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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-K034-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

The ancient idea that the dead go to a dark subterranean place gradually evolved into the notion of divinely instituted separate postmortem destinies for the wicked and the righteous. If the former lies behind the Psalms, the latter version appears in apocalyptic works, both canonical and deutero- or non-canonical, and is presupposed by numerous passages in the New Testament. Through the patristic and medieval periods the doctrine gradually achieved ecclesiastical definition, stipulating eternal torment (both physical and spiritual) in a distinctive place for those who die in a state of mortal sin. Most reformers recognized biblical authority for this doctrine. Philosophically, the notion of postmortem survival raises many questions in the philosophy of mind about personal identity. Recent discussion, however, has concentrated on the specialized version of the problem of evil to which the doctrine gives rise.

Citing this article:
Adams, Marilyn McCord. Hell, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-K034-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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