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Abyss

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The Oxford Companion to the Bible What is This? Provides authoritative interpretive entries on Biblical people, places, beliefs, events, and secular influences.

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    Abyss

    The abyss, or bottomless depth, appears in biblical tradition in several related senses. In the Hebrew Bible, tĕhôm (NRSV: “the deep”) usually refers to the primordial waters upon which the ordered world of God's creation floats. Related terms are used to describe the depth of springs, the sea, or the earth. The abyss can also stand for the depth of the underworld understood as the realm of the dead. Because of its associations with chaos and death, the abyss is identified in postbiblical Jewish literature as the realm, or more often prison, of rebellious spirits. This usage appears in the New Testament in Luke 8.31 and throughout the book of Revelation (NRSV: “bottomless pit”).

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    Robert Stoops

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