Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

9/1/2016 - 4/30/2017

Funding Totals

$33,600.00 (approved)
$33,600.00 (awarded)

The Moment of Reckoning: Imagined Death in Early Christianity

FAIN: FA-232828-16

Ellen Muehlberger
Regents of the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1382)

A book-length history of changes in the understanding of death in 4th-century Christianity and its impact on the roots of religious violence.

A history of how in late antiquity Christians began to think of death as a terrifying, difficult experience followed by judgment and punishment, this book argues that the cultural changes that defined death as a moment of reckoning also facilitated the late ancient adoption of violence against others for ideological purposes.

Associated Products

Moment of Reckoning: Imagined Death and Its Consequences in Late Ancient Christianity (Book)
Title: Moment of Reckoning: Imagined Death and Its Consequences in Late Ancient Christianity
Author: Ellen Muehlberger
Abstract: Late antiquity saw a proliferation of Christian texts dwelling on the emotions and physical sensations of dying, not as a heroic martyr in a public square or a judge's court, but as an individual, at home in a bed or in a private room. In sermons, letters, and ascetic traditions, late ancient Christians imagined the last minutes of life and the events that followed death in elaborate detail. The majority of these imagined scenarios linked the quality of the experience to the moral state of the person who died. Death was no longer the "happy ending," in Judith Perkins's words, it had been to Christians of the first three centuries, an escape from the difficult and painful world. Instead, death was most often imagined as a terrifying, desperate experience. This book is the first to trace how, in late ancient Christianity, death came to be thought of as a moment of reckoning: a physical ordeal whose pain is followed by an immediate judgment of one's actions by angels and demons and, after that, fitting punishment.
Year: 2019
Primary URL: http://
Primary URL Description: Publisher's site
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780190459161
Copy sent to NEH?: No