The Afterlife Imagery in Luke's Story of the Rich Man and Lazarus


Despite the keen scholarly interest in the Gospel parables, the afterlife scenery in the story of the rich man and Lazarus has often been overlooked. Using insights from the orality studies and intertextuality, the author places the Lukan description of the fate of the dead into the larger Hellenistic matrix, provided by a large number of Greco-Roman and Jewish sources, both literary and epigraphic.
Moreover, she challenges several conventional stances in Lukan studies, such as tracing the original of the story to Egypt, or maintaining that eschatology is a key for understanding Luke’s work and the purpose for writing it, or harmonizing Luke’s eschatological thinking by positing an intermediate state between death and general resurrection. Thus, the book offers fresh insights both to the way the fate of the dead was understood in the ancient world and to the concept of Lukan eschatology.
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Biographical Note

Outi Lehtipuu, Ph.D. (2004) in theology, University of Helsinki, is postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki. She has published articles on different beliefs concerning the post-mortem fate and currently writes on the belief in resurrection and the afterlife in the Nag Hammadi texts.

Review Quotes

"...refined, critical, ... a solid piece of scholarship..." – George W.E. Nickelsburg
"This study is a helpful treatment of a specific detail in Luke's narrative" – Paul Foster, University of Edinburgh, in: Expository Times, May 2009
"the extensive research on the primary source backgrounds contained in this volume may provide students with a good resource." – Nicholas Perrin, in: Bulletin for Biblical Research 19.4

Table of contents

1. The Problem
2. Previous Research and Its Evaluation
2.1. The Legacy of Jülicher and Gressmann
2.2. The Key Issues in More Recent Research
A Story Composed of Two Parts?
An Original Teaching of Jesus?
A Derivative of a Demotic Folktale?
3. The Purpose of This Study

4. Preliminary Remarks: From Fixed Parallels to Intertextuality
5. Differentiated Fates in Greco-Roman Sources
5.1. Death in the Homeric Epics
5.2. Towards an Individual Treatment of the Dead
Rewards and Punishments after Death
The Question of “Orphic Influence”
5.3. Concepts of Afterlife in Hellenistic and Roman Times
Philosophical Treatments of the Fate of the Soul
The Immortal Soul in Cicero, Pseudo-Plato, and Plutarch
6. Differentiated Fates: Only an Elite View?
6.1. The Ambiguity of the Epigraphic Sources
6.2. Popular Views Reflected in Literary Sources
7. Differentiated Fates in Jewish Sources
7.1. The Fate of the Dead in the Hebrew Bible
7.2. Apocalyptic Eschatology and Individual Afterlife
1 Enoch 22
Other Apocalypses
Other Accounts of Differentiated Fates
7.3. Divergent Beliefs within First Century Judaism
8. Summary of Part Two

9. Preliminary Remarks: The Function of the Afterlife Scene
10. The Structural Themes of the Story
10.1. Reversal of Fates after Death
Lucian: Death as the Great Equalizer
Epistle of Enoch: Struggle between the Righteous and Sinners
The Finality of the Reversal
10.2. Message from the World of the Dead
11. Details of the Description
11.1. Angels Escorting the Dead
11.2. Abraham in the Hereafter
11.3. Torment of the Rich Man, Consolation of Lazarus
11.4. The Separating Chasm
11.5. Bodily Existence
12. Summary of Part Three

13. Preliminary Remarks: A Consistent Eschatological Scheme?
14. The Rich Man and Lazarus and Luke’s Eschatology
14.1. Jesus’ Role in the Eschatological Salvation
14.2. Eschatology – Future or Present, Collective or Individual
Resurrection – When and for Whom?
15. The Fate of the Individual after Death
15.1. Hades – Interim Abode or Final Destiny?
Hades and Gehenna
15.2. The Good Lot of the Righteous
Eternal Habitations
Kingdom of God, Eternal Life, Heaven
16. Summary of Part Four


A. Texts, Translations, and Reference Works
B. Secondary Literature


New Testament and Lukan scholars & students, all those interested in Early Christianity, beliefs concerning the fate of the dead, eschatology and intertextuality.