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Title: Lies too good to lay to rest: the survival of pagan ghost stories in early Christian literature
Authors: Ogden, Daniel
Keywords: Lucian;Philopseudes;New Testament;early Fathers;tradition
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Imprensa da Universidade de Coimbra
Abstract: Consideration is given to three traditional ghost stories that thrived in both pagan and early Christian literature: ‘The Haunted House’, ‘A Ghost Locates a Lost Deposit’ and ‘The Mistaken Underworld Escort.’ All three stories appear both in Lucian’s Philopseudes on the pagan side and in the works of Augustine on the Christian side, and additionally in further works on both sides of the religious divide. As various passages in the New Testament and the works of the early Fathers make clear, the concept of the ghost was incompatible with Christian belief. Accordingly, we ask why such stories continued to thrive, nonetheless, in Christian writings. We advance a tentative two-part answer: first, the stories were just too deeply ingrained in popular culture, and indeed just too entertaining, to be relinquished; secondly, the stories served surreptitiously but reassuringly to confirm belief in the soul’s survival of death even as, at explicit level, their Christian re-tellers tried, in different ways, to argue the ghosts out of them. We proceed to investigate the various sorts of theological accommodation made.
ISBN: 978-989-26-1765-7 (PDF)
DOI: 10.14195/978-989-26-1765-7_4
Rights: open access
Appears in Collections:Visitors from beyond the grave: ghosts in world literature

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