Harrowing of Hell  

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The Harrowing of Hell (lat. Descensus Christi ad Inferos) is a doctrine in Christian theology referenced in the Apostles' Creed and the Athanasian Creed (Quicumque vult) that states that Christ "descended into Hell". The lack of explicit scriptural references to Christ's descent to the underworld has given rise to controversy and differing interpretations.

In literature

  • The earliest surviving Christian drama probably intended to be performed is the Harrowing of Hell found in the eighth-century Book of Cerne.
  • In Dante's Inferno the Harrowing of Hell is mentioned in Canto IV by the pilgrim's guide Virgil. Virgil was in Hell in the first place because he was not exposed to Christianity in his life time, and therefore he actually describes in generic terms Christ as a 'mighty lord' who rescued the Hebrew forefathers of Christianity, but left him behind in the very same circle. It is not clear that he fully understands the significance of the event.
  • The Medieval romance of Sir Orfeo has often been seen as drawing parallels between the titular character and Jesus freeing souls from Hell.
  • In Stephen Lawhead's novel Byzantium, a young Irish monk is asked to explain Jesus' life to a group of Vikings, who are particularly impressed with Jesus' "Helrei├░".
  • In I.L. Peretz's short story Neilah in Gehenna, a Jewish hazzan descends to Hell and uses his unique voice to bring about the repentance and liberation of the souls imprisoned there.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Harrowing of Hell" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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