Something extremely interesting to think about is that at the time of Jesus, belief in any kind of afterlife was a novelty in Judaism and in most of the Mediterranean world. We take the idea for granted, but the ancients didn’t.

So the idea of a literal hell in which people suffered physically would have been stunning to most people, for whom the idea of any kind of conscious experience after death would have sounded passing strange.

If Jesus had actually meant to talk about that, he would have needed to do it explicitly. He would have understood that people would not otherwise have known what he meant.

The same applies to Jesus’s later followers. If they had intended to teach about the kind of physical hell that people talk about today, they would have had to be specific about it, and they would have known they would have to.

That they weren’t specific seems to mean that hell is a concept invented long after the birth of Christianity.

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store