2/11/2007                                                                                       View Comments

What the hell is hell?

By John Blatt

The word "Hell" is a very popular word in English. Actually it is not an English word, it is a German word. As a matter of fact, about 90 percent of the King James English is actually borrowed from the Anglo-Saxon language, that is, German. The word "Hell" appears in many common phrases. There are even well known funny poems about Hell. A couple of them are in this article. Here are some of the phrases found on the internet with the word Hell being a part if it:
go to hell

from hell

in hell

like hell

what the hell

heaven and hell

hell's angels

run like hell

hell's kitchen

gates of hell

hell yeah

hell song

operator from hell

bastard operator from hell

hell lyrics

highway to hell

life in hell

hell hath no fury

hell freezes

hell freezes over

hell michigan

bat out of hell

hell fire

hell on earth

road to hell

going to hell

hotter than hell

marriage of heaven and hell

yaoi hell

hell hole

convent of hell

hell song lyrics

linotype hell

hell's canyon

hell yeah lyrics

the hell song

straight to hell

hell's gate

hell no

circles of hell

mad as hell

club hell

the road to hell

hell cat

levels of hell

the gates of hell

hell on heels

hell hath no fury like

who the hell

oh hell

to hell and back

email hell

heaven or hell

hell week

sounds of hell

dll hell

hotter n hell

hell in a handbasket

hell yea

cowboys from hell

sum 41 hell song

the marriage of heaven and hell

hell exothermic

hell raiser

problem from hell

eagles hell

the road to hell is paved

hell hath no fury like a woman

sounds from hell

hell is other people

burn in hell

eagles hell freezes

hell on wheels

motel hell

pictures of hell

highway to hell lyrics

circle of hell

hell bound

eagles hell freezes over

the road to hell is paved with

hell test

hell creek

hell gate

long hard road out of hell

hell fighters

hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

road to hell is paved with good intentions

hell endothermic

hell's belles

here today gone to hell

etiquette hell

roomies from hell

meatloaf bat out of hell

bored as hell

escape from hell

funny as hell

drumkit from hell

season in hell

deathscythe hell

shut the hell up

goto hell

hell to pay

heaven from hell

dante's hell

college roomies from hell

t shirts from hell

hell is for heroes

i'm mad as hell

jazz from hell

raising hell

hell mi

hell in a hand basket

fresh hell

life is hell

harlem hell fighters

mr hell

crazy as hell

see you in hell

is hell exothermic

hell is for children

damn hell

between heaven and hell

bakura's hell

hell fest

run like hell walkthrough

dj hell

level of hell

hell boy

felix hell

tickle hell

what is hell

to hell with dying

hell hound

this is hell

hell raisers

living hell

the hell song lyrics

raise hell

hell fire club

ac dc highway to hell

truth about hell

hell in the cell

the yaoi hell

got to hell

dante hell

hell sing

hell fighter

hell t shirts

what the hell is going on

from hell dvd

descent into hell

hounds of hell

hell's angles

hell angels

hell's angel

revelation of hell

lyrics hell yeah

hell night

proverbs of hell

hell breath

reign in hell

so you think you can tell heaven from hell

sum 41 the hell song

little hell

god of hell fire

green hell

babes from hell

hell or high water

bat out of hell lyrics

when hell freezes over

shores of hell

neighbours from hell

fun from hell

mr hats hell hole

hell yeah remix

cold day in hell

hell awaits

run like hell xbox

heaven & hell

raise a little hell

gamers hell

movie from hell

mr hell show

hell pics

arpeggios from hell

all hell breaks loose

bloody hell


Did you know that the secular meaning behind the word "Hell" simply meant "hidden, out of sight?" Yep, in the ancient German, when two lovers went to a dark place to hide for love making they "went to hel," they hid somewhere. Our English words helmut, hall, hole, heel, hall, all stem from the German word "hele". The religious meaning of the word "Hell" came from Germany too, actually Teutonic mythology. "Hele" was a goddess of the underworld in ancient folklore.

