Jesus of Nazareth never expounded upon Hell. Never talked of fire and brimstone. The Hell we all know and love never crossed His mind. This Hell is a later invention, and the inventor has a name: Tertullian. More
“How I shall admire, how laugh, how rejoice, how exult, when I behold so many proud monarchs, and fancied gods, groaning in the lowest abyss of darkness; so many magistrates who persecuted the name of the Lord, liquefying in fiercer fires than they ever kindled against the Christians.” Tertullian, 160-225 AD
“Here there is no hope, and consequently no duty, no work, nothing to be gained by praying, nothing to be lost by doing what you like. Hell, in short, is a place where you have nothing to do but amuse yourself.” Bernard Shaw 1856-1950
“I dreamed I was awakening from another dream—an uproar of chaos and cataclysms—into an unrecognizable room. Day was dawning: light suffused the room, outlining the foot of the wrought-iron bed, the upright chair, the closed door and windows, the bare table. I thought fearfully, ‘Where am I?’ and I realized I didn’t know. I thought, ‘Who am I?’ and I couldn’t recognize myself. My fear grew. I thought: This desolate awakening is in Hell, this eternal vigil will be my destiny. Then I woke up, trembling.” Jorge Luis Borges, 1899-1986
Tertullian, damp with fear, awoke from yet another nightmare. Then, by small, stirring degrees, relief slowly entered his blood and so his heart as he realized he had, yet again, managed to escape.
Day was dawning: light suffused the room, outlining the foot of his bed, a high-backed chair, a writing table, a water carafe, empty now, a roll of papyrus which, he knew, held his unfinished exposition of Hell. But for all these things, the room was unrecognizable. He looked around again, tardy sleep lingering, making the room shift slightly each time he blinked, and thought fearfully, “Where am I?” He realized that he didn’t know. Had no idea. He thought, “Who am I?” He realized that he did not recognize himself. He looked at his hands: they were not his hands. He looked at his feet: they were not his feet. His fear grew. He thought: This desolate awakening is in Hell, true Hell, I am arrived. This eternal vigil will be my destiny. I have come to stay. I have built myself this cage. And his lungs, desperate for air, raced with his heart crowding out the last vestige of relief.
Then he awoke. Trembling and clammy he threw his eyes wide open to the dawning day, light suffusing the room, outlining: as he looked down, the foot of his bed; as he looked to his right, his high-backed chair, his writing table, and upon it the water carafe, not quite empty. Also upon the table: the roll of papyrus he knew held his as yet incomplete exposition of Hell.
He remembered: his exposition of Hell.