Monday, March 9, 2009

Drop Kick Me, Jesus, Through the Goal Posts of Life

One thing that I think we've both made clear we find difficult to stomach is Virgil's consignment to Limbo. But it's even more infuriating, this damnation by default, when you consider the Harrowing of Hell.

The Harrowing of Hell is a part of Christian Doctrine wherein Jesus went to hell and hung out for a bit and preached the gospel or something after he died. But not, apparently, to convert any sinners. According to Virgil via Dante (in Canto IV), he went down to get some very specific individuals.
"I was a novice in this state,
When I saw hither come a Mighty One,
With sign of victory incoronate.
Hence he drew forth the shade of the First Parent,
And that of his son Abel, and of Noah,
Of Moses the lawgiver, and the obedient
Abraham, patriarch, and David, king,
Israel with his father and his children,
And Rachel, for whose sake he did so much,
And others many, and he made them blessed;
And thou must know, that earlier than these
Never were any human spirits saved."*

So Jesus goes down into Hell to grab some Hebrew forefathers. It's not even clear that Virgil knows exactly what happened here and how roundly he was cheated. Seriously, what makes Noah and Adam more holy than any other righteous person who lives before the birth of Christ? OH RELIGIOUS DOCTRINE, YOU PAIN ME.

It's a good thing I don't subscribe to any of this or I think it would keep me up nights.

But seriously, could he just not carry all the good people up so he just picked the ones who were important in the Bible? SOCRATES WOULD BE A VALUABLE ADDITION TO HEAVEN TOO.

*This is from some random internet translation since I no longer have an actual translation of the Inferno. Stupid library, always wanting their books back. Sorry, baby, I didn't mean that, you know I love you. In other news, we have both switched translations: I grabbed the Anthony Esolen translations of Purgatorio and Paradiso, and Serena has the W.S. Merwin Purgatorio and the Esolen Paradiso. More on that anon.

No comments: