Frequency of the phrases describing hell published over time

Today, I was playing around with Google’s Ngram viewer, which allows you to see the frequency of use of various words in books that Google has digitized. I ran a search on the following terms, and got the graph below (click graph to enlarge).

  • Annihilationism
  • Conditionalism
  • Conditional Immortality
  • Universal Reconciliation
  • Eternal Torment

Here’s a link to this ngram – play around with it, it’s geeky.

Here’s what I surmise from the peaks and valleys here:

1. Eternal Torment (ET) has had revivals (pun) in the 1820′s, the 1860′s and 1870′s, took a dip around 1900, and receded throughout the 1980′s and 90′s, but in this millennium, is picking up steam again.

2. Universal Reconciliation (UR) had a peak in the 1840′s which corresponded with a dip in ET, but has since receded to very low numbers (however, if you add the word “universalism” to the ngram, it dwarfs the others, and has been on an impressive rise in the last few decades, thank you Rob Bell ;)

3. Conditional Immortality (CI) had a long run during the last 30 years of the 1800′s, and saw a slight rise around 2005-2008 (latest data available) – and from here on out, it’s up to us to keep publishing. :D

Wish I could see the data as our Rethinking Hell Annual Conferences start to influence thought leaders!

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