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In religion, an abyss is a bottomless pit, or also a chasm that may lead to the underworld or hell.

In the Septuagint, or Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, the word represents both the original unfinished creation (Genesis 1:2) and the Hebrew tehom ("a surging water-deep"), which is used also in apocalyptic and kabbalistic literature and in the New Testament for hell; the place of punishment; in the Revised version of the Bible "abyss" is generally used for this idea. Primarily in the Septuagint cosmography the word is applied both to the waters under the earth which originally covered it, and from which the springs and rivers are supplied and to the waters of the firmament which were regarded as closely connected with those below.

In Psalm 42 verse 7, "Deep calls to deep" (referring to the waters) renders the Latin "Abyssus abyssum invocat", developing the theme of the longing of the soul for God. Cassiodorus relates this passage to the mutual witness of the two Testaments, the Old Testament foretelling the New, and the New Testament fulfilling the Old.[1]

A discussion of the Biblical Abyss, as the Tehom-Rabba, and its relation to the Deluge formed part of the Sacred Theory of Thomas Burnet.[2]

In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus there is an abyss between the righteous dead and the wicked dead in Sheol.[3]

In the Book of Revelation, Abaddon is called "the angel of the abyss".[4]


  •   Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Abyss" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.


  1. ^ P.G. Walsh (trans. and ed.), Cassiodorus: Explanation of the Psalms, Vol. I, Psalms 1-50 (Psalms 1-51 (50)), Ancient Christian writers no. 51 (Paulist Press, New York, N.Y./Mahwah, N.J. 1990), p. 420 (Google).
  2. ^ T. Burnet, The Sacred Theory of the Earth, Fourth edition (John Hooke, London 1719), Book I Chapter VII, pp. 105-30 (Internet Archive).
  3. ^ Luke 16:26
  4. ^ Revelation 9:11

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