I have collected together most of the stuff that I have posted on this site on the subject of “hell” and life after death in a new Kindle book called Hell and Heaven in Narrative Perspective. Much of it was prompted by the controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. Being a collection of blog posts the book is academically lightweight, far from comprehensive, and suffers from many of the characteristic vices of the medium. Maybe that’s all to the good. In any case, I think it puts forward a pretty coherent case for reading the texts as interpretations of historical outcomes rather than as data for general theories about a personal afterlife. I think this approach solves the problem of hell in a way that remains profoundly true to the evangelical thrust of the New Testament.
The book is divided into four sections. The first gives a rough idea of what I mean by a narrative-historical hermeneutic, because I think that this is not a debate essentially over conflicting doctrinal formulations but over how we read the New Testament. Section two contains posts addressing some general features of the controversy, including responses to Rob Bell’s book. Section three has a number of mostly concise readings of the most important passages and is a bit more technical in nature. Section four, finally, switches the focus of attention from hell to heaven, though perhaps not heaven as you might know it. Apart from the introduction, there is nothing in it that cannot be found on this site, but I hope that for some people at least it will be a helpful resource. The print version comes with a useful index of biblical references.
The book can be purchased from all Amazon stores. If you read it and enjoy it, please consider promoting it on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, other people’s blogs, or by taking out a full page ad in your favourite national newspaper. If there is enough interest, I will perhaps do a companion volume on Salvation and the Gospel in Narrative Perspective.