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Re: Descent into Hell?
yeah -- it has to do with a NT psg -- one of the Epistles where it is
said that Jesus "preached to those that were in prison" -- which the
Nicene Fathers, who had by then long renounced all things Judaic
(including Judaic Christianity) interpreted to mean "Hell" as the prison,
when it very well could have been that Joshua the Nazarene (Jesus) was
brought off the tree of cruicifixion while still alive and brought back
to health in prison (collusion between Pharisees like Nicodemus and and
Joseph of Arimithea and the Roman authorities) and there preached.
KOn KThu, 8 Aug 1996, Seth L Sanders wrote:
> > "Descent into Hell", the phrase or idea found in the Apsotles' Creed
> > of in Nicodemus - does this phrase or equivalent idea appear in any part of
> > the DDS?
> > Tom Simms
> The short answer: sadly, nothing of the sort has been found there.
> The long answer: Otherworldly descent has a long history and broad
> distribution in the Ancient Mediterranean. For an overview see GG
> Stroumsa's recent article in _Death, Ecstasy, and Otherworldly Journeys_,
> ed. M. Fishbane and JJ Collins (SUNY), and for a rich variety of detail
> see the fat conference volume on Apocalyptic in the Ancient Mediterranean
> edited by David Hellholm. A good example of a very old account of a
> descent to hell and return to the surface is that of Ishtar, which you can
> find reliably translated in Stephanie Dalley's _Myths from Mesopotamia_
> (Oxford, with brief but insightful notes) and a trifle more literally in
> Benjamin Foster's fine, eclectic collection, _From Distant Days_ (CDL).
> To my knowledge (and others on the list know more than me) while there
> _are_ descents to hell mentioned in the sectarian scrolls, they're
> strictly one-way tickets. The notion of a round trip (in John Collins'
> pungent phrase) on the part of a visionary or (semi)divine figure to the
> underworld and back in order to preach and/or suffer does not appear in
> the scrolls.
> Furthermore, there are not even any tours of hell in the scrolls,
> according to Devorah Dimant ("Apocalyptic Texts at Qumran" in J.
> VanderKam, ed. _The Community of the Renewed Covenant_, referring to a
> term used by M Himmelfarb in her survey, _Tours of Hell_ (Fortress), which
> is a good place to start on this question). However, there are
> otherworldly visions including hellish places found all over the ancient
> Hellenistic world, and before. Note, for example, that Plato's Myth of Er
> (see the Republic) already describes a roundtrip otherworldly journey with
> a vision of the punishment of souls. A classicist like Walter Burkert
> considers this comparable to the apocalypses of Late Antiquity.
> There are a number of apocalypses including otherworldly tours of heaven,
> places where the winds and snows are stored up etc. found among the
> scrolls. The otherworly tours sometimes include visions of places of
> punishment. Devorah Dimant mentions ten apocalypses or visionary
> narratives among the 25 Aramaic literary works preserved at Qumran; maybe
> the richest one is I (Aramaic, nee Ethiopic) Enoch. If you want to see
> what we've got preserved, much of it is translated in Garcia Martinez's
> _The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated_. I Enoch is a good place to start.
> Two caveats: 1. there _are_ Qumran scrolls that describe God's throne
> (Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, 4Q Berakhot etc.), and in Jewish mystical
> literature of later periods, people who have visions of the throne are
> described as "those who _descend_ to the throne." There is not much
> agreement on what this means, but there might be a notion of descent to
> 2. Descent to hell and ascent to heaven has very ancient antecedents
> reaching back to Mesopotamian myths (and rituals?) found in the 3rd
> millenium BC. But the question is complicated by the phenomenological
> issue of shamanism. Traditional societies across the world have stories
> and practices of otherworldly journeys undertaken by an expert visionary.
> It seems to be a basic sort of myth that people experience. On the general
> issue, a flawed but brilliant work is M. Eliade's _Shamanism: Archaic
> Techniques of Ecstasy._
> Christ's descent has a long prehistory but not one that shows up here.
> Finally, on the entire reason why anyone would _want to_ or _be afraid to_
> compare Christ to Ishtar, see JZ Smith's shrewd _Drudgery Divine_ (U
> Seth L. Sanders
> Dept. of Near Eastern Studies
> The Johns Hopkins University