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A question for Catholic posters here regarding Dante's Divine Cimedy


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Hi I'm currently reading Dante's Divine Comedy and am highly enjoying it. I was curious first off if any of the Catholic posters here have read it, and was curious how much this work adheres to Catholic theology. I ask out of curiosity and not to bash. I find it be a highly intriguing work!

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Yes. I have read it in English, my only language. I have never heard the orthodoxy of Dante questioned. I have cited it because I have heard others do the same.

It can be a little difficult without good commentary on Florentine politics of the day. As I recall, Dante was a partisan of one of the factions and was banished for a time. Of course, the Church does not take sides between Guelph and Ghibelline (?). He is an artist imagining how the teachings of the faith might apply to those who practice a certain virtue or certain vice in the next life. It doesn't mean that the Church teaches the circles of hell or Satan bound in ice. But Dante is valuable as a word picture that can help one to profitaby ponder these mysteries. All religious art should be understood in this way.

Now let me ask you, Bob, what if anything, prompted you to wonder about Dante's beliefs being questionable?

Our future son in law will be living in Florence for the next year working on his doctor's thesis in Italian lit. I am sure he has read the poem in its original and experienced the poetry better than we can in translation. Oops, lunch is over. Catch you later Bob. God bless. 

Rory

Edited by 3DOP
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Catholic theology since Dante's time has matured, by means of what John Henry Cardinal Newman called "development of Dogma". 

This is not strictly identical with revelation, but denotes a newer, fuller understanding of dogmas and doctrines which may cause them to superficially appear dramatically different from how those dogmas were understood in earlier centuries.

Dogma, in Catholic teaching, was "once for all delucered to the Saints": and, while it can be defined or given a new interpretation, the basic dogma must have been embedded in ancient Revelation and directly attributable to the Prophets, the Apostles, or to Christ Himself.

Modern understandings of Hell reflect greater compassion; based in the free choice of the malefactor to reject God; and usually deem the fires of Hell as figurative.

And remember that Dante's classic is as much a political tract as a theological novel.

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flameburns, hi. You wrote:

"And remember that Dante's classic is as much a political tract as a theological novel."

There is theology and there is politics in the Comedy, but it seems terribly inadequate to compare it to a tract or a novel. Everyone has different tastes, but I think many who have appreciated it see it more as an artist's rendering of a deep meditation on the mysteries of the next life. What he sees with his imagination naturally draws upon events and characters that are well known in 14th Century Florence. But it is all with a view to correctly apprehend God's mercy and justice. All will give glory to God by magnifying his justice or mercy. We see the necessary degrees of glory and of condemnation. We see that whosoever shall find his life shall lose it, and whosoever shall lose his life for Christ's sake, shall find it. 

I have only read it once, and I don't want to sound all uppity about it, or like I am the expert, but I remember being dazzled with his depiction of the selfless rejoicing of every soul for the unique merits of her neighbor and of the joy which comes to those who will delightedly gaze at the beatific vision for eternity. The Catholic doctrine of heaven needs explaining. Dante used his imagination and shares it with us who may not have had a lot of success being enthused about contemplation forever and ever. I can't even read Italian and the prose translation was, well, inspiring. Imagine combining his ideas with poetry! I know we lose a lot of the beauty in translation.

I hope you don't mind my taking a mild exception to your concluding remarks about the work.

Regards,

3DOP

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19 hours ago, boblloyd91 said:

Hi I'm currently reading Dante's Divine Comedy and am highly enjoying it. I was curious first off if any of the Catholic posters here have read it, and was curious how much this work adheres to Catholic theology. I ask out of curiosity and not to bash. I find it be a highly intriguing work!

Dante employs the normative Ptolemaic geocentric order of celestial spheres from the Terrestrial through various higher levels, often including (in order) Luna, Mercury, Venus, Sol, Mars, Jupiter (Inferior Empyrean), Saturn (Middle Empyrean), and Highest Heaven (Summum Caelum = Superior Empyrean and Celestial Fire), or the sequence known from the rabbinic Book of Raziel, Ocean at base, Earth at center, Moon, Star, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn.

