You are on page 1of 50

1

Translating Sheol as Hell: A Clear Case of Cultural Imposition?



Timothy Martin Lewis

The King James Version of the Bible (1611) translated Sheol (s:) thirty-one times as the
grave and thirty-one times as hell.
1
Thus Ps 9:17 in the KJV reads, The wicked shall
be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. Since the psalm is intending to
say how the wicked are crushed to dust in battle and vanquished from the face of the
earth (cf. 9:10 their name you wiped out forever and ever), the use of hell here seems
suspicious. Assuming that the concept of hell postdates the OT, it is easy to allege that the
English translation of Sheol as hell is a clear case of cultural imposition. The New
International Dictionary of the Bible attempts to explain the KJVs procedure of translating
Sheol:

[Sheol is] the place to which all the dead go, immediately upon death. Sometimes
KJV translates it grave, sometimes hell, depending on whether or not the
individuals in the particular passage were viewed as righteous, but this procedure
involves importing distinctions into the OT that were not clarified until Jesus
ministry.
2


1
The KJV rendered the remaining three occurrences (not counting the Apocrypha) as the pit.
2
J. D. Douglas and Merrill C. Tenney, eds. New International Dictionary of the Bible: Pictorial Edition (Grand
Rapids: Zondervan, 1987), 247, 431, 93132. The NIDB also advocates following the NIV footnotes
for certain times where Sheol represents the special doom of the wicked, saying, for if KJV was
2

Other Bible dictionaries do not explicitly concern themselves with either justifying or
condemning the KJVs practice of rendering Sheol as hell. However, entries on Sheol
and Hell indicate that they would hardly justify the translation of Sheol as hell since
they stress that Sheol is to be understood as the abode of all the dead and not a place of
punishment for the wicked.
3
Apparently no one previously had argued properly that
hell was a theological imposition made by the KJV translators, thus the original intent
of the present essay was meant to demonstrate that the translation of Sheol as hell was
indeed a result of cultural imposition, a consequence of the seventeenth-centurys
fascination with hell.
4

5 6
At first glance it would have been easy enough to argue that the

inaccurate in translating Sheol as "hell" (e.g. Ps 9:17), NIV is equally inaccurate in formalizing it as
"the grave."
3
David Noel Freedman, ed. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 57273, In
Jewish eschatology, death meant the separation of the body and soul. Yet no harm occurs after death,
for the soul remains secure. . . . The OT makes no reference to torture once persons are relegated to
Sheol. Adela Y. Collins, Hades, Harpers Bible Dictionary 365, Sheol is not a place of punishment in
the OT. W. E. Vine, Vines Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Old Tappan: Fleming H.
Revell, 1981), 187, In the A.V. of the O.T. and N.T., it [Hades] has been unhappily rendered "Hell."
4
David Powys, Hell: A Hard Look at a Hard Question: The Fate of the Unrighteous in New Testament Thought
(Cumbria: Paternoster, 1997), 90, implicates earlier English translations (esp. KJV) with theological
imposition regarding the renderings of s: (l) and :e. (np): It is hard to avoid the conclusion that
the doctrines such as unending punishment and of the [Greek notion of] immortality of the soul were
imported into earlier translations, and that these translations have in turn perpetuated the doctrines.
3

5
Piero Camporesi, The Fear of Hell: Images of Damnation and Salvation in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge:
Polity Press, 1990), 28: Probably no other century regarded this world more disconsolately through
the eyes of the other world; over no other age did hell exert such an attraction and repulsion, and in so
spasmodic and obsessive a fashion as the seventeenth-century. Although Camporesis comments
concern Catholicism in Europe they are equally satisfactory as a description of the Church in early
modern England. See also, D. P. Walker, The Decline of Hell: Seventeenth Century Discussions of Eternal Torment
(London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1964); Philip C. Almond, Heaven and Hell in Enlightenment England
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994); and Geoff Rowell, Hell and the Victorians (Oxford:
Clarendon, 1974), 117.
6
It seems that during the seventeenth-century the torments of hell were considered part of the official
doctrine of the Church of England and held by most church clergy but not necessarily embraced by the
common people, many of whom instead continued to hold notions of rewards and punishments in the
present life. But I am unaware of research concerning clerical versus non-clerical beliefs in hell.
Alexandra Walsh, Providence in Early Modern England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), has shown
that the notion of providence was a dominant force throughout England permeating across all classes.
Powys, Hell, 19, 2541, 54, sees hell as an official Church doctrine imposed by the Church of England,
since it was only in the nineteenth-century that doctrinal aspects (e.g. unending punishment) were
apparently challenged within mainstream/orthodox circles in the English-speaking world and that
the doctrine of immediate unending torment survived the Reformation fully intact and was not
substantially challenged until the nineteenth-century. However, exact beliefs concerning hell seem
more idiosyncratic than that granted by Powys position. Powys also overlooks the influence of
Luthers and Calvins views.
4
KJV translators had consciously or subconsciously imposed the doctrine of hell onto its
texts and readers.
7
The argument appeared initially strong, given the following four
suppositions. (1) Unlike the NT, hell is a theological concept not promoted in the OT
so that using the word hell is anachronistic and misleading.
8
(2) Unlike hell Sheol

7
It would not be the first time that the KJV has been charged with importing Church of England
theology into the text. The KJV committee was forbidden to translate as
congregation and was instructed to translate it as church in line with the traditional rendering
supposedly for the sake of legitimating the Church of England unlike the more radical Puritan proposal
(following Tyndale) to translate it as congregation which might undermine the Church of England.
For some of the polemic incited against Tyndales renderings see Benson Bobrick, Wide as the Waters:
The Story of the English Bible and Revolution It Inspired (NY: Simon & Schuster, 2001), 11214. Richard
Bancrofts fifteen rules of translation for the KJV translators are reproduced also in Alister McGrath,
In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language and a Culture (London:
Hodder & Stoughton, 2001), 17375. Rule no. 3 stating: The old Ecclesiastical Words to be kept, viz.
The Word Church not to be translated Congregation &c.
8
Usual definitions are themselves misleading. Hell is supposedly a NT concept entailing ongoing torture
or punishments. But eternal punishments have often been confused with eternal punishment. The notion of hell
in the NT predominantly concerns the perpetual disgrace of final annihilation by fire (as the ultimate denial
of the life of resurrection/renewed kingdom) rather than ongoing tortures or punishments. See the
detailed study by Powys, Hell. Cf. esp Isa 66:24 cited in Mark 9:4748 (permanent destruction and
denial of [a body for] resurrection). Based on such a NT concept the question is then raised: Can a
future fiery destruction be considered hell if those persons entering it are annihilated? The NTs supposed
understanding of hell (supposedly the source used to theologically define hell) hardly fits the usual
definition of hell. Hell as an ongoing place of tortures is a notion influenced by various extra-biblical
speculationsspeculations that the biblical texts challenge.
5
denotes a non-hostile abode or resting place of all the dead.
9
(3) The grave translation is,
theologically, more neutral. (4) Translating Sheol as hell originated with the English
Bibles of the sixteenth and seventeenth-centuries.
However, all four suppositions happen to be incorrect. Rather (1) Sheol was an
equivalent term for the widespread mythological notion of the dreaded Underworld.
10
(2)
The OT only ever employed Sheol in a figurative way to refer to the worst possible fate
(somewhat similar the English use of hell in colloquial speech).
11
(3) Authors in the
Hebrew Bible chose to use Sheol largely in connection with the fate of the arrogant or

9
H. Kster, Sheol, New Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. Berard L. Marthaler (2d ed.; Detroit: Catholic
University of America Press. 2003), 13. 7913:79, provides a typical definition of Sheol: In the Bible it
designates the place of complete inertia that one goes down to when one dies whether one be just or
wicked, rich or poor. The entry also mentions that Sheol occurs more than 60 times in the Old
Testament to signify the nether world and that its etymology is very uncertain.
10
See Philip S. Johnston, Shades of Sheol: Death and Afterlife in the Old Testament (Downers Grove: InterVarsity
Press, 2002), 16, 18, 70-75, esp., 73, Sheol means the underworld, the realm of the dead deep below
the earth. This is almost universally accepted.
11
The notion of Sheol is theologically significant in that being banned to Sheol creates distance from
God. Hence, metaphors of the underworld express anxiety in the face of death as well as the experience
of being saved from great distress. L. Wchter, s:, Theological Dictionary of the OT, ed. G. J.
Botterweck, H. Ringgren, and H. J. Fabry (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 14:23948.
6
wicked.
12
(4) The English translation of Sheol as hell dates back to at least a
millennium prior to the sixteenth-century.

WIDER CULTURAL CONTEXT: MESOPOTAMIAN, EGYPTIAN AND GREEK
MYTHOLOGIES OF THE UNDERWORLD
Ancient Israel was surrounded by a variety of mythological notions concerning the
dreaded Otherworld/Underworld or world below.
13

The Underworld in Mesopotamian mythologies was called the Land of No Return,
Land of Dust, Foreign Land, Place of Lying Down of the Sun and the House of
Darkness.
14
It included the notion of the dead as shades (who, as in Egyptian mythology,
are ferried across the river by a boatman), who exist in virtually unlivable conditions,
eating mud and drinking foul water, but occasionally receiving food offerings from the

12
James Barr, The Garden of Eden and the Hope of Immortality: The Read-Tuckwell Lectures for 1990 (London:
SCM, 1992), 29. Johnston, Shades, 73, thinks that the KJV was naturally influenced by precisely this
fact: Because Sheol is often associated with the wicked the term was frequently translated as hell in
the Authorized or King James Version.
13
There are many overlapping notions from these periods and it would be futile to attempt to argue that
every notion has a single origin. For example, the imagery of the Underworld being fortified by gates
which is found in Mesopotamian, early Greek, and Egyptian mythology.
14
Charles Penglase, Some Concepts of Afterlife in Mesopotamia and Greece, The Archeology of Death in
the Ancient Near East, eds. Stuart Campbell and Anthony Greer (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 1995), 192195.
By Mesopotamian, I am attempting to be quite broad (including Assryrian/Akkadian, Canaanite, and
Babylonian).
7
living.
15
Each grave becomes an entrance to the Underworld where earthly distinctions of
prestige are almost worthless.
16
It took three days to journey to (or from) the
Underworld.
17
Here the dead are incapable of much activity but they could be contacted
for information or might be inadvertently disturbed and so needing to be placated.
18
Thus
a dead person might haunt family members in order to obtain the proper burial or
memorial (hence the notion of exorcistic rituals).
19
The Mesopotamian Underworld was

