Defending the Faith: Christ among the dead: An ancient doctrine and a modern witness
Unfortunately for Virgil, when Christ came into the world of spirits, he rescued the biblical forerunners of Christianity (among them Adam and Eve) from their captivity there but left unbaptized pagans, including such notables as Homer, Plato, Aristotle and Virgil himself, to remain in Limbo. Good men, they are spared the tortures to which the other residents of hell are subjected, but they are nonetheless tormented forever by unfulfilled yearning. They know of heaven, but they can never enjoy it.
Dante venerated these names of the classical tradition, and he did for them as much at his medieval theology allowed. But, as a 19th-century Protestant hymn testified, “There's a wideness in God's mercy like the wideness of the sea,” and Joseph F. Smith was privileged to have a glimpse of it.
Daniel Peterson teaches Arabic studies, founded BYU's Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, directs MormonScholarsTestify.org, chairs http://www.mormoninterpreter.com, blogs daily at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson, and speaks only for himself.
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