Here's some info from the "About" site:

"Hel is the name of the Norse underworld, and its ruler. Hel/Hela, in Norse mythology, was the hideous daughter of the Giant Loki, banished to the netherworld, Helheim (literally, 'house of Hel'), world of the dead, by the Chief God, Odin. The distinctive looking Goddess, whose skin is black on one side, rules over the dead until Ragnarök and the coming birth of the new world.

"Hel is sister of Fenris, the wolf, and Jormungand, the world-serpent.

"The name for the Christian world of torment is derived from Hela's abode. Unlike the Christian version, however, Hel's realm was home to all who did not die in battle - miserable as it was, good behavior wasn't any more likely to get one a reprieve. Helheim's entrance works only in one direction - once one has entered, even a "God", one cannot leave - like the Greek Hades, Helheim is guarded by a monstrous hound, and encircled by the impassable river Styx. According to legend, the dead will remain in Hel's kingdom until the last days of Ragnarök."


There is no "hell" to go to as so many "hellfire" Christian preachers or the Islamic clerics teach. I have studied this one little word for over sixteen years now with more interest and fervor than any Christian, ex-Christian, or secular mythologist that I know of.

If you have a bible do NOT take it for granted that it is telling you the "truth". The English bible translations in print today (all with the rare exception of a small handful of translations) are riddled with biased, theologically programmed indoctrination. This means that the original languages of the bible are TRANSLATED which requires interpretation. All the English bibles are translated by those who have some religious programming, thus their interpretation of the translation process is preset, even though they may think they are being as impartial as possible. Thus you have a bible that, regardless of intention, is impregnated with presuppositional religious programming by the translators. Translators rely on the works of other translators who have also relied on previous translators.

Take the Strong's Concordance as a perfect example. Many Christians go to the Strong's and Thayer's Greek lexicons for a more "thorough" understanding specific Greek words of the New Testament. They come away from these documents with the impression that they know the bible better because of them. But these tools are HEAVILY saturated with theological programming. The christian "layman" knows no better because their leaders (pastors, teachers, scholars, etc.) approve the usage of these "standard works". If anything one generally know LESS about the true translation of the original languages from these works then they did beforehand.

All this is to say that the words "hell" and other phrases such as "eternal damnation" or "everlasting torment" that are found in mostly every English translation is NOT what the original languages say. It is propaganda. Programming. It is ironic that those who are supposed to know the most about the bible - Christians - end up knowing less than non-religious researchers because they are dependent upon the Christian system and its tools for their knowledge, which has been controlled from the beginning.

I will give you examples in the future of what I am describing here. "Hell" is a control mechanism, created for the generation of fear, which is what oils the Christian machine.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your thesis is an excellent analysis of hell Ted

freedy said...

According to the "Encyclopedia of Hell", hell comes the word "hill".
I too have studied it through Strong and Thayer's concordances for many years.(It always refers to a place here on earth).

I've come to the conclusion that hell was made up by the Egyptians, to extort money for the placing of the book of the dead years before the old testament was written.Sorry my Jewish freinds.

Hell is the biggest scam ever!

Micah Cowan said...

You make very good points about where the English word "hell" comes from, but very poor points about what the original words represented.

The New Testament (in its original language of Greek) very clearly refers to about hell, a pit of fire, a lake of fire, the concepts of eternal damnation and so on. It would be hard to escape Jesus' warnings about being "forever outside in the darkness, with weeping and gnashing of teeth."

There is a hell in the Bible, and it didn't come lately from Anglo-Saxon. Which, by the way, is not "German"; though it came from the Germans (Anglo-Saxons, specifically) and was very close to German as it existed at the time, it is a direct ancestor to Modern English, and is in fact more usually called Old English (King James English is sometimes erroneously termed "Old English", the correct designation is "Early Modern").

Of course the King James English was borrowed from the Anglo-Saxon language: all of the English from that time was (via Middle English): King James English would be what we call.

