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The Formation of Hell: Death and Retribution in the Ancient and Early Christian Worlds [Hardcover]

By Alan E. Bernstein (Author)
Our Price $ 46.71  
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Item Number 144791  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   392
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.54" Width: 6.49" Height: 1.38"
Weight:   1.6 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 30, 1993
Publisher   Cornell University Press
ISBN  0801428939  
EAN  9780801428937  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Alternate Selection of History Book Club and The Readers' Subscription

"A superb book largely because it brings clarity to a complex, puzzling and terrifying subject. . . . It lets you make up your own mind about death by helping you see what some of the choices are."--Edward L. Mark, Boston Globe

What becomes of the wicked? Hell--exile from God, subjection to fire, worms, and darkness--for centuries the idea has shaped the dread of malefactors, the solace of victims, and the deterrence of believers. Asking just why and how belief in hell arose, Alan E. Bernstein takes us back to those times and offers us a comparative view of the philosophy, poetry, folklore, myth, and theology of that formative age.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Comprehensive Review of Hell Mythology  Dec 21, 2007
This is a very good summary of the myths and theologies of the afterlife that developed in the Mediterranean cultures, from ancient Egypt and Sumer to the Judaeo-Greco-Roman religions. The author contrasts the varying philosophies of a neutral death to that of retribution and punishment, perfected by Christianity's most influential early theologian, Augustine of Hippo. The philosophical differences that involved the question of divine justice and mercy resulted in the Catholic Church's compromise of purgatory serving as a form of redemptive weigh-station for those whose lifetime sins were not so egregious as to merit eternal damnation, though I thought some of the arguments used by Augustine were themselves as tortured as the damned he evidently wanted punished for rejecting God. The discussions involving the apocryphal texts, the Apocalypses of Paul and Peter, emphasized the obsession with gory and grisly retributions, a tendency amongst Christians that even today's so-called evangelicals have adopted to excess themselves.
Though at times a bit dense on writing style this is by its nature an academic and scholarly subject on a subject pregnant with implications for today's modern believer in whatever fate. To what extent are our current lives responsible for what happens afterward? The author offers no answer beyond his adept discussion of what preceded us. I recommend this to all fans of theology, ancient cultures and history and philosophy.

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