Regina, Saskatchewan; Canada
Heaven and Hell
..."The word heaven we use today is a direct descendent of the Old English word heofon which had it’s roots in the Old Saxon word heban. From this point back the exact etymology of the word is unknown. Heban was most likely a variant of the Proto-Germanic word *hibin which was a dissimilated form of *himin. The Proto-Germanic word *himin was a probable variant of the Indo-European word *ke-men, which meant“the stony vault of heaven.” *Ke-men, however, was derived from *ak-men, meaningsharp stone, which was the suffixed form of *ak meaning sharp. So, at its roots, heaven is a relative of words like edge, egg, needle, acute, hammer, acrid, eager, vinegar, acid,acme, acne, acro-, and oxygen, all of these having sharp, bitter, or sour characteristics in common.
"However there are still other interpretations of where the word heaven came from. In German, the word for heaven is himmel, in Dutch hemel. It is thought that these words came from the Proto-Germanic word *hemina. *Hemina in turn is thought to have come form the Teutonic word *hama(n) which was a derivative of the Indo-Europen*kem/*kam meaning to cover. Therefore, this version of heaven would have relatives in such words as chemise and camisa.
"One of the two possible connections between the variations in the modern words heaven and himil may be explained by the presence of missionaries. In the 725 Old Saxon language, there were two known versions of the word heaven: heban and himil. Heban, as mentioned previously, was a descendent of the Proto-Germanic *himin which in turn came from the Indo-Europen *ak. The presence of himil in Old Saxon was due to the German missionaries in England who spoke High German. It is important to note that during this time in history, before and during the middle ages, the main focus of society was on religion, more specifically, Christianity, therefore, there was ample opportunity for himil to be introduced into the Old Saxon/Old English language and literature.
"The second possible connection between the two variations in heaven is an OldNorse word, hifinn. Hifinn was thought to be “the missing link” between himil and heban but up to now there seems to be no proof that the word hifinn ever existed. So until themissing link is found, no connection between himil, hifinn, and heban can be verified. In fact there are even those who believe that there is no connection at all between the twoversions of heaven or its variations.
"To see the connection between the words heaven and hell, one must look at the Indo-European roots. Heaven’s root *kem meant to cover which is how/why it was applied to the sky, because people saw the sky as a cover or canopy over the earth. Hell’s Indo-European root is *kel which also means to cover or conceal. From *kel the word went to its zero grade form *kol. It is from this word that the Proto-Germanic word,*haljo, meaning the underworld or concealed place, emerged. From the Proto-Germanic word, two different offshoots occurred. One was the Gothic word halja; the second wasthe Anglo-Saxon word helan which evolved into the Old Saxon hellia. From hellia, theword changed once more during Old English to the word we still have today, hell. In addition to this etymological line, there is the Teutonic base word *hel meaning to hide that changed into the Teutonic word *halja/halja meaning to cover up or hide.
"Hell’s roots makes hell a vernacular relative of such words as hall, hull, hole, hollow, holster, apocalypse, eucalyptus, helmet, occult, cell, cellar, and conceal. All words with connotations of being hidden, enclosed, in the ground, or covered, so from the beginning, hell’s meaning was associated with something hidden, covered or concealed.
"In the Bible, hell is used for the word “grave” thirty-one times. Hell is also described as a prison (1 Pet. 3:19) with gates and bars and locks (Matt 16:18; Rev. 1:18), once again associating it with it a cell or enclosure. Besides the Bible, there are other instances in literature where hell becomes something underground, covered, or concealed.
"One of the most well known descriptions of hell is Dante’s Inferno, written in 1308. In the Inferno we have the story of a pilgrim who is searching for a path to God but is blocked by a she-wolf and other creatures. He is then led through the circles of hell in order to reach Mt. Purgatory so that he can then get to heaven. The pilgrim’s guide through the novel is the poet Virgil. Virgil explains that hell is set up as a series of descending concentric circles, which requires they begin at hell’s top (where those being punished for lesser offenses are) and make their way down into the pit of hell before they can make their way out again." ...
[This message has been edited by Essorant (05-07-2004 04:00 PM).]