April 21, 2018

On the Salvation of Those Who Died Before Christ (St. Anastasios of Sinai)

I am offering the translation below in response to the translation here:  http://ldysinger.stjohnsem.edu/@texts/0-03_plato/99_anast-sinai.htm. There, "hades" is translated as "hell", which is not accurate, but even worse, in section 3, the translation of the first sentence reads: "Having heard this you cannot believe that there is no repentance in hell." This is a serious mistranslation, making it as if St. Anastasios believed there was "repentance in hell", which is something no Church Father believed. Therefore the translation below is a more accurate translation to remedy the false attribution of such a teaching to St. Anastasios.

By St. Anastasios of Sinai

(Questions and Answers, 61)


In regard to the Greeks who died before the coming of Christ, is it fitting to pray for them, rather than condemn them?


1. You must never condemn those who died before the coming of Christ, for even in hades Christ was proclaimed once and for all. For in anticipation John the Forerunner proclaimed Christ in that place; and you hear holy Peter saying concerning Christ that “He went and preached to the spirits in prison who formerly disobeyed" (1 Pet. 3:19-20).

2. For example, there is an ancient tradition concerning a certain scholar who frequently cursed the philosopher Plato. And so Plato appeared to him in a dream, and said: “Man, cease from cursing me, it is your own self that you harm. I admit that I was a sinful man, but when Christ descended into hades, truly, no one believed in Him more quickly than I did.”

3. Having heard this, do not believe that there is repentance in hades. This happened once only: that Christ descended into the depths to visit those who reposed in ages past.