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Hell and Its Rivals
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Hell and Its Rivals: Death and Retribution among Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Early Middle Ages

Alan E. Bernstein


The idea of punishment after death—whereby the souls of the wicked are consigned to hell—emerged out of beliefs found across the Mediterranean, from ancient Egypt to Zoroastrian Persia, and became fundamental to the Abrahamic religions. Once hell achieved doctrinal expression in the New Testament, the Talmud, and the Qur’ān, thinkers began to question hell’s eternity, and to consider possible alternatives—hell’s rivals. Some imagined outright escape, others periodic but temporary relief within the torments. One option, including Purgatory and, in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the Middle Stat ... More

Keywords: eternal punishment, death, hell, Abrahamic faith, near-death experience, afterlife, Jews, Christians, Muslims

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2017 Print ISBN-13: 9781501707803
Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2018 DOI:10.7591/cornell/9781501707803.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Alan E. Bernstein, author
University of Arizona