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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Lasst Uns, Nicht War?

We woke up Sunday morning singing Lasst uns erfruen.

It was the commemoration of two great church reformers: Theodor Fliedner, founder of the deaconess motherhouse at Kaisertswerth, and ... some Italian guy. We rose in a jolly mood, knowing that we would say a couple of Masses and then, toward afternoon, bless whatever animals God brought to our church door.

It was a Sunday worthy of the Te Deum, an ancient hymn which for which no really memorable combination of tune and translation has yet been provided by our service-books.  But, when the definitive English Te Deum appears, we have no doubt about the tune to which it will be sung.

Lasst uns erfreuen comes to us from the Auserlesene, Catholische, Geistliche Kirchengesange, published by Peter von Brachel at Cologne in 1623.  It has been used in many hundreds of hymnals since then, and the 2006 Evangelical Lutheran Worship matches it with no fewer than four different texts:
  • Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds (367)
  • A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing (393)
  • Ye Watchers and Ye Holy One (424)
  • All Creatures Worship God Most High, Formerly Known as Our King (835)
(It could also be matched with The Whole Bright World Rejoices Now, Percy Dearmer's translation of Die ganze Welt, Herr Jesu Christ.  Were one interested.)

Each of these hymns is a masterpiece in its own right, and the same tune (give or take a few alleluias, which tend to move about) serves them all equally well.  And each strikes the notes of triumph and praise suitable to the Te Deum, as well as to the general run of Easter hymnody.

But which of them, we wondered as we hummed the tune, is the original -- the English translation of the German hymn which has lent us its opening verse as a name, lo these four hundred years?  The answer, we were surprised to discover, is none of them.  Despite the immense popularity of the music, the text of the hymn printed at Cologne in 1623 seems to be utterly absent from English  hymnals; indeed, we cannot even find an English translation.

Turns out to be a nice little Easter hymn.  We imagine that it was never picked up for translation because most English hymnals were historically Protestant, and this hymn mentions by name the Much-Dreaded Mother of God.  Still, it's not a bad German song, and we expect some capable poet could make it into a very good English one.

Here it is, if you were curious (source):

1. Laßt uns erfreuen herzlich sehr
Maria seufzt und weint nicht mehr
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Verschwunden alle Übel sein,
Jetzt glänzt der helle Sonnenschein,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

2. Sag an, o freudenreiches Herz,
Wo ist denn jetz, Ach, Weh und Schmerz?
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Glorreich vom Grab erstanden ist
Der Menschen Trost, Herr Jesu Christ.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

3. O freudenreiche Osterzeit,
Wo sich ein jeder Christ erfreut,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Stimmt an den fröhlichen Jubelton,
Singt alle, wer nur singen kann:

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

There is a supplementary stanza, of unknown provenance, which Paul Villiger prints between 2 and 3 above:

Sag an, Maria, Jungfrau rein, Alleluja!
Kommt das nicht von Sohne dein?  Alleluja!
Achja, dein Sohn erstanden ist.  Aleluja!
Kein Wunder, daß du fröhlich bist.  Alleluja!

Our own German is pretty much useless, but here is Google Translate's rough draft, ever-so-slightly amended:

1. Let us rejoice most heartilyMaria sighs and no longer cries
Alleluia ! Alleluia !Be gone all evil,Now shines the bright sunshine,
Alleluia ! Alleluia ! Alleluia ! Alleluia ! Alleluia ! 

2. Tell me, O heart rich with joy,

 Where are now "Ah, woe and pain" ?
Alleluia ! Alleluia !
Risen glorious from the graveIs our consolation, Lord Jesus Christ .
Alleluia ! Alleluia ! Alleluia ! Alleluia ! Alleluia !

3. O Joyful Eastertide ,

Where every Christian doth rejoice,
Alleluia ! Alleluia !
Together on the happy note of joy,
Sing, all those who can sing:
Alleluia ! Alleluia ! Alleluia ! Alleluia ! Alleluia !

And that dubious supplemental stanza may go like this


Tell me, Mary, virgin pure, Alleluia !

Is it not about your son?  Alleluia !

Ah, yes, your son is risen. Aleluja !
No wonder that you're happy. Alleluia !

