Hell and Damnation: A Sinner's Guide to Eternal Torment

Hell and Damnation: A Sinner's Guide to Eternal Torment

In Hell and Damnation, bestselling author Marq de Villiers takes readers on a journey into the strange richness of the human imaginings of hell, deep into time and across many faiths, back into early Egypt and the 5,000-year-old Mesopotamian epic of Gilgamesh. This urbane, funny, and deeply researched guide ventures well beyond the Nine Circles of Dante's Hell and the many...

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Title:Hell and Damnation: A Sinner's Guide to Eternal Torment
Author:Marq de Villiers
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Hell and Damnation: A Sinner's Guide to Eternal Torment Reviews

  • Catherine Mason

    A highly readable account of various versions of hell. A little repetitive at times but otherwise well-balanced and informative. I especially liked the epilogue which, along with the rest of the book, intelligently and fairly presented the ridiculousness and stupidity and nastiness that it takes to believe in hell.

  • Prooost Davis

    This is a survey of the different conceptions of Hell across religions and through the ages. The stories are told with a lightness proper to an author who doesn't believe in Hell.

    Today's Christian Hell seems to serve two purposes: for the general populace, Hell provides the comforting faith that the injustices of this life will be dealt with definitively in the next; for the powerful in the world, Hell (and Heaven) are the stick and the carrot that keep the public from misbehaving.

    The Christian

    This is a survey of the different conceptions of Hell across religions and through the ages. The stories are told with a lightness proper to an author who doesn't believe in Hell.

    Today's Christian Hell seems to serve two purposes: for the general populace, Hell provides the comforting faith that the injustices of this life will be dealt with definitively in the next; for the powerful in the world, Hell (and Heaven) are the stick and the carrot that keep the public from misbehaving.

    The Christian Hell is painful punishment that will never end. Other Hells have had time limits, although they still lasted a very long time. Still other Hells are places where the sinner can work his or her way to enlightenment.

    I found my attention wandering during some of the descriptions, but wandering less often during some narrations of "experiences" of people who have visited Hell.

    A long epilogue discusses the question of just how much good hells, heavens, devils, and gods have actually done for mankind, and whether any of these things actually exist. The epilogue is worth the price of the book.

  • Wanda

    My enjoyment of this book probably suffered from the fact that I finally got it through my library during the summer months. Some subjects don’t lend themselves to summertime reading and Hell and damnation are two of those subjects. Nevertheless, it was an interesting read (especially since I’m reading Terry Goodkind’s

    at the same time and it seems that he was reading the section on the tortures of Hell to provide the plot for his novel.)

    It is remarkable how several religions have

    My enjoyment of this book probably suffered from the fact that I finally got it through my library during the summer months. Some subjects don’t lend themselves to summertime reading and Hell and damnation are two of those subjects. Nevertheless, it was an interesting read (especially since I’m reading Terry Goodkind’s

    at the same time and it seems that he was reading the section on the tortures of Hell to provide the plot for his novel.)

    It is remarkable how several religions have come up with the same kinds of ideas about the afterlife. The Buddhists have lots of different hells for lots of different sins, but they are pretty much self-service establishments--no one is overseeing your punishment. Christianity and Islam don’t much trust sinner to administer their own penalties and have awarded that role to Satan otherwise known as the Devil.

    The history of Hell and the Devil are also fascinating, as scholars sort out how many of those details are cribbed from the Ancient Greeks & Romans, not to mention the Caananites who rivaled the early Jews. Most of the details which have come to be accepted by fundamentalists seem to come from literature external to the Bible, which I am willing to bet that not many of them realize.

    Strangely, humans don’t seem to have much imagination when it comes to Heaven, as witnessed by the final chapter of the book. The descriptions of life and activities in Heaven are quite lacklustre verging on downright boring.

    An interesting partner to a book that I recently read,

    , about saintly relics. Both books are written with scholarly interest, although both authors display a sense of humour towards their subjects.

  • Laura

    According to the blurb on the back, this book is "urbane" and "funny", but it actually turned out to be rather dry and boring.

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