The narrative of Christ’s descent was nearly omnipresent in the early Church. Yet a change of Latin vocabulary from “descensus ad inferos” (Christ’s descent to the dead) to “descensus ad inferna” (Christ’s descent into hell) prompted a change in what was proclaimed. The earlier stratum portrayed Christ preaching to those who, while on earth, did not hear the word of God, while the latter described the reconciliation of sinners. The author here considers the vitality of this creedal statement and what is lost when the descent is absent from Christian experience.
Connell, Martin F. “Descensus Christi ad Inferos: Christ’s Descent to the Dead.” Theological Studies 62, no. 2 (2001): 262-282. doi: 10.1177/004056390106200202.