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Ron_C's avatar

This is Easter time. I understand that most Christians believe that Christ visited Hell after his death. My question is how do you know that and is Christ quoted, saying that he went to Hell?

Asked by Ron_C (14438points) April 3rd, 2010

I am asking this because I don’t remember descriptions, in the Bible, where Jesus actually told his apostles what happened between the time he died and rose again. Of course it is a long time since I read the Bible but I would think that something like that would stick in my head. My current belief that was part of the doctrine Paul invented while starting the religion.

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40 Answers

gemiwing's avatar

Here is an article about the subject.

So much is up for interpretation that saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ with absolute resolve is inadvisable.

grumpyfish's avatar

Something you have to remember is that each of the gospels were written with a specific audience in mind. If I remember correctly, Matthew was the first (non-apocryphal) gospel, and his audience was primarily converting Jews (and specifically handles the question of Jesus being the Messiah and fulfilling the various prophesies).

John, being the last one written, used the other three gospels as source material, and very much more a spiritual gospel.

So the “red letter” of if Jesus said something or not is up to interpretation—most of the gospels were written well after the apostles’ lifetimes, so the likelyhood of the exact words being passed along (and ALL of the exact words being passed along) is pretty slim.

anartist's avatar

It seems like one of those things mediaeval monks used to like to argue about, along with whether Mary had any children with Joseph after Jesus. Fooling around with interpreting the “Apostles’ Creed” during the Dark Ages . . . a Christian version of pilpul.

http://www.detectingtruth.com/?p=135I This is one guy’s summation and opinion.
“He descended into Hell.” Did Jesus really descend into Hell?
The phrase “He descended into Hell” does not occur in the Bible, however, it is commonly found in the Apostles’ Creed. The Apostles’ Creed was defined over a long period of time from about A.D 200 – 750. The phase in question has been added and dropped a few times over the years and is now found in most, if not all, versions of the Creed. For example, it can be found in the “Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

Jack79's avatar

The confusion lies in the translation (as with the whole “virgin” crap).

Jesus descended into the Underworld. The Greek word used was “Hades” which was the ancient Greek kingdom of the dead (the river Styxx and all that). It was not for bad people, it was where everybody went (eg Eurydice and Persephone). In other words, He died and was later resurrected.

Hades’ underworld was a cold and desolate place where souls remained forever, with no hope of salvation, second coming etc. They were something like our modern notion of ghosts or zombies.

The notion of Hell as a fiery pit with devils, lava etc is a much more recent one, probably dating back to the Middle Ages. In Christian mythology, souls can go to two different places: Hell if they are evil and Heaven if they are good. This “underground vs skies” juxtaposition did not exist at the time of Christ however.

So yes, Jesus went to the land of the Dead, but not to Hell.

Ron_C's avatar

Thank you all. What I understand you are all saying is:

1. There is no direct quote of Jesus explaining where he was between his death and resurrection.

2. The only place where “he descended into hell” is written is in the Apostles Creed.

3. There is debate even on the translation to the word hell.

4. There is not even agreement on what hell is or what it means to Christians.

I guess that Christianity has no firm beliefs or proof for the beliefs that are held by various sects.

dpworkin's avatar

Why do you think that religious believers have to “know” things? They just have to believe them.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

I saw the TMZ interview with him after he pushed the rock away from the cave.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Hell was a trash dump outside the city of Jerusalem.

Hell = Greek “Gehenna”. It was used to refer to the valley outside of Jerusalem known as the Valley of Hinnon. This was the garbage dump at the time of Christ. It was used to dispose of dead animals and executed criminals bodies. It was constantly burning for sanitation, and the fires that burned day and night were used to symbolize the fate of the wicked for all eternity.

Hell is a man made creation.

ThrallKiller's avatar

He didn’t go into Hell, he went to a place called Sheol and released the captive souls.

anartist's avatar

Actually, maybe Jesus [if such there was] DID descend into Hell when he allowed himself to be born here.

anartist's avatar

@dpworkin Particularly Christians. Christianity is a mystery religion. Faith is required to accept such unbelievable stuff as “virgin birth” [before artificial insemination] without rolling your eyes and poking the other guy in the ribs.
Judaism is not a mystery religion, rather a religion of law.

