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above. No madman, ever said more silly and ridiculous things, than are to be found in the Jewish Talmud and Targums. The Targums, most commonly referred to, in proof of such a sense given to Gehenna by the Jews, are those, into which the writers introduced their own - glosses and silly stories, fables, prolix explications, and other additions.
2d, Let the reader observe, the texts on which the Targums are written, afford no foundation for such a sense being given to the term Gehenna. This term, is not used in the texts in any sense whatever; nor is the writer in any of the texts, speaking either of future punishment, or a future world. None of the texts, afford the shadow of a ground for saying Gehenna means hell, the world of woe. There is no connection, between the text and the comment given on it by the Targumists. They might have given the same comment, in any other text in the bible, with equal propriety. If the texts then, afforded no foundation for such.comments, why were they made, and why should christians regard them?
3d, But what decides the question at issue is—The Targums were not written in the days of our Lord, consequently cannot be quoted as proof, that in his day, Gehenna among the Jews designated 'hell, the world
of It was impossible in the nature of the case, that our Lord derived this sense of Gehenna from the Jewish Targums, as the dates of them show. They were not in existence, until several hundred years after our Lord was on earth, as the best critics have testified above. Why then, are they appealed to at all, in proof of this ? And on what ground did Mr. Stuart assert, that the later Jewish writers, gave such a sense to Gehenna, prior to the writing of the New Testament? It appears from the following quotation, the facts are very different.
“From the time of Josephus, onwards, there is an
interval of about a century, from which no Jewish writings have descended to us.- In this period, we meet with the first information which we receive from any quarter whatsoever, that Gehenna was the place of the damned. Still, it is not from a Jew; that this earliest notice comes, but from the celebrated christian father, Justin Martyr, about A. D. 150. He quotes the language of our Savior, “fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna,' and then adds, for the instruction of the heathen's to whom he was writing, that Gehenna is the place where those are to be punished who have led unrighteous lives, and disbelieved what God declared by Christ. This is of course, merely his interpretation of that term, as he understood it in the New Testament; and notwithstanding he had been brought up in one of the cities of the ancient Samaria, he certainly had no acquaintance with the language, and probably none with the peculiar usages, of the Jews.
« The next notice of the kind, is, we think, that of another christian father, Clemens Alexandrinus, about A. D. 195. Maintaining the doctrine of a future state, he adduces the authority of the heathen philosophers :
Does not Plato acknowledge both the rivers of fire, and that profound depth of the earth which the barbarians (the Jews) call Gehenna? Does he not prophetically mention Tartarus, Coytus, Acheron, the Phlegethon of fire, and certain other like places of punishment, which lead to correction and discipline ?" Here Clemens meant, beyond all doubt, that the Jews denominated the place of future punishment, Gehenna; but whether he spoke from personal knowledge or from presumption, it is altogether uncertain. He knew it to be a Jewish, not a Greek, word; and he may have judged its usage among the Barbarians, as he called them, by what he supposed its sense in the New Testament.” Universalist Expositor vol2. pp. 361, 366.
4th, But supposing the Targums to have been written prior to the days of Christ, yea let it be supposed, that among the Jews in his day, the current sense of Gehenna was hell, the world of woe, what does this prove?
It does not prove, that this sense was given to Gehenna by divine authority. Nor does it prove, that our Lord used it in this sense. On the contrary, there is not the least foundation for supposing, that he would lay aside the Old Testament sense of Gehenna, and adopt this new sense on the authority of men, and especially such writers as the authors of the Targums. Jesus Christ gave no countenance to men's inventions in religion, or sanctioned the alterations which the Jews had made on the ideas or language of their scriptures. The whole of his teaching proves this; and the texts with their contexts, where he used the term Gehenna, stand opposed, as we have seen above, to such a sense given to this word. Besides, the facts we have adduced, never can be reconciled with this sense attached to the term Gehenna. But if people will contend, that the authority of the Targums is good, in establishing that Gehenna in our Lord's day meant hell, the world of woe, they can have no reasonable objection to receiving it as good, in a case closely connected with this. I shall therefore submit for their serious consideration the following observations.
