Inventing Hell (Paperback)

Dante, the Bible and Eternal Torment

By Jon M. Sweeney

Jericho Books, 9781455582242, 208pp.

Publication Date: June 17, 2014

List Price: 16.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Hell: The word means terror, darkness, and eternal separation from God. Some people think the Bible is clear about hell, but what if they're mistaken?

With gripping narrative and solid scholarship, Sweeney charts hell's "evolution" from the Old Testament underworld Sheol, through history and literature, to the greatest influencer of all: Dante's Inferno. He reveals how the modern idea of hell is based mostly on Dante's imaginative genius-but in the process, he offers a more constructive understanding of the afterlife than ever before.

Disturbing and enthralling, Sweeney will forever alter what we think happens to us after we die-and more importantly, he will make us reconsider how we live.

About the Author

Jon M. Sweeney is an independent scholar, culture critic, and popular speaker with 25 years of experience in spirituality trade publishing. Raised a fundamentalist Protestant, today Jon is a Catholic who prefers a monastic-style practice.

Praise For Inventing Hell: Dante, the Bible and Eternal Torment

"I don't recommend a stay in hell. But I highly recommend this book on it!"—James Martin, SJ, author, Jesus: A Pilgrimage

"Clear and engaging... How refreshing to read a book which recognizes that fear does not inspire morality and no one faith is given the key to paradise. In fact, it's heavenly!"—Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, Director of Religion, Butler University

"If you let Jon Sweeney be your tour guide to Hell, you'll love the journey. You'll learn a lot about what you thought was in the Bible, but isn't, and about what you thought you knew about Hell, but now need to rethink. Jon's writing is a delight on every page."—Brian D. McLaren, author, We Make the Road by Walking

"Beguiling and totally delicious...solidly crafted and deadly serious. Sweeney has taken on one of the most convoluted and dangerous areas of theology and deftly shown not only its ideational history, but also its human ramifications. His scholarship is impeccable and his sense of humor ubiquitous. Dante himself would have loved this one!"—Phyllis Tickle, author, The Age of the Spirit

"Far from a dry, academic discourse INVENTING HELL makes for great reading. The book reveals the little known confluence of theology, culture, and literature that has shaped our notions of the afterlife. Every minister, priest, rabbi, and sheikh needs to read this book, and so do we all."—Rabbi David Zaslow, author, Jesus: First-Century Rabbi