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Christ, Jesus, 03: Descent into Hell
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The belief in Christ’s descent into hell developed quickly in early Christianity. The descent is usually thought to have taken place between Christ’s death and his resurrection (with exceptions such as Clem. Exc. 18). Hell, in this context, is most often an underground world where the dead arrive after death and where they may be subject to torment. However, in so-called gnostic texts (e.g. Trim. Prot. 36; 43–44; Teach. Silv. 103–104), hell is the created world, as Irenaeus of Lyon p…

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Gounelle, Rémi, “Christ, Jesus, 03: Descent into Hell”, in: Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online, General Editor David G. Hunter, Paul J.J. van Geest, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte. Consulted online on 27 September 2023 <>
First published online: 2018

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