The Exact GPS Location of Christ’s Last Judgment (Valley of Josaphat)

In the Creed, we confess our faith in the future event that Christ “will come again to judge the living and the dead.” When Christ returns at the end of time, where will this judgment occur?

According to Catholic tradition, the Messiah’s final judgment of every single human being will occur at the Valley of Josaphat In fact, Saint Thomas Aquinas affirmed in at least three places that the Last Judgment will occur at the Valley of Josaphat, cf. In IV Sententiarum 4.48.1.4; Quodlibet 10.2; Summa theologiae Supp, q.88, a.4. Other Catholic authors that describe the Valley of Josaphat as the location of Christ’s judgment are Jerome, Honorius Augustodunensis, Rupert of Deutz, Robert Pullen of Oxford, Peter Lombard, Richard of St. Victor, Magister Bandinus, and Martín of León.

In Joel 4:2 we read the following:

“I will gather together all nations and will bring them down into the valley of Josaphat: and I will plead with them there for my people, and for my inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and have parted my land. Nations, nations in the valley of destruction: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of destruction” (Joel 4:2, 14)

In Hebrew Josaphat mean “Jehovah Judges.” Jews reckon this location to be the place of final judgment, as do the Muslims. According to Saint Jerome, the Antichrist will also be slain at the site of the Valley of Josaphat (Commentarii in Danielem, CCSL 75A).

According to some traditions, Saint Joseph was buried in this location.

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  • Marie

    In light of this post and your previous one, I was hoping you might be able to clear up some confusion.  My husband and I were discussing purgatory and he brought up the point that if we’re judged when we die and go either to purgatory/heaven or to hell, then, if our destination is decided right after we die, what is the purpose of the final judgement?  Also, the Catholic Encyclopedia entry makes comments that the angels and demons would not be judged because their destination is already “fixed”.  That seems to imply that our destination after we die is not fixed, but that doesn’t seem right to me.  Please help!

  • dmwallace@gmail.com

    After death, there is the soul’s individual judgment. At the resurrection of the body, there will be another general judgment. At death we will be judged by what we have done; at the resurrection, at the end of time, we will see the results of what our sins and good deeds wrought in others. The general judgment, of course, seeks to judge all of humanity together, each person having his body restored–restored for resurrected glory for the Elect and restored for everlasting shame and punishment for the damned. 

    Also, those alive at the end of the world will be spared death and their particular judgment, so theirs will be only the General Judgment.

    Concerning the encyclopedia article: The angels were given their opportunity to choose or reject God at some point after (or at) their creation, which we assume was before the creation of our material world. Angels (who are pure spirit) do not exist in time the way humans (who are matter and spirit) exist in space and time. At present, the good angels behold God face-to-face, which is what Heaven is; the bad angels do not share this vision and never will, which is what Hell is. (Heaven and Hell are better understood as “states of being” than physical places. When we get our bodies back at the resurrection, Heaven–being with God–will join with a restored earth: see Revelation ch. 21-22.)

    Also, angels, lacking bodies, will not share in the resurrection of the body at the end of time. The angels’ destination was fixed when they chose or rejected God. Our destination is fixed at the moment of death, when we can no longer choose or reject God. Angels, lacking bodies, cannot die and therefore cannot have “angel death” as the moment of “fixing” their eternal destiny.

  • Ben

    Is there an actual place in the current map that point to this valley of Josaphat ?

  • Marie

    Thank you for taking the time to answer me.  I do appreciate it, and I hadn’t thought about the no body/no resurrection angel angle at it pertained to the General Judgement before.  However, I’m still stuck with the same exact question.  I’m sorry if I didn’t state it clearly before.  And I’m sorry if I’m comming off as a block-head, but I really am still confused.

    I guess my more focused question is “is there a point/consequence to the General Judgement?”  I get that we’ll come to understand the full long term effects of our actions.  But I’m still finding myself asking “so what?”  Or perhaps more politely, “then what?”  I suppose my key stumbling block is the word “judgement”.  For example, in the legal system, a consequence follows a judgement.  If a judgement is handed down in your favor, you go free.  If it’s against you, you either are setenced to jail/probation, etc or ordered to pay a settlement, etc.  This holds true for our first judgement.  When we die, we’re judged and either sent to heaven, most by way of purgatory, (set free, essentially) or to hell (a really nasty jail without any hope of parole).  At the time of the resurection and General Judgement, though, what are our options?  How is our destination/condition changed from that already decided in the first judgement (aside from getting our bodies back, restored Earth, etc)?  What are the consequences of messing things up for posterity?  Are those consequences individually applied or are they “generally” applied to all of (or subsets of, ie those in heaven vs those in hell) humanity?  Or is it merely a pro forma exercise with no consequences at all (those in heaven/purgatory are going to be with God forever anyway, those in hell are stuck separated from God forever anyway)?

    I’ll try to do this pictorally and hopefully my formatting will not change after I post.  Let me know if there are any mistakes in my below assumptions.  Note, I wrote two separate “General Judgements” only to show I was keeping the heaven and hell tracks separate, not that there would be two judgements:

                   First Judgement
              +  /        | +*         \ -
                  |     purgatory    hell
                  |      /                 |
                 heaven                [...]

  • Simon D

    I share Ben’s confusion. The title of the post is very misleading; the post certainly doesn’t supply “[t]he Exact GPS Location of Christ’s Last Judgment,” and unless the “valley of josaphat” is an understood geographical location à la “the grand canyon” or “the temple of karnak,” which it doesn’t appear to be, the post doesn’t even answer the question posed in its first paragraph: “When Christ returns at the end of time, where will this judgment occur?” Instead, it answers a quite different (and less useful) question: “When Christ returns at the end of time, what will the place where his judgment occurs be called?” I have to say that in my experience, no one has ever come out of a trial, winner or loser, and asked for whom the courthouse was named.

  • dmwallace@gmail.com

    I suggest you read paragraphs 1038-1041 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (click the linked numbers).

    The best answer is to be found in considering the terms “particular” judgment and “final/general” judgment. The former concerns individuals, the latter concerns everyone and everything as a whole. To quote a selection from the above-cited selection:

    [God] will pronounce the final word on all history. We shall know the ultimate meaning of the whole work of creation and of the entire economy of salvation and understand the marvellous ways by which his Providence led everything towards its final end. The Last Judgment will reveal that God’s justice triumphs over all the injustices committed by his creatures and that God’s love is stronger than death.

  • Starling

    Jehovah? Who is Jehovah? I think you meant Yahweh. Jehovah is an ignorant mistranslation, a recent convention.

  • Taylor Marshall

    In Latin, Iehovah sounds almost just like Yahweh (pronounced like “Yehowah”)- and nobody *really* knows if “Yahweh” is proper pronunciation. Nobody knows the Hebraic vowel markings – so don’t be a vowel snob…  :-P

    Godspeed,
    Taylor