3 Other Horror Tropes from the Bible

Grim Reaper

So far I’ve look at 6 Horror Tropes from the Old Testament, 8 Horror Tropes from the New Testament, and 6 Horror Tropes from the Book of Revelation. I want to finish with a few more that are scattered throughout the Bible but are too big to ignore.

Death

The Bible doesn’t call Death the Grim Reaper or picture him with a scythe. Mostly, death refers to the state of being dead – body and soul separated – or the realm were the dead dwell. But, beyond this, death is often written of as if it is a person.

“Many see this personified figure as Mot, the Canaanite god from the Ugaritic texts with very similar characteristics to Death in the OT.”

The Battle for the Keys: Revelation 1:18 and Christ’s Descent into the Underworld, Justin W Bass, p. 25

In the Old Testament, Death is describes as committing personal acts like speaking and meeting people, using weapons against them, consuming and terrorising his victims, and making deals with men. Likewise, Death is personified throughout the New Testament. Death has a realm in which he reigns, and is the final enemy of humanity to be destroyed by the returning Christ. This personification is especially prevalent in the Book of Revelation, in which Death rides a pale horse and is finally thrown into the lake of fire, after being forced to give up his dead prisoners (6:8; 20:13-14).

Fire and Brimstone Hell

When you think about horror and the Bible, hell might be your first thought. From Dante’s Inferno to the sermon by Jonathan Edwards on Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, hell has been a part of the popular vision of divine wrath and retribution for centuries. And with good reason. The Old Testament has a literal fire and brimstone hell fall on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The fire of God frequently fall on his enemies in the Old Testament, while in the New Testament God himself is called a Consuming Fire!

The first books and the last book of the Bible isn’t where we hear the most about hell. It might shock you to learn that Jesus was the most prolific preacher of hellfire there ever was! He often spoke of the place where the fire is never quenched and the flesh-eating worms don’t die. He also calls it a place of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Perhaps his most explicit picture of hellfire is painted in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

The rich man also died and was buried. He went to hell, where he was constantly tortured. As he looked up, in the distance he saw Abraham and Lazarus. He yelled, ‘Father Abraham! Have mercy on me! Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool off my tongue. I am suffering in this fire.’

Luke 16:22-24

Death and Hell are often mentioned together int he Bible. Sometimes they are so close they are taken as synonyms for the same state or place. I based my short horror story of death and hell called He Lifted Up His Eyes on this parable of Christ’s.

The Antichrist

You might have suspected that I would include the Antichrist in my blog post about Revelation. After all, isn’t the Antichrist an evil tyrant-type who was prophesied to come at the end of the world? The world antichrist isn’t used in Revelation, although the Beast of Revelation, with his number and his mark, is usually identified with the Antichrist. The interesting point is that it is the same John that wrote Revelation who talks about the Antichrist in his letters. And what he has to say is surprising.

Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared…Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist…But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.

1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3

While not denying there is a final Antichrist, John argues that are are many antichrists, and that they are already at work. To understand this, it is helpful to remember that in Greek the prefix ‘anti’ (ἀντί) means both against and in place of. Antichrists are false messiahs who oppose the true Christ by pretending to be like Him. Paul brings out this duality more explicitly.

For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction. He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God….This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 9-10

Characters like Nimrod, Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar are old Testament types and foreshadows of the final Antichrist.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief series on biblical horror tropes. There are many more I could have included and I may come back to it. Are there any you’d live be to cover or you think I should have included? Let me know.

Photo by Prometheus 🔥 on Unsplash

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