it. That is especially the case in the area of eschatology, which becomes increasingly focused on judgement as the text proceeds. Judgement is preceded by resurrection, and it is the resurrection and judgement of Christians that is most strongly emphasized. The judgement will bring about a final division within the Christian community between the elect (those who obey Jesus’ commandments) and the rejected (those who disobey), and the failure to challenge the inappropriate conduct especially of wealthy members of the community is attributed to ‘partiality’ and is itself regarded as disobedience exposing one to eternal punishment. Thus the impartiality that Jesus will display at the eschatological judgement must be anticipated here and now. A hardline insistence on strict retributive justice is maintained in spite of the disciples’ appeal to the divine mercy.

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An Apostolic Gospel
The 'Epistula Apostolorum' in Literary Context
, pp. 190 - 212
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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