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is such a place, our Lord's conduct is strange and unaccountable. But on my views of the damnation of hell, our Lord's conduct excites no surprise: all is rational, and what the circumstances of the case warrant us to expect. They had rejected their promised Messiah, the measure of their iniquity they were soon to fill up, and they could not escape the damnation of hell. But let it be satisfactorily accounted for, why our Lord never afterwards said any thing to them of the damnation of hell, if thereby he meant, endless misery in the world to
2d, The conduct of his apostles. It is easily seen, that their conduct is in perfect agreement with that of their master before them. He never said a word about hell or Gehenna to the Gentiles. Neither do they. He never said a word more concerning Gehenna to the unbelieving Jews, after saying "how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Neither do they. If it should be objected here, why did not the apostles continue to speak to the unbelieving Jews about the damnation of hell, allowing it to mean the temporal miseries coming on that generation ? why should they not have continued to warn them of this, as their Lord had done before them?” —The answer to this is easy. In Luke xix. 42, our Lord told the Jews, that the things which belonged to their peace, were now hid from their eyes. Their doom was fixed, their punishment was unavoidable. Accordingly our Lord said,“ how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?” Soon, the wrath of God was to come on them to the uttermost. This it did in the destruction of their city and temple, when such calamities came upon them, as never had been before, or ever shall be again, and unless the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh could have been saved.
In many places of the epistles, written to believers, allusions are made to the judgments of God coming on the Jewish nation, though not mentioned under the
name Gehenna. The event is not only alluded to, but spoken of as near; and Christians are exhorted to patience, and holiness, in view of it. But these very parts of the epistles, are by many, like the texts which speak of Gehenna, all applied to punishment in a future state of existence. See for example, 1 Peter iv. 17 -19, and other texts, considered in my second Inquiry.
THE ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF ENDLESS MISERY CON
SIDERED, DRAWN FROM THE USAGE OF GEHENNA
If Gehenna, in the New Testament, means, as is generally believed, a place of endless misery, we might expect the evidence of this to be plain and conclusive. But, on examination, we have found, strong evidence on the opposite side of this question. We have considered all the texts in which this word occurs, and have seen, that by Gehenna our Lord referred to God's punishment of the Jewish nation. Besides, a great number of facts have been produced, in confirmation of this view of the subject, and which never can be reconciled with the common views entertained of Gehenna punishment.
But Dr. Campbell avers, Gehenna_" was in process of time considered as an emblem of hell, or the place of torment reserved for the punishment of the wicked in a future state. The name Tophet, came gradually to be used in this sense, and at length to be confined to it.” It is alleged, this was its sense in the days of our Lord, and in no other sense, is it used in the New Testament. Mr. Stuart, in his Exeget. Essays, p. 141 says
- it is admitted, that the Jews of later date, used the word Gehenna to denote Tartarus, i. e. the place of infernal punishment.” But no proof of this is offered by him from their writings. Nor does he produce any proof of the following. He says p. 146—“ That the word Gehenna’was common among the Jews, is evinced by its frequency in the oldest Rabbinical writings. It was employed by them as all confess, in order to designate hell, the infernal region, the world of woe. In no other sense, can it in any way be made out, that it is employed in the New Testament.”
The authority, to which Mr. Stuart refers for this sense of Gehenna, is not the old Testament writers, but the oldest Rabbinical writings," and "the Jews of later date.” He adds,
The later Hebrew, the Talmudic and Rabbinic, was not so late, but that it preceded the time when the New Testament was written.” But whether all this is truth requires examination.
From such statements as these, an argument has been urged like the following. “In the days of our Lord,
“ Gehenna was commonly used among the Jews, to designate hell, a place of endless misery to the wicked. Our Lord and his apostles must have used it in this sense, if they meant to be understood by their hearers, unless they apprised them to the contrary. But this they did not; hence it is concluded, that Gehenna is used to designate the place of future punishment to all the wicked, and in no other sense is it used in the New Testament." In reply to this argument, we observe 1st, Admitting that Gehenna in our Lord's day, had obtained this sense among the Jews, the conclusion drawn from it does not follow, and for the following among other reasons. This, in no instance, was the sense of Gehenna in the Old Testament; and the writers of the New, used words and phrases in the sense they have there. They spoke-5 not in the words
" which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost
teacheth.” i Cor ü. 13. Our Lord and his Apostles, had no occasion then to apprize their hearers, in what sense they used the term Gehenna, for they used it in the sense it had in their scriptures. Again, to suppose our Lord and his Apostles, used the term Gehenna in a sense of men's invention, is accusing them of adopting men's innovations in religion, a thing they reproved in the Jews. Again, those who use this argument respecting Gehenna, would object to its application to other words and phrases. They would be the last to assert, that our Lord and his apostles, adopted the sense which the Jews had attached to the words justification, righteousness, etc.
At what point then are we to stop, if once we begin to adopt Rabbinical glosses, given to the language of scripture? But,
2d, We question the truth of the statements made, from which this conclusion is drawn. Is it true, that in our Lord's day, the term Gehenna was exclusively used among the Jews to designate hell, a place of future punishment for the wicked? This is roundly asserted, and has too long been taken for granted. Let us examine and see, what solid ground there is for this assertion.
Between the closing of the Old Testament canon by Malachai, and the commencment of the Gospel dispensation, about four hundred years intervened. Sometime during this period, Gehenna must have changed its sense, if in the days of our Lord, it was used to designate hell the world of woe, as Mr. Stuart affirms. That this was not its sense in the Old Testament, is indisputable, and is confessed by Dr. Campbell. Who first gave this new sense to the term Gehenna, when it was given, and how long before it came to be confined to it, we presume no man can inform us? Our design in this section, is, to notice all the Jewish writings, between the days of Malachai and that of our Lord, to ascertain, what they say about Gehenna. The following are all
the Jewish writings extant, of which we have any knowledge.
1st. The septuagint version. The first question to be settled is--at what time was this version made ? Dr. Kennicot in his dissertation, says, p. 319, 320, “ After many volumnious controversies, amongst learned writers upon the Greek version of the Old Testament, we seem to have three circumstances clearly ascertained that there was no Greek version before that called the seventy—that the version so denominated, was made at the beginning of the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus, about 280 years before Christ, and that the version, then made, was only of the Pentateuch.” I add, Jahn says, all the books were translated—“ at latest, in the second century before Christ.” The septuagint version, was commenced 280 years before Christ, but was not perhaps completed, until about 150 years before this period.
2d, The only other question necessary to be decided is-do we find Gehenna used in the septuagint, to designate hell, the world of woe? No: Dr. Campbell said above, “the word Gehenna does not occur in the septuagint.” But here he was mistaken, for it does occur there with a slight variation in the spelling of the word. For example, see Josh. xviii. 16, where the word occurs, and is spelled Gaienna. The compound Hebrew word ge enm in both cases, is merely given in Greek letters. But it is useless to dwell on this topic, for the seventy translators, in rendering the passages from the Hebrew, where valley of Hinnom, and valley of the son of Hinnom are mentioned, never suggest, that such phrases were intended to designate hell, or the world of woe. No one alleges they do this. It is manifest then, that—" in the second century before Christ” Gehenna had no such sense affixed to it. If it was used then in such a sense, it received no countenance from the seventy translators. Their version,