I have two questions that cause a lot of troubles to me:  Some people believe that the concept of hell is a pagan idea which Jesus copied from Egyptian and Greek culture.  In the Old Testament they find nothing about the existence of hell and believe that the idea of hell was born in Egypt and Greece and the Jews in the Hellenistic period imported that idea into Judaism.  Question 1: If Hell is real why God say nothing about it in the Old Testament?  Question 2: Is it true that Jesus borrowed the idea of hell from paganism?


This is a common charge–that the Old Testament does not mention hell–but it simply is not true.  I wish people would stop making this false charge, as it is simply not true.

For example, there is Daniel 12:2. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.”  In the Psalms David talks repeatedly about Sheol and Abaddon. These are equivalent to Paradise and Hades in the New Testament.

Now, it is a fact that heaven and hell are both mentioned considerably less in the Old Testament than they are in the New Testament.  Generally, in the Old Testament the blessings and curses are more of a physical and a temporal nature than of an everlasting nature, as in the New Testament.  So, if commentators will say that heaven and hell are less emphasized in the Old Testament by comparison to the New Testament, then this would be an accurate statement.  This is what skeptics ought to do rather than send around the false charge that hell (and heaven) is not mentioned in the Old Testament.

So, my answer to your first question is that it is a moot point.  Hell is mentioned in the Old Testament.  Judgement is mentioned repeatedly in the Old Testament as well.

My answer to your second question is absolutely not!!!  Jesus is the Son of God.  He fulfilled the prophecies of the Messiah. He walked on water, calmed the storm, turned water to wine, made bread and fish, raised Lazarus from the dead and was himself raised from the dead.  Jesus did not need to borrow “truth” from pagan religion.  This idea is ludicrous, as Jesus showed every conceivable mark of being sent by God.  His authority to speak truth does not derive from Egyptian or Greek pagan religion.  Even if heaven and hell were not mentioned in the Old Testament (they are), then Jesus’ statements could stand on their own merit.  He was obviously an inspired spokesperson for God, as demonstrated by his sinless life, his fulfillment of the messianic expectation and his miracles. The charge is really quite obviously spurious.

John Oakes

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