Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS Douce No. 134F. 103V.

“Firestones and hail rain on the damned,”; an illustration from a 15th-century French treatise on Antichrist entitled “The Vines of Our Lord,”; conveys the anxiety medieval people felt about the wages of worldly sin in the afterlife. Bernhard Lang traces the roots of this mixture of hope and dread in the ancient Hebrews’ understanding of God and the cosmos. Far from remaining static, these beliefs evolved from ancestor-worship, around the time of the conquest of Canaan in the 12th century B.C., all the way to the Essenes’ theories of an “immortal and imperishable”; soul, on the eve of the destruction of the Second Temple in the first century A.D.