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(in medieval Christian theology) the defeat of the powers of evil and the release of its victims by the descent of Christ into hell after his death.
- ‘The only time most modern Christians refer to the Harrowing of Hell is when they recite the Apostles' Creed: "and descended into Hell," where Christ was believed to have wrested the souls of good people such as Abraham and Isaac from the clutches of the devil on Holy Saturday and released them to Heaven.’
- ‘The Harrowing of Hell was much more important to medieval theology, and is largely defunct now.’
- ‘The cycle of 47 plays, telling the Bible story of mankind from the Garden of Eden to the Harrowing of Hell, had not been performed since 1580.’
- ‘The term ‘Harrowing of Hell’ refers not merely to the idea that Christ descended into Hell, as in the Creed, but to the rich tradition that developed later, asserting that he triumphed over ‘inferos,’ releasing Hell's captives, particularly Adam and Eve, and the righteous men and women whose stories are recorded in the Septuagint.’
Middle English: harrowing from harrow, by-form of the verb harry.
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