Thursday Forum - Hell for Christians
- 9 - 11:30 a.m.
- $12 – $40
- All Ages
In many popular pieces of Christian literature, visitors travel to hell and, with the help of tour guides, get to view and ask questions about the punishment of the damned. Readers are able to come along on these tours, which teach them about how to live a moral life and the ultimate justice that stands behind the mysterious universe. They also get to experience the vicarious pleasure of watching bad people get what is coming to them.
This four-week forum examines what hell looks like in the Christian tradition and how Christians conceive of ultimate justice and punishment. By examining the rhetoric and literary techniques various authors have employed to take readers on tours of hell, we can learn what messages were being conveyed to specific audiences and what that tells us about their cultural values. The first two sessions, led by Joseph E. McCabe Professor of Religion Meira Kensky, will focus on the earliest Christian depictions of hell, what the Bible says (and doesn’t) about hell and the Greco-Roman background of those New Testament depictions. Week one will particularly examine the Apocalypse of Peter, the earliest Christian
narrative about going to hell. The second session will take us through the Apocalypse of Paul and the Apocalypse of Mary, talking especially about the bodies of the damned and the ecclesiastical sins that land people in hell. In weeks three and four, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Religion Geoff Chaplin will introduce Dante Allegheri’s Divine Comedy, the most influential depiction of hell in the Western canon. Those sessions will trace the story from Dante’s early life through his depiction of hell in the first part of the Divine Comedy, the Inferno, to cultural conceptions of hell after Dante.