It is clear that in many respects fairyland corresponds to the pre-Christian abode of the dead.
Such systems have been elaborated chiefly by modern thinkers, but the germs of the ideas are found widely spread in the older Oriental philosophies and in pre-Christian European thought.
Three pre-Christian or extra-ecclesiastical usages are recorded by a half-heretical churchman, Marcellus of Ancyra (in Eusebius of Caesarea, Contra Marcellum, i.
Irenaeus regards as heretical the opinion that the souls of the departed pass immediately into glory; Tertullian, Cyprian, the Acts of St Perpetua, Clement of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, Basil, Gregory of Nyassa, Ambrose, Chrysostom and Jerome, all speak of prayer for the dead and seem to imply belief in a purgatory, but their view seems to have been affected by the pre-Christian doctrine of Hades or Sheol.
Preserved in its entirety only in Ethiopic. Jubilees is the most advanced pre-Christian representative of the midrashic tendency, which was already at work in the Old Testament 1 and 2 Chronicles.
The creed in all its forms lies behind worship, which it preserves from idolatry, and behind ethics, to which it supplies a motive power which the pre-Christian system so manifestly lacked.
Gawain, however, belonged to the pre-Christian stage of Grail tradition, and it is not surprising that writers, bent on spiritual edification, found him somewhat of a stumbling-block.
The Book of Jubilees is the most advanced pre-Christian representative of the Midrashic tendency, which had already been at work in the Old Testament Chronicles.
WISDOM LITERATURE, the name applied to the body of Old Testament and Apocryphal writings that contain the philosophical thought of the later pre-Christian Judaism.
A general sketch of pre-Christian asceticism and monasticism, with indication of the chief authorities, is given in O.