15
T. J. Lewis, Dead, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, ed. K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, and P.
W. van der Horst (Leiden: Brill, 1995), 22331.
16
Jerrold S. Cooper, The Fate of Mankind: Death and Afterlife in Ancient Mesopotamia, Death and
Afterlife: Perspectives of World Religions, ed. Hiroshi Obayashi (Westport: Greenwood, 1992), 1933.
17
Mesopotamian mythologies provide the earliest attested notion of an otherworldly descent by a divine or
human figure. Richard Bauckham, Descents to the Underworld, The Fate of the Dead: Studies on the Jewish
and Christian Apocalypses (Leiden: Brill, 1998), 948, 1617; an almost identical version appeared in
ABD, 2:145-159. Mesopotamian mythology also provided the notion of an otherworldly vision of the
Underworld. Richard J. Clifford S.J., Near Eastern Myth, The Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism: Volume I The
Origins of Apocalypticism in Judaism and Christianity, ed. John J. Collins (New York: Continuum, 1999), 137,
15.
18
Lewis, Dead, 22526. In the Sumerian texts the return/resurrection of Tammuz to the land of the
living is spoken of in terms of awaking from sleep or stirring from sleep. Cf. the House of Rest as a euphemism
for death. William W. Hallo, Disturbing the Dead, Minhah le-Nahum: Biblical and Other Studies Presented to
Naum M. Sarna in Honor of his 70th Birthday eds. Marc Brettler and Michael Fishbane (Sheffield: Sheffield
Academic, 1993), 18392, 18587.
19
There is also the notion of Death (Mot) as a personified power. John F. Healey, Death in West Semitic
Texts: Ugarit and Nabatae, The Archeology of Death in the Ancient Near East, 18891, 188.
8
ruled by Ereshkigal (the queen) and Nergal (the consort king). The Underworld was
home to all the dead along with numerous other gods, monsters and demons.
20

Egyptian mythologies of the afterlife contained (besides the beatific notion of the
god-like king ascending to or reigning with the stars/astral deities): the notion of an
Otherworld called Tuat (and sometimes the House of Eternity);
21
the notion of being at
the ends of the earth as a place with hazards (like the Four Crocodiles of the West)
preventing one from reaching the restful Field of Reeds;
22
the notion of a judgment of
the dead based on the principle of maat (truth/justice) and/or ones proper allegiance to
the correct god.
23
Human souls here are sentenced to live at the edge of a lake of fire
while at the entrance to the land of the blessed enemies of Osiris are rounded up (under
direction of Horus) and destroyed in four pits of fire. Also a huge fiery serpent breaths
fire into the faces of twelve enemies of Osiris who can only escape if they know the
correct words of power to use against him.
24
The fire annihilates these enemies.

20
Penglase, Some Concepts, 193.
21
Ronald F. Youngblood, Qoheleths Dark House (Eccl 12:5), Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
29/4 (1986), 397410, 409.
22
John Baines and Geraldine Pinch, Egypt, World Mythology: The Illustrated Guide ed. Roy Willis (London:
Duncan Baird, 1993), 3655.
23
Notions from Egyptian mythology are taken summarily from Baines and Pinch, Egypt, 3655, and
Alan E. Bernstein, Formation of Hell: Death and Retribution in the Ancient and Early Christian Worlds (Ithaca:
Cornwell University Press, 1993), 1118.
24
Bernstein, Formation of Hell, 18, gives an example of one of the typical spells/words of power: Oh
flame, backwards! You that burn there, I shall not be burnt. I wear . . . the white crown.
9
Earlier Greek mythology resembled much of Mesopotamian notions.
25
It contributed:
the notion of the hero (the extraordinary person who is destined to acquire divine status
in death);
26
the notion of eternal revenge or punishment for enemy supernatural beings;
the notion that the manner of ones death determined the type of suffering/shame
experienced.
27

Later Greek mythology (c.400 B.C.E.) contributed: the notion of the immortality of the
soul (although Plato already refers to this as an ancient and holy doctrine);
28
the notion
that death is the liberation of the soul from the prison of the body (where the divine
spark might potentially return to the Absolute Soul/Goodness);
29
the notion of a universal
fire (conflagration);
30
the notion that people were assigned distinct fates by being

25
Cf. The notion of a dark, dusty place; the notion of providing food offerings to the dead and the notion
of contacting the dead. Also, like Egyptian mythology, early Greek mythology was occasionally
ambiguous as to whether or not the Otherworld was always subterranean since it was entered via the
edge of the earth.
26
Helen F. North, Death and Afterlife in Greek Tradegy and Plato, Death and Afterlife, 4964. 55
27
Cooper, The Fate of Mankind, 27.
28
Bernstein, Formation of Hell, 5254.
29
Hiroshi Obayashi, Introduction, Death and Afterlife, ixxxii, xvii.
30
The conflagration melted everything and everyone down, restoring the universe back to normal again
a notion developed by the Stoics. Pieter W. van der Horst, The Elements Will Be Dissolved With
Fire: The Idea of Cosmic Conflagration in Hellenism, Ancient Judaism, and Early Christianity,
Hellenism Judaism Christianity: Essays on Their Interaction (2d ed. Leuven: Peeters, 1998), 27192. The
notion was adapted by Persian eschatology into the notion of purgatorial streams of molten metal which
10
grouped into distinct regions in the Underworld according to their degree of
sinfulness/propensity to impurity based on the bodys previous life;
31
the notion of
reincarnation (developed by the end of the sixth-century B.C.E.); the notion that human
rulers could be eternally punished along with the superhuman beings; the notion that the
judgment of the dead occurs immediately upon death;
32
the notion of a purgatorial
punishment for the curable; the notion of Tartarus (a deep chasm into which the four
great rivers empty) as the pit of fire capable of tormenting or punishing the immoral dead
for eternity;
33
and the notion that Hades should be feared (so as to help maintain a stable
society).
34

Many of these mythological notions are shared and overlap. What is most surprising
is that these widespread notions find little acceptance with the OT authors/texts. Ancient
Israel was hardly isolated from or immune to such notions. Since most of the above
attested notions predate the Hellenistic period by several centuries, it seems that the realm of the
dead more familiar to us from literature of the Second Temple period is much more

will one day flow over the earth and through which all humankind must pass. Anders Hultgrd,
Persian Apocalypticism, Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism, 4083.
31
Bernstein, Formation of Hell, 55, 78.
32
When in the popular descents to Hades the Greeks described punishments occurring in the Underworld,
it is likely that they merely describe future scenes/visions rather than current events. Expecting
immediate judgment upon death in Jewish circles only really developed in the first-century C.E.
according to Bauckham, Descent to the Underworld, 34.
33
Bernstein, Formation of Hell, 55, 78.
34
Bernstein, Formation of Hell, 10722.
11
indebted to the above notions already widespread in the ancient Near East.
35
It is hardly
necessary to suppose that the unpleasant notions usually associated with hell (such as
darkness, terror, punishments, demonic beings, underworld gods, monsters and fiery
judgments) were foreign to ancient Israelites simply because the Hebrew scriptures
themselves seem largely disinterested. Biblical evidence suggests the contrary.

BIBLICAL EVIDENCE OF THE UNDERWORLD

35
Mark S. Smith, for example, indicates that a so-called later tradition, such as resurrection, can be older
than it appears. Occasionally later tradition tapped into mythic material generally known but for
various reasons not attested as used (as far as is known) by the monarchy, the priesthood or other
authoritative groups in ancient Israel until the Persian period. The post-exilic concept of resurrection
gives the appearance of this phenomenon . . . Dan 12:3 provides hope to a community in the late
Seleucid period, and Ezekiel 37 and Isa 26:1719 visualize restoration from the diaspora. These texts
reflect traditional mythic materials, specifically a notion presupposing the image of a persons rising
from the dead, and this imagery has pre-exilic roots (e.g. Hos 6:13) in Israelite popular religion
continuous to some degree with ideas represented on the royal level of Ugaritic material (Spronk, 293
306). . . . These motifs seem to hibernate from our perspective, because the religious texts from the
Bible and early rabbinic sources rarely mention them and certainly give them no sanction. Mark S.
Smith, Mythology and Myth-making in Ugarit and Israelite Literatures, Ugarit and the Bible: Proceedings
of the International Symposium on Ugarit and the Bible Manchester, September 1992 eds. George J Brooke, Adrian
H. W. Curtis and John F. Healey (Munster: Ugarit-Verlag, 1994), 293341, 308 n58. See also Walter
Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld, Hells Pre-Christian Origins: Hell, Hell-fire, Dragons, Serpents, and
Resurrections, n.p. [cited 13 July 2004]. Online: http://www.bibleorigins.net/hellsorigins.html.
12
Biblical evidence suggests that throughout the early part of the first millennium B.C.E.
much of Israelite society was syncretistic.
36
For example 1 Kgs 11:57 makes reference
to the worship of Milcom of Ammon, Chemosh of Moab and Ashtoreth (Astarte) of
Sidon instituted by Solomon.
37
Astarte/Ashtoreth is referred to in Jeremiah (7:18, 44:17
19) as the Queen of Heaven who is revered by the Israelite women who baked cakes
for this fertility goddess (modeled on the widespread Mesopotamian goddess Inanna)
who has clear associations with the Underworld.
38
Jeremiah (2:28 NRSV) asks, But
where are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them come, if they can save you, in
your time of trouble; for you have as many gods as you have towns, O Judah. These
gods known and worshipped by many in Judah presumably had mythologies associated
with them, many of which would have included notions of the Underworld.