However, it is interesting to note the vast difference between the hell of the Old Testament, and the hell of the New. There is almost no evidence whatsoever in the bible that the hebrew word that gets translate hell there (שאול, "shuh-OHL") had an association with fire, and there is plenty of evidence that at least not everyone held that your soul continued to live there (cf Ecclesiastes, especially). There is one reference to fire and hell in the Bible, in Deuteronomy 32:22, but that seems to me to indicate God setting the world on fire, starting with setting hell ("the pit") on fire, and burning the rest of the world therefrom.

The New Testament concept of hell (Greek hades), seems to have been borrowed, along with the word itself, from Greek culture. The idea of people going there, continuing to live, but in torment, is certainly a Greek idea. The New Testament of course isn't even consistent with its descriptions of hell: hell is discribed by Jesus as simply "the outer darkness", or Gehenna (which was a real place where they went to dump and burn their trash), or a pit of fire, or a lake of fire. It seems an altogether different concept from the Old Testament's hell, though unfortunately the same English word is used for both.

I'd like to point out, while we're on the subject, that nowhere in the Bible do we find the concept of Satan as the ruler of a hell (other than "the abyss", which is kept in the New Testament as a separate concept from hades). For this reason, for several years before I left Christianity, I would not shy away from using the word as an expletive. I could never understand the reasoning to avoid that word (nor the word "shit"); if Hell was as much God's creation as Heaven and Earth (which, according to the Bible, is the case), and Satan doesn't rule there, but rather God, then what harm is there in referring to it?

freedy said...

I've heard you're arguments before and they're pretty good,..Micah Cowan. I,like others here are more interested in where the original "concept" of hell came from.

Alot of people here, including myself have concluded that the hell and heaven myths came from the Zoastrians and Egyptians,long before the bible even existed.

*I have given up on using the bible to argue anything anymore. It's just too unreliable and prejudiced.

Psychic Evolution said...

Micah Cowan said...

"You make very good points about where the English word "hell" comes from, but very poor points about what the original words represented." My focus wasn't on the original words and this was not an attempt at being thorough in either case, but only to present the visitors to Ex-Christian.net with something interesting to consider with regards to the myth of hell.


"The New Testament (in its original language of Greek) very clearly refers to about hell," It does not. In the Bible four words are translated as "hell": the Hebrew word Sheol, in the original Old testament; its equivalent, the Greek word Hadees, in the Septuagint; and in the New Testament, Hadees, Gehenna and Tartarus. None of which represent an endless place of eternal torment or what is traditionally known as "hell".

"a pit of fire," the phrase "pit of fire" is not found in any English transition, let alone it referring to "hell".

"a lake of fire," I don't feel like taking the time to explain why Revelation's "lake of fire" is not what 98% of christianity says it is. But you should do some more research on this, because most chrisians as well as ex-christians have been fed a bunch of BS.

"the concepts of eternal damnation and so on." You should know, if you were a knowledgeable christian that there is no such thing as eternity in the bible. Do the research on the Greek noun, aiõn, and the adjective, aiõnios. These words are purposefully mistranslated as "eternal" or "everlasting".


"It would be hard to escape Jesus' warnings about being "forever outside in the darkness, with weeping and gnashing of teeth." Only if you swallowed the commonplace BS that has controlled christianity for hundreds of years. If one does not have the tools you cannot do the work. That is, if you and mostly all other people are denied the information to think differently, to understand the original words without traditional programming, then the very thought that there is no eternal torment, nothing "forever and ever" in the christian scriptures, then even as an ex-christian you are stuck thinking that this is what the bible really teaches. It doesn't.

"There is a hell in the Bible, and it didn't come lately from Anglo-Saxon." Of course it didn't come from Anglo-Saxon, yet it also didn't come from the bible either. There is no "hell" in the bible only purposeful lies to make people believe so. Again, I'd go into it as much as it was needed to prove this wrong, but I just don't feel like it right now.


