The Paschal Comedy

Long before the medieval theories of soteriology, Christian art and hymnography described our Lord's descent into hell as a sort of "surprise attack" on the realm of death. According to this imagery, the soul of Christ descended into the netherworld even as his body was placed in the tomb. Neither place, however, was able to hold him.

According to the prophet David, Christ was victorious over death both in the grave and in the netherworld: "For you will not leave my soul in hell, / Nor will you allow your Holy One to see corruption" (Psalm 16[15]:10). The Apostle Peter commented on this text: "His soul was not left in Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This . . .

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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of Christ in the Psalms, Christ in His Saints, and The Trial of Job (all from Conciliar Press). He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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