36
Cf. Ziony Zevit, The Religions of Ancient Israel: A Synthesis of Parallactic Approaches (London: Continuum,
2001), 667, Israelite religions in general were characterized by tolerance.
37
Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeologys New Vision of Ancient Israel
and the Origin of its Sacred Texts (New York: Touchstone, 2001), 242, From the indirect (and pointedly
negative) evidence of the book of Kings, we learn that priests in the countryside also regularly burned
incense on the high places to the sun, moon, and the stars. Ronald M. Meldrum, Ashtoreth, A
Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature, ed. David Lyle Jeffrey (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992),
60, asserts that the name Ashtoreth derives from the deliberate conflation of the Phoenician Ashtart
with the Hebrew word boshet ("shame").
38
Michael Jordan, Encyclopedia of the Gods: Over 2,500 Deities of the World (London: Kyle Cathie, 1992), 33. J.
R. Porter, The Middle East, World Mythology, 5667, 64.
13
Ps 20 appears to be a prayer that was also dedicated to Horus (the son of Osiris who
avenges his dead father in the Egyptian Otherworld) who seems to have been linked with
Baal-shamayn in an Aramaic papyrus of a similar prayer to Horus.
39

Ancient sacrifices to chthonic/Underworld gods were generally slaughtered at
nighttime or face down or at a lower level than for heavenly gods. Such sacrifices were
not so much for worship as for placation, the aversion of evil, and for obtaining dreams
or other signs for divinatory purposes thus the OT insistence that the Israelite altar be a
platform raised noticeably above the immediately adjacent terrain most likely has to do
with the fact that YHWH was perceived essentially as a celestial deity.
40
Exod 20:22
makes it clear that Yahweh was not an Underworld god (I spoke to you from the
heavens) since offerings close to the ground would have been considered dedicated to
chthonic deities.
41
1 Sam 14:32, however, describes a sacrifice which would have been
interpreted as divination.
42


39
Zevit, Religions of Ancient Israel, 671. The silver foil inscribed with Num 6:2426 found in an Iron age
Judean tomb might also be evidence of the influence of Egyptian notions of the Otherworld. Gabriel
Barkay, Ketef Hinnom: A Treasure Facing Jeruslames Walls (Jerusalem: Israel Museum, 1986), cited in
Richard Elliott Friedman and Shawna Dolansky Overton, Death and Afterlife: The Biblical Silence,
Judaism in Late Antiquity: Part 4 Death, Life-After-Death, Resurrection and the World-to-Come in the Judaisms of
Antiquity, eds. Alan J. Avery-Peck and Jacob Neusner (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 3559, 37.
40
Zevit, Religions of Ancient Israel, 281.
41
Zevit, Religions of Ancient Israel, 280.
42
Zevit, Religions of Ancient Israel, 653 n76 also mentions that Lev 17:4 refers to rituals that could be
considered chthonic worship.
14
Israelite religious language often resembles something of the Canaanite religion (e.g.
worship of El) and many biblical passages presuppose Canaanite mythology.
43
Granting
that altars (and prophets) of Baal were prevalent throughout much of Israelite history,
then it is natural to assume that the mythology of Baal was widely known. In one of the
Baal cycles or episodes familiar to scholars from the Ugaritic texts, Mot forces Baal
into the Underworld.
44
Chapters 56 and 1314 in Hosea appear to be aware of this
Underworld mythology.
45


43
John Day, Ugarit and the Bible: Do they Presuppose the Same Canaanite Mythology and Religion?
Ugarit and the Bible: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Ugarit and the Bible Manchester, September 1992,
eds. George J Brooke, Adrian H. W. Curtis and John F. Healey (Munster: Ugarit-Verlag, 1994), 3552,
48. Cf. also Job 38:7 : s .: : all the sons of God reminiscent of all the sons of El.
44
Baals descent to the Underworld causes a summer drought and so El requests Asherah to nominate her
son Ashtar to replace Baal. Meanwhile Anath finds Mot (on earth), kills him, threshes him and burns
him but then descends to the Underworld and demands that Mot release Baal. The sun-god intervenes
and Baal is returned home. Mot then completely leaves the Underworld and challenges Baal to a fight
face to face, ending in a tie. Porter, The Middle East, 65. See also Wayne P. Pitard, Voices From
the Dust: The Tablets from Ugarit and the Bible, Mesopotamia and the Bible: Comparative Explanations, eds.
Mark W. Chavalas and K. Lawson Younger, Jr. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002), 25175, 257.
45
Further evidence of knowledge of the mythology of the Underworld can be seen in the references to
Sheol personified (Is 5:14; Hab 2:5) probably influenced from the personification of Mot at Ugarit
(modern Ras Shamra)both Sheol and Mot are described as swallowing the dead with their :e. (np i.e.
throat). Resheph (: Pestilence or Plague) was also a deity associated with the Underworld. For the
Canaanites Resheph was the sun-goddess gatekeeper who guarded the Underworld after sunset.
Resheph accompanied Baal in the slaying of the dragon and accompanied Yahweh in his battle against
15
The ancient story of Ishtar/Inanna and Tammuz/Dumuzi shows how even a
god/goddess could not simply return to the land of the living. The Sumerian version of
the story tells how the fertility goddess Ishtar descended to the Underworld through an
entrance in the far East to confront her elder sister Ereshkigal.
46
Tammuz/Dumuzi the
young husband ends up having to share the sentence spending half the year in the
Underworld. Several Babylonian hymns contain laments for the departed Tammuz and
his death was mourned during Autumn in the fourth month (named after him).
47
Ezekiel
saw Jerusalem in a vision detailing the various abominations which included women
sitting at the entrance to the north gate weeping for Tammuz (Ezek 8:14 NRSV).
48


the waters in Hab 3:5. The phrase sons of Resheph is used in Job 5:7 but without mythological
connotations. At Ugarit Resheph was equated with Nergal in the underworld.
46
Bernstein, Formation of Hell, 56.
47
David Adams Leeming, Mythology: The Voyage of the Hero (3d ed.; New York: Oxford University Press,
1998), 16061. I suggest that there might be some etymological connection with the words autumn and
Tammuz.
48
Daniel Block believes that the article before Tammuz simply denotes a special genre of lament, rather
than the deity himself . . . these women have either equated Yhwh with Tammuz, or they are expressing
their grief at their own deitys departure by adapting a Tammuz ritual. Daniel I. Block, The Gods of the
Nations: Studies in Ancient Near Eastern National Theology (2d ed.; Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1988,
2000), 140 n69. Block concludes that the vital worship of the living God is being replaced with
lamentations for the dead. Zevit, Religions of Ancient Israel, 559, seems correct that the expression
bewailing the Tammuz may have become a frozen idiom to describe a ritual wailing of a certain type that
did not necessarily indicate to whom or on behalf of whom the ritual was dedicated. Nevertheless,
16
If true that prior to Josiahs reform Jerusalem and Judah were both filled with
mediums, wizards, teraphim, [and] idols (2 Kgs 23:2224 cf. Deut 18:1012) then we
should not be too quick to dismiss a history of popular speculation concerning the
Underworld. 1 Sam 28 is the classic example indicating that in a time of fear and
desperation, a person (in this case a king of Israel) could turn to a medium as a last resort
for information on the future (and succeed in contacting the dead Samuel).

HOW SHEOL WAS AND WAS NOT USED IN THE HEBREW BIBLE
Since Sheol never occurs with the article and is associated with a downward direction it
is clearly the Hebrew equivalent (and proper name) for the Underworld.
49
Besides -:
(death), Sheols most common synonym is s: /: or -: [deep] pit.
50
The nature of a
pit is that it is entraps the unwary (Ps 35:7; 94:13) and provides a chasm for disposing
dead bodies or for imprisoning criminals and enemies (cf. 2 Sam 18:17; 2 Kgs 10:14; Is
14:19; 24:22). Thus Sheol could suitably be translated the Big Pit, or the Pit of No
Escape (or given that ::s , destruction is also a synonym, as the Pit of
Destruction).
51


that Tammuz gave his name both to a month (used in Israel) and a type of lament may indicate
widespread knowledge of him.
49
Johnston, Shades, 71; Desmond Alexander, The Old Testament View of Life After Death, Themelios 11
(1986), 43.
50
Ps 16:10; 28:1; 30:3; 88:36; Job 17:1314; Prov 12:1; Isa 14:15; 38:18; Ezek 31:1417; 32:2125.
51
Cf. Job 26:6; 28:22; 31:12; Ps 88:11; Prov 15:11; Prov 27:20; Isa 38:17; Ezek 26:20; 28:8; Hos 13:14.
17
Psalm 88 provides one of the most explicit biblical descriptions resembling the
Mesopotamian Underworld.
52
Yahweh is said not to continue a relationship with those in
Sheol (Is 38:18 ; Ps 6:5) but even Sheol is not beyond Yahwehs reach (Ps 22:29, 139:8;
Job 26:6; Prov 15:11).
However, unlike the Mesopotamian Underworld, Sheol is considered to be
predominantly a destination befitting the wicked. James Barr noted that Sheol is mainly
linked with persons disapproved, the evildoers, the ones who after a rich, powerful and
successful life had to be cast down to the lowest and worst of states.
53
For some reason

52
The Psalmists lament of his tormented state in Ps 88 describes the Underworld as a dreadful place of
hopelessness, a place in darkness and out of Yahwehs reach (cut off from his hand), in the Pit,
where there is no escape, and where the shades do not praise Yahweh. Cf. the Mesopotamian account
of Ishtars descent to the Land of No Return: The house of darkness, the house the inhabitants of
which lack light, the place where dust is their food and excrements their nourishments, where they see
no light and live in darkness. Cited in Th. P. van Baaren, Afterlife: Geographies of Death, The
Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. Mircea Eliade (New York: Macmillan, 1987), 1:11620. Cf. the Akkadian
version of the Epic of Gilgamesh describing the Underworld: He brings me down to the house of
darkness, the dwelling place of Irkalla, to the house whose entrants do not leave . . . Light they do not
see; in darkness they dwell. Cited in Youngblood, Qoheleths Dark House, 409. Cf. also biblical
texts referring to the Land of No Return (2 Sam 12:23; Job 7:10; 10:21; 16:22) and other foreboding
descriptions of Sheol (Job 10:9,2122, 17:16, 34:15; Ps 90:3, 104:29; Eccl 3:20, 12:7).
53
Barr, Garden of Eden, 29. Cf. the first part of the definition of Sheol given by J. Bruce Long,
Underworld, Encyclopedia of Religion, 15:126134, 131: Heaven and Sheol are thought to be the two
furthest extremities of the universe (Am. 9:2). Sheol is positioned at the nadir of a dark pit at the very
base of the universe, into which the blasphemer who aspires to be equal with God will fall.
18
the biblical authors did not speak of Abraham, Moses or David as going to Sheol when
they died.
54
Indeed, Sheol is only used in first-person contexts of speech (in psalmodic, reflective
and prophetic literature).
55
Only two passages clearly suggest that Sheol is the
depressing fate awaiting all people (good and evil).
56
Consequently Sheol, widely
recognised to be a mythological term (and affirmed as the worst possible fate), was
consistently rejected as a general narrative term for death or dying.
Similarly Tobit (c.250175 B.C.E. extant in Gk) rejects the notion of resurrection
being advocated since the third-century B.C.E.
57