Friday, June 06, 2014

Alain Resnais, RIP

The most memorably bad date of my collegiate life went like this:

A friend's girlfriend had arranged a blind date for me.  Given that this girlfriend was herself a difficult character -- pageant queen gone to terrifying seed -- a wiser man would have politely demurred.  But hey, I was looking for love.

We met at the student center, and it was clear in an instant that we were ill-matched.  I studied English, she studied Chem.  She had no evident interest in art or politics, I couldn't for the life of me remember what chelation and reagents were.  Apart from the aforementioned friend's girlfriend, we seemed not to have a single acquaintance in common -- and this on a very small campus.

But that was okay, because I had an ace in the hole:  the campus film club.  Every week, in one of the lecture halls, they screened a movie classic.  That was where I became acquainted with Fassbinder, Antonioni, and all the other highbrow moviemakers that college kids love.  But this particular night, they had scheduled one of those perfect date movies -- a screwball comedy from the 1930s or 40s.

I forget what it was, exactly.  My Man Godfrey?  Holiday?  Bringing Up Baby?  Anyway, it was a guaranteed good time, 100 minutes of laughter followed by a glamorous big-screen kiss.  Hard to resist.

So off we went to Blodgett Hall, where we sat in the uncomfortable seats normally reserved for Anthropology 101.  We make awkward small talk, and waited for the lights to dim.

Then disaster struck.

"I'm sorry," said the president of the club, walking in front of the screen and holding a round steel film canister.  "The company that we rent these things from seems to have screwed up.  Instead of [Godfrey/Holiday/Baby], they seem to have sent us a French at film called Hiroshima, Mon Amour."

Ah, yes.  Hiroshima, Mon Amour.  For those who have never had the pleasure, it is Alain Resnais' 1959non-linear meditation on memory and war, which launched the Nouvelle Vague.  A French actress and a Japanese architect are ending their affair, and ... talking about it. He remembers being in Hisrohima when the bomb fell, she remembers being shaved bald as punishment for a fling with a German soldier.  There are pictures of people dying and disfigured by the effects of atomic warfare.

"So," I said cautiously when the lights came up afterward.  "You want to, maybe, get a beer?"

"I don't drink" she said.  This might have been true, or might not.  For all I know, she might have taken the pledge that very moment.  It was probably just as well.

Anyway, I did not get lucky that night, and have always blamed Alain Resnais.  He was a good director -- I like L'Annee Derniere a Marienbad as much as you can like that sort of thing -- and haven't let this particular disaster interfere with a lifetime of snobby Francophilia.  But the guy did cost me a night of amorous fun, which is a serious offense.  Yes, it was thirty-odd years ago -- but I have neither forgotten nor forgiven

Anyway, Resnais is dead at 91.  The rest of the world mourns; I hereby declare victory.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Anne B. Davis, RIP

Years ago, I stood uncomfortably in a Brooklyn apartment full of 20-somethings, holding a cocktail, making the sort of small talk that gets progressively more difficult as each succeeding salvo falls flat.  It was a Christmas party thrown by (if I recall) a friend's ex-girlfriend.  Or something like that.  The crowd was a mix of artists, journalists and -- mostly -- youngsters trying to find their way in life.  I was about a year away from discovering my own vocation, some college pals were about the same distance from law school.  One guy was twenty years out from his bestseller and a couple more from his suicide.

For whatever reason, the party was failing.  That indefinable chemistry that creates a good time simply was not there.  We were all shuffling our feet, checking our watches, wondering whether there weren't some place else we could go to have the kind of fun we wanted.

And then Ann B. Davis came to save us.

She had help:  Robert Reed, Florence Henderson, a bunch of youngish adults including the pulchritudinous Eve Plumb.  Because, yes, somebody had done the unthinkable:  turned on the television at a party.  And what happened to be on television that night (probably 18 December 1988) was a holiday special reuniting the Brady Bunch.

It was, evaluated as either comedy or drama, simply godawful.  (Can Mike and Carol get their kids together for Christmas?  No, because Peter is schtupping his boss and Jan is getting a divorce).  But about half of us drifted silently toward the TV, finding comfortable spots to sit or to recline, laughing at the jokes.  We laughed at the jokes, we followed the plot, we relaxed and enjoyed ourselves.  A room full of modestly sophisticated New Yorkers, tense and insecure, was turned ad break by ad break into one full of snorting, giggling children.  The mood softened and we all relaxed.

