this idea had a pagan origin

Although Martin Luther King Jr. is primarily remembered for his oratory many of the papers he wrote while attending Crozer Theological Seminary have been preserved, including this one he wrote for the course Development of Christian Ideas entitled “The Influence of the Mystery Religions on Christianity” for which he received an A.

However when we come to the idea of Jesus’ decent into hell it seems that we have a direct borrow from the Adonis religion, and in fact from other religions also. Both the Apostles Creed and the Athanasian {Creed} say that between the Friday night and Sunday morning Jesus was in Hades. Now this idea has no scriptural foundation except in those difficult passages in the First Epistle of Peter [Footnote: I Peter 3:19–4:6.] which many scholars have designated as the most ambiguous passages of the New Testament. In fact the idea did not appear in the church as a tenet of Christianity until late in the Fourth Century.[Footnote: Weigall, op. cit., p. 113.] Such facts led almost inevitably to the view that this idea had a pagan origin, since it appears not only in the legend of Adonis, but also in those of Herakles, Dionyses, Orpheus, Osiris, Hermes, Balder, and other deities.