HELL – AFTERLIFE – SOMEWHERE UNDER THE EARTH – “See also: Christian views on hell, Harrowing of Hell and Christian views on Hades
Medieval illustration of Hell in the Hortus deliciarum manuscript of Herrad of Landsberg (about 1180)
Hell – detail from a fresco in the medieval church St. Nicolas in Raduil, Bulgaria
In many mythological, folklore and religious traditions, hell is a place of torment and punishment in an afterlife. It is viewed by most Abrahamic traditions as punishment. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as eternal destinations. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations. Typically these traditions locate hell in another dimension or under the Earth’s surface and often include entrances to Hell from the land of the living. Other afterlife destinations include Heaven, Purgatory, Paradise, and Limbo.
Other traditions, which do not conceive of the afterlife as a place of punishment or reward, merely describe hell as an abode of the dead, the grave, a neutral place located under the surface of Earth (for example, see sheol and Hades). Hell is sometimes portrayed as populated with demons who torment those dwelling there. Many are ruled by a death god such as Nergal, Hades, Hel, Enma or the Devil.
1 Etymology and Germanic mythology
2 Religion, mythology, and folklore 2.1 Punishment
2.2 Polytheism 2.2.1 Ancient Egypt
2.2.2 Ancient Near East
2.2.8 Native American
0 An illustration by Doré of Dante’s 6th circle of Hell, from the Divine Comedy
The modern English word Hell is derived from Old English hel, helle (about 725 AD to refer to a nether world of the dead) reaching into the Anglo-Saxon pagan period, and ultimately from Proto-Germanic *halja, meaning “one who covers up or hides something” The word has cognates in Latin (see verb cēlō, “to hide”) and in related Germanic languages such as Old Frisian helle, hille, Old Saxon hellja, Middle Dutch helle (modern Dutch hel), Old High German helle (Modern German Hölle), Danish, Norwegian and Swedish helvede/helvete (hel + Old Norse vitti, “punishment” whence the Icelandic víti “hell”), and Gothic halja. Subsequently, the word was used to transfer a pagan concept to Christian theology and its vocabulary (however, for the Judeo-Christian origin of the concept see Gehenna).
Some have theorized that English word hell is derived from Old Norse hel. However, this is very unlikely as hel appears in Old English before the Viking invasions. Furthermore, the word has cognates in all the other Germanic languages and has a Proto-Germanic origin. Among other sources, the Poetic Edda, compiled from earlier traditional sources in the 13th century, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, provide information regarding the beliefs of the Norse pagans, including a being named Hel, who is described as ruling over an underworld location of the same name.
Religion, mythology, and folklore
Hell appears in several mythologies and religions. It is commonly inhabited by demons and the souls of dead people. A fable about hell which recurs in folklore across several cultures is the allegory of the long spoons. Hell is often depicted in art and literature, perhaps most famously in Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Punishment in Hell typically corresponds to sins committed during life. Sometimes these distinctions are specific, with damned souls suffering for each sin committed (see for example Plato’s myth of Er or Dante’s The Divine Comedy), but sometimes they are general, with condemned sinners relegated to one or more chamber of Hell or to a level of suffering.
In many religious cultures, including Christianity and Islam, Hell is traditionally depicted as fiery and painful, inflicting guilt and suffering.[specify] Despite these common depictions of Hell as a place of fire, some other traditions portray Hell as cold. Buddhist – and particularly Tibetan Buddhist – descriptions of hell feature an equal number of hot and cold hells. Among Christian descriptions Dante’s Inferno portrays the innermost (9th) circle of Hell as a frozen lake of blood and guilt. But cold also played a part in earlier Christian depictions of hell, beginning with the Apocalypse of Paul, originally from the early third century; the “Vision of Dryhthelm” by the Venerable Bede from the seventh century; “St Patrick’s Purgatory”, “The Vision of Tundale” or “Visio Tnugdali”, and the “Vision of the Monk of Enysham”, all from the twelfth century; and the “Vision of Thurkill” from the early thirteenth century.
Lucifer – torturing souls as well as being tortured himself in hell. Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, by the Limbourg brothers.
With the rise of the cult of Osiris during the Middle Kingdom the “democratization of religion” offered to even his humblest followers the prospect of eternal life, with moral fitness becoming the dominant factor in determining a person’s suitability. At death a person faced judgment by a tribunal of forty-two divine judges. If they had led a life in conformance with the precepts of the Goddess Maat, who represented truth and right living, the person was welcomed into the Two Fields. If found guilty the person was thrown to a “devourer” and would be condemned to the lake of fire. The person taken by the devourer is subject first to terrifying punishment and then annihilated. These depictions of punishment may have influenced medieval perceptions of the inferno in hell via early Christian and Coptic texts. Purification for those considered justified appears in the descriptions of “Flame Island”, where humans experience the triumph over evil and rebirth. For the damned complete destruction into a state of non-being awaits but there is no suggestion of eternal torture; the weighing of the heart in Egyptian mythology can lead to annihilation. The Tale of Khaemwese describes the torment of a rich man, who lacked charity, when he dies and compares it to the blessed state of a poor man who has also died. Divine pardon at judgement always remained a central concern for the Ancient Egyptians.
Modern understanding of Egyptian notions of hell relies on six ancient texts:
1.The Book of Two Ways (Book of the Ways of Rosetau)
2.The Book of Amduat (Book of the Hidden Room, Book of That Which Is in the Underworld)
3.The Book of Gates
4.The Book of the Dead (Book of Going Forth by Day)