Video Lecture: “The Origin of Heaven and Hell”

Learn all about the what, how, and why of heaven and hell

Heaven and hell have long been controversial, but as Bible scholars, we want to first understand the origin of heaven and hell—that way, we’re not only better educated about their original meanings but also prepared to grasp how modern cultures view and interpret these two distinct and powerful concepts.

The age-old human question of “Where do I go when I die?” is an everlasting one—and it’s not simply an answer based on being a “saint” or a “sinner.” It’s a complex topic, and an authoritative online video lecture by a renowned Biblical scholar is in order here, to help you become an expert on the origins and meanings of heaven and hell.

With “The Origin of Heaven and Hell” online video lecture, you get a detailed, illuminating, and engrossing look at heaven and hell—hosted by Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) Editor Robert R. Cargill, a recognized Biblical archaeologist and professor of religious studies at the University of Iowa.


Robert R. Cargill

You’ll learn how heaven and hell came to exist so prominently in Jewish and Christian literature in the first place. In this online video lecture, follow along with Professor Cargill as he tackles some initial questions about heaven and hell, including:

  • What are heaven and hell?
  • How is the afterlife different from heaven and hell?
  • Where are heaven and hell, exactly?
  • Who gets to go to heaven?
  • What can happen to you in hell?
  • What do major religious texts say about heaven and hell?
  • And more questions—with answers from Professor Cargill!

This online video lecture will keep you captivated all the way to the end—so you can learn all about the origin of heaven and hell. You’re certain to discover new aspects of this topic that you’ve never heard before. And Professor Cargill will help you “connect the dots” about varying—and sometimes conflicting—depictions of heaven and hell.

Plus, you’ll get a whole series of online videos—and much more, including the entire vast searchable library of articles, online videos, photos, and maps —when you join the Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS) as an All-Access member today. More about that in a minute.



Explore the world’s most intriguing Biblical scholarship

Dig into more than 7,000 articles in the Biblical Archaeology Society’s vast archive with a Library Explorer pass.


The origin of heaven and hell explained in full detail

In this video lecture, Professor Cargill starts off describing all the various religious descriptions about the heavens—and you’ll discover how varied and confusing this can be!


Wood engraving by Gustave Doré depicting Dante’s Inferno, Canto XXXIV, in which Dante and Virgil encounter Satan in the ninth circle of hell.

Because there was no concept of an afterlife in early Israelite religion, there was no concept of a heaven or hell. But following the exile and return from Babylon and the coming of the Greeks, Jewish literature suddenly began to contain references to heaven and hell.

Wow is it different how various religious sects—and even within a particular religion—viewed the concept of heaven and hell! Professor Cargill walks you through, with specific examples, how all of this evolved.

And you’ll even see a visual depiction, according to the ancient Jewish worldview, of Earth with God and the heavens above and “the Great Deep” below—Professor Cargill explains it all in thorough detail.

You’ll learn all about key Biblical characters with a heavenly link, such as Enoch, Elijah, and Melchizedek. And all about apocalyptic literature with descriptions of heaven and hell. And then you’ll hear Professor Cargill explain the “seven heavens” and what all that means.

Have you ever heard of the “Apocalypse of Peter,” the first Christian writing to describe a journey through heaven and hell? You’ll learn all about its description of the Earth’s destruction by fire, the last judgment, and the eternal torments of those condemned to hell.

And in vivid detail (some of which is just simply horrifying), you’ll learn about the specific punishments for specific behavior as described in the “Apocalypse of Peter”—murderers will be “set in worms like clouds of darkness”; women who adorn themselves for adultery will be “hanged by their hair above boiling mire”; women who conceive out of wedlock will be “up to their necks in discharge and stench”; and those who bear false witness will suffer “gnawing their tongues and having flaming fire in their mouths.”

After hearing about all the punishments, you’ll know that the hell described is definitely a place to avoid!

Riveting. Revealing. Even revolting. You’ll get the most scholarly and in-depth look at the origin of heaven and hell with this online video lecture, “The Origin of Heaven and Hell”—watch it today!



Explore the world’s most intriguing Biblical scholarship

Dig into more than 7,000 articles in the Biblical Archaeology Society’s vast archive with a Library Explorer pass.

When you join as a BAS All-Access member, you’ll get 22 online video lectures, including “The Origin of Heaven and Hell” by Robert R. Cargill—the popular University of Iowa religion professor who is a probing and entertaining presenter as well as a Biblical archaeologist.

The BAS Library is full of other online videos about Biblical archaeology and history—world-renowned master teachers present video lectures on the latest key issues in archaeology and the Bible, including “The Archaeology of Jewish Christianity and “Isaiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls.” In addition, BAS founder Hershel Shanks hosts a series of informal interviews with five prominent Dead Sea Scrolls scholars, all in online videos.

Other online videos available to BAS All-Access members include:

And the big bonus: As a BAS All-Access member, viewing all these online videos is FREE—unlimited viewing, time after time, while you’re a member. In fact, you’ll have unlimited access to everything in the BAS Library when you join now—over 29,000 searchable articles, online videos, photos, and maps … all just a few clicks away for you and available 24-hours-a-day, plus upcoming issues of Biblical Archaeology Review—only for BAS All-Access members!

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