58
The book of Tobit still at this late stage

54
According to Rosenberg in most cases Sheol is associated with the concept of premature or evil
death. R. Rosenberg, The Concept of Biblical Sheol Within the Context of ANE Beliefs (Ph.D.diss., Harvard
University, 1980), 178252, cited in Lewis, Dead, Abode of the, 2:104.
55
Johnston, Shades, 71 n11: In the sole exception (Num. 16:33), the narrator simply repeats the
phraseology already attributed to Moses (v. 30).
56
See Eccl 9:10; Hab 2:5 which suggest Sheol is the depressing fate awaiting all people. Note, however,
that the OT assumes humans do not go to heaven when they die since heaven is Gods dwelling place (and that
of other supernatural beings). The earth is the inheritance of the sons of Adam (Ps. 115:1618). Even
Dan 12:2-3 (c.167 B.C.E.) when mentioning some of the dead being raised to life (the wise) it seems
originally to have envisaged them being raised back to life on earth rather than ascending to an astral
sphere. George W. E. Nickelsburg, Jr., Resurrection, Immortality, and Eternal Life in Intertestamental Judaism
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972), 30. Ben C. Ollenburger, If Mortals Die, Will
They Live Again? Ex Auditu 9 (1993), 33.
57
George W. E. Nickelsburg Jr., Judgment, Life-After-Death, and Resurrection in the Apocrypha and
the Non-Apocalyptic Pseudepigrapha, Judaism in Late Antiquity, 14162, 145, suggests that Tobits view
on death is conservative considering that 1 Enoch had already articulated a belief in resurrection.
19
interprets Sheol to be the dreadful mythological Pit rather than a restful abode or a
synonym for death.
59
Thus Tobit follows the earlier tendency of the OT to avoid either
neutralizing or historicizing Sheol as a narrative term (e.g. in otherworldly visions,
descents or use as a euphemism for death).
Thus Sheols absence is conspicuous in the picture of the God-made cycle of life and
(complete) death in the mythological-type story in Gen 23 which might be read as a
response to the fear of a literal Sheol. Especially given that the expression return to dust (3:19)
would have been obvious to many readers/hearers that the storys language resembled
common language for the Underworld (Land of Dust, Land of No Return). In this case
Gen 2-3 would be asserting something relevant concerning the Underworldnamely that
returning to the dust does not (contrary to widespread belief) involve being consigned
to dwell in a frightening underworld environment but is a natural end to the life cycle.
Readers are thus comforted that there is nothing fearful about natural dissolution
meaning relief from pain! The otherworldly fear/judgment of Sheol is transferred to a this-
worldly fear/judgment of weeding and giving birth. Gen 23 thus could be a polemic not

58
It is most likely that Sheol should be read at the three points where our Greek Tobit has
/ [House of] Hades. Tob 3:10; 4:19 (following s), and 13:2.
59
In Tobit Sheol is not used as a general term for natural death due to its negative mythological
associations. Thus when Tobit asks to die he does not use the term Sheol (instead: take my spirit from
me; released from the face of the earth; become dust; to die; released from this distress; and
go to the eternal place). When, however, Tobit does refer to Sheol/Hades it is in more figurative and
judgmental contexts (see 3:10, 4:19, 13:2), indicating Sheols mythological background.
20
only against immortality, but also against any kind of speculation of a humans afterlife
in the mythological Underworld.
60

A similar theological procedure is discernible in other texts. In Ps 9:17 Sheol is
equivalent to dust (as disintegration).
61

62
Sheol here has lost some of its mythological
connotations (but retains its figurative and judgmental sense). In both Sheols deliberate
use (e.g. Ps 9:17) and avoidance (e.g. Gen 2-3) a consistent impulse is evidenced
throughout the OT which, within its biblical context, challenged the theological
acceptance of Sheol as a literal place.

THE SEPTUAGINT: THE INTERPRETING COMMUNITY AND THE BIBLICALLY
GENERATED CONTEXT
The first known Bible translation was that undertaken in the early third-century B.C.E. by
those in Egypt who required the Torah in Greek. Of the two types of translation
techniques used in Ptolemaic Egypt the LXX translators generally took a middle course

60
This point has, to my knowledge, not previously been seen. It seems so obvious that I had expected to
find it at least mentioned in the following: T. Stordalen, Echoes of Eden: Genesis 23 and Symbolism of the
Eden Garden in Biblical Hebrew Literature (Leuven: Peeters, 2000); Howard N. Wallace, The Eden Narrative
(Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1985); Claus Westermann, Genesis 111: A Commentary (Minneapolis:
Augsburg, 1984). My argument does not conflict with the themes dealt with in these otherwise
comprehensive works.
61
See John Goldingay, Death and Afterlife in the Psalms, Judaism in Late Antiquity, 6185, 63, 73.
62
It seems likely that the same theology in Gen 23 has also influenced Eccl 3:1920; 9:10. Qoheleth
could similarly be rejecting both notions (immortality/reward and Underworld/Land of the Dead).
21
between precise translation (used for commercial and judicial transactions) and free
translation (used for literary works).
63
The LXX also tended to use stereotyping (using the
same equivalent for a term regardless of its context).
64

The LXX translated Sheol as / ([House] of Hades) very
consistently (including in the Prophets and Writings) and so is a stereotyped translation
of Sheol.
65
The various translators possessed no lexicons to assist them in their task.
66

When they sought equivalents for Hebrew terms several equivalents had already been
determined by previous generations.
67
Hades was likely one such equivalent already
existing as the traditional equivalent for Sheol in prior centuries. This supposition
accords not only with the fact that Sheol was itself the Hebrew equivalent for the

63
Emmanuel Tov, The Septuagint, Mikra: Text, Translation, Reading and Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in
Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity, ed. Martin Jan Mulder (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1988), 16188, 169.
64
Tov, Spetuagint, 174.
65
There are only three exceptions: 2 Sam 22:6 renders both -: and s: with (Death).
Isa 7:11 s: Sheol-wards (MT) becomes in the LXX (to [the] deep), and
Prov 23:14 s:: from Sheol (MT) becomes in the LXX from death.
66
Bruce M. Metzger, The Bible in Translation: Ancient and English Versions (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic,
2001), 17.
67
Tov, Spetuagint, 171. It seems that transliteration was only ever used if no suitable equivalent could
be found or if the Hebrew term had already entered Greek usage.
22
Underworld but also with the fact that Mesopotamian and early Greek (pre650 B.C.E.)
mythological notions of the Land of the Dead were quite similar.
68

Considering that Hades had, by the beginning of the third-century B.C.E., become
accepted in Greek philosophical circles as a place of torment (with distinct categorization
and punishment by fire for the impure and eternal punishment by fire for all those
unworthy of returning to the Absolute Good), it is striking that rather than Sheols
repugnancy increasing by association with Hades, the meaning of Hades itself was being
influenced by a perceived biblically generated meaning of Sheol (in Jewish-Greek usage)
as neutral death. Thus to go to Hades became a neutral Jewish euphemism for to die.
According to Pieter W. van der Horst, Hades was an acceptable term for Sheol in the
LXX simply because Hades had lost its mythological connotations.
69
But this explanation
(besides overlooking Hades increasingly hostile sense in philosophical circles) already
presupposes that Sheol was less mythological to begin with than Hades!
70
It seems,

68
Penglase, Some Concepts, 19495. E.g. offerings made to the shades; the dead persons existence is
to some extend a continuation of that begun in on earth; the dead persons spirit having wings; the dead
persons ghost can return to haunt the living if necessary; the place is gloomy and lacks clean water; the
Underworld is ruled by a divine queen and king; entering the Netherworld involves crossing the River
Ocean (Acheron/Hubur) at the edge of or below the earth; no moral judgment of the dead occurs; no
blessed afterlife is available. Cf. also the Greco-Roman myth and cult of Adonis with that of
Tammuz/Dumuzi whereby underworld-god Hades/Pluto abducts Persephone.
69
Horst, Jewish Tomb Inscriptions, 25, 28, 47.
70
The Jewish writings selected by van der Horst use quite figurative language. Note also that van der
Horst acknowledges that it is manifestly in Jewish writings [that] Hades had lost its religious-
23
rather, that it was the biblical use of Sheol (i.e. by its figurative use; by denying Sheol as a
literal abode; by treating it as merely dust in Gen 3 and Ps 9:17) which was largely
responsible for (going to) Hades becoming a euphemism for death in Jewish circles.
71

Moreover, the various LXX translators into Greek found it more appropriate to use
the mythological equivalent to Sheol (Hades) rather than words for grave or death.

HELL FIGURATIVELY SPEAKING
The first account in Gen 37:3435 of Jacobs distress at the horrifying news of his
youngest (and favourite) sons untimely death affords an example. The story portrays
Jacobs response of extreme mourning. When his family tries to reassure him he cries out
that the news will bring him down to Sheol (i.e. his son has been killed indicating harsh
judgment and the bad news will utterly torment and destroy him too).
72
Jacob does not

mythological meaning (God of the underworld). Horst, Jewish Tomb Inscriptions, 40, 35. More
satisfactory is Bernstein, Formation of Hell, 139, who acknowledges that the conceptions of Sheol and
Hades were already close.
71
This is my own observation. It provides a better explanation of how Hades diminished into a mere
euphemism (in Jewish circles) at the very time it was peaking in its development as a place of hell-
purgatory (in Greek philosophical circles).
72
Premature death as a ghastly or evil death was in complete contrast to natural death (unification
with kin) according to Rosenberg, cited in Lewis, 2:1015.
24
say, I will go down to the grave (as rendered in the NIV).
73
Rather Jacobs trauma is
highlighted by showing him expressing that his worst fears are coming true. Jacobs hope
of (favoured) descendants are suddenly being dashed.
74
The word hell here works
successfully as a linguistic equivalent for SheolJacob believes that he might as well be sent,
tormented, down to Sheol too.
75
The narrator is not suggesting that Sheol is a real place to be
feared, but is depicting (with suitable figurative language) how badly Jacob took the
news. Ironically, the four occurrences of Sheol in Genesis (all on the lips of Jacob) are
the only occurrences never translated as hell in English since 1534.


