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transmitted no such sense of Gehenna to posterity. If it was used then, to designate hell, the world of woe, why is no trace of this sense to be found in their version? If the translators had imbibed such an idea, they had the same prejudices to give Gehenna such a sense, as our translators had, to give hell such a sense in their version, in translating Sheol, Hades, Tartarus, and Gehenna.
One thing here is certain. If Jesus Christ and his apostles, used Gehenna in the New Testament, to designate hell, the world of woe, they did not derive this sense of the word, either from the original Hebrew, or the Greek version of the seventy. Indeed, I do not find any one asserts, that such a sense of Gehenna originated in divine authority. It is not doing Jesus Christ, or his apostles any honor, to say, they adopted a sense of Gehenna so different from its usage in the Old Testament, on mere human authority. The inspired writers in the Old Testament, could not give such a sense to Gehenna, for it has never been proved, that they knew of such a hell, a world of woe, to which they could ap
Gehenna then, when the seventy version was made, had no such meaning, but denoted the valley of Hinnom, as it does in the Hebrew Scriptures, which was not 200 years before the times of the New Testament writers. Then, it retained this meaning among the Jews in Egypt, and it is well known, they
were the first in corrupting the Jewish religion, by mixing heathen opinions with it.
2d, The Apocryphal books. These books, are the best authority extant, respecting the religious opinions of the Jews, between the days of Malachai and the coming of Christ. Being appealed to, as authority on the point in question, and are in the hands of most English readers, let us 1st, advert to the time when the Apocryphal books were written. This question is not easily determined, for the dates of the books are uncertain. But, it is not
of much importance, to settle their dates precisely. Those who wish to see what is said on this subject, may consult Horne’s introduction, Prideaux's Connections, and Jahn's Introduction. It is certain, most of them were written previous to the days of our Lord. The second book of Esdras is an exception, for some think, it was written by some Christian since that period. Gray in his key to the Old Testament says p. 5314" The second book of Esdras is not to be found in any Hebrew or Greek manuscript. It is supposed to have been originally written in the Greek language, but is extant only in a few latin copies, and in an Arabic version.” He adds, p. 5344" The book was never admitted into the Hebrew canon, and there is no sufficient authority to prove, that it was ever extant in the Hebrew language. Its pretended prophecies, are not produced in evidence by Christian writers, striking as such testimony must have been, if genuine ; and the book was never publicly or generally acknowledged either in the Greek or Latin church; nor was it ever inserted in the sacred catalogue, by either councils or fathers; but is expressly represented as Apocryphal by St. Jerom, who describes it as rejected by the church." But notwithstanding the date and character of this book, we have no objection to use it, and shall avail ourselves of what it says on the subject, in common with all the other books.
It should be distinctly understood by the reader, that our examination of the Apocryphal books, is merely to ascertain what were the opinions of the writers, relative to Gehenna. The books, we do not consider canonical, and are not referred to as proof of the truth of such opinions. Gray in his preface to the Apocrypha saysp.5114" The books which are admitted into our Bibles under the description of Apocryphal books, are so denominated from a Greek word, which is expressive of the uncertainty and concealed nature of their original
They have no title to be considered as inspired writings; and though in respect of their antiquity and valuable contents they are annexed to the canonical books, it is in a separate division: and by no means upon an idea that they are of equal authority, in point of doctrine, with them: or that they are to be received as oracles of faith; to sanctify opinions, or determine religious controversies.” But supposing all the Apocryphal
. books, were written sometime during the period which intervened between the days of Malachai and the Savior; the question then comes before us, what were the opinions entertained by the writers on the subject of punishment, in Gehenna ?
1st, Do they ever use the term Gehenna to designate a place of future punishment? This has been asserted by some, but is certainly a great mistake, for the term Gehenna does not occur in any of the Apochryphal books. It is not used by them in any sense, and of course settles the question, that they gave no countenance to the opinion, that Gehenna was used among the Jews to designate hell, the world of woe. I might here drop the subject, for we have already ascertained the information required. But I shall pursue the subject and inquire,
2d, Do the Apochryphal writers use the term Hades, to designate a place of future punishment for the wicked? The term Hades, occurs sixteen times in the original Apocryphal books, and is rendered as follows, in our English version of them.
