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The earliest known religion to teach of hell as a place of punishment is the Zoroastrian religion of the Persians who liberated the Jews in Babylon.

Judaism adopted concepts that parallelled Zoroastrian thought of heaven as a place of reward and hell as a place of punishment, but fairly soon afterwards began to drop the notion of hell, as it was inconsistent with Jewish thought. However, hell found its way into Christianity and subsequently into Islam.

Catholic AnswerHell originated in the sin of Lucifer, the highest, most beautiful, and most powerful angel, who refused to love and serve God. By putting himself before God, he created that void which is as far as you can get from God's love.
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The notion of heaven is almost as old as organised religion. It is the place in the sky where God or the gods live. However, it has not always been the place where people go after they die.

The ancient Hebrews believed that when people died the went to sheol, a place similar to the pagan hades. This was a continuation of existence, buut not a place of reward or great happiness.

The earliest descriptions of heaven and hell, more or less as we know them today, come from the ancient Zoroastrian religion, which the Jews encountered during the Babylonian Exile and the Persian period, but do not seem to have absorbed. Even today, there is diversity of belief about whether souls actually go to heaven after people die. Jews do not hold belief in hell.

Possibly under the continuing influence of Zoroastrianism, Christianity did absorb the notion of hell as a place of punishment for sinners or nonbelievers. Islam goes further, with some very clear parallels between its view of heaven and hell, and the Zoroastrian belief.

Roman Catholic AnswerThe Christian origins of heaven and hell are revealed in Revelation, below are the articles on each in the Catholic Encyclopedia. The most important thing that as been revealed to us, is that, more than a place, heaven and hell are states of being that we start living in right here in this life. In other words, the real origin, of heaven or hell is right here. This is particularly true of hell, hell is the complete rejection of God, an enclosing in ourselves whereby we reject our maker and make our own hell on earth. The only thing that changes when we die is that there is no more chance of change, and nothing to distract us from our utter miserableness. There is nothing mysterious or other worldly about these origins, they are right here - we spend our whole lives making the hell or heaven that God will grant us for all eternity.
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Q: What are the origins of heaven and hell?
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