Confused: Hades,Sheol,Hell, Pit, Grave, Paradise, Bosom of Abraham, Heaven


#1

Question–
In the story of Lazarus and the Rich Mann, is it a description of heaven and hell as it is going to be in the future after Christ has been sacrificed on the cross?

OR
Is it a description of what the Jew at that time then understood to be Sheol/ Hades- Paradise/Bosom of Abraham which I thought was different and not the same as heaven and hell is after Christ’s death and resurrection?

I thought Sheol/ Hades & Paradise/Bosom of Abraham was kinda a waiting place before for the dead from the old testament before Christ’s sacrifice had occurred on the cross. Then I thought Christ went down and preached to the souls in Sheol/Hades before he was resurrected on the third day. OK I am getting myself thoroughly confused.

Can some one explain the different concepts in the old testament
ie: Sheol/ Hades, Paradise, Bosom of Abraham
as opposed to the concept of Hell and Heaven and being with the Lord in the new testament?

Oh Also I remember from my past studies (years ago) certain words Greek and Hebrew words were translated differently such as sometimes they were translated as hell then the same words might also be traslated as pit or grave.

I forgot how confusing this all was- I think I have been thinking too hard today? Help needed to get all unconfused (also my confusion could stem from 20 years of protestant teaching from at least 4 different protestant churches that all taught differently about this.

Now that I am becoming Catholic if there is the Catholic understanding maybe I could get unconfused.

Thanks in advance


#2

The word “hell” is a translation of the greek word “hades”. But hades meaning is something like land of the dead, or underword. Something like that. In aribic or hebrew I can’t rember it’s Sheol. Hell in our language means eternal fire/ damnation. I Can’t rember the word for eternal fire in hebrew sorry. But there is a word.


#3

First, let’s get this out of the way:

Since the *purpose *of the story isn’t primarily to teach us the exact nature of the afterlife, but rather how we get there, there are a number of arguable interpretations. It probably isn’t possible to make a definitive and dogmatic statement about it.

I do have my (informed, I hope) opinion about it though!:smiley:


#4

I would love to hear it. We only dicussed it from the social reponsibility aspect of this parable in RCIA the other week. We didn’t get into the guts of it - whether it was really talking about heaven and hell or what was meant by the Bosom of Abraham. I think most in the class just assumed it must be heaven and hell. Bu then it came up on another thread today as to why Lazarus coudn’t communicate with the living to warn them etc so I guess on the other thread it was also implied that since he couldn’t communicate with the living therefore I guess the poster of the other thread was trying to imply that we shouldn’t ask saints to pray on our behalf because those in heaven couldn’t hear or communicate with us. At least that was what I think the poster of the other thread was talking about. Anyway it got me to thinking about is this describing heaven and hell from post crucifixion new testament viewpoint or old testament pre-crucifixion view point. then I remembered being taught a long time ago about when the Old testament saints were suppose to go when they died which I remember being taught was different than heaven and hell. I remember being told prison and paradise in the old testament is not the heaven and hell of the new testament. that it was a more like a holding place for them until the crusifixion and that is where christ went to preach to those who had died from the old testament before he was resurrected. Boy that sounds confusing
Anyway I know protestants use this passage as referring to heaven and hell a lot of times and I don’t think that is the case. I think it refers to the old testament Hades/ Prison & Bosom of Abraham/Paradise but I could be wrong.

My brain is fried- Any help or clarification on all of this would be most appreciated. Thanks in Advance Deeny


#5

Hi deeny,

Actually, both Protestants and many Catholics tend to view this story as describing heaven and hell. While the Catechism of the Catholic Church mentions the story in brief, it only notes that while all would go to this “place”, not everyone would necessarily be heading for the same final destinations. So it doesn’t explicitly state that it meant “heaven vs. hell” or a now-defunct “eternal waiting room”. It appears that, like “creation vs. evolution” we are free to form our own opinions as long as they conform to those things that ARE specifically taught.

My own opinion is that the abode of the dead talked about in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man is that this abode was and is that intermediate state between heaven and hell, which is called “Purgatory” by the Church.

The differing “levels” make sense given Jewish descriptions of sheol, in which people may suffer more (like the rich man) or little (like Lazarus, whose only suffering seemed to be that of being deprived of the vision of God until after Jesus’ resurrection.)

There are several reasonable items that support this:

  • It is noted that the rich man “feasted sumptuously”, and neglected the poor. He didn’t beat Lazarus, or put food just out of his reach to torment him, so while his neglect of the poor is certainly a sin, it might be a stretch to claim it was a mortal sin.

  • The rich man begs for mercy, both for himself, and for his brothers. There is no mercy in hell.

  • The rich man calls Abraham “father”, denoting kinship between them. A soul damned to hell could possibly try to claim kinship with the righteous, but could also be simply rebuffed. Instead, Abraham calls the rich man “my child” in reply.

  • The rich man, in begging for mercy for his brothers, shows personal concern and love for them. Like mercy, there is no love in hell either.

Scott Hahn has a very interesting talk supporting the doctrine of Purgatory, that includes these & other points, at: zuserver2.star.ucl.ac.uk/~vgg/rc/aplgtc/hahn/m4/pg.html

Chris


#6

That’s right. Here’s a link to CCC631 in The Catechism of the Catholic Church which describes it in more detail. But there’s no need to dance around by calling it Sheol/Hades. It’s perfectly valid to say “He descended into hell” just like in the creed.

Oh Also I remember from my past studies (years ago) certain words Greek and Hebrew words were translated differently such as sometimes they were translated as hell then the same words might also be traslated as pit or grave.

Sheol is Hebrew for “pit” or “grave.” It was translated into Greek as “Hades” It also goes by the name “abode of the dead,” “realm of the dead,” “hel” and “hell.”

So it’s actualy a very simple afterlife: when someone dies their their spirit either goes to Heaven (Purgatory is part of heaven) or Hell.

I forgot how confusing this all was- I think I have been thinking too hard today? Help needed to get all unconfused (also my confusion could stem from 20 years of protestant teaching from at least 4 different protestant churches that all taught differently about this.

I know exactly what you mean! I too was “burnt out” by contradictions but fear not! The consistant teaching of the Church is like a** “cool drink of water!” ** :wink:


#7

This is an interesting parable that most people understand as a moral lesson for us. However if one recognizes that Jesus is teaching a group of Pharisees and understands that in the past the Jewish leaders have often ill treated and ignored the prophets. Neither would they believe any one who came back from the dead, referring of course to himself after his passion. The pharisees were not expected to identify with Dives or Lazarus as we do, but with the brothers who would refuse to hear the messenger. Hence a parable also focused on post resurrection events.


#8

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