Stephen Green­blatt replies:

The New York Review of Books - - The Classifieds -

In their com­plex, rich tex­tual tra­di­tion, the Jews, like the Chris­tians and the Mus­lims, speak with many voices, and it is al­ways pos­si­ble to find con­tra­dic­tions to al­most any claim made about them. But in the He­brew Bi­ble Sheol, of­ten trans­lated as “hell,” sim­ply refers to the grave, the melan­choly des­ti­na­tion, as Job makes clear, for both the right­eous and the un­righ­teous. I see no ev­i­dence that Rab­binic Ju­daism de­vel­oped any­thing like the vast, elab­o­rately de­tailed sub­ter­ranean tor­ture cham­ber so graph­i­cally de­picted in The Pen­guin Book of Hell.

The Jews had many wor­ries, but the prospect of go­ing to hell does not seem to have fig­ured promi­nently among them.

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