Original Research

Descendit ad [in] inferna: ‘A matter of no small moment in bringing about redemption’

Johan Buitendag
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 65, No 1 | a273 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v65i1.273 | © 2009 Johan Buitendag | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 May 2009 | Published: 21 October 2009

About the author(s)

Johan Buitendag, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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This article endorses Calvin’s conviction that the ‘descendit ad inferna’ of the Apostles’ Creed is part of the ‘summary of doctrine‘ and a matter of ‘no small moment in bringing about redemption‘ (Calvin 1960:Inst. II, xvi, 8). The reason for this role, however, is not Calvin’s metaphorical interpretation of the clause. Instead, the author tries to argue that a scientific theological approach will maintain the clause because of its transcendence of finitude and the proclamation of Christ’s victory. The whole of creation is delivered from sin. Proper hermeneutics will take the original socio–historical environment into account and make one suspicious about certain ecclesiastical biases. Spatial terms in the Creed should therefore not be demythologised, but rather be transformed in accordance with the insights of the contemporary physics of time and space.


descensus; hell; John Calvin; space and time; Apostolicum; hermeneutics


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