On the Problem of Hell: Comparative Historical and Philosophical Perspectives

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Humanities/Philosophies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 December 2024 | Viewed by 2625

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of History, Yuelu Academy, Hunan University, Changsha, China
Interests: religious history; biblical exegesis; beliefs and practices concerning the afterlife

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Guest Editor
Department of Philosophy, Yuelu Academy, Hunan University, Changsha, China
Interests: philosophy of religion; African philosophy; comparative philosophy, ethics; the problem of evil

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In recent decades, the Problem of Hell has incited heated debate largely among theologians and philosophers engaged with the Christian and Western philosophical traditions. The Problem of Hell is an extension of the Problem of evil: How can an omnipotent, omniscient, loving and morally perfect God allow not only evil and suffering to exist, but even allow some of his beloved creatures to remain in a state of suffering forever in Hell? The eternity of Hell, as opposed to the temporary evils in the world, poses unique problems for theodicy. Prominent scholars have taken various approaches to addressing this problem, including rejecting the idea of Hell entirely, appealing to free will theodicy, redefining what Hell is, or resorting to ideas of universalism, annihilationism, and escapism. The debates resulting from such approaches have made the Problem of Hell a key topic of investigation in religious studies.  

We are pleased to invite you to submit contributions to “The Problem of Hell: Historical, Contemporary and Comparative Perspectives”, a Special Issue of Religions. As a multidisciplinary journal, Religions offers new and unique combinations of perspectives on key issues in the study of the world’s religions. Presently, debates about Hell have largely been conducted by philosophers and theologians specializing in western Christianity.

This Special Issue aims to broaden the horizons of the Problem of Hell by bringing the insights of scholars from disciplines such as history, sociology and psychology, as well as scholars of other religious traditions such as Eastern Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and traditional African religions, into conversation with philosophers and theologians. 

In this Special Issue, original research articles and reviews are welcome. Research areas may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Historical development of ideas of Hell and past debates concerning Hell in any religious tradition;
  • Psychological and sociological research on punishment, free will, character change or other such topics in relation to the Problem of Hell;
  • Eastern Christian, Islamic, and Jewish definitions of hell and approaches to the Problem of Hell;
  • Hell in East Asian religious and philosophical traditions;
  • Hell in traditional African religions;
  • Comparative approaches to Hell across different religious traditions;
  • Critical reviews of the current state of scholarship on the Problem of Hell;
  • New philosophical or theological approaches to the Problem of Hell.

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 150–200 words summarizing their intended contribution. Please send it to the Guest Editors, Dr. Ethan Leong Yee ([email protected]) and Prof. Dr. Luis Cordeiro Rodrigues ([email protected]), and CC the Assistant Editor, Ms. Joyce Xi ([email protected]). Abstracts will be reviewed by the Guest Editors for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of this Special Issue. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer review.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Dr. Ethan Leong Yee
Prof. Dr. Luis Cordeiro Rodrigues
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Hell
  • evil
  • suffering
  • afterlife
  • punishment
  • justice

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

26 pages, 886 KiB  
Article
“Mills of God”: Two Ways of Envisaging Justice and Punishment in Greek Antiquity
by Duluo Nie
Religions 2023, 14(12), 1549; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14121549 - 18 Dec 2023
Viewed by 827
Abstract
This paper discusses two typical Greek traditions of envisaging punishments for wrongdoings: one is the religious idea of inherited responsibility, and the other is the invention and evolution of the notion of hell. The former idea, sometimes summarized by authorities such as Gustave [...] Read more.
This paper discusses two typical Greek traditions of envisaging punishments for wrongdoings: one is the religious idea of inherited responsibility, and the other is the invention and evolution of the notion of hell. The former idea, sometimes summarized by authorities such as Gustave Glotz, Eric Dodds, and Hugh Lloyd-Jones under the terms inherited guilt, ancestral fault, and responsabilité héréditaire, is one of the major themes running through the writings of authors of both the Archaic and Classical periods, and is found in genres such as elegy, historiography, oratory, and prominently tragedy. As a core idea of Greek literature, it suggests that the descendants of wrongdoers are punished not for their own sins but for those of their ancestors. With the exclusion of ideas of a punishing hell, an afterlife, and the transmigration of souls, the doctrine of inherited responsibility has its own necessity for sustaining belief in the efficacy of divine punishment, given the common human experience that evil generally escapes punishment. Solon is the first Greek author to make such a statement explicitly. The latter tradition has a much longer history, which runs from Homer to Plato. Nonetheless, the descriptions of hell from Homer onwards do not remain consistent and uniform. Its evolution with the gradual incorporation of religious ideas such as afterlife punishment and transmigration of souls witnesses the need for a much more self-sufficient interpretation of cosmic justice than the notion of inherited responsibility. One interesting fact about the two traditions is that both have coexisted in the same period of time in the testimony of contemporary authors and even in the same author, notably Herodotus and Plato. Nonetheless, “with the growing emancipation of the individual from the old family solidarity”, the former idea has to give way to the latter. And in turn, the notion of inherited responsibility that gradually becomes unacceptable prompts the maturation of hell by the introduction of new elements from eschatological movements. This paper is divided into five parts. The first part serves as an introduction. The second part discusses the Homeric depiction of the Hades, which represents an early Greek understanding of the life of the dead. The third part is devoted to a detailed analysis of Solon’s notion of inherited responsibility and the various factors that contribute to its final explicit articulation. The fourth part focuses on the Orphic ideas of afterlife trial and transmigration of souls and their introduction into what we may call Platonic hell culminant in antiquity, which aims to offer a more self-contained system of justice and punishment. The fifth part is a conclusion. Full article
10 pages, 311 KiB  
Article
Is There Any Evidence for Hell in the Ifá Literary Corpus?
by Emmanuel Ofuasia
Religions 2023, 14(11), 1416; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14111416 - 12 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1085
Abstract
Recent scholarship on Yorùbá theology that has tried to model it after the Abrahamic monotheisms as the distinction between Ọ̀run rere (Heaven) and Ọ̀run àpáàdì (Hell) is now replete but has not, before now, commanded critical scrutiny. Specifically, the works of Ogunnade, Odebolu, Shittu [...] Read more.
Recent scholarship on Yorùbá theology that has tried to model it after the Abrahamic monotheisms as the distinction between Ọ̀run rere (Heaven) and Ọ̀run àpáàdì (Hell) is now replete but has not, before now, commanded critical scrutiny. Specifically, the works of Ogunnade, Odebolu, Shittu and Odeyemi have argued for a Yorùbá notion of Hell even when there is no evidence for such in the theology and traditional practices of the peoples. The aim of this research, then, is to correct this unreliable and uncharitable misrepresentation of Yorùbá theology. To achieve this aim, this research employs the Kawaida methodology, which thrives on reason and tradition. In reinforcing its stance, this study relies on the sacred ritual archive of the Yorùbá, which is the Ifá corpus, to establish the absence of any form of Ọ̀run àpáàdì, as a place of eternal anguish and suffering for evil doers among the Yorùbá. Full article
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