"Which, by the way, is not "German"; though it came from the Germans (Anglo-Saxons, specifically) and was very close to German as it existed at the time, it is a direct ancestor to Modern English, and is in fact more usually called Old English (King James English is sometimes erroneously termed "Old English", the correct designation is "Early Modern")." Again, I wasn't out to give a detailed explanation or to be scholarly with this. Maybe I should. This is almost analogous with jesus' parable of sifting the gnat to swallow a camel.

"Of course the King James English was borrowed from the Anglo-Saxon language: all of the English from that time was (via Middle English): King James English would be what we call." I really have no comment.


"However, it is interesting to note the vast difference between the hell of the Old Testament, and the hell of the New. There is almost no evidence whatsoever in the bible that the hebrew word that gets translate hell there (שאול, "shuh-OHL") had an association with fire, and there is plenty of evidence that at least not everyone held that your soul continued to live there (cf Ecclesiastes, especially). There is one reference to fire and hell in the Bible, in Deuteronomy 32:22, but that seems to me to indicate God setting the world on fire, starting with setting hell ("the pit") on fire, and burning the rest of the world therefrom." You should know, of course, that just because your translation says "hell" that that is what it is. "The Pit" translated as "hell" (she'ôl or sheh-ole'), is the grave and nothing more.


"The New Testament concept of hell (Greek hades)," Again the Greek mistranslation of "hell" is from the words "Hadees", in the Septuagint and in the New Testament, Hadees, Gehenna and Tartarus. Hadees continues its meaning as "the grave", Gehenna was an actual, physical location (which you noted below) and was always referred to as such in the bible, and Tartaroo (2Pet2:4) was basically the deepest part of the grave or underworld, which denotes nothing of "hell-fire".


"seems to have been borrowed, along with the word itself, from Greek culture. The idea of people going there, continuing to live, but in torment, is certainly a Greek idea." Though it is/was a myth. Most of these myths originated from the Babylonians and the Egyptians and earlier.

"The New Testament of course isn't even consistent with its descriptions of hell: hell is discribed by Jesus as simply "the outer darkness", or Gehenna (which was a real place where they went to dump and burn their trash), or a pit of fire, or a lake of fire." Just because you are no longer a christian doesn't mean that when you were a christian that you learned the facts about these things. I don't mean that to sound condescending at all. All of us ex-christians were not given the truth while in christianity. It is inconsistent because the conservative understanding of "hell" within christianity is very contradictory. It was contradictory because it was wrong.


"It seems an altogether different concept from the Old Testament's hell, though unfortunately the same English word is used for both." Because it was purposefully mistranslated.


"I'd like to point out, while we're on the subject, that nowhere in the Bible do we find the concept of Satan as the ruler of a hell (other than "the abyss", which is kept in the New Testament as a separate concept from hades)." I agree.

"For this reason, for several years before I left Christianity, I would not shy away from using the word as an expletive. I could never understand the reasoning to avoid that word (nor the word "shit"); if Hell was as much God's creation as Heaven and Earth (which, according to the Bible, is the case), and Satan doesn't rule there, but rather God, then what harm is there in referring to it?" Good reasoning.

My question for you Micah is why do you insist that the bible teaches "hell" when you are no longer a christian? I would think that it would be much better to understand the bible better than christians do so that we can use that against their mythologies. I've discussed the teaching of hell with several christians who after seeing my points actually began thinking for themselves, most of which ended up leaving christianity altogether. I do not see the need to defend the traditional, conservative view of "hell" in order to reject christianity. On the contrary, I believe it is much better to know the truth and show it to others than use their non-truths as means to reject christianity. Though that is just me.

Micah Cowan said...

@ freedy,

That works fine for me. I don't think I said anything that contradicts the notion that Christian Hell came originally from the Egyptions and Zoastrians. I could not comment on that one way or the other as I haven't done the research.

