The subject matter on this book is, by nature, rather on the dark side. I had to take it in small doses because it can be depressing to focus heavily on this sort of thing. On the other hand, it was well researched, thorough, and highly-informative.
Where I think Ms. Turner lost some direction is in her conclusion that Christianity teaches the doctrine of a fiery, burning hell. Yes, I know - many churches in Christendom do teach this as a doctrine - and most Bible translations translate the original language words 'hades', 'Gehenna', and 'sheol' as "Hell" or "Hellfire". but with careful (and honest) research, it becomes apparent that Bible translators (Not the bible writers)have been heavily influenced by paganism and writers such as Dante (1265 to 1321 AD).
Consider, for example one of the Greek words translated as "Hellfire": 'Gehenna' This is the Greek spelling of the Hebrew, "ge-Hinnom", or the "Valley of Hinnom". This valley, located southwest of Jerusalem, takes its name from a man, whose name was Hinnom and his sons who apparently came to own this property. It was in this valley that wicked kings, Ahaz and Manasseh sacrificed their children in the fire as an offering to Baal (2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6). Of this practice, God said, "To burn their sons and their daughters with fire, which I did not command, nor did it come up on My heart." (Jeremiah 7:31). In this valley, these kings also practiced witchcraft, sorcery, divination, and also built up "high places" in worship of false Gods. Later, Josiah had parts of this valley polluted to render it unfit for any such practices in the future. In Jesus' day, the Valley of Hinnom was being used as a garbage dump.
There is a curious anomaly however, that seems to affect many, if not most translations of the Bible. Using the King James Version as an example, in the Hebrew Old Testament, the words ge-Hinnom occur thirteen times, and each time, it is translated as the `valley of Hinnom'. Yet, when the Hebrew words ge-Hinnom are transliterated into Greek, Gehenna, the KJV translators consistently render the word as `Hell'. Why is this word recognized as a geographical region in the Old Testament, but, in the New Testament, as a place of fiery burning torment? Is there a valid basis for the "hell fire" rendering? To answer those questions, we need to look carefully at the Bible passages in which it occurs, the context of the time, and also at the audience to whom those words were addressed.
Of the twelve New Testament passages where Gehenna is used, eleven are in the synoptic gospels - Matthew, Mark, and Luke. All of these quote Jesus' words. The other Gehenna passage is in James 3:6. Of these verses, five mention fire as an element of Gehenna. The sense of judgment, condemnation, or destruction is present in most of these verses. Probably, for this reason, translators take the passages as a metaphor or description of `hellfire', but is it possible that there could be another explanation that better harmonizes with God's quality of love? Yes.
Keep in mind that this is a Hebrew word, and, in each case, Jesus was speaking to Jews. These Jews were certainly familiar with Jerusalem and its surroundings, including the nearby Valley of Hinnom, which, as previously stated, was used as a garbage dump. Here, fires were constantly kept burning as a means of consuming the refuse and the smoke from those fires would have been an constant feature of its
presence, and visible from considerable
distance. Sulfur, or brimstone was regularly thrown into the fires to accelerate the burning. That which was not destroyed by the fire was eaten by the worms or maggots, thus Jesus' words in Mark 9:47, "where their worm is not dying and the fire is not being quenched." must be taken as a literal description of conditions in the Valley of Hinnom. But how is that connected with the idea of punishment?
The fact is that, not only trash was consumed in the fires of Gehenna, but also the carcasses of animals and the bodies of executed criminals were thrown into the fires to be burned up and forever destroyed. Never were live people thrown into Gehenna to be tortured. In Jewish belief, future life depended upon the restoration of the whole person through a resurrection. Normally, dead bodies were always buried - never cremated, to allow for this resurrection to take place. To completely destroy a person's body in Gehenna meant that he was considered unworthy of being resurrected at any time in the future. To be thrown into Gehenna would, to Jesus' Jewish listeners, signify a permanent death without any hope of future life, forever cut off from God. There could be no worse punishment than this.
I could address the word hades also, but space does not permit here.
The point is: Christendom's doctrine of Hellfire is based on pagan influences and tradition - but it is not a Biblical teaching.
Maybe Ms. Turner should consider adding a statement in her book to the effect that Christendom adopted their hellfire beliefs from ancient non-biblical sources. On the other hand, anyone reading this book should logically come to that conclusion on their own.