The Descent into Hell and the Phenomenon of Exorcism in the Early Church

in Probing the Depths of Evil and Good
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In early Christianity, the descent into hell was the symbol of the range of the resurrection: even the dead would be liberated from the evil powers holding them captive. Together with the phenomenon of exorcism during the baptism rite in the night of Eastern it is a clear indication of the strong awareness of the influence of evil powers upon the living and dead in the ancient church. This contribution will discuss the continuous struggle with evil for the dead and living believers. It confronts us first with our beliefs on the place of our ancestors and, second, with our own position regarding bad (evil) spirits, even after our baptism. By speaking about demons, the New Testament intends to underline the seriousness and power of the temptations to which human beings are exposed and to which they repeatedly succumb. The prayer “deliver us from (the) evil (one)” indicates that we need strength from elsewhere to be delivered from the grip of evil. Evil, then, not only has to do with a good or bad will or with a concretely good or bad deed but also with a third power which we cannot apparently denote in a different or more adequate way than by means of such words as demon, devil, Satan, etc.

Probing the Depths of Evil and Good

Multireligious Views and Case Studies

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