@ Mr Blatt,

It'd be much easier to follow the conversation if you'd put more separation between my words and yours than a pair of quotation marks; also, if you "have no comment" on a particular portion of what I've written, it'd probably be easier if you would just leave that section out.

In the Bible four words are translated as "hell": the Hebrew word Sheol, in the original Old testament; its equivalent, the Greek word Hadees, in the Septuagint; and in the New Testament, Hadees, Gehenna and Tartarus. None of which represent an endless place of eternal torment or what is traditionally known as "hell".

Okay. I would've considered the Greek concept of Hades to be a place of eternal torment, but your argument later (if I'm understanding you correctly) that Hades is just used as an approximation, a holdover from Septuagint-translation tradition seems reasonable.

While it's true that Gehenna was an actual, physical place, though, its usage in the New Testament is clearly and consistently allegorical: Jesus isn't trying to say that you'll literally end up in Gehenna, but that you'll end up in its functional equivalent. But let's get to the more crucial point:

"the concepts of eternal damnation and so on." You should know, if you were a knowledgeable christian that there is no such thing as eternity in the bible. Do the research on the Greek noun, aiõn, and the adjective, aiõnios. These words are purposefully mistranslated as "eternal" or "everlasting".

Despite your efforts to the contrary, this does come across a bit condescending.… This would seem to me to be the central foundation of what we're talking about: these are the very words that the Bible uses in any passage that a reader would point to to say, "look, see: it does talk about everlasting torment in Hell" (specifically the Gehenna analog). However, you offer nothing to corroborate this, which makes it a little difficult to argue against.

I've read Reverend Hanson's work, which makes your point, but I'm not convinced it does so entirely successfully (though it makes several very good points). However, it is also clear through the sources he sites that the word (I refer to the noun) does sometimes mean an infinite period (generally when applied to eternal things), and that it frequently means a lifetime, when applied to people. It seems to me that the default understanding of the word would be that the torment in Gehenna lasts across a man's lifetime, which, whether one argues that a "soul" is eternal or not, would certainly seem to give an equivalence to eternity, as far as the sufferer is concerned, at any rate. On a much more subjective note, the context of especially Matthew 25 makes it hard to envision anything other than an unending period, given that if the torment is understood to have an end, so is the period of rest and communion with God. At any rate, you can be fairly certain that an aion is an extremely long period of time (the application to Jonah would seem to be a rarity), so it still doesn't seem too different from the traditional Christian Hell.

My question for you Micah is why do you insist that the bible teaches "hell" when you are no longer a christian? I would think that it would be much better to understand the bible better than christians do so that we can use that against their mythologies.

I quite agree with that sentiment.

I do not see the need to defend the traditional, conservative view of "hell" in order to reject christianity. On the contrary, I believe it is much better to know the truth and show it to others than use their non-truths as means to reject christianity. Though that is just me.

No question.

Yes, there is certainly no need to defend the conservative Christian definition of "Hell", and I feel no such compulsion. However, whenever I see a line of reasoning that appears incomplete or faulty to me, I do seek to improve it; the moreso when it is used to further a truthful cause; I do not like to see faulty premises or reasoning employed against Christians any more than I like to see Christians employ their false premises or rhetoric. (I do not mean to imply that your arguments amount to rhetoric, only that I perceived faults.)

The original post seemed to me to have a few non sequiturs, and I wish that some of the interesting points you've made in this followup, such as your brief touching upon aion and aionios, had been included in the original. Your followup cleared up many of the pieces I was missing from the original post, thanks very much. I haven't quite come around to your conclusion yet, but the whole argument seems much more plausible now.

I would also be very interested in your discussion of Revelation's lake of fire, which would seem to have some strong relevance to whether the Hades hell (whose contents are poured into the lake of fire) had the connotations of ongoing torment; if you haven't the time to write something here, please send me an email with some of the points you would make on that topic, or at least pointers to resources (preferably available online, but reputable) that you would suggest for me.

Micah Cowan said...

