For those who believe Hell is an actual place, was it part of the original creation?

Did God forsee that man was going to fall into sin and there would need to be a place of eternal punishment? Thus did He create Hell in the first seven days so as to be ready when the time came?

Or was he taken by surprise, as Gen: 9-13 would seem to indicate, and have to quickly create Hell ad hoc?

Hell wasn’t needed until The Fall. If you buy the idea that God is all knowing, then, even though He knows what will happen, He wouldn’t have built Hell until it was needed.

Having Hell about before the The Fall would be a bit odd.

Not in the least. Lucifer and his co-conspirators rebelled against God long before the Fall. After their defeat they were tumbled by God from Heaven into Hell (vide the great part in Paradise Lost where Satan surveys his dismal domain.)

“My Lord! Satan and his followers are rebelling!”

“Damn them! Where the Hell am I going to put them now?”

According to Matthew 25:41, Hell (“the everlasting fire”) was “prepared for the Devil and his angels”. If you like, Hell was already there for Satan, so God didn’t need to create a new one for sinful humanity. Good coding practice, that. :slight_smile:

Could I get a time-line here? Hell before or after the Creation? Before He created the Universe, was Hell possible?

Hell if I know.

You’re not going to be able to extract one from the Bible, at least. The concept of “Hell” relies on the Hellenistic duality between body and soul, which doesn’t come in until about 100BC.

Milton has: Creation of Heaven and Hell > Creation of the angels > Satan’s Fall > Creation of the universe, but, much though I’d like him to be, he’s not canonical.

Hmm, I must have not paid attention to this stuff in my Milton class in grad school. (BOOOOR-ing!)

I did write a paper entitled “Parking Rates in Eden.”

Honest. It was all about how prelapsarian values don’t address postlapsarian issues.

So there’s no Biblical answer to the question?

Interesting question–here’s how I’d run Milton’s timeline: creation of heaven > creation of angels > Satan’s fall > creation of hell > creation of universe.

Chaos, “nature’s womb,” contains “his dark materials,” all mixed up, from which God created heaven, hell and earth and can create more worlds should he choose. Chaos complains that God keeps making Chaos’ realm smaller by creating stuff (making Chaos a natural ally of Satan since Satan offers Chaos hope of greater sway if created stuff like the world gets destroyed). Here’s the passage that makes me think Milton doesn’t have hell created before Satan’s fall (Chaos kvetching to Satan):

I upon my frontiers here
Keep residence; if all I can will serve
That little which is left so to defend,
Encroached on still through our intestine broils
Weakening the sceptre of old Night: first, Hell,
Your dungeon, stretching far and wide beneath;
Now lately Heaven and Earth, another world
Hung o’er my realm, linked in a golden chain [heaven and earth here meaning our world, not God’s heaven]
To that side Heaven from whence your legions fell!

First hell was created, then our world, and by the way God’s heaven that already existed is over there. Not definitive, but I think that implies that hell was specially created for Satan when he fell. What passage makes you think hell previously existed? (Honest question–not quibbling for its own sake–just want to talk about Milton.)

One question i have always had; can SATAN change his mind? suppose he were to repent…and acknowledge his error…would God 9in his infinite wisdom) grant some sort of pardon? Ya gotta figure that satan has been on the sh*t list for so many eons…he must get mighty tired of seducing humans, tempting people to break commandments, etc.
So, given an infinite amount of time, would satan come around?

I was under the impression that traditional judaism doesn’t have a hell, or if they do, it’s much like the greek hades(which everyone eventually goes to, except for the really evil, who go to the bad part).

So it makes me wonder where the new testament get’s it’s version of hell?

Book I, 70-74.

Such place Eternal Justice had prepar’d
For those rebellious, here their Prison ordain’d
In utter darkness, and their portion set
As far remov’d from God and light of Heav’n
As from the Center thrice to th’utmost Pole.

Book IV, 867-870

… Hell saw
Heav’n ruining from Heavn’n and would have fled
Affrighted; but strict Fate had cast too deep
Her dark foundations, and too fast had bound.

Admittedly, this doesn’t imply that Hell existed before Satan’s rebellion, but it does imply that it existed before his defeat. I suppose it depends what we mean by “fell”.

And, on the subject - is there any character in literature more despicable than Abdiel?

That’s a lovely couple of lines (from Book VI, btw)–but not dispositive on how early hell was created as they occur just as Satan is being ejected from heaven. We may not get much further though I wish we could–having a hell pre-created when yet no one has sinned would further complicate Milton’s theological muddle on predestination.

I am sure you are aware that this is a very provocative statement since Abdiel’s heroic lonely individualistic loyalist stance is supposed to be the counterbalance to Satan’s heroic lonely individualistic rebellious stance, a justification for every mother who has ever urged a kid not to jump off the edge of the precipice just because everyone else is doing it.

Nonetheless, I don’t like Abdiel much–he seems too thoughtless and might have worked better if he had been a bit tempted by Satan’s proposal rather than being a puritanical prig about it (he is an unfallen angel, not a man, and that seems to be hard to write). But do expand–he may not be alluring, but why is he despicable?

We’re probably getting into CS territory here, but I personally despise him for being, not to put too fine a point on it, a Quisling. I don’t think that anything he does can be described as “courageous” - quite the contrary. He gets cold feet. He thinks - rightly, as it turns out - that Satan isn’t powerful enough to defeat God, so he turns his back on Satan, not out of loyalty (else why would he have rebelled in the first place?), but out of a purely selfish desire to save his own skin, and allies himself with God because God is the more powerful (VI:135-142). VI:183-185 is, at least, an honest statement of his views - he’d rather serve under a tyrant (and I think we can agree that Milton’s God is a tyrant) and be safe, than take the chance of defeat in order to gain personal glory and self-determination, Satan’s goal in the whole Enterprise.

