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Hell

hades demons gehenna medieval

The English word Hell derives from Hel , the term used in ancient Germanic myths for the realms of the dead, similar to the Hebrew Sheol and Greek * Hades . The specific concept of hell as a place of punishment for the wicked derives from the Hebrew notion of Gehenna —a geographic location mentioned in the Old Testament as the site of various pagan atrocities, such as child sacrifice. *Jeremiah’s prophecyof judgment upon this evil place contributed to the idea of Gehenna as the place of punishment for sinners, and the term repeatedly appears in this context in the Greek and Vulgate New Testament. The attributes of Gehenna , or hell, include “everlasting fire” and “darkness”; it is the place of the *Devil and *demons and “wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:50). Unlike Hades , or the cleansing of *souls possible in purgatory, hell was generally regarded by early Christian and medieval theologians as a permanent location or eternal state of the sinful. Although the inhabitants of hell, the Devil and demons, appear in early Christian and early medieval art (see: * , and hell (or Hades ) is pictured in scenes of the *Anastasis, large-scale, dramatic visions of hell appear especially from the eleventh century onward in scenes of the *Apocalypse and *Last Judgment. The torments of the sinners in hell are often prominently depicted; they are chewed or prodded by demons and suffer various tortures appropriate to their earthly sins and *vices. The *Mouth of Hell appears as the gaping jaws of a fearsome beast with flames and a boiling cauldron within it. The Devil, or *Satan, may preside over this suffering or may be shown chained and locked by an *angel in a pit or cavern . In later medieval art, dramatic images of hell were also inspired by *Dante’s Inferno .
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