And at the center of all this, of course -- literally the center of the Brady family, as depicted on the famous opening credits -- was Ann B. Davis, the actress who played Alice the housekeeper.  She was a wry, materterine presence, the voice of wisdom and experience holding the strangely blended family together.  She died last week, age 88, following a fall.

Davis was already a celebrated TV actress when she got to the Bradys, having won two best-supporting Emmy awards for her work as Schultzy on The Bob Cummings Show.  This was news to me when I saw the obit, never having heard of Bob Cummings or his show.  What I had heard, over the years, were veiled references to Davis having hooked up with "a religious group" of some sort, even going so far as to "give it her money."  In context, this was always made to sound as though she had joined a cult.

Well, she had.  The Episcopal cult.

Davis was raised in Erie, Pennsylvania, and lived out her final years in Ambridge, Pennsylvania.  She lived her last years in the home of the Rev. William C. Frey, who is indeed a bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.  He is the former bishop of Colorado and a former dean of the Trinity Episcopal School of MInistry in Ambridge, which Davis attended for a while.

Trinity is a seminary representing the low-church and theologically conservative wing of PECUSA, which opens its doors eagerly to future leaders of non-Episcopalian Anglican churches and which has in recent years dropped the word "Episcopal" from its own publicity, although retaining it as part of the legal name.  (Just as PECUSA has dropped/retained the word "Protestant.")

Frey does sound like an odd duck.

In 1971, he was deported from Guatemala for "interfering the political affairs" of that country, of which he was the Episcopal bishop.  It appears that his interference consisted of nothing more than calling for an end to political violence and asking that all citizens be guaranteed their constutional protections, which is never a bad thing to do and, in the midst of Guatemala's brutal civil war, was probably a very good one. Reading between the lines, the guy sounds like something of a lefty -- in those days.

Davis seems to have met him in 1974, when she was playing summer stock theater in  Denver and he was the (apparently newish) Bishop of Colorado. She experienced some sort of adult conversion experience, and in her own words, "decided to sell my house in L.A. and yield my life to the Lord."  This involved moving, with Frey's family and some others, into a converted Victorian in the Mile-High City.

In 1978, Frey's wife explained to a local newspaper that their home was not -- contrary to what you may have heard -- a commune.  It was rather, she said, "an ecclesiastical Waltons," a large house in which 18 people lived together, rose each morning to read the Lectionary, and were supported by three incomes -- those of Bishop Frey, of an unnamed aerospace engineer, and of Ann B. Davis.

It is not hard to guess which of those incomes was largest, four years after a run on one of America's most beloved sitcoms. but ... so what?  if she wanted to support Denver's own Little Gidding, why shouldn't she?

The same local newspaper identifies Frey as a leader in "the Episcopal Charismatic Fellowship," which is, more than anything, a reminder of what the 1970s were like.  (As recently as the 2000s, Lutheran pastors were asked, when filling out forms, for their opinion of "the charismatic renewal among us."  Many of us scratched our heads about that one; it would have been easier to answer a question about the renewal of Scholasticism or monothelitism among us.)

In any case, a key thing to remember about Frey is that he remained an Episcopalian, even as his church splintered.  In 2009, he was assisting the Diocese of the Rio Grande, and a separatist website took umbrage at how much satisfaction he expressed at the PECUSA's ability to retain legal title to its parishes.  He may be an odd duck, but he's a loyal one.

So far as we can tell, David lived out her life as part of the Frey housegold, both in Denver and in Ambridge.  It seems likely that her money helped support the household, and probably the seminary.  She was, it seems, an Episcopalian of Charismatic tendencies and a communitarian lifestyle.  Rare enough in her profession, and kind of neat.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

In Die Ascensionis Domini

Artist unknown; from http://abmcg.blogspot.com/2009/05/after-ascension-end-of-jesus.html
Surely, most Egg readers are too busy preparing their Ascension services to read a blog.  But if you have found a few moments to relax between Matins and the Communion service, welcome.

We ourselves, we confess with a blush, have no service of public worship planned today.  But one of the Bible study groups here at Paradise in the Piedmont has planned a potluck, at which we will remind them that today is one of the great feasts of the Christian year.  Perhaps, God willing, some pious conversation will ensue, between the second casserole and the Jello salad.

