Perpetua’s ascent: popular Christianity and the afterlife in North Africa

Eliezer Gonzalez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas provides evidence of popular North African Christianity having more affinity with Jewish/ Christian apocalyptic literature than with the teachings of the early church fathers. This paper identifies the Passion of Perpetua as the earliest datable Christian text describing immediate post-­‐‑mortem ascent. Affinities between the visions described in the Passion of Perpetua and in other Jewish/Christian apocalyptic works, as well as points of difference, will be examined, particularly in terms of understanding of the afterlife. This text therefore provides a better understanding of the nature of Christianity at the beginning of the third century. More specifically, this study highlights the key mechanisms by which the Christian communities embraced the idea of immediate post-­‐‑ mortem ascent of believers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-86
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Asia Adventist Seminary
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Passion of Perpetua
  • ascent
  • afterlife


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