Luke 16:19-31 (ESV):
19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
The setting / backdrop of the Parable includes the following elements:
- Hades / Sheol.
- Some notion of immediate judgement right after death (probably distinct from the final judgement on Judgement Day?)
- Angels carrying the spirits of dead people to Hades / Sheol.
- Two compartments: one for the righteous and one for the wicked.
- A chasm separating the two compartments.
- The presence of Abraham in the compartment for the righteous.
- The capacity of disembodied spirits to be conscious, think and speak.
- The experience of comfort in the compartment for the righteous.
- The experience of torment ("anguish in this flame") in the compartment for the wicked.
- The belief in the possibility of the resurrection of the dead.
- And any other relevant elements I may have overlooked.
Question: What is the ultimate origin of each element present in the setting of the parable of Lazarus and the rich man?
- Was everything grounded in reality because Jesus was recounting a real incident that actually happened?
- Were these original ideas that Jesus came up with at that moment?
- Were these beliefs that were widely held by the Jewish culture at the time?
- Were these well-established doctrines according to the Rabbis at the time?
- Were these ideas understood to be supported by contemporary sacred scriptures (see Hebrew Bible)? In other words, can we find evidence supporting any of these ideas in the Old Testament?
- Were these ideas imported from pagan cultures? If so, which cultures? Can we trace back the first sources?
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Related: Luke 16:19-31 Lazarus and the rich man - literal, allegorical or a mixture of both?