As you know, it was a sermon on the Ascension that provoked oen of St. Augustine's most memorable images:

The Devil exulted when Christ died, and in the death of Christ itself is the Devil conquered.  The mousetrap for the Devil is the Cross of the Lord; the bait that is taken, the Lord's death.

Occasionally, in art, one sees St. Joseph working in his woodshop.  And there in the corner, sometimes -- as in the famous Campin altarpiece housed at the Cloisters -- is a mousetrap.  It's a reference to this particular sermon.

Of the Ascension itself, Augustine says that Christ "rose again, that he might show us an example of the general resurrection; ... he ascended, that he might protect us from above."

Perhaps more usefully, he adds that Christ "paid the price for us, when he hung upon the tree; and he gathers what he purchased, now that he sits in heaven."

In addition to paintings of mousetraps and disappearing feet (the latter being our favorite image evah), the Ascension has prompted some people to write poetry.

Read, if you must, John Keble's piece on it in The Christian Year; it will remind you why Keble is neither taught in schools nor sung in churches.

More to our taste is John Donne's sonnet, from the cycle La Corona:

O strong Ram which hast battered heaven for me,
Mild lamb, which with thy blood, hast marked the path;
Bright Torch, which shin'st, that I the way may see,
Oh, with thy own blood quench thy own just wrath.
But to be honest, what we really love most are those disappearing feet.  Here are a few examples.

A medieval church:

Stained glass, 1480, Norfolk (http://www.english.cam.ac.uk/medieval/zoom.php?id=512)
A beautiful modern take by Sarah Drescher Braswell:

And from the Shrine of Our lady of Walsingham, courtesy of Mr Gog:

This picture, like the Ascension itself, is a little out of focus, but still fascinating.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Aitch Ee Double Hockey-Sticks

PART 1:  Astersisks, Inferos and Infernus

When Lutherans  recite the Creed, they are faced with an asterisk.  We do not know how many other churches put footnotes in their service books, but ours has for a while now.

In the 1958 Service Book and Hymnal, asterisks stood in both the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds, over the word "catholic."  Many Lutherans were accustomed to saying "Christian" here, in imitation of a German rendering of the Creeds which, surprisingly, predated the Reformation.  The SBH permitted this, but observed in a note that "catholic" was "the original and generally accepted" reading.

In a more ecumenical era, the 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship let "catholic" stand sans notation, but added a new asterisk in the Apostles' Creed.  Although the main text said that Jesus "descended into hell," a footnote offered the variant reading that "he descended to the dead."

The 2006 abomination of desolation Evangelical Lutheran Worship has returned us to the two-asterisk situation.  One, in the Nicene Creed, is the sign of still more ecumenical advancement:  a reminder that the filioque is not original to the text, with permission to omit it.  (We are told that this is LWF policy when praying in community with the Orthodox.)  The second asterisk is in the Apostles' Creed, and reverses the LBW reading:  now the main text says that Jesus descended "to the dead," and the note permits us to swap in "into hell."

So ... did the Lord go to Hell or didn't he?  And why do Lutherans get so fussy about it?

Part of the answer to that second question is purely Lutheran.  We accepted "Christian" because it was Christliche in the German version of the Book of Concord, and likewise some of us have argued that we should insist on "hell" because the BoC's German version of the Creed says Hoelle.  This reflects a simple line of reasoning made popular during the confessional revival of the 19th century and perpetuated, in particular, by the LC-MS:  locutus confessio, causa est.

But the Ecumenical Liturgical Language Consultation and others prefer "to the dead," which puts some pressure on Lutherans to at least consider that reading.  And it is certainly not a bad reading.  Some of our friends have gone so far as to propose that it is a superior rendering of the Biblical message, on the grounds that "the word 'hell' does not appear in the Bible."  (Whether this is true or not is the question we shall consider in Part 2.)

The underlying Latin is ad inferos in most versions, ad inferna in the BoC.  Both words have the root meaning of "down, below," and are used in pagan sources to describe both the regions inhabited by the dead and the shades of the dead themselves.  Inferos has many more general uses, infernus (of which inferna seems to be the neuter accusative) is  more likely to be used with reference to the dead, whence it it the obvious root, via Dante, of the English word "inferno."