73
Reference to the underworld corresponds to malign death, death in despair. On the other hand, The
negative associations attaching to the underworld are absent when reference is made to the grave. L.
Wchter, s:, 14:24748.
74
The fear of suddenly being trapped down in the Pit whence none can return is reminiscent also of
Josephs initial fate. The brothers underhanded treatment of Joseph was miraculously overturned.
Josephs expected death in the pit and his rise (and fall and eventual rise) to power should also suggest
to the reader that Jacobs fear of going into the Big Pit will also be turned around.
75
A suggested translation of Gen 37:3435: Then Jacob tore his clothes and put on rough sackcloth
around himself and he mourned for his son for many days. Then all of his sons and daughters came
around and tried to cheer him up, but he would not allow himself to be happy, Just let me mourn so
much that I join my son in hell! This was how bad his father took the news and was mourning for his
son.
25
HELL IN EARLY ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS
Most early English Bibles were merely intended to be light revisions of previous
versions. Thus the KJV was produced as a revision of the previous English Bible (the
Bishops Bible).
76
The KJV was greatly influenced by the Geneva Bible (1560) which
had become by far the most popular English Bible.
77
Prepared by English Protestant
exiles, the Geneva Bible had come closest to providing a new translation.
78
Unlike the

76
Thus the KJV translation committee was instructed to revise the Churchs official Bible (Bishops
Bible, 1568) as little altered as the Truth of the original will permit. Rule 1 of Bancrofts fifteen
rules of translation, Bobrick, Wide as the Waters, 316. Rule no. 14 stated: These translations to be
used when they agree better with the Text than the Bishops Bible: Tindalls [Tyndales], Matthews,
Coverdales, Whitchurchs [the Great Bible], Geneva. The KJV also consulted Latin, Spanish, French,
Italian and German translations. The Rheims-Douai Bible (15821602) was also consulted for the NT.
A Wilkren, The English Versions of the Bible, Peakes Commentary on the Bible, ed. Matthew Black
(London: Thomas Nelson, 1962), 2428, 26.
77
When the KJV preface quoted biblical text it used the Geneva Bible version! McGrath, In the Beginning,
99. Lloyd E. Berry, Introduction to the Facsimile Edition, The Geneva Bible: A Facsimile of the 1560
Edition (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969), 10, mentions that a large percentage of KJV
vocabulary in the psalms is indebted to the Geneva Bible. David Daiches, The King James Version of the
English Bible: An Account of the Development and Sources of the English Bible of 1611 with Special Reference to the
Hebrew Tradition (USA: Archon Books, 1941), 206, after investigating the text of Isaiah, concludes the
A.V. [KJV] is more dependent on GenB [the Geneva Bible] than on BB [Bishops Bible].
78
The Geneva Bible translators had also consulted an array of English, German, French, Latin
translations and commentaries as well as the Hebrew and Greek texts. Bobrick, Wide as the Waters, 175,
26
KJV half a century later, the Geneva Bible had intended to provide something new and
was intended for general readers.
79

80
It is safe to presume that the decrease in renderings
of hell and increase in the grave renderings in the Geneva Bible is something for
which the Geneva translators were largely responsible. Previous translation of Sheol had
traditionally been hell (except for Luthers four occurrences in Genesis of die Grube,
the grave).
81
It is reasonable to assume that Coverdales Bible (as the first complete
English Bible, based on Tyndales work and on German and Latin translations) can be

Daiches, The King James Version, 210, observes that the Geneva Bible was actually more eclectic than the
later KJV.
79
Lynne Long, Translating the Bible: From the 7th to the 17th Century (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001), 172, implies
this. The many marginal notes commenting on the hard places indicate this. Note also that English
Protestants were not at the time in power. So it is hardly surprising that the Geneva Bible was the first
version to assist the general reader by providing added English words in italics to help complete the
sense implied by the Hebrew and assisting both lay and clerical readers. Note also, the marginal note for Prov
23:14 (Thou shalt smite him with the rodde, and shalt deliver his soule from hel [sic]) which adds:
That is, from destruction. Here the Geneva Bible resisted speculation on the fate of an undisciplined
sons soul recognizing that Sheol in this context signified ruin.
80
Innovative features of the Geneva Bible: (1) The first use of Roman type (rather than the heavy black-
letter Gothic type) which made it easier to read. (2) The first English Bible to use adding italics for
English grammar. (3) The first to provide verse numbers. (4) Available in handy quarto size. (5) Very
reasonable priced. (6) Providing extensive marginal notes to assist the general reader. Bruce M.
Metzger, The Geneva Bible of 1560, Theology Today 17 (1960), 33952, 34243.
81
Die Bibel oder die ganze heilige Schrift Ulten und Neuen Testaments, nach der deutschen Ubersetzung Dr. Martin Luthers
(St. Louis: Concordia, 1902).
27
taken as a good indication of the low number of deviations from the traditional hell
(with Sheol being represented by hell in fifty-three out of sixty-five cases) just prior to
the Geneva Bible.
82

83
Wycliffes Bible (translating the Latin, c.1380) had used hell as
the English equivalent for infernus (given for Sheol/Hades) but hell had already been
used in the English-glossed Psalters since at least the ninth-century.
84

The widespread use of Luthers Bible seems to have initiated two different tendencies
in the English translation of Sheol. Firstly, it assisted in collapsing Sheol with Gehenna
by conforming Sheol, Gehenna, and Hades as (die) hlle (from the same Germanic base
as hell)whereas the Latin had kept Gehenna distinct from Sheol by transliterating

82
It is informative to look at how Sheol was rendered in Greek, Latin, Wycliffite, Tyndale, Coverdale,
Geneva and KJV Bibles. Tyndale followed closely to Luthers German as can be seen by Tyndales
rendering of Sheol as the grave throughout Genesis but as hell throughout the remainder of his
published Pentateuch and using hell for the NTs Gehenna. In Hebrew and Aramiac Gehenna meant
the accursed Valley of Hinnom just south of Jerusalem where a future fiery judgment was to be
carried out on the wicked thereby turning it into a mass graveyard befitting the profane child sacrifices
by fire once held there (according to Jer 7:32; 19:6,11; 2 Kgs 23:10).
83
Coverdales original title page indicated that he did not actually consult the Hebrew: Biblia, The Bible
that is, the holy Scripture of the Olde and New Testament, faith fully translated out of Douche and
Latyn in to Englishe. M.D.XXXV, repr., The Holy Scriptures of the Olde and Newe Testamente, with the
Apocrypha: Faithfully Translated from the Hebrue and Greke by Miles Coverdale, sometime Lord Bishop of Exeter.
MDXXXV (2d ed. London: Samuel Bagster & Sons, 1847).
84
The Oxford English Dictionary (2d ed.; Oxford: Clarendon, 1989), 7:117. Thus prior to Wycliffes time
Sheol was already conformed to Gehenna by translating both Gehenna and Sheol into early English
(and Germanic/Teutonic languages) as hell (usually spelled as helle).
28
Gehenna following the NTs lead of transliterating this as an Aramaic place name.
85

Secondly, Luthers Bible introduced die Grube (the grave) via Genesis into the English
versions.
With the advent of the Geneva Bible, the number of deviations from the traditional
hell to the grave increased to forty-five (leaving only twenty out of sixty-five as
hell). Presumably this departure (along with the tendency over time to free up the
older literal translations) was assisted by the intensification of biblical exegesis and
evidences the importance of the perceived inner-biblical context (i.e. that generated by the
texts) which naturally occurred mid-sixteenth-century when textual and exegetical studies
were in full swing.
86

87
The Reformation period thus began to prefer a freer, more
interpretive translation of Sheol as the grave. Perhaps the initial impetus for the change

85
Tyndale and Coverdale further assisted in consolidating Sheol as hell in English Bibles by following
Luther in translating all three terms with hell.
86
The biblically generated context had been steadily gaining prominence since the early-sixteenth-
century due largely to the work of Luther and Calvin. Irena Backus, Biblical Hermeneutics and
Exegesis, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1996), 1:15257. D. L. Puckett, Calvin, John, Historical Handbook of Major Biblical
Interpreters, ed. Donald K. McKim (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 17179.
87
Berry, Introduction, The Geneva Bible, 7, observes that Geneva in the 1550s was a center for biblical
textual scholarship resulting in new editions of the Greek and Hebrew texts. Lewis Frederick Lupton,
A History of the Geneva Bible (London: Burlington, 1990), 44, contends that the design of the Geneva
Bible (1560) was in fact an exact copy of a Genevan French Bible of the same date printed by Anton
Rebul, and which contained the latest fruits of Calvins revision and exegesis.
29
should primarily be credited to Luthers translation of Sheol die Grube (the grave)
throughout Genesis. This change appears to be due to Luthers own work of translation
since he understood Sheol to denote the grave for the soul. Luther spoke of s:
(Sheol)
88
and : (grave) as though referring to the same thingas a kind of sepulcher,
pit or chamber for the dead soul:

s: [Sheol] is a common place provided that it can be called a place not for the
body but for the soul. . . . Scripture contains nothing at all about purgatory but says
that the saints and righteous men pass over into their s:, where they enjoy the
sweetest peace and rest. . . . But the s: [Sheol] of the rich man [Lk 16:24] was fire,
and that state and condition of the ungodly is known to God alone. . . . What the
nature of this rest is we do not know . . . Nor does it concern us greatly to know what
the state of the ungodly is.
89



88
Luther prefers to include the final as though using an alternate spelling but it is probably because
Sheol is often so used with a directive/locative (i.e. [down] to Sheol).
89
Luther likens the unknown state of the sleep of death with the unknown state of ordinary sleep, we
cannot conceive of how a man lives in this life when he sleeps . . . sleep is nothing else than a kind of
migration, as it were, from this life [to another]. Luther also believed that the Sheol of the ungodly
was synonymous with Gehenna, in this passage [Gen 42:38] the Hebraists argue about the word s:,
which they understand to mean the grave and translate it with pit. But they laugh at us for explaining
it as Gehenna. But we care nothing about those unlearned asses. Luthers Works, Volume 7, Lectures on
Genesis, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan (St. Louis: Concordia, 1965), 29198.
30
Though hesitant about understanding Sheol in his Genesis commentary, Luther seemed
ultimately to have conceived of two types of Sheol, with each soul going to his or her
own Sheol or grave.
The KJV evidences its conservative nature by rejecting Genevas the grave and
returning to the traditional hell on eleven occasions.
90
This ambivalence between hell
and the grave remained in translations up until the twentieth-century.
91
It was not until
the ASV in 1901 that Sheol was conformed in all of its occurrences (by the
transliteration, Sheol).
92
Hell/(die) hlle lingers on in the OT of at least two widely
used twentieth-century revisions (one of the KJV, one of Luther).
93


