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**** is a complicated idea- and most Christians do not believe it has anything to do with fire and brimstone.
This is the first in a two-part series on heaven and **** by Bible scholar Robyn Whitaker. You can read her piece on heaven here.
Boot - Camp - Session - Work - Deadline
“This is ****” we might proclaim, midway through a boot camp session or a punishing work deadline. We don’t, of course, mean we are literally in a place of eternal torment nor standing in a lake of fire.
**** continues to be invoked in all sorts of ways, by Christians and non-believers alike, with Dante and Hieronymus Bosch, among others, fanning the flames of our collective imagination.
Word - **** - Damnation - Colour - Exclamation
Considered by some as a swear word, **** can be used to threaten eternal damnation or, more colloquially, to add colour to an exclamation. But do we even know what we mean by the term? And where does this so-called Christian idea even come from?
The Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) uses the word Sheol to describe the realm of the dead. Sometimes described as a pit and imagined to be a literal place under the earth, Sheol is where the dead – all of them, good and bad – go when they die. At times, Sheol is used poetically to relay the sense of tragedy associated with death. Sheol was not, however, associated with firey torment, nor is it a place of punishment. That idea comes later.
New - Testament - **** - Terms - Gehenna
In the New Testament, “****” is referred to by various terms: Gehenna, Hades, Tartarus, or the Abyss. Gehenna was a valley in or near Jerusalem. One popular theory is that it was the site of a perpetually burning rubbish dump (fire being the ultimate decontaminate in antiquity) and thus served as a metaphor for a site of purification. But there is little historical evidence for this...
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