These eight levels are also found in the Apocalypse of Abraham (Charlesworth, ed., Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, I:698-699).

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9 hours ago, 3DOP said:

Yes. I have read it in English, my only language. I have never heard the orthodoxy of Dante questioned. I have cited it because I have heard others do the same.

It can be a little difficult without good commentary on Florentine politics of the day. As I recall, Dante was a partisan of one of the factions and was banished for a time. Of course, the Church does not take sides between Guelph and Ghibelline (?). He is an artist imagining how the teachings of the faith might apply to those who practice a certain virtue or certain vice in the next life. It doesn't mean that the Church teaches the circles of hell or Satan bound in ice. But Dante is valuable as a word picture that can help one to profitaby ponder these mysteries. All religious art should be understood in this way.

Now let me ask you, Bob, what if anything, prompted you to wonder about Dante's beliefs being questionable?

Our future son in law will be living in Florence for the next year working on his doctor's thesis in Italian lit. I am sure he has read the poem in its original and experienced the poetry better than we can in translation. Oops, lunch is over. Catch you later Bob. God bless. 

Rory

Oh nothing about it seems questionable or that I want to criticize. I guess I'm intrigued how Dante seemed to have some very well defined divisions in hell based on the nature of sins committed, with some suffering more then others. I was wondering if Catholicism believes in different levels of punishment in regards to the nature of our sins compared to the blanket punishment espoused by some Protestant theologies

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3 hours ago, boblloyd91 said:

Oh nothing about it seems questionable or that I want to criticize. I guess I'm intrigued how Dante seemed to have some very well defined divisions in hell based on the nature of sins committed, with some suffering more then others. I was wondering if Catholicism believes in different levels of punishment in regards to the nature of our sins compared to the blanket punishment espoused by some Protestant theologies

Quote

 

Inequality of Punishment
The punishment of the damned is proportioned to each

one's guilt. (Sent. communis.)

The Uluon Councils of Lyons and of Florence declared that the souls of the damned are punished with unequal punishments (poenis tamen disparibus puniendas). D 464, 693. This is probably intended to assert not merely a specific difference in the punishment of original sin (poena danmi) and of personal sins (poena damni and poena sensus), but also a difference in the degree of punishment for personal sins.

Jesus threatens the inhabitants of Corazain and Bethsaida, on account of their slowness to repent, with a stricter judgment than the dwellers in Tyre and Sidon (Mt. II, 22). The Scribes are to be subject to a particularly strict

judgment (Luke 20, 47).

St. Augustine teaches: "In their wretchedness the lot of some of the damned will be more tolerable than that of others" (Enchir. III). Justice demands that the punishment be coolmensurate with the guilt. 

 

("Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma", Dr. Ludwig Ott, http://www.essan.org/SignumMagnum/e%20Books/Fundamentals%20Of%20Catholic%20Dogma.pdf)

 

However, Dante's divisions are his own, and not Church teaching. 

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7 hours ago, saemo said:

("Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma", Dr. Ludwig Ott, http://www.essan.org/SignumMagnum/e%20Books/Fundamentals%20Of%20Catholic%20Dogma.pdf)

 

However, Dante's divisions are his own, and not Church teaching. 

Thanks for that, I figured it wasn't a complete description of the afterlife, but was wondering if the general layout was

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When I was Protestant I believed in degrees of reward and punishment for some of the same reasons the Catholics do. I can't recall ever hearing of a Protestant who had a problem with the concept. They would be appalled with Dante because of purgatory, but I think almost no one believes that everyone's hell and everyone's heaven is exactly the same.

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3 hours ago, 3DOP said:

When I was Protestant I believed in degrees of reward and punishment for some of the same reasons the Catholics do. I can't recall ever hearing of a Protestant who had a problem with the concept. They would be appalled with Dante because of purgatory, but I think almost no one believes that everyone's hell and everyone's heaven is exactly the same.

Thanks for the insight

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