I would disagree with your charaterization of Abdiel as “individualistic”. To me, he represents the opposite of individualism; he supports the status quo, the way “things ought to be”, the idea that he has a pre-ordained place and that his only ambition should be to satisfy God’s externally-imposed purpose for him as best he can.

The good angels can at least be admired for loyalty, even if we regard their loyalty as being to the wrong cause. Abdiel is neither loyal nor courageous in his disloyalty.

I bet he wears glasses and has an annoying high-pitched voice, too. :slight_smile:

I don’t think this is too much of a highjack–the Bible doesn’t really say much about hell, leaving Milton and others free to imagine–and Milton’s imagination on this point is perhaps the most widely-known (consciously or unconsciously) description of hell today. So, by discussing Milton, we are giving the literarily accepted take on hell, disclaiming of course Truth and even Received Authority.

Hmm–I don’t agree that Abdiel “gets cold feet” or "was disloyal " to the rebellion (which I think is what you are saying) because I do not think he was ever a part of the rebellion. He is a subordinate of Satan (in the heavenly hierarchy–as to which he has no choice), but as soon as he hears that Satan’s true intent is rebellion, Abdiel refuses to go along.

After the Son is proclaimed coeval and to be worshippped (the tipping point for Satan), Satan heads back to his stronghold with his minions, but for the ostensible purpose of preparing a reception for the Son. Here is Satan speaking privately with his right-hand guy (from Book 5, toward the end–sorry my on-line source doesn’t have line numbers):

Assemble thou
Of all those myriads which we lead the chief;
Tell them, that by command, ere yet dim night
Her shadowy cloud withdraws, I am to haste,
And all who under me their banners wave,
Homeward, with flying march, where we possess
The quarters of the north; there to prepare
Fit entertainment to receive our King,


For thither he assembled all his train,
Pretending so commanded to consult
About the great reception of their King,
Thither to come, and with calumnious art
Of counterfeited truth thus held their ears.


Then, when Satan finally speaks his true purpose of rebellion:
Thus far his bold discourse without controul
Had audience; when among the Seraphim
Abdiel, than whom none with more zeal adored
The Deity, and divine commands obeyed,
Stood up, and in a flame of zeal severe
The current of his fury thus opposed.

Abdiel is the only one to stand up and object in the face of thousands–in context, that is individualistic, and is balance to Satan’s attempt to paint himself as the rebel standing up to the tyrant. OTOH, I grant that Abdiel’s reasons for his stance as expressed in Book VI are less than inspiring, and that “might makes right” is not satisfactory–which is not what Milton was trying to say–he wants to say that God is naturally to be obeyed, the might being an aspect, but a non-compelling aspect, of what he is. Milton is not overally successful on this point though, IMHO, at least as far as the words in Abdiel’s mouth go.

Yeah, I see what you mean; Abdiel doesn’t realise that it’s a rebellion until he gets his nose rubbed in it, so to speak - that makes his actions somewhat more justifiable, I agree.

  • nods * - I suppose our attitude to this question depends on whether or not we regard Satan as the hero of the poem. If we do, I think it’s easy to regard Milton as being opposed to the doctrine of the ad baculum, and Abdiel’s conduct is a reinforcement of this view. I find it difficult to adopt the interpretation that Satan is somehow the “villan” and God the “hero”, but I’m sure it’s not impossible.

Milton seems to have carried the day. The consensus is that Hell was prepared in advance so that when Satan (or Lucifer) and the other rebellious angels kicked up a fuss there was a place to send them.

According to this theory it seems that God knew in advance that Satan et al would rebel.

If Hell was prepared specifically for Satan and the others, is the sending of the souls of the sinful humans to Hell just a case of God making use of what was already available even though it was intended for a different purpose? Does God send them there or does He turn them over to Satan and have him do it?

No, I disagree that this is Milton’s position. None of the passages that we have identified here says that hell was created prior to Satan’s sin–yes, it is there for him to fall into as he is kicked out of heaven, but the passage I first cited still is most persuasive IMHO–and it implies that hell was created out of Chaos when Satan sinned. But because it looks like there is no definitive statement on point, you can say Milton does not answer the question if you wish.

I do not think that Satan is the “hero” of the poem, at least not in Milton’s intent–I’m with the crowd that thinks that the poem’s narrator (which is not Milton the man, IMHO) progresses from sin to redemption along the arc of the poem and that it is the proud and sinful narrator of the first part of the poem that gives us the idolized Satan as tyrant-buster. The first part of the poem is nonetheless the most vivid and exciting for the reader (who is seduced by Satan’s lies along with the narrator, Eve and 1/3 of heaven), and the best part literarily, but Milton’s shortcomings in his ability to characterize God do not mean that he intended Satan was hero.

IMHO. :slight_smile:

I am ill equipped to discuss Milton. All I am trying to do is get the thinking of those who consider Hell to be a definite place. Was there only a single series of creative acts by God that included a Hell that would be needed later, or was there another act of special creation later on when the need, or maybe I should say the desire, for a place to put sinners became known?

It was supposed to be a regular detainment facility, but what with God having to go with the lowest bidder and then outsourcing the actual staffing of the place to Third World deities things just kind of went down hill and before you knew it Hell went from meaning “detention facility” to, well, hell.