(But please note that what infernus does not mean is a fire or a place where things are burning.  Indeed, the OED doesn't even define infernal or inferno in terms of fire, but rather in terms of Hell and devils.  Only in the case of "infernal machine," an old expression for a bomb, does fire even enter into the matter.  Moreover, the OED definitions for words in this category all speak explicitly of Hell and devils.)

So it seems clear that the Apostles' Creed means to tell us that Jesus went down to the dead, or perhaps to the land of the dead.  In this it echoes Ephesians 4:9, about going down to the lower regions of the earth, and perhaps 1 Peter 3:19, in which the Spirit sent the revivified Jesus to "preach to the souls that were in prison."

PART 2:  So What is this "Hell" of Which You Speak?

Two questions follow logically here:

  • Can the Latin terms inferos and infernus can legitimately be translated as Hell?
  • Which translation better captures the Biblical sense of Christ's descent?

The answer to the first question seems to be a comparatively easy "yes."  Although "hell" is a Germanic word and "inferno" a Latinate one, we have already seen that the OED can't even define the latter without reference to the former.  The earliest translators of the Latin liturgy into English saw this as a perfectly natural correlation.

But there is one valid reason to hesitate.  "Hell" is a richly evocative word in English.  It conjures up images of fire and demons, of eternal torment, of God's absence and the Devil's presence.  Its meaning, to our ears, is rather more than merely a holding pen for dead souls.  Meanwhile, we are told in seminary that the Hebrew cosmology contains just such a holding pen -- Sheol, "the Pit" -- and a quick look at the Aeneid's depiction of the shades suggests that the Classical realm of Hades or Pluto was something similar.  Does the word "Hell" overstate the case, and insert into the Biblical narrative a cosmological proposition which belongs rather to the realms of Northern Europe?

Maybe.  But maybe not.

Is "hell" in the Bible?  Yes, about 65 times in the KJV (including Apocrypha).  The NRSV uses it as well, although more sparingly and only in the New Testament.  The NRSV eschews hell as a translation of Sheol in the OT (which it simply calls "the Pit") or Hades in the NT (where "Hades" translates Ps. 16:10's Sheol, or in Revelation where it is paired symbolically with Death).  In the NRSV, the word "hell" is restricted to translations of Gehenna (in the Gospels), and Tartaros (in 2 Peter 2:4).

So there is a certain syncretism as work in the Bible itself, as locations in Hebrew cosmology are paired with locations in Greek cosmology.  It may help to review the terms.

Hades, as everyone knows, was both the Greek god of the dead and his domain.  Homer places it at the western  end of the earth, and peoples it with dull and listless shades of the dead.  In later literature, it becomes a more complicated and diverse locale.  For what it's worth, the LXX uses "Hades" quite freely as a translation of "Sheol."

Tartaros, in Homer and the archaic poets, is a distinct place -- a massive pit located below (but distinct from) Hades itself.  In later poetry, as well as Plato and Aristophanes, the two merged, along with a variety of other places, so that the Greek afterlife developed a busy topography.  Some of the shades were in Tartaros for punishment, some in Elysium or the White Islands for blessing.   Those who had just arrived were in Erebus, and the great majority in the Fields of Asphodel.  All of this was, at least by the end, said to be contained in Hades.

Gehenna, of course, was an actual place where human sacrifices (by fire) were performed, and which was so condemned by Jewish tradition that in the intertestamental period it became a byword for punishment after death.  The implication of the NRSV's translation strategy is to argue that, by the time of Jesus, Hellenistic Jewish cosmology thought of the Sheol / Hades as the domain of the dead in general, and of Gehenna / Tartaros as a distinct location reserved for punishment of the wicked. Hence the first pair of words are "the pit" or simply "death," and the second properly "hell."

We're not entirely convinced of this.

First and most obviously, the New Testament is concerned, from beginning to end, with God's announced intention to open up to human beings the "Kingdom of the Heavens." While there is much textual support for the idea that Christians enter this kingdom through baptism and faith, meaning that we live in it here and now, there is also support for the idea that we continue to inhabit it, or even do so more fully, after our death.  In other words, the New Testament sets forth a bifurcated afterlife, one part of which is located, or at least named for, God's traditional home in many cultures: the sky.

This does not by itself bifurcate the land of the dead, for the important reason that Christians who have "died" in this world are understood to still be alive.  The popular imagination might say that the "good dead people are in Heaven and the bad dead people are in Hell," but a more strenuous reading of the New Testament says that "the saved live in the kingdom of the skies, while the un-saved are dead in the pit below."

