Letter: Hell: on the Jewish model

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The Independent Online
Sir: The last thing I want to do at this festive season is to become engaged in a public dispute with Professor Ashley Grossman, but I must query his denial (Letters, 21 December) of my remark that the Christian concept of Hell was derived from Jewish sources. Has he considered sufficiently the evidence of Jewish apocalyptic literature of the New Testament period, and the impact that this had on early Christian writings? After all, the Book of Enoch had more influence on the New Testament than any other non-canonical writing.

In Jewish apocalyptic literature we find verses such as this:

The furnace of Gehenna shall be made manifest;

And over against it the Paradise of delight. (4 Ezra 7.36)

As Professor R. H. Charles, the acknowledged expert on Jewish apocalyptic literature, wrote:

Owing to the resurrection being limited to the righteous, Sheol came to mean hell or Gehenna, as the preliminary or permanent abode of wicked souls.

Yours faithfully,

HUGH MONTEFIORE

London, SW17

21 December

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