Cover

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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. iii-v

Contents

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pp. vii-vii

Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiii

Once again, I have been fortunate to have the experience of just how communal a project writing a book is. So much of it seems to be a solitary exercise, and so much of it is. But all the hours of reading and writing alone would be so much less productive—if they could be productive at all—were they not informed by insights gained through ...

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Chapter 1: For What May We Hope?

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pp. 1-23

In an essay entitled “Last Things First? The Century of Eschatology in Retrospect,” Christoph Schwöbel observes that the twentieth century “could correctly be called the century of eschatology.”1 In the first years of the century, Albert Schweitzer’s groundbreaking work The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1906) highlighted the eschatological ...

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Chapter 2: Imagining the Life of the Blessed Dead

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pp. 25-55

If meaningful speculation about the last things is a legitimate option for contemporary theologians, then what exactly should they take as their subject matter? And how should their imaginations go about the task of representing the claims of Christian hope? There is no circumscribed answer to the first question. Theologians, and all ...

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Chapter 3: Time, Judgment, and Competitive Spirituality

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pp. 57-105

Speculation about the life of the blessed dead brought us to the tentative conclusion that all of the saints, extraordinary and ordinary, are busy in the afterlife at the ongoing work of forgiveness, and that this eschatological activity is a realized norm for Christian virtue in all the dimensions of the communion of the saints. As the previous ...

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Chapter 4: Imagining the Last Judgment

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pp. 107-152

Purgatorial time was imagined to extend, and so to equalize to some degree, the duration of spiritual competition for heavenly reward in the otherwise unequal hierarchy of discipleship shared by martyrs, ascetical saints, ascetics, and laypeople. In order to serve this purpose, though, purgatorial time was imagined to be an odd sort of time. Like ...

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Chapter 5: Forgiveness in the Communion of the Saints

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pp. 153-188

As much as the saints have served as paradigms of discipleship, asinspiring role models for Christic imitation, and as eschatological bea-cons for the Christian journey to the fullness of God’s kingdom, theirpowerful presence in the tradition also has created an effect that I havecalled the hierarchy of discipleship. Hierarchy, of course, is one of the...

Images

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pp. P1-P16

Notes

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pp. 189-215

Index

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pp. 217-223

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About the Author

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pp. 224-224

John E. Thiel is professor of Religious Studies at Fairfield University and past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. He is the author of several books, among which are Senses of Tradition: ...