Quick addendum:

The argument that seemed the flimsiest to me, and which you seemed to spend the greatest length discussing, is your attempts to build your argument from the etymology of the word "hell". At the least, it's worth balancing this against the realization that Christianity's concept of Hell had already been pretty firmly established a very long time before there was ever an English translation of the Bible.

Sarge said...

Hellishly good postings! Sorry, couldn't HELLp myself.

I'm always asked, when my atheism is commented on, 'where will you go when you die?' Then they always discribe the horrors that await me for not loving Jesus. I ask what the joys of heaven are supposed to be, AND NO ONE CAN REALLY TELL ME.

About the only coherent gleanings are that I'll 'be in the presence of God', or that it will be an eternal church service. Come to think of it, that WOULD be Hell to me!

freedy said...

The Christian heaven is sort of like starting a band and making a CD,...then commanding everyone to love and listen to my music.

All those who love my music and come hear me play get blessed and are granted the right to live.

All others I torment and kill.

Pretty damn despotic,...eh?

twincats said...

I agree with Sarge. In my 35 or so years as a Christian, I just had to trust that Heaven really is a wonderful place which had to be beyond description, since the descriptions were never persuasive enough to make me want to go there.

Then I found out that animals were not to be included in Heaven (don't know if there are any verses that apply, just that clerics seemed to be in agreement over this.)

Well, THERE'S a deal-breaker, if ever there was one!

Lorena said...

Sarge:
"About the only coherent gleanings are that I'll 'be in the presence of God', or that it will be an eternal church service. Come to think of it, that WOULD be Hell to me!"

Lorena:
Yeah, an eternal church service... what a treat!?! In my experience, the most starched, hollier-than-thou types are the first ones to complain when services go over an hour.

Heaven, as depicted by many, is in fact the best definition of hell for everybody. Even Christians would hate it there. Imagine having been a church elder or board member here on earth, and then arriving in heaven to realize that complaining is not allowed because, well, Jesus is the boss there.

SpaceMonk said...

"Then I found out that animals were not to be included in Heaven"

Well, cats will be in heaven.
Dogs will be in hell.

TruthWarrior said...

Universalist Christians believe all this of hell but still keep their faith. That's the belief that there's no hell, or at least a temporal "hell" or holding place till everyone is saved, reconciled to god at some point. I think their believes jive better with the bible then the eternal hellfire believers. God turns out a bit nicer too and it seems to produce better "fruits of the spirit" among them.

But though better Christians, they still have the same problems. Some are creationists and there is a variety of the same wacky eschatology beliefs among them. Though the preterist ones make a bit more sense. Some Universalist Christians can be just as bad as their counterparts with hate towards others that don't share their beliefs. So even with a lack of hellfire belief Christianity can still has the same bad problems.

Plenty of sites on the net,

Spirit of The Word
http://hellbusters.8m.com/spiritoftheword.html
Lots of articles and big old online books

Martin Zender
http://www.martinzender.com
Wrote a fun little book called "Martin Zender Goes to Hell" bashing the whole eternal hellfire belief.
http://www.starkehartmann.com/hell_excerpts.htm

tigg13 said...

The good news: there will be cats in heaven.

The bad news: They will be in charge!

LadySidhe said...

You may be interested in a book called, "The Decline of Hell: 17th Century Discussions on Eternal Torment."

One of the main points it makes is that the word used to describe the length of one's stay, an "aeon," merely meant, "an age;" yet it was translated as "for eternity."

Which makes sense...if you want to scare your followers into walking the straight and narrow, whatever that may be, eternal torment as a punishment is a pretty good inducement.

Kinda makes you wonder, doesn't it? Sending a person to hell for eternity for a temporal "sin" like a lie, is akin to condemning a person to death for jaywalking.

socksunderthebed said...

heaven and hell make about as much sense as the entire christian religion. In my opinion it's all a bunch of lies and hipocrasy..I spelled that wrong..oh well...still...if someone belives something then I say let them belive it...

socksunderthebed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.