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lieving 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, nor ever should 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 Thess. . 1-10. 1 Peter iv. 17-19.
THE ARGUMENT, ARISING FROM THE APOCRYPHA AND TARGUNS,
IN FAVOR OF ENDLESS MISERY IN GEHENNA OR HELL, CON
IF Gehenna or hell in the New Testament, means, as is generally believed, a place of endless misery, the evidence of this, we might expect, to be plain, and conclusive. But we have examined it, and have not only found it defective, but have, in fact, found the evidence strongest on the opposite side of the question. We have considered all the texts in which this word occurs, and have found, that instead of a place of endless misery being taught in them, the temporal punishment of the Jews, is referred to by the damnation of hell. Besides: we have stated a number of facts, which we think never can be reconciled with the current opinion on this subject. I might, therefore, here stop, until it is known, how such facts are disposed of, and it is shown, that I bave misinterpreted the passages in which the word Gehenna oc
But as the Targums and the Apocrypha are appealed to in proof of this doctrine, it might be deemed wrong in me altogether to overlook the argument, which such persons attempt to draw from them. They may think, that I ought to account for it, why these writers came to use the term Gehenna as meaning a place of endless misery, if my views of Gehenna be correct.
We think this ought to be accounted for; but I deny, that I am under any obligations to account for it. It is the work of those, who value their authority in proving the doctrine of endless misery, to show how those uninspired writers came to give such a different sense to Gehenna, from all the sacred writers, both in the Old and New Testaments. Let them account for it, how Gehenna, as Dr. Campbell affirms, came gradually to be used to express a place of future punishment for the wicked, and at length came to be confined to it. Must I do their work and my own too? It is their business to show, that the gradual change in the meaning of the term Gehenna did not originate from the gradual invention of men, but from the authority of God. We think, if Gehenna could be proved satisfactorily, to mean a place of endless misery from the Bible, there was no occasion to call in the authority of the Targums and Apocrypha to prove this doctrine. Only give us God's authority for it, and we ask no other.
But, however unreasonable, the demand is on me, to account for it, why the writers of the Targums and the Apocrypha, used Gehenna to express a place of endless misery,I shall now pay some attention to this.
Let us begin with the Apocrypha. These writings all have access to, and can read them at their leisure. I shall simply give all the places in which the term hell is used in the Apocrypha. It occurs in the following places, 2 Esdras ii. 29.; iv. 8.; viii. 53. Tobit xiii. 2. Wisd. xvii. 14. Eccles. xxi. 10.; li. 5, 6. Song of the three children, verse 66. It would serve no valuable purpose for me to transcribe these passages, as they can easily be referred to and read. On the whole of them I shall submit the following remarks.
Though the word hell is used in all these places, yet a very important inquiry is,-did the writers of the Apocrypha use the word Hades or Gehenna in the original ? From reading the passages in the English version we began to suspect, from the phraseology connected with the word hell, that Hades and not Gehenna was the word used in the original. We have been at some pains to examine this, and shall give the result of our inquiries about it.
We have found in the original Greek of the Apocrypha that it is the term Hades, not Gehenna, that is used. This word is uniformly used there with the exception of the passages mentioned in the second book of Esdras. This book, in the original, we have not been able to find. But from the phraseology which is connected with the word hell, in the English version, we are persuaded that the three places in Esdras, when examined, will form no exception to the use of the word Hades in all the other places. If Gray, in his Key to the Old Testament, is to be believed, this book is not to be found in the original.
He says, p. 531. “The second book of Esdras is not to be found in any Hebrew or Greek manuscripts. 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. 534. “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." The following quotation from the same author, shows in what
doubt and uncertainty this book is held by the learned, and of how little importance it would be in settling the question before us. He says, p. 539—541. " That the book was written after the appearance of Christ, will be deemed further probable if we consider the particulars of that passage in which the author declares, in the name of the Almighty, that · Jesus, his son, should be revealed with those that be with him; and that they that remain should rejoice within four hundred years; that after these years should his son Christ die, and all men that have life;' for it is not probable that an uninspired writer, however conversant with the prophetic books, should have been able to etch out a prophesy so clear and descriptive.
6. There appears, then, to be some reason, on a collective consideration of these circumstances, to suppose that the book, or at least that the greatest part of it, was produced after the promulgation of the gospel. The work is, however, of too mixed and mysterious character to authorize any positive determination. It is a collection of pretended prophecies; cabalistical fancies; and allusions to evangelical particulars. Amidst spurious fabrications, and passages transcribed from the gospel, it may contain fragments of works written before the time of Christ; and many writers have considered it as a compilation of pieces, of which some, at least, may have been the genuine productions of Ezra.
“ Among the various opinions