I had a great question in class last night (which is going well). We were discussing Chrysostom’s wonderful Easter sermon when one of the students, an intelligent well-read Baptist (over half my class is Baptist!!), raised his hand and asked, “Where exactly is it in Scripture that it talks about Jesus’ descent to the dead?”
It’s a great question and I was caught fairly unprepared so I took them to 1 Peter 3 to the discussion of Christ preaching to the “spirits in prison” which the Fathers took to mean hell particularly given the Enochian resonances of that whole 1 Peter chunk. Then I made reference to the Isaiah passage that connects Sheol and the gates of iron but I couldn’t remember where it was… I did take them next to Ps 107 to the section on the prisoners in gloom and deep darkness shattering the gates/bars and how this was read in line with the others. I thought about discussing the bit at the end of Job about the fishhook but decided to skip it. (I totally forgot about the typological reading of Samson carrying off the gates of Gaza which I just now remembered…) I know there are some more that anchor it better and mentioned a little bit about how the Gospel of Nicodemus sets it up.
All this is to say, this morning I saw a review of an Introduction to the NT for Catholics. One of the critiques is that the author glosses some of the disputed issues with a fairly perfunctory “this is what we believe” and goes on from there. It got me wondering, is there a text that looks at some of the locations where protestants and catholics disagree on Scripture or on doctrines that come out of Scriptures that lays out both sides evenly and equally? I’m sure there are some apologetic tracts on both sides denouncing the other—but what about one that seeks it with more of an open-minded approach? It seems to me that a catholic-leaning Anglican would be the perfect one to write such a book having a concern for the tradition and the integrity of the catholic teaching but also a certain freedom in the deployment of modern critical tools…
Some topics might be: the descent of Christ into hell; the perpetual virginity of the BVM; some general stuff on the BVM; purgatory. What else?