Does hell have two parts?

CCC663: Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” - Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek - because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.480 Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”:481 "It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell."482 Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.483

So the just who had gone before Christ, were in the hell. Did they suffer there? If no, Does hell have two parts which one is damned and other is not damned?

Please give me some evidences.

In the time of the Old Testament, “Hell” (or in Hebrew, Sheol) was where all dead human beings were believed to have gone.

One part of it was where the virtuous dead were held and was a place of comfort; the other a place of punishment.

The narrative in Luke 16:19-31 shows the different afterlife experiences awarded in each case.

Since the time of our LORD, it is taught that those who die virtuously go to Heaven. Sheol became fully the “Hell” we hear about now.


Harrowing of Hell

[quote=“Catholic Encyclopedia”]This is the Old English and Middle English term for the triumphant descent of Christ into hell (or Hades) between the time of His Crucifixion and His Resurrection, when, according to Christian belief, He brought salvation to the souls held captive there since the beginning of the world. According to the “New English Dictionary” the word Harrowing in the above connection first occurs in Aelfric’s homilies, about A.D. 1000; but, long before this, the descent into hell had been related in the Old English poems connected with the name of Caedmon and Cynewulf. Writers of Old English prose homilies and lives of saints continually employ the subject, but it is in medieval English literature that it is most fully found, both in prose and verse, and particularly in the drama. Art and literature all through Europe had from early times embodied in many forms the Descent into Hell, and specimens plays upon this theme in various European literatures still exist, but it is in Middle English dramatic literature that we find the fullest and most dramatic development of the subject. The earliest specimen extant of the English religious drama is upon the Harrowing of Hell, and the four great cycles of English mystery plays each devote to it a separate scene. It is found also in the ancient Cornish plays. These medieval versions of the story, while ultimately based upon the New Testament and the Fathers, have yet, in their details, been found to proceed from the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, the literary form of a part of which is said to date back to the second of third century. In its Latin form this “gospel” was known in England from a very early time; Bede and other Old English writers are said to show intimate acquaintance with it. English translations were made of it in the Middle Ages, and in the long Middle English poem known as “Cursor Mundi” a paraphrase of it is found.



The traditional Latin theology on this is that hell has four parts:

  1. Purgatory,
  2. Limbo of the Fathers,
  3. Limbo of infants,
  4. Infernus ie. the abode of the damned

Because each of these four states of existence are a technical separation from God, they all fall under the heading “hell.” Today, the term “hell” is used almost exclusively to refer to number 4, the hell of the damned.

Aquinas speculated that the fire of purgatory was the same/similar to that of infernus, such that purgatory was a level of hell, so to speak.

The limbo of the fathers is not the same as infernus. It is the Bosom of Abraham where the righteous dead resided prior to Christ’s descent into hell and ascension into heaven. Upon Christ’s ascension, the gates of heaven were opened to them and the limbo of the fathers was emptied. The souls of the damned never resided in the limbo of the fathers.

The limbo of infants is a theological construct that’s had its detractors over the years. It may or may not exist. It is theorized that the souls of infants who die without baptism experience this limbo, where they neither experience the beatific vision nor experience any pain of the senses.

As you said, Luke16:19-31 shows shows the different afterlife experiences awarded in each case, but who learned that Abraham’s bosom was not the Heaven?

I have read that Hell has many levels.

Nobody. The Limbo of the Fathers (Sheol) was the state of the righteous dead, not the damned. It is a common mistake, and one I have made myself at times, that Sheol contained both the righteous and the damned. This is according to Latin theology, although you may find that some Eastern Catholics have a different interpretation.

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