Christian views on Hell

In Christian theology, Hell is the place or state into which by God's definitive judgment unrepentant sinners pass either immediately after death (particular judgment) or in the general judgment.[1] Its character is inferred from teaching in the biblical texts, some of which, interpreted literally, have given rise to the popular idea of Hell.[1]

Theologians today generally see Hell as the logical consequence of using free will to reject union with God and, because God will not force conformity, not incompatible with God's justice and mercy.[1]

Different Hebrew and Greek words are translated as "Hell" in most English-language Bibles. They include:

  • "Sheol" in the Hebrew Bible, and "Hades" in the New Testament. Many modern versions, such as the New International Version, translate Sheol as "grave" and simply transliterate "Hades". It is generally agreed that both sheol and hades do not typically refer to the place of eternal punishment, but to the grave, the temporary abode of the dead, the underworld.[2]
  • "Gehenna" in the New Testament, where it is described as a place where both Mark 9:43). The word is translated as either "Hell" or "Hell fire" in many English versions.[3]
  • The Greek verb "2  Peter 2:4), is almost always translated by a phrase such as "thrown down to hell". A few translations render it as "Tartarus"; of this term, the [2  Peter 2:4]

Jewish background

Hell (on the right) is portrayed in this 16th-century Hieronymus Bosch painting.

In ancient Ezek. 31:15), a place of darkness, silence and forgetfulness (cf. Job 10:21).[4] By the third to second century BC, the idea had grown to encompass separate divisions in sheol for the righteous and wicked (cf. the Book of Enoch),[5] and by the time of Jesus, some Jews had come to believe that those in Sheol awaited the resurrection of the dead either in comfort (in the bosom of Abraham) or in torment.

By at least the late rabbinical period, Gehinnom was viewed as the place of ultimate punishment, exemplified by the rabbinical statement "the best of physicians are destined to Gehinnom." (M. Kiddushin 4:14); also described in Assumption of Moses and 2 Esdras.[6] The term is derived from Gei Ben-Hinnom, a valley near Jerusalem originally used as a location for human sacrifices to the idol Moloch:

And he defiled the Tophet, which is in the valley of Ben-hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech.

And they built the high places of the Ba‘al, which are in the valley of Ben-hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech; which I did not command them, nor did it come into my mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

In the Greek Septuagint the Hebrew word Sheol was translated as Hades, the name for the underworld and abode of the dead in Greek mythology. The realm of eternal punishment in Hellenistic mythology was Tartarus, Hades was a form of limbo for the unjudged dead.[citation needed]