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The Apocalypse Of Paul

Alternate titles: The Revelation To Paul, Visio Pauli

c. 250 C.E.

The Apocalypse of Paul was presumably found in the basement of Paul's own house in Tarsus, sealed in a marble box with Paul's shoes, in 388 C.E. Most likely, an editor of the work concocted the tale in an attempt to renew interest in the traditions of the afterlife begun two centuries earlier in the Apocalype of Peter. For what it was worth, he succeeded; Paul's apocalypse was immensely popular in Western Europe and may have helped inspire Dante's Inferno.

The original work was probably Greek, written in Egypt around the mid-third century. The earliest extant manuscript is a Latin text from the eighth century. Many texts from the same period are condensed versions prefaced with sermons about the torments of Hell. The orthodox church propably excluded the work from the canon because of the questions surrounding the authorship.

The revelation is prefaced with Paul's visions of paradise quoted from 2 Cor 12. The author then relates those secrets of which Paul would not speak. Angels lead Paul through Heaven, described as the "Paradise in which Adam and his wife erred," where he encounters the Virgin Mary and the patriarchs. Later, after viewing the horrors of Hell, Paul convinces Jesus to give the damned a day's respite from their tortures on the Sabbath.