The story of the so-called ‹‹Good Thief›› (Luke 23:39-43) has a vibrant and diverse afterlife in early Christianity
The story of the so-called ‹‹Good Thief›› as found in Lc 23, 39-43 has a vibrant and diverse afterlife in early Christianity. Synoptic and eschatological disparities raise concerns and provoke a variety of harmonizations. Controversies notwithstanding, early interpreters occupy themselves most of all with the episode’s potential for exhortation as they identify themselves and their hearers with the good bandit. He becomes a model of Christian practices, beliefs and virtues including worship, faith (even Nicea’s formulation), justification by faith, conversion, catechesis, confession, martyrdom, baptism (in many modes), endurance, asceticism, simplicity of language, penitence, and last-minute salvation. A wide variety of typological readings fashion the bandit as the first to return to paradise and even a key participant in the pivotal moment of salvation-history. By around the late 4th century, the episode becomes a standard Good Friday lectionary reading and sermon topic in the East.