Since the first moment of creation, some souls—the elect—had been destined for eternal bliss and others for eternal torment. Good works could not save those whom “predestination” had marked for the infernal fires.

From “The American Pageant” by Thomas A. Bailey

I would like to know why the writer is using "works" instead of "work" here. As far as I know, "work", when functioning as a countable noun, means books, paintings and music.


When used countably, "works" normally means books, records, paintings etc. ("works of art"), but the phrase "good works" has a theological meaning. Here, "works" has the sense of "actions", and is used as a countable plural noun. You will also often see "good deeds" with the same sense.

Your example has many words which are specific to particular Christian views ("creation", "souls", "eternal bliss/torment", "good works" "predestination", "infernal fire") and as Bailey is known for his writing style, he is probably ascribing a point of view to Christians. We'd need more context to help more concretely.

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