1st, It is rendered death. See Wisdom of Solomon, chap. i. 14. It cannot mean a place of punishment here. 2d, It is rendered by our translators,"
the place of the dead,” Ecclesias. xlviii. 5, “who (Elias) didst raise up a dead man from death, and his soul from the place of the dead, by the word of the most High." The reference is here, to what the prophet did, in raising a dead man to life, recorded in the Old Testament. When it is said he raised the “ soul from the place of the dead,” the person himself is meant, for the term soul is often used in the Old and New Testaments, to designate the man or person, and has been sufficiently shown in another place. In Scripture, Sheol or Hades, is represented as the place of all the dead.
3d, Hades is rendered the grave, in the following texts : Wisdom of Solomon ii. 1. Eccles. ix. 12; xiv. 12, 16; xvii, 27; xxviii. 21; xli. 4. 2 Mac. vi. 23. No one can doubt, that Hades in these texts, simply means grave,
and was so understood by our translators. 4th, Hades occurs in the following places, and is rendered hell. Song verse 66. Wisdom of Solomon, xvi. 13;-xvii. 14. Eccles. xxi. 10; li. 5, 6. Although Hades in these places, is rendered by the word hell, it is very obvious, it simply refers to the grave, or state of the dead. If the reader turns to all the above texts in the Apochryphal books, he will see, that Hades is used there in a very similar manner, as Sheol in the Hebrew canonical books. It is not intimated, by any of the writers, that they believed Hades was a place of punishment after death. Not one of them insinuates, that any person
is alive in Hades. On the contrary, our translators as we have seen above, render Hades “the place of the dead,” not the place of the living.
3d, Do the Apochryphal writers, use the term Tartarus, to designate a place of future punishment for the wicked? No: the term Tartarus, is not used in any sense, by any Apochryphal writer. None of them venture to say, what Mr. Stuart asserts, 5 that in the Hebrew, Sheol, Hades, there was a Tartarus a place of punishment for the wicked."
There are three additional places, where the word hell occurs in the Apocryphal books. 2 Esdras ii. 29; iv. 8; viii. 53; But any one who consults them, must conclude, from the phraseology connected with the word hell, that Hades, not Gehenna is used in the orig
inal. We have seen above from Gray, that though the second book of Esdras, is “supposed to have been originally written in the Greek language,” it is now only extant “ in a few Latin copies, and in an Arabic ver
As the passages stand in our English version,
can suppose the writer meant to teach by them, a place of future punishment for the wicked. The hell mentioned, is not spoken of as a place of torment, or, that any persons are there in a state of conscious existence. The phraseology used, shows, Sheol, Hades, the grave, is referred to, for it is similar to the language used about Sheol in the Old Testament.
It is then manifest, from the above examination, that the Apocryphal writers, do not use Sheol, Hades, Tartarus, or Gehenna to designate hell the world of woe, as has been supposed. They do not use Gehenna in any way, which settles in the most satisfactory manner, the question in debate. That some of the Apocryphal writers believed in future punishment, and held other opinions not found in the Jewish scriptures, we have shown in our second inquiry, from p. 86–98, to which we refer the reader. But this only confirms what has been stated in another place, that the Jews while in Babylon, and after their return, imbibed many opinions from their intercourse with the heathen, which are not taught in their sacred books. This fact is admitted by all, and what many of these heathen opinions were, may be learned from the Apocryphal books. But none of the writers of them, designate hell the world of woe, by the term Gehenna, which shows this was not its common usage among the Jews when they were written. Now, it is certain, some of the Apocryphal books were written near the times of the New Testament, and some think, one or more of them were written after this period. Does this look, as if Gehenna was in common use among the Jews to designate hell, the world of woe? Let the reader judge.