Access to the full content is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order.

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-K043-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 20, 2024, from

Article Summary

According to traditional Roman Catholic teaching, limbo is the postmortem destination of those who have not been baptized, but are not guilty of sin. Lack of baptism bars such people from salvation, but their innocence means that they do not deserve the punishment of hell. They were thought to fall into two groups: the righteous of the Old Covenant, prior to the redemption of Christ, and unbaptized children. The former were supposed to have gone to heaven after Christ’s death, but the latter had to stay in limbo forever. The existence of limbo was never dogmatically defined, and it was never given as much attention as heaven, hell or even purgatory, each of which represented a fate which human beings earned in part through personal choice. Nowadays, the possibility that unbaptized babies might be consigned to hell is not widely entertained, and some thinkers hold that the requirement of baptism for salvation is open to interpretation. Consequently, the idea of limbo is not as widely discussed as it once was.

Citing this article:
Zagzebski, Linda. Limbo, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-K043-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

Related Searches



Related Articles