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Title: In Heaven as It Is on Earth: The Social and Ethical Dimensions of Higher and Lower Levels of Salvation
Authors: Kocar, Alexander
Advisors: Pagels, Elaine
Contributors: Religion Department
Keywords: Christianity
Subjects: Religion
Biblical studies
Religious history
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation considers the causes and effects of different levels of salvation in ancient Judaism and Christianity. I examine two Jewish followers of Jesus (Paul the Apostle and John of Patmos) as well as several early Christian authors (e.g., the Apocryphon of John, the Shepherd of Hermas, and certain Valentinians) who believed that there were multiple levels of reward among the saved depending on the virtue of the person or people in question. Thus, in addition to hell for the damned, they imagined there was not merely one heaven for the saved, but rather multiple levels of heaven. An investigation into who earns the higher or lower level of salvation and why (e.g., What constitutes the greatest virtue? Who is a savable sinner?) reveals much about the historical, social, and philosophical context of these different authors. By constructing a difference between a lower and higher level of salvation, ancient authors could devise soteriological hierarchies that could account for ethical imperfections and social differentiation between their communities and outsiders as well as reinforce idealized portrayals of conduct among members of their own group(s). With this in mind, my dissertation pursues a series of questions that relate to the formative period of ethical norms and boundary drawing in the New Testament and early Christianity by asking the following: how did certain thinkers identify and describe ethical and social difference among people; what ideological commitments motivated them to make such distinctions; what were the social effects of different salvific categories and different ethical standards; and what impact did these soteriologies have upon the development of competing notions of ethical responsibility? In answering these questions, my dissertation interacts with and contributes to ongoing discussions on ancient ethics (especially free will and responsibility), the construction of orthodoxy and heresy, and debates surrounding the origins of Christianity as a universal, tertium quid.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Religion

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