90
In contrast to the Geneva Bible the KJV intended to provide an archaic sounding version. For three
examples where the KJV deliberately maintained language that was already falling out of common use
so as to sound noticeably archaic (using thou for you; sayeth for says; his for its) see
McGrath, In the Beginning, 26676.
91
In 1885 the preface to the RV attempted to explain why it chose largely to translate Sheol as the
grave (or the pit) in the historical narratives (with Sheol in the margin) and to transliterate it
Sheol in the poetical writings (with the grave in the margin) inadvertently acknowledging that
Sheol was seen to be more fitting for poetry.
92
Metzger, The Bible in Translation, 103.
93
I count nineteen remaining renderings of hell in the OT of the NKJV (1982), with one of the nineteen
being an added extra in Ezk 31:15 (following the RV). I also count one occurrence of hlle in the OT of
the widely used revised Luther Bible (1984) in Job 11:8. Die Bibel nach der bersetzung Martin
Luthers in der revidierten Fassung von 1984 (Stuttgart: German Bible Society, 1984).
31
Before Augustine came from Rome to Kent to convert the Angles (English) in 597
C.E., Christianity was already flourishing due to Irish monasteries.
94
Presumably
equivalent terminology for Sheol/infernus was already in use in Old Saxon and in the other
Germanic and Celtic evangelization. This is evidenced by the appropriation of Old
Norse/Germanic mythological terminology for the Underworld whereby Hel (or Hela)
was a monster/goddess who had a palace called Helheim (Hells Home), a huge walled
estate located in the furthest section of Niflheim.
95
Hels home was icy, fiery, and dark
and guarded by a vicious dog, Garm.
96
As queen of the Underworld, Hel ruled over all
the dead (except for the warriors slain in battlethese went to Valhalla, hall of the
slain).
97
The word hell derives from an old Germanic verb to conceal, hide or cover (hence hall,
hull and helmot). Thus helle and hlle come from the same Germanic verbal base for
concealed [place] (i.e. confinement [of the dead], concealed from view or covered with earth) and is
ultimately from the Greek verb ocxc (conceal).
98


94
Long, Translating the Bible, 2325. Although monastic and scholarly Christianity was essentially Latin,
the vernacular was the language of preaching thus during the time of King Ethelbert (c.596 C.E.)
preaching was done in Anglo-Saxon and probably also in Irish, Pictish and Welsh.
95
Kenneth McLeisch, Myth: Myths and Legends of the World Explored (Leicester: Blitz, 1996), 247.
96
Anne S. Baumgartner, A Comprehensive Dictionary of the Gods (New York: Wings Books, 1984), 80.
97
Jordan, Encyclopedia of the Gods, 116.
98
The verb was hele, heal or, helian in Old English. In Old Saxon (and Old High German) it was bihellian,
which was related both to Latin celo/celare and Greek and was a causative verb meaning
to conceal, hide, or cover (with earth). The noun in Old Norse was holl. The New Shorter Oxford English
Dictionary On Historic Principles, (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993), 1:1213. The place of the unseen [world
32
Missionaries thus appropriated the mythological term hel (or Home of Hel) in the
Germanic language as the cultural equivalent of the Underworld/House of
Hades/infernus.
99
This accords with the precedent set by the Hebrew use of Sheol, the
LXXs use of Hades, and the old Latins infernus.
100

The New Testament helped to blur the distinction between Hades/Sheol (the
Underworld) and Gehenna (as a future judgment place) with the story of the rich man in
Hades able to see Abraham across the chasm (Luke 16:1931).
101
Here, the rich man

below] covered by earth in the Germanic languages, would correspond quite naturally to the unseen
place of Hades since / looks etymologically to be from - (un-seen
[place]).
99
C.f. the Old Norse genitive helj and the Gothic and Old Teutonic genitive halj. Shorter Oxford English
Dictionary, 1. 1213.
100
Why the Celtic speaking people in the British Isles missed out on having the Underworld god Donn
feature for biblical usage (e.g. House of Donn) over the Germanic Hella I am not certain. It is likely
because Donn was a minor god who is eclipsed by the Celtic Great Father or Daghdha (cf. the
Roman god of the Underworld Dis Pater) who as the very important god of the Otherworld in Celtic
mythology is responsible for abundance and fertility. John MacInnes The Celtic World, World
Mythology, 17689, 187, describes the Celtic Otherworld: Although its powers can be hostile, it is
essentially a place of timeless content, feasting and enchanted music, where old age and death are
unknown. Lacking a strong enough emphasis on a dreadful Otherworld, left no appropriately equivalent
Celtic term. The malevolent beings (trolls, dragons, and giants) are encountered in middle-earth (the
place where living humans dwell) rather than in the Otherworld.
101
Evidently the author Luke was more hellenised than other NT authors. Chaim Milikowsky, Which
Gehenna?: Retribution and Eschatology in the Synoptic Gospels and in Early Jewish Texts, New
33
in Hades is already said to be experiencing the torment (or pain) of the flame.
But even centuries before, Isaiah and Jeremiah had spoken of Gehenna in terms clearly
linked with the Underworld when they condemned its profane fiery sacrifices to an
underworld god (Molech).
102


CONCLUSION
The above has highlighted that originally Sheol was widely recognised as the
mythological word for denoting the Underworld which we might also translate the Big

Testament Studies 34 (1988), 23849. Milikowsky has noticed differences between the sayings about
Gehenna in Matthew and Luke. Matt 10:28 speaks of Gehenna as the place where God can destroy the
body and soul (i.e. corporeal judgement in Gehenna after a general resurrection), whereas Luke 12:5
speaks as though God were able to kill and then to cast souls immediately into Gehenna as an
incorporeal hell of souls, 242. Also Lukes version of Jesus discussion to the penitent thief (today
you will be with me in Paradise) is in contrast to the more Jewish view of resurrection to reward, and
instead presumes immediate reward.
102
The precise relationship between El, Molech, Baal-Hammon and the Baal to whom Jer 19:5 says the
Judeans sacrifice children remains murky. Jon D. Levenson, The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son:
The Transformation of Child Sacrifice in Judaism and Christianity (New Haven; London: Yale University Press
1993), 235 n7. The most that can be concluded about Molech is that he was a netherworld deity to
whom children were offered by fire or some divinity purpose. George C. Heider, Molech, DDD,
58185, 585. Since valleys are closer to the Underworld, an altar in a valley would likely be used for
communicating with an underworld god (Is 57:5-6) and may even provide a gate to the Underworld.
See L. R. Bailey, Gehenna: The Topography of Hell, Biblical Archeologist 49 (September 1986), 187
91.
34
Pit (or the Pit of No Escaping or Pit of Destruction). The so-called later notions of
hell more familiar to us from the Hellenistic period find their precedents in the much
earlier widespread mythological notions of the Underworld (e.g. darkness, demons,
underworld gods, and fiery punishment/s in a place far removed from God and the joys of
life). Thus it is reasonable to grant more knowledge within Israel of the widespread
notion of the dreaded Underworld than a cursory reading of the texts would imply (or a
reliance on some Bible dictionaries would allow). The OT resisted popular speculation
regarding any travels to a literal place called Sheol and adopted the term only
figuratively. The Hebrew writers reserved Sheol for use in first-person contexts (as
expressing personal disaster or ruin as a horrific notion), and understood it to be a notion of
judgment only truly appropriate for the wicked. We must admit that Sheols translation as
Hades and Hell is not completely inappropriate.
103


103
Like most scholars, Johnston, Shades, 73, is guided by popular theological definitions concerning hell
as an actual place of punishment and so believes hell is inappropriate since, the Hebrew Bible
never indicates any form of punishment after death. However, Johnstons point is undermined since he
acknowledges that Sheol is at the opposite theological extreme to Yahweh, and the dominant feature
for its inhabitants is their separation from him and has accepted Sheol to mean the Underworld even
though, the underworlds inhabitants were . . . mostly ignored and Israels religious writers were not
particularly concerned with the underworld. Johnston, Shades, 75, 18. His conclusions sound more like
assumptions about what hell biblically or theologically should signify. Gehenna (hell) originally
represented quite a specific future judgment for the purpose of withholding (re)entry into the new
Jerusalem/life. But the noteworthy difference with Sheol is surely the OTs disinterest in validating various
mythological notions or in Sheol as a literal place rather than disinterest in who deserves Sheol or whether it is
35
The LXX translators choice to use the traditional Greek /
([House] of Hades) is similarly informative. Relying on known Greek equivalents, the
translators correctly identified Sheol to be Hades mythological counterpart and did not
freely add the term Hades into narrative sections of the OT (i.e. as a synonym for
death/dying). If the translators had used a method of free translation or had had to rely solely
on a perceived biblical meaning to find an equivalent for Sheol then they might have
chosen ovoxo (death) or uvuuo (grave) as a less appropriate stereotyped
translation.
104

The suspicion that translating Sheol as hell was an example of cultural imposition
has been exposed as unwarranted. The four suppositions underlying the alleged
theological imposition are untenable. As a result the grave translation appears much
more guilty of cultural imposition because it overlooks Sheols mythological
connotations, and because it neglects Sheols figurative use, and because it assumes that

concerned enough with punishment or denial of reward. Yet hell in English (which, unlike Gehenna,
is not merely a future notion) is likewise quite figurative and corresponds (more than not) to Sheol in
usage and effect.
104
The LXX cannot be blamed for introducing Hades into Jewish eschatology as though it were some kind
of foreign mythological notion. 1 Enoch was already working out the precise geography of Sheol (as a
detention chamber in a mountain) along with that of the accursed valley of judgment (Gehenna) and the
abyss of fire for fallen angels (the Watches) by the late third-century B.C.E. with no assistance from the
LXX. In fact 1 Enochs cosmography seems closer to early Greek, Mesopotamian and Egyptian
mythologies. See J. Edward Wright, The Early History of Heaven (New York: Oxford University Press,
2000) for a descriptive comparison of the various cosmographies.
36
going to Sheol is a general term for death (as though meaning to die or rest in
peace).
105
Early English Bibles simply followed the traditional way of rendering Sheol
with an indigenous mythological equivalent of the Underworld (a practice dating back to
the first Bible translation in the third-century B.C.E.).
106

