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two] drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection (for if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead), and because he considered that they who had fallen asleep in godliness, had great grace laid up for them.It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins." For Catholics who accept this book as canonical, this passage leaves nothing to be desired.It is reasonable also to assume, in the absence of positive proof to the contrary, that this practice was maintained in later times, and that Christ and the Apostles were familiar with it; and whatever other evidence is available from Talmudic and other sources strongly confirms this assumption, if it does not absolutely prove it as a fact (see, v.g., Luckock, "After Death", v, pp. This is worth noting because it helps us to understand the true significance of Christ's silence on the subject if it be held on the incomplete evidence of the Gospels that He was indeed altogether silent and justifies us in regarding the Christian practice as an inheritance from orthodox Judaism.
Then they all blessed the just judgment of the Lord, who had discovered the things that were hidden.Both interpretations have been proposed; but the second is far-fetched and decidedly improbable (cf.Mark ); while the first, though admissible, is less obvious and less natural than that which allows the implied question at least to remain: May sins be forgiven in the world to come?When Christ promises forgiveness for all sins that a man may commit except the sin against the Holy Ghost, which "shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world nor in the world to come" (Matthew -32), is the concluding phrase nothing more than a periphrastic equivalent for "never"?Or, if Christ meant to emphasize the distinction of worlds, is "the world to come" to be understood, not of the life after death, but of the Messianic age on earth as imagined and expected by the Jews?
But even for those who deny the inspired authority of this book, unequivocal evidence is here furnished of the faith and practice of the Jewish Church in the second century B. that is to say, of the orthodox Church, for the sect of the Sadducees denied the resurrection (and, by implication at least, the general doctrine of immortality), and it would seem from the argument of which the author introduces in his narrative that he had Sadducean adversaries in mind.