This is a fair reading, but creates a problem for our discussion:  it demands that Hell exist, and opens the door to Limbo.  A simple bifurcation means that to "the heavens" is opposed everything else. Elysium is gone, because there are no more blessed dead; those blessed by the grace of God now live forever. But Sheol/Hades and Gehanna/Tartaros are all basically neighborhoods in the same city, the common home of all those who can truly be called dead.

This logic requires us to imagine that the land of the dead contains a distinct section in which the wicked are punished.  Yet since this is not the whole of the land, we are compelled to imagine that Sheol/Hades also contains many people who are not being punished, but who have not received eternal life, either.

And indeed, Christianity has experimented with various permutations of this idea, most famously the idea that unbaptized infants and the heroes of the Old Testament have been deprived of eternal life, but are nonetheless rewarded with a pleasant afterlife in areas on "the edge" (limbus) of Hell.  Limbo is out of fashion these days, though.  Protestants generally incline to a broader view of salvation, while Roman Catholics have gradually recast their philosophical positions in non-topological language, meaning that they are disinclined to speak of Limbo as a place.

In any case, it seems clear that the Biblical testimony recognizes two fates for human souls:  eternal life and eternal death.  And, using both Hebrew and Greek imagery, it assigns the living to one place, and the dead to another.

PART 3:  So Whaddaya Call It?

If it makes Biblical sense to speak first of an afterlife divided between life and death, and second of death divided into mere death and active punishment, it finally falls upon pastors and theologians to think about how to speak of these things.  What names do we give them?

In a technical discussion of the Biblical texts, it is wisest to leave the proper names untranslated.  Let us simply say, and write, Sheol, Hades, Gehenna and (in one single instance) Tartaros.  This will give our conversation the greatest degree of clarity.

Unfortunately, this strategy will also confuse anybody lacking at least a basic grasp of Classical literature -- meaning not only most laypeople, but much of the modern clergy.  If we want to communicate quickly and easily about these things, we need to use familiar words.

That is where "Hell" comes in.  It is a good English word, defined by the OED as "the abode of the dead, the place of departed spirits."  This is fair enough, as a catchall term for the condition of the dead in general.  Etymologically, the OED relates "Hell" to a variety of other words in Germanic languages, with the root sense of "to cover up or hide," as things are hidden in a pit.

Among those related words, although other sources suggest the connection may be uncertain, is "the proper name of the goddess of the infernal regions, 'the ogress Hel, the Proserpine of Scandinavian mythology.' "  Like Hades and Pluto, Hel also gave her name to her domain.  it is a dark, misty land, sometimes identifiable with Niflheim, populated by quite a variety of supernatural creatures -- hel-maidens, dragons, Scandihoovian zombies called Uppvakningar.  Obviously, using the name of a pagan goddess and her realm to identify a Christian theological concept raises some difficulties; but we can plead that St. John the Revelator has given us his own good example, since he did not hesitate to do likewise.  Nor did the translators of the Septuagint.

The chief danger, and no doubt the reluctance of some translators, comes from the fact that the word "Hell" now evokes a range of images in the popular imagination, many of them foreign to the Biblical imagination.  Yes, 2 Peter puts the fallen angels there; and yes, Jesus preached to the souls in prison there.  And there are definitely references in Matthew and Mark to fire.  But the great medieval apparatus of Hell -- the demons with their pitchforks and devious tortures -- are not to be found in the Bible, at least outside the fable of Lazarus and Dives.  Those tortures are, in fact, part of the Classical inheritance, extrapolated from the fates of Sisyphus, Tantalus and Ixion.

Perversely enough, then, it is possible that the syncretistic elements in the popular vision of Hell are actually implicit in the Greek vocabulary of the LXX and 2 Peter - implicit, indeed, in the very choice of Greek as a vehicle for Christian revelation.  To avoid them, we would need to make up new words, which would simply lead to more confusion.

On balance, we do not see that there is much to be gained by avoiding the word "Hell" when talking about the state of souls after death.  The word has been used this way in English as long as English has existed, and largely to the exclusion of anything else.  It does indeed carry some connotations which are extrinsic to the Christian account of eternity, but so do the alternatives.

Now, as to that "Heaven" people always talk about ....