1st, If the Targums are good authority, that Gehenna is a place of endless punishment, their authority is equally good, in determining who are to suffer it. Permit me then to adduce the same authority, from Whitby on Rom. ii. to show, that no Jew went to hell to be punished forever, but all the Gentiles are fit fuel for hell fire. He says, “ The Jewish religiön was very much corrupted at our Savior's coming, so that they thought it sufficient to obtain God's favor, and to secure them from his judgments,—1st, That they were of the seed of Abraham ; and hence the Baptist speaks thus to them, bring
forth fruits meet for repentance, and (think it not sufficient to) say within yourselves, we have Abraham for our father, Matth. iii. 8,9. The Chaldee paraphrasts do often mention their expectation of being preserved for the merits or good works of their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and their writers add, that hell fire hath no power over the sinners of Israel, because Abraham and Isaac descend thither to fetch them thence. 2d, They held that circumcision was of sufficient virtue to render them accepted of God, and to preserve them from eternal ruin; for they teach that no circumcised person goes to hell; God having promised to deliver them from it for the merit of circumcision; and having told Abraham, that when his children fell into transgression, and did wicked works, he would remember the odor of their foreskins, and would be satisfied with their piety. And, 3d, They taught that all Israelites had a portion in the world to come; and that notwithstanding their sins, yea though they were condemned here for their wickedness: whereas, of all the Gentiles, without exception, they pronounce that they are fuel for hell fire. Let persons then, who quote the Targums in proof, that Gehenna or hell is a place of endless misery, take their choice. They must either reject their authority altogether, or be willing to go to hell on the same authority; as Gentiles we must all be content to be fuel for hell fire. Let us then make up our minds, whether we shall, for the sake of maintaining the authority and honor of the Targums in the one case, be willing to submit to the punishment they assign us in the other. We must either accept of both or reject both. We might here take our leave of the Targums: for what has now been stated, is sufficient to convince any man, that their authority is not for a moment to be regarded. But we shall proceed.
2d, Parkhurst says, that, “ the Jews in our Savior's time used the compound word ge enm, for hell, the
place of the damned. And he adds, that " this appears from that word's being thus applied by the Chaldee Targums, and by the Jerusalem Targums, and that of Ben Uzziel.” And why does it not also appear, that all the stories, and glosses, and fables, which they introduced into their Targums, are also true? We have the same authority for the one as for the other. If it should be said, that the Targums are only appealed to for the manner in which the Jews used this word, we reply, that this is not the whole truth, for it is in the way the Jews did use this word in the Targums, that the doctrine is attempted to be proved. The sense in which our Lord used the word Gehenna is assumed, and the Targums are appealed to, not only for the sense of this word, but for the truth of the doctrine. Let it be shown, from the context of the passages in which it is used, that this is its sense, and there is no necessity to appeal to the Targums. But if it be true, which is stated in the above quotation, why does it not also appear, that the Gentiles were fuel for hell fire ? By this way of making things appear to be true, it will be no difficult thing to show, that all the silly, sick-brained stories of the Apocrypha, Targums, and Talmuds, are true. Besides, by the same rule, we ought to believe, that the fire of hell is literal, material fire, for the Targumists appear to have believed this, as is plain from the above quotation. But notice, Whitby says, that - the Jewish religion was very much corrupted at our Savior's coming. By what evidence does it then appear, that the Gentiles were fuel for hell fire, and that this is a corruption of their religion, but that hell fire itseif was not also a part of this corruption ? Neither of these is taught in the Old Testament. From what source, then, do we learn, that both are not a corruption of their religion? How could they be any thing else but a corruption of it, when not found in their Scriptures? If this is denied, let proof be produced to the