When English translations shy away from using linguistic equivalents available in
English for mythological terms (e.g. Underworld, Hades or hell) and prefer
theologically influenced interpretations and/or transliterations, they forfeit the
opportunity to see that the biblical texts might refer to a familiar, widespread concept in an unexpected
way. English readers miss the chance to see how the biblical texts do refer figuratively to
the dreaded Underworld of widespread superstitious mythology and therefore miss seeing
how the notion is being reapplied, transformed, or subtly challenged.
107
Of course all

105
Indeed the grave translation is more dubious precisely because it more noticeably proceeded from a
theological supposition that hell did not properly belong to the OT, and thus sought to remedy the
supposed (theological) misfit (theologically).
106
Similarly the Latin revised under Jerome (383404 C.E.) rendered Sheol as infernus (lit. below or
lower [regions]) since infernus was the Latin mythological term for the world below. P. R. Ackroyd and
C. F. Evans, eds., The Cambridge History of the Bible Volume 1: From the Beginnings to Jerome (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1970), 51040, indicate that much of the old Latin was kept by Jerome
whose purpose was largely to revise not to rewrite.
107
How can we expect the English notion of hell to be in any sense biblically transformed if it is simply
alleged as not being theologically equivalent enough? Such avoidance only denies the chance for any
cultural transformation that might otherwise have occurred.
37
translation is to some extent interpretation and interpretation is by nature ethnocentric.
108

One can never expect that a translated work would be anything other than an interpreted
work determined to some extent by the target culture.
The specific details concerning a literal place called hell have undergone much
evolution and adaptation in various cultures, times, and places. But as indicated above,
this may not be entirely pertinent to judging the translation of the figurative Sheol. What
has remained fairly constant over time is a similarly figurative use of hell as a dreadful or
horrifying notion in popular speech. Thus modern English use of hell often parallels
Sheols figurative reference to the worst possible notion a person might experience.
109
Sheol, in fact,
translates quite successfully throughout Genesis as hell.

108
It is possible to be too careful. Transliteration simply avoids the difficult task of interpretation by
simply leaving a word as a foreign word (e.g. Sheol) without positive links with the receptor
language. Interpretation by nature intends to make something relevant whereas bland, safe irreproachable
interpretations and transliterations achieve less. An interpretation should speak to the needs of a
specific cultural and historical conjuncture. Interpretations aiming at eternal verities may turn out to be
abstract, empty of content for the presents self-understanding, and therefore simply
uninteresting.David Couzens Hoy, Is Hermeneutics Ethnocentric? The Interpretive Turn: Philosophy,
Science Culture, eds. David R. Hiley, James F. Bohman, and Richard Shusterman (Ithaca: Cornwell
University Press, 1991), 157-175, 170.
109
E.g.: All hell broke loose. Shes been through hell. We had the gym teacher from hell. Besides
Genesis (37:35; 42:38; 44:29, 31) cf. also: For a fire is kindled by my anger, and burns to the depths
of the Underworld; it devours the earth and its increase, and sets on fire the foundations of the
mountains (Deut 32:22 NRSV replacing Sheol with the Underworld). Also the cords of the
38
Sheols contextual use, regardless of the chosen lexical equivalent, still determines its
meaning as figurative. It is still possible that a sixteenth-century German reader of
hlle or a seventeenth-century English reader of hell in the OT could completely
miss the figurative/rhetorical context of the biblical phrases concerning Sheol and instead
interpret them as somehow endorsing or affirming a Church doctrine of the fear of a
literal hell of punishment. But such misinterpretation remains possible for any so-called
biblical words, whether or not in a translation or in Hebrew or Greek (e.g. for Church,
God, Satan, heaven, salvation).
110
Luther and Calvin were (supposedly) pre-
critical in their hermeneutical approach.
111
They had inherited the popular medieval
beliefs of hell (illustrated famously by Dantes fourteenth-century work The Divine Comedy)
which saw hell to be a place in which the damned writhed in agony in sulphur-laden
atmosphere, tormented by fire.
112
It is even more noteworthy, then, that Luther and
Calvin both understood biblical references to hell to be figurative:


Underworld entangled me, the snares of death confronted me (2 Samuel 22:6 // Psa 18:5 NRSV
replacing Sheol with the Underworld).
110
The idea that translating Sheol as hell was theologically misguided or misleading primarily indicates
a failure to trust that the immediate biblical context will still shape the meaning of a term (regardless of an
imperfect lexical equivalent). That Job 11:8 in the Geneva Bible included the definite article before
hell (i.e. the hell) indicates that the lowest pit or hell-hole was understood.
111
Richard A. Muller Biblical Interpretation in the 16th & 17th Centuries, Historical Handbook, 12352.
112
Luther was driven to become a monk and study Scripture in order to avoid hell. McGrath, In the
Beginning, 4243.
39
Luther rejected the graphic medieval representations of hell and regarded Jesus
"descent into hell" as the anguish of his separation from God. Calvin, following
Luther, disputed a biblical basis for a literal place called hell, treating the corporeal
images of hell in Scripture as figurative for the terrors occasioned by willful
sinfulness.
113


Translating Sheol as hell was one of several legitimate attempts to use a close
linguistic and cultural equivalent to denote the widespread mythological notion of the
dreaded world below. Similar to the figurative hell, Hades, and infernus, Sheol suitably
expressed the worst fate imaginable to the Hebrew mindthe horror and terror of being
separated from God and of the blessing/enjoyment of life.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Achtemeier, Paul J., ed. Harpers Bible Dictionary. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985.
Ackroyd, P. R. and C. F. Evans, eds. The Cambridge History of the Bible Volume 1: From the
Beginnings to Jerome. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970.
Alexander, Desmond. The Old Testament View of Life After Death. Themelios 11
(1986), 4146.

