The word 'Hell'

What is written here is not an exhaustive look at the history of Hell. To do that would be to write a book length thesis. That has already been done by many individuals. One of the best books available today is The Fire That Consumes written by Edward Fudge. In that book Edward traces when and how our present understanding of the word Hell developed over the millenniums. He starts with the Hebrew usage of the word Sheol, the introduction of pagan ideas, the Greek term Hades and its pagan ideas, the early philosophical ideas, the medieval times, and finally its meaning in our day and age. It is worth much more than what you have to pay to add it to your study.

As is explained in my book, the word hell was introduced into our American English language from the old English term helle. This term just meant a dark foreboding place; a hole, even a grave. The term itself didn't mean a place of fire, by any means. This old English term came from Teutonic origins of a place in German mythology which was the abode of the dead. Originally it did not mean a place of suffering or damnation but merely the abode of the dead. And that in turn came from the Greek word Hades which also meant the abode of the dead. Hades was the Greek translation of the Hebrew Sheol, which likewise just meant an abode of the dead-and was used synonymously for the grave, which included all deceased individuals corporately. It was only mythology that made these terms mean a place of torment and fire.

One's belief in modern ideas of what hell means has dire consequences to other beliefs of Christianity. It is one of the words that corrupts and adds to what the Bible really has to say about one's life here and in the hereafter. Scholars in all schools of belief admit that modern thinking on this word is decidedly wrong. They corporately tell us that the Bible never gives us any idea of either Sheol or Hades being a place of fire and/or being a place that will exist forever. Even though they pay lip-service to what their denomination teaches, they are forced by honesty to make that admission. To do otherwise would call into question their scholarship among their fellow scholars. This alone should cause concern among members of all denominations of Christianity if they but paid attention to this type of honesty. Naturally, it is not advertised by the leadership of any denominations-although many individual congregation and scholars are trying to expose this truth to the world.

As was said above, hell is only one of the words that has dire consequences to one's overall beliefs of Christianity. Consider the topic heading concerning The Soul and Immortality. Read it next.