- "The Harrowing of Hell: Salvation for the Dead in Early Christianity" by Kendel J. Christensen, Roger D. Cook, and David L. Paulsen. A thorough scholarly exploration of an often-forgotten early Christian theme. Quoting from the conclusion of this paper: "God 'sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved' (John 3:17). The doctrine of the harrowing of hell explains how this can be despite the fact that so many have died without hearing the Son's message of salvation. This doctrine was present in apocalyptic Judaism and in apocalyptic Christianity, and Christ taught the doctrine to his disciples. It was also confirmed by the church fathers and in the Apostles' Creed. Subsequently, it was rejected first by Augustine and later by Reformers such as Calvin and Luther, This led, regrettably, to its almost universal disappearance from the teachings of modern-day Christendom."
- "Baptism for the Dead in Early Christianity" by David L. Paulsen, and Brock M. Mason. They provide evidence that the practice of baptism for the dead existed in some early Christian6 communities. They show that early Christians, including New Testament writers, taught that baptism is essential to salvation. Because of this belief, vicarious baptisms were performed to ensure that the unbaptized dead would not be denied access to salvation. They also examine 1 Corinthians 15:29 and support what some modern scholars call the "majority reading," which understands 15:29 as a reference to vicarious baptism. They also explore the historical practice of proxy baptisms by early Christian communities which, of course, are now labeled "heretical." Fascinating paper.
- "Baptism for the Dead in Early Christianity" by John A. Tvedtnes, from The Temple in Time and Eternity, pp. 55-78. Excellent survey of related practices and teachings that we know of from several early Christian groups.
- "Baptism for the Dead: The Coptic Rationale" - a scholarly review by Dr. John A. Tvedtnes of the early Christian practice of baptism for the dead, as understood by Coptic Christians. This paper was presented at a 1981 symposium in Jerusalem, sponsored by the L.A. Mayer Memorial Museum of Islamic Art and the Israel Ministry of Education and Culture and later published in Special Papers of the Society for Early Historic Archaeology, No. 2 (September 1989). The Jerusalem symposium marked the opening of an exhibit of Coptic art at the museum, where Dr. Tvedtnes one of two American scholars invited to speak.
- Baptism for the Dead in Ancient Times - an early, groundbreaking article by Dr. Hugh Nibley. More evidence has been found since this scholarly exploration was first published in 1948, but it's still valuable today. Nibley provides many exciting leads and reviews a variety of ancient sources not available to Joseph Smith.
- "Does the Bible Teach Salvation for the Dead?" - A review of an anti-Mormon publication by the inimitable John Tvedtnes in FARMS Review of Books, Vol. 10, No. 2, 1998.
- The Apostolic Fathers comment on Christ's visit to the Spirit World - a page at the Chapman Research site.
- "Temple Imagery in the Epistles of Peter" by Daniel B. McKinlay, an excellent and scholarly essay that includes treatment of passages in Peter about the preaching of the Gospel to the dead (including a discussion of alternate interpretations that others have offered). Available at FARMS, reprinted Temples of the Ancient World: Ritual and Symbolism (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1994, pp. 492-514).
- Views of a Non-LDS Scholar, Krister Stendahl, on the Ancient Practice of Baptism for the Dead - Brief comment written by Bishop Stendahl, a Lutheran, formerly the Dean and Professor of Divinity at the Harvard Divinity School.
- "Redeeming the Dead: Tender Mercies, Turning of Hearts, and Restoration of Authority" by David L. Paulsen, Kendel J. Christensen, and Martin Pulido. This paper (1)reviews historical responses to this doctrine until the Reformation; (2) examine modern treatments of postmortem preaching of the Gospel and vicarious ordinances for the dead; (3) details the sequences of Joseph Smith’s revelations related to redemption for the dead; and (4) explains how the doctrines of the Restoration solve the soteriological problem of evil.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Ready for a deep dive into one of the most fascinating elements of Mormonism? And one of the many powerful indicators that a divine Restoration of truth, knowledge, and sacred ordinances has occurred? It's time for a deep dive into baptism for the dead. Here are some resources that I find helpful (updated slightly, Sept. 2012):
Posted by Jeff Lindsay at 7:25 AM