The Fire of Purgation in Gregory of Nyssa’s De anima et resurrectione

The Hidden Pearl

Introduction

Gregory of NyssaFire has had different functions in Christian eschatology. While final destruction is the fate of the unsaved according to Edward William Fudge in his book Fire that Consumes1, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that eternal punishment awaits those who die in a state of mortal sin2. In either case, fire is the main agent that consumes the damned or inflicts eternal punishment on them. Fire also plays an important role in purifying the soul according to the Catechism’s teachings on purgatory where all who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, undergo purification before they enter the joy of heaven. “The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire.3” Long before the Fathers of the Councils of Florence (1414-1418 A.D.) and Trent (1545-1563 A.D.) promulgated the doctrine of purgatory, Gregory of Nyssa (335-394 A.D.) and other theologians4 espoused the teaching…

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