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Re: Descent into Hell?

To the response from Seth Sanders dealing with infernal descents, let 
me add one observation:  the passage in the creed may well reflect 1 Peter 
3:19-20 which probably reflects 1 Enoch 6-16, a section of Aramaic Enoch 
found at Qumran (although probably antedating the distinctive sectarian 
literature).  There the Watchers (angels or "spirits") are imprisoned 
in the valleys of the earth for punishment.  They employ Enoch as their 
scribe (attorney), who goes through an incubation ritual at the "waters 
of Dan" leading to a heavenly ascent to the throne of God, where he is 
given a judgment against the angels, which he returns to deliver to 
them.  There are other allusions to this passage in Enoch and Jubilees, 
where Enoch becomes the one to deliver a testimony to the angels.  The 
"valleys of the earth" should be taken as a primitive sort of "hell" 
(note the etymology of Gehenna).  In 1 Peter, the tradition about Enoch is 
being transferred to Jesus.  All the information about infernal descents is 
relevant and helpful here, but I think there is a more specific traditional 
"peg" to hang this one on.

David Suter
Saint Martin's College