The Descent to the Dead

“The central meaning of the descent to the dead is that Christ’s identification with mankind in death is at the same time a proclamation of God’s favour, to those who are already dead, and also to those who have still to die.  The link between the cross and the resurrection is explicit.  Already the conquest of death is preached.  By making himself one with us in the darkness of God’s wrath, Jesus brings us out from darkness into the light of God’s favour.  And in particular he brings those long dead: the place of St. Peter speaks of the generation who died in the primaeval flood, because they, alone among all generations, had no symbolic prefiguring of the Paschal Mystery to instruct them.  They stand appropriately for all who have died without hearing the message of hope.  To all who have lived and died in every age the one perfect work of identification and vindication extends its summons to rise from the grave and be alive for evermore.”

–Oliver O’Donovan, On the Thirty-Nine Articles