Ron_C's avatar

so, @ThrallKiller @anartist @RealEyesRealizeRealLies @Captain_Fantasy and @dpworkin what all of you guys are saying is that the whole visit to hell thing was just made up by some guys several hundred years after Christ’s death…when they wrote the Nicene Creed. Now millions of people base their entire faith and life on it, amazing.

dpworkin's avatar

What is amazing about human credulousness?

Ron_C's avatar

@dpworkin why don’t I believe that? I went to Catholic school and had the same brainwashing as those other people but find that I cannot bring myself to believe without proof and by faith alone.

dpworkin's avatar

Maybe you consider the human condition to be less of a threat, and you don’t suffer from uncontrollable existential angst.

Ron_C's avatar

I can truthfully say that I do not suffer from existential angst. I am beginning to think that my lack of belief comes from my 40 plus years trouble-shooting problems. It is easy to be lead astray by belief. It turns out that trouble-shooting success depends entirely on what you know. The more information you have, the faster the problem is solved.

anartist's avatar

@Ron_C and on who you know? [Not with a capital “W”]

anartist's avatar

<a href=“http://www.gotquestions.org/did-jesus-go-to-hell.html” rel=“nofollow”>Here</a>
Here

by George I’ve got it!!!!

Ron_C's avatar

@anartist that link didn’t work for me. However, that is where I went to research my answer. Mostly the answers tried to deflect the question and provided no direct answers. In truth, Christianity doesn’t even pretend that the story came from it’s founder, Jesus. I would say that this sort of teaching explains Protestants, but they believe it too.

anartist's avatar

I don’t know what link you mean. If the “here” I just copied it from above to figure out how to make links with clothes on—sorry

anartist's avatar

I never even heard of it and I was raised a Protestant. There is an awful lot of mediaeval mud all over the Christian faith. Enlightened clerics don’t let it drag them down. Actually, it is not even required to BELIEVE per se. Some clergy don’t.

anartist's avatar

LEAP OF FAITH And when God said “Jump” . . .

anartist's avatar

I sort of believe Jesus succumbed to the Last Temptation of Christ
“I’ll make your name remembered for millennia!”

Ron_C's avatar

@anartist I am far from an expert in what protestants believe but I thought that the “bible believing” churches recited the apostles creed, very similar to the one the catholics use.

anartist's avatar

My upbringing was “low church” New England Congregationalist—closer to Quakers than Bible-thumpers

anartist's avatar

Are you a Christian? A Catholic?

Ron_C's avatar

I am a “reformed catholic” in that I no longer believe anything the nuns taught to me.

anartist's avatar

Did you enjoy any of the beauty of it? When I was little I envied my Catholic friends because their churches had pretty stained windows and they did a lot of ritual things with holy water and stuff and heard a strange language spoken melodically and had lots of art and had incense and when they were all six they got dressed up and had an important ceremony.

Ron_C's avatar

@anartist Oh yes! Artistically, the decor, music, vestments are all great. They are, however things you can see. When I got older I found it amazing that with all of this art and beauty around, they still asked for money. After that I looked closer at what we were expected to believe.

anartist's avatar

Everyone asks for money. When I was a college kid I went to a couple of Weathermen meetings [artists and student activists sometimes ended up in the same circles]. One of them gave a long impassioned rant about capitalist greed and when he finished he asked for money. I never went back.

Ron_C's avatar

The money issue was part of my search for a religion with which I could identify. There was one small church lead by a part-time minister, that seemed promising and a Wiccan gathering that never discussed money.

The small christian church ended up looking too judgmental and I get too cold and am too shy for sky clad (nude) Wiccan services. At least, however, they admitted that their stories were myth.

anartist's avatar

The wicca need to build a sweat lodge. I tried it at New Age Health Spa and cold was not a problem,,,, a low circular structure heated with a hot stones in the center—a lot of ritual [native-american] to it
http://www.newagehealthspa.com/search.html
pix are gone now maybe they don’t have one any more

who admitted? The church? or the Wicca?

