The Formation of Hell: Death and Retribution in the Ancient and Early Christian Worlds (Hardback)
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Short Description for The Formation of Hell A History Of A Central Image In Western Culture: The Notion Of Hell. Exploring just how and why belief in hell arose, this book offers an insight into the social implications and the psychological consequences of different visions of the afterlife.
- Published: 16 December 1993
- Format: Hardback 412 pages
- ISBN 13: 9781857282252 ISBN 10: 1857282256
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Full description for The Formation of Hell
From the author of "The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity", this book examines a central theme in Western culture: the centuries-old notion of hell - exile from God, subjection to fire, worms and darkness. In this study, Alan Bernstein investigates just how and why belief in hell arose. Although we may associate the notion of hell with Christian beliefs, its gradual emergence depended on conflicting notions that pervaded the Mediterranean world more than a millennium before the birth of Christ. Bernstein takes us back to those times and offers us a view of the philosophy, poetry, folklore, myth and theology of that formative age. Drawing on sources from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome and Israel, as well as early Christian writings, the author reconstructs the story of the prophets, priests and poets who fashioned concepts of hell from an array of perspectives on death and justice. The author traces hell's formation through close readings of works including the epics of Homer and Virgil, the satires of Lucian, the dialogues of Plato and Plutarch, the legends of Enoch, the confessions of the Psalms, the prophecies of Isaiah, Ezechiel and Daniel and the parables of Jesus. Re-enacting debates about the nature of hell among the common people and the elites of diverse religious traditions, he provides new insight into the social implications and the psychological consequences of different visions of the afterlife. This book aims to captivate readers interested in history, mythology. literature, psychology, philosophy and religion. It should be of use to ancient historians, classicists, theologists, and cultural historians.