Jun 07, 2009
Here is my response to Addict3 (did i get that number right???) on why I believe there is no "Hell" in the fire and brimstone sense.
Please note I am not looking to offend. The Bibles are open to interpretation and everyone should feel freee to interpret to find the meanings they need from them.
But I tend to approach these things from a scholarly viewpoint, which means delving into usages and definitions of language and meanings based on the historocity and cultures of the times (boring to some, fun to others!).
I can discuss Hell and the possibility of it's existence from a psychological/ metaphysical/ biblical stand point or a naturalistic viewpoint.
The naturalistic viewpoint is;
"There is no empirical evidence for the existence of Hell".
But we'll leave that alone for now and just deal with the biblical. :-)
Biblically, I use Young's Literal Translation when reading the Bible. It is the most accurate translation out there (... I have access to) and is very true to the Original Greek and Hebrew. True, it isn't perfect, but it's very good. The New American has some good commentary so I'll occassionally refer to it as well.
Young's deals especially with the proper translation of tenses which the original translators where very sloppy with. The King James tended to play loose with the tenses of passages which can entirely change meaning and intent.
In the original translation, there are actually no real references to Hell).
Here are some examples of the actual original words that Hell was switched in for;
Sheol: Described in terms of overwhelming floods, water, or waves. Also Sheol is pictured as a hunter setting snares for its victim, binding them with cords, snatching them from the land of the living. Sheol is a prison with bars, a place of no return. People could go to Sheol alive.
It is really just "The world of the dead". There is no implied punishment. The above descriptors are more about "there is no return from the world of the dead." It is supposed to infer the finality of death through metaphor.
Hades: The Septuagint gives the meaning of the word Hades as exactly that of sheol.
Gehenna: Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Hinnom, which is the name of a valley outside Jerusalem where garbage and the carcasses of animals were cast into and consumed by fire constantly kept burning.
It actually was a literal, physical place and was not intended as an afterlife. It was used to describe an apt punishment for wicked/ immoral behavior. It would be the modern equivalent of us saying;
"Fresh Kills Landfill" (the dumping ground for most of NY's garbage).
ie; "For doing that, you should be sent to live in Fresh Kills Landfill." (ugh!)
The real issue at hand for Christ with God was that mortals had actually no destination after death. There is a suggestion that mortals either rotted in the grave or wandered the earth in spiritual form. There is also a suggestion that an elect few did gain access to heaven through their deeds and acts of nobility.
But Christ thought it wrong that the everyday mortals did not have access to Heaven.
(side note) Now, this is why I tend to translate his words in a manner which does not suggest that HE himself is the true way to heaven (accepting Christ as a physical, real entity gets you access) but that it is actually HIS MESSAGE that gains you access to Heaven.
When Christ said;
"I am the way", it was characteristic of the manners of speech for that time and not to be meant literally. But to go understand this you have to delve into the psyche of people of that time (it was VERY different from a modern humans' psyche in key ways).
It helps if you understand the true meaning of the original Covenent as intended in the Old Testement to the Jews. It actually didn't really cover the afterlife; the Covenant was intended as a contract between the Jews and God for the physical world they existed in. Ther was really no promise of what happened to mortals after death in the afterlife, the Torah is rather vague.
In this context, the actions of Christ make perfect sense. He felt that a new covenant was neccessary that covered not just the physical real world existence but that of the spiritual afterlife as well.