Ron_C's avatar

@anartist of course the Wiccans admitted that their stories were myths used to help people feel closer the the earth and each other. The Christians insist that all of their stories are the absolute truth and come straight from god.

ThrallKiller's avatar

@Ron_C On the flipside, we Christians think it’s amazing that millions of people “base their entire life and faith” on evolution.

Sandydog's avatar

@Ron_C The descended into “hell” thing is alluded to in one of Pauls letters – to be specific Ephesians 4:9 and 10. I’m not sure what the original word was as it says descended to “The lower parts of the earth”, and its a very obscure reference.
Theres also another verse in the letter of Peter ( 1 Peter 3:19 ), where Jesus is said to have “preached to the spirits in prison”. This is another verse where the visitation to “hell” is assumed. The meaning rests on the interpretation of course.
Hope this is helpful.

Ron_C's avatar

@ThrallKiller I don’t have faith in evolution, I understand the basics of it and natural selection. Knowing what I have learned, evolution combined with natural selection present the most logical, provable, and useful explanation for the complexity of life. Creation does nothing to explain anything.

@Sandydog Paul is not Jesus, additionally Paul created most of the doctrine of Christianity. Even he didn’t quote Jesus saying that he went to hell. As an aside, “the lower parts of earth” mean Las Vegas and New Jersey to me.

Sandydog's avatar

@Ron_C I was trying to be helpful to you in the information that I gave. As I spent 3 years studying theology “The lower parts of the earth”, would have been a type of “hell” in the understanding of the day. Peters quotation would also have been understood as “hell” as well. So Christians “know that”( from your question ), having had Peter tell them. And yes, Christ himself is not quoted on the matter.

Ron_C's avatar

@Sandydog thanks for the information, I hope you didn’t take my reply as a snide remark. My point, in asking the question is that it seems, to me, that the current vision of hell is a medieval construction of eternal torment. probably based on the techniques used during the Inquisition. My readings tell me that hell is just the separation from God, that’s the only “torment”. As a neutral observer of mainstream religions and a reader of the bible,separation from God doesn’t seem like such a bad thing.

Sandydog's avatar

@Ron_C I think to have a truly in depth view of how “Heaven and Hell” came into the human consciousness then a good starter would be to understand the influence of the Persian religion of Zoroastanism. The jews were in exile there and consequently picked up a lot of the post exile beliefs from this religion.
Heres just a small example below : ( from an article on Zoroastrianism ).

“This is confirmed when Judaism goes on to adopt many doctrines of Zoroastrianism. The Devil, the after life, “good” people go to a “heaven” and “evil” doers go to a place of punishment. These are places which are identical to the “Best” and “Worst” Existences of Mazdayasna.
Doctrines belonging to Zarathushtra´s followers, such as resurrection of the dead, were accepted at this time, at least by the Persian faction, which came to be known as Pharisees (from Persians, Pharsees). More doctrines such as the coming savior became part of Judaism. All these doctrines were to pass from Judaism into Christianity and Islam.”

As you can see this religion had a huge influence on what people came to believe.

On a personal note I was an assistant in the ministry back in the 80’s, but came to see that too many clerics were getting paid good salaries for what I seen was “old rope”
Far from being the servants of the church they were the ones who were benefitting from organised religion,( nice salary, no hard work, nice prestigious job title in being called a reverand etc,) with any awkward questions conveniently being airbrushed out. I just found the whole thing sickening.
People nowadays thankfully have the net to search philosophies for themselves and dont need “guidance” from self-appointed Holy men.

Ron_C's avatar

@Sandydog I have even heard some preachers say that many of the Jewish and early Christians were borrowed from local Pagans. They said that it was to make the switch from traditional religions more palatable. The neglected to say that some of the basic biblical teachings, claimed to be directly from god really were the result of religious interaction.

I’m a former altar boy and even contemplated the priesthood (then I found out about sex and money). I was also encouraged to leave baptism class because I asked too many questions.

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