113
Michael Goldberg, Hell, A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature, ed. David Lyle Jeffrey
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 34043, 341.
40
Almond, Philip C. Heaven and Hell in Enlightenment England. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1994.
Avery-Peck, Alan J., and Jacob Neusner, eds. Judaism in Late Antiquity: Part 4 Death, Life-
After-Death, Resurrection and the World-to-Come in the Judaisms of Antiquity. Leiden:
Brill, 2000.
Backus, Irena. Biblical Hermeneutics and Exegesis. Pages 1:152157 The Oxford
Encyclopedia of the Reformation. Edited by Hans J. Hillerbrand. New York: Oxford
University Press, 1996.
Bailey, Lloyd R. Gehenna: The Topography of Hell. Biblical Archeologist 49 (1986), 187
191.
Baines, John, and Geraldine Pinch, Egypt. Pages 3655 World Mythology: The Illustrated
Guide. Edited by Roy Willis. London: Duncan Baird, 1993.
Barkay, Gabriel. Ketef Hinnom: A Treasure Facing Jerusalems Walls. Jerusalem: Israel Museum,
1986.
Barr, James. The Garden of Eden and the Hope of Immortality: The Read-Tuckwell Lectures for 1990.
London: SCM Press, 1992.
Bauckham, Richard. Early Jewish Visions of Hell. Journal of Theological Studies 42 (1990),
357-385.
Bauckham, Richard. The Fate of the Dead: Studies on the Jewish and Christian Apocalypses. Leiden:
Brill, 1998.
41
Baumgartner, Anne S. A Comprehensive Dictionary of the Gods. New York: Wings Books,
1984.
Die Bibel oder die ganze heilige Schrift Ulten und Neuen Testaments, nach der deutschen Ubersetzung Dr.
Martin Luthers. St. Louis: Concordia, 1902.
Bernstein, Alan E. The Formation of Hell: Death and Retribution in the Ancient and Early Christian
Worlds. Ithaca: Cornwell University Press, 1993.
Bloch-Smith, Elizabeth. Judahite Burial Practices and Beliefs about the Dead (Sheffield: Sheffield
Academic, 1992.
Block, Daniel I. The Gods of the Nations: Studies in Ancient Near Eastern National Theology. 2d
ed.; Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2000.
Bobrick, Benson. Wide as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible and Revolution It Inspired. New
York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.
Brettler, Marc, and Michael Fishbane, eds. Minhah le-Nahum: Biblical and Other Studies
Presented to Naum M. Sarna in Honor of his 70th Birthday. Sheffield: Sheffield
Academic, 1993.
Brown, F., S. R. Driver, and C. A. Briggs, eds. A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old
Testament. Oxford, 1907.
Campbell, Stuart, and Anthony Greer, eds. The Archeology of Death in the Ancient Near East.
Oxbow Monographs; Oxford: Oxbow Books, 1995.
Camporesi, Piero. The Fear of Hell: Images of Damnation and Salvation in Early Modern Europe.
Cambridge: Polity, 1990.
42
Chavalas, Mark W., and K. Lawson Younger, Jr., eds. Mesopotamia and the Bible: Comparative
Explanations. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002.
Clifford, Richard J., S.J., Near Eastern Myth. Pages 137 The Encyclopedia of
Apocalypticism: Volume I, The Origins of Apocalypticism in Judaism and Christianity.
Edited by John J. Collins. New York: Continuum, 1999.
Cooper, Jerrold S. The Fate of Mankind: Death and Afterlife in Afterlife in Ancient
Mesopotamia. Pages 1933 Death and Afterlife: Perspectives of World Religions.
Edited by Hiroshi Obayashi. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1992,
Daiches, David. The King James Version of the English Bible: An Account of the Development and
Sources of the English Bible of 1611 with Special Reference to the Hebrew Tradition.
Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1941.
Daniell, David. Tyndale's Old Testament: Being the Pentateuch of 1530, Joshua to 2 Chronicles of
1537, and Jonah. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992.
Day, John. Asherah in the Hebrew Bible and Northwest Semitic Literature. Journal of
Biblical Literature 105 (1986), 398401.
Day, John. Ugarit and the Bible: Do they Presuppose the Same Canaanite Mythology
and Religion? Pages 3552 Ugarit and the Bible: Proceedings of the International
Symposium on Ugarit and the Bible Manchester, September 1992. Edited by George J.
Brooke, Adrian H. W. Curtis and John F. Healey. Munster: Ugarit-Verlag,
1994.
43
Douglas, J. D., ed. The Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Lane Cove, Sydney: Hodder & Stoughton,
1980.
Douglas, J. D., and Merrill C. Tenney, eds. New International Dictionary of the Bible: Pictorial
Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987.
Eliade, Mircea, ed. Encyclopedia of Religion. New York: MacMillan, 1987.
Encyclopedia Judaica. Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, 1972.
Finkelstein, Israel, and Neil Asher Silberman. The Bible Unearthed: Archaeologys New Vision of
Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts. New York: Touchstone, 2001.
Freedman, David Noel, ed. Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Freedman, David Noel, ed. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000.
Friedman, Richard Elliott, and Shawna Dolansky Overton. Death and Afterlife: The
Biblical Silence. Pages 3559 Judaism in Late Antiquity: Part 4 Death, Life-After-
Death, Resurrection and the World-to-Come in the Judaisms of Antiquity. Edited by Alan
J. Avery-Peck and Jacob Neusner. Leiden: Brill, 2000.
Froehlich, Karlfried. Problems of Lutheran Hermeneutics. Studies in Lutheran
Hermeneutics, ed. J. Reumann. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979.
The Geneva Bible: A Facsimile of the 1560 Edition. With an Introduction by Lloyd E. Berry. Madison:
The University of Wisconsin Press, 1969.
Goldberg, Michael. Hell. Pages 340343 A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English
Literature. Edited by David Lyle Jeffrey. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992.
44
Goldingay, John. Death and Afterlife in the Psalms. Pages 6185 Judaism in Late
Antiquity: Part 4 Death, Life-After-Death, Resurrection and the World-to-Come in the
Judaisms of Antiquity. Edited by Alan J. Avery-Peck and Jacob Neusner. Leiden:
Brill, 2000.
Hallo, William W. Disturbing the Dead. Pages 183192 Minhah le-Nahum: Biblical and
Other Studies Presented to Naum M. Sarna in Honor of his 70th Birthday. Edited by
Marc Brettler and Michael Fishbane. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1993.
Healey, John F. Death in West Semitic Texts: Ugarit and Nabatae. Pages 18891 The
Archeology of Death in the Ancient Near East. Edited by Stuart Campbell and
Anthony Greer. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 1995.
Heider, George C. Molech. Pages 58185 Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, eds.
Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking and Pieter W. van der Horst. 2d ed.
Leiden: Brill, 1999.
Hiley, David R., James F. Bohman, and Richard Shusterman, eds. The Interpretive Turn:
Philosophy, Science Culture. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991.
The Holy Scriptures of the Olde and Newe Testamente, with the Apocrypha: Faithfully Translated from the
Hebrue and Greke by Miles Coverdale, sometime Lord Bishop of Exeter. MDXXXV. 2d
ed. London: Samuel Bagster & Sons, 1847.
Horst, Pieter W. van der. Hellenism Judaism Christianity: Essays on Their Interaction. 2d ed.;
Leuven: Peeters, 1998.
45
Hoy, David Couzens. Is Hermeneutics Ethnocentric? Pages 15775 The Interpretive Turn:
Philosophy, Science Culture. Edited by David R. Hiley, James F. Bohman, and
Richard Shusterman. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991.
Hultgrd, Anders. Persian Apocalypticism. Pages 3983 Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism:
Volume I, The Origins of Apocalypticism in Judaism and Christianity. Edited by John J.
Collins. New York: Continuum, 1999.
Jeffrey, David Lyle, ed. A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature. Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1992.
Johnston, Philip S. Shades of Sheol: Death and Afterlife in the Old Testament. Downers Grove:
InterVarsity Press, 2002.
Jordan, Michael. Encyclopedia of the Gods: Over 2,500 Deities of the World. London: Kyle Cathie,
1992.
Leeming, David Adams. Mythology: The Voyage of the Hero. 3d ed.; New York: Oxford
University Press, 1998.
Levenson, Jon D. The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son: The Transformation of Child
Sacrifice in Judaism and Christianity. New Haven: Yale University Press 1993.
Lewis, Theodore J. Cults of the Dead in Ancient Israel and Ugarit. Atlanta: Scholars Press,
1989.
Lewis, Theodore J. Dead. Pages 22331 Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. Edited
by K. van der Toorn , B. Becking and P. W. van der Horst. 2d ed.; Leiden:
Brill, 1999.
46
Long, Lynne. Translating the Bible: From the 7th to the 17th Century. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001.
Lupton, Lewis Frederick. A History of the Geneva Bible. London: Burlington, 1990.
Luther, Martin. Lectures on Genesis. Luthers Works. Edited by Jaroslav Pelikan. St.
Louis: Concordia, 1955.
MacInnes, John. The Celtic World. Pages 17689 World Mythology. Edited by Roy
Willis. London: Duncan Baird, 1993.
Marthaler, Berard L., ed. New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2d ed.; Detroit: Catholic University of
America Press. 2003.
Mattfeld, Walter Reinhold Warttig. Hells Pre-Christian Origins: Hell, Hell-fire,
Dragons, Serpents, and Resurrections. No pages. Cited 13 July 2004.
Online: http://www.bibleorigins.net/hellsorigins.html.
McGrath, Alister. In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation,
a Language and a Culture. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2001.
McLeisch, Kenneth. Myth: Myths and Legends of the World Explored. Leicester: Blitz, 1996.
Meldrum, Ronald M. Ashtoreth. Page 60 A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English
Literature. Edited by David Lyle Jeffrey. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992.
Metzger, Bruce M. The Bible in Translation: Ancient and English Versions. Grand Rapids: Baker
Academic, 2001.
Metzger, Bruce M. The Geneva Bible of 1560. Theology Today 17 (1960), 33952.
Milikowsky, Chaim. Which Gehenna?: Retribution and Eschatology in the Synoptic
Gospels and in Early Jewish Texts. New Testament Studies 34, (1988), 23849.
47
Muller, Richard A. Biblical Interpretation in the 16th & 17th Centuries. Pages 12352
Historical Handbook of Major Biblical Interpreters. Edited by Donald K. McKim.
Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998.
New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982.
New Revised Standard Version. Division of Christian Education of the National Council of
Churches of Christ in the USA; Iowa Falls: World Bible Publishers. 1989.
The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary On Historic Principles. Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1993.
The New Testament in English: According to the Version by John Wycliffe, about AD 1380, and Revised
by John Purvey, about AD 1388. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1879.
Nickelsburg, George W. E. Judgment, Life-After-Death, and Resurrection in the
Apocrypha and the Non-Apocalyptic Pseudepigrapha. Pages 14162 Judaism
in Late Antiquity: Part 4 Death, Life-After-Death, Resurrection and the World-to-Come in
the Judaisms of Antiquity. Edited by Alan J. Avery-Peck and Jacob Neusner.
Leiden: Brill, 2000.
North, Helen F. Death and Afterlife in Greek Tragedy and Plato. Pages 4964 Death and
Afterlife: Perspectives of World Religions. Edited by Hiroshi Obayashi. Westport,
Conn.: Greenwood, 1992,
Oxford English Dictionary. 2d ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989.
Penglase, Charles. Some Concepts of Afterlife in Mesopotamia and Greece. Pages
19295 The Archeology of Death in the Ancient Near East. Edited by Stuart
Campbell and Anthony Greer. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 1995.
48
Pitard, Wayne P. Voices from the Dust: The Tablets from Ugarit and the Bible. Pages
25175 Mesopotamia and the Bible: Comparative Explanations. Edited by Mark W.
Chavalas and K. Lawson Younger, Jr. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002.
Porter, J. R. The Middle East. Pages 5667 World Mythology: The Illustrated Guide. Edited
by Roy Willis. London: Duncan Baird, 1993.
Powys, David. Hell: A Hard Look at a Hard Question: The Fate of the Unrighteous in New
Testament Thought. Cumbria: Paternoster, 1997.
Puckett, D. L. Calvin, John. Pages 17179 Historical Handbook of Major Biblical Interpreters.
Edited by Donald K. McKim. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1998.
Die Bibel nach der bersetzung Martin Luthers in der revidierten Fassung von 1984 Stuttgart:
German Bible Society.
Rosenberg, R. The Concept of Biblical Sheol Within the Context of ANE Beliefs. Ph.D.diss.
Harvard University, 1980.
Rowell, Geoff. Hell and the Victorians. Oxford: Clarendon, 1974.
Smith, Mark S. Mythology and Myth-making in Ugarit and Israelite Literatures. Pages
29341Ugarit and the Bible: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Ugarit and the
Bible Manchester, September 1992. Edited by George J Brooke, Adrian H. W.
Curtis and John F. Healey. Munster: Ugarit-Verlag, 1994.
Spronk, Klass. Beatific Afterlife in Ancient Israel and in the Ancient Near East. Neukirchener
Verlag: Neukinhem-Vluyn, 1986.
49
Statham, Nigel. Dynamic Equivalence and Functional Equivalence: How Do They
Differ? The Bible Translator 54 (2003), 102-111.
Stordalen, T. Echoes of Eden: Genesis 23 and Symbolism of the Eden Garden in Biblical Hebrew
Literature. Leuven: Peeters, 2000.
Tov, Emmanuel. The Septuagint. Pages 16188 Mikra: Text, Translation, Reading and
Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity. Edited by
Martin Jan Mulder. Assen: VanGorcum, 1988.
Vine, W. E. Vines Concise Dictionary of Bible Words. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1999.
Vine, W. E. Vines Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Old Tappan:
Fleming H. Revell, 1981.
Vulgate. <http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?language=Latin>. Accessed 08.08.03.
Walker, D. P. The Decline of Hell: Seventeenth Century Discussions of Eternal Torment. London:
Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1964.
Wallace, Howard N. The Eden Narrative. Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press, 1985.
Walsh, Alexandra. Providence in Early Modern England. Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1999.
Westermann, Claus. Genesis 111: A Commentary. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984.
Wilkren, A. The English Versions of the Bible. Pages 2428 Peakes Commentary on the
Bible, ed. Matthew Black. London: Thomas Nelson, 1962.
Willis, Roy, ed. World Mythology: The Illustrated Guide. London: Duncan Baird, 1993.
Wright, J. Edward. The Early History of Heaven. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
50
Youngblood, Ronald F. Qoheleths Dark House (Eccl 12:5). Journal of Evangelical
Theological Society 29/4 (1986), 397410.
Zevit, Ziony. The Religions of Ancient Israel: A Synthesis of Parallactic Approaches. London:
Continuum, 2001.