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Hell
(1,543 words)

1. Religious History

The word “hell” comes from Old Ice. hel, the term in Nordic mythology for the place of the dead in the underworld and for its female ruler. All the dead are there or under her rule except for those killed in battle. The idea was not negative from the outset, as the etymology also shows, for the meaning of the root is “hide, conceal.”

The concept became a negative one only with the demonization of virtually all pre-Christian material by the repressive methods of missionaries and by t…

Cite this page
Colpe, Carsten and Heron, Alasdair I. C., “Hell”, in: Encyclopedia of Christianity Online. Consulted online on 18 January 2020 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2211-2685_eco_H73>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004169678, 20080512



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