For a discussion of the theme in the writings of the early church, see J.M. McCulloch, The Harrowing of Hell: A Comparative Study of an Early Christian Doctrine (Edinburgh, 1930), pp. 83–130; see also Gertrud Schiller, Ikonographie der Christlichen Kunst, vol. 3, Die Auferstehung und Erhöhung Christi (Gerd Mohn: Gutersloher, 1971), pp. 41–66. Given the widespread popularity of the descent in the literature of the early and medieval church, the view that the Gospel of Nicodemus was the undisputed direct literary source or even the immediate inspiration of much of the visual depictions of the descent into Hell is probably overstated; see Anna D. Kartsonis, Anastasis: The Making of an Image (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1986), p. 30. On the history of Hell in general, see Herbert Vorgrimler, Geschichte der Hölle (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 1993).