Souls and Bodies, History and Eternity: John Scottus Eriugena and the Intermediate State


  • John Gavin


Summary : I. Overcoming the dualism of history/eternity : the eight ages. 1. Augustine and the ages of history. 2. Eriugena and the ages of history. II. Overcoming the dualism of soul/body : intermediate embodiment. III. The unity of states in Christ. IV. Conclusion.

The doctrine of the “intermediate state” – the state of the disembodied soul after death and prior to the general resurrection – has remained controversial throughout Christian history. In particular, the critics fault the teaching for its suggestion of two problematic dualisms : the division between the soul and the body and the division between history and eternity. The ninth century Irish philosopher, poet and mystic, John Scottus Eriugena, offers an approach to the question of the intermediate state that both overcomes the problematic dualisms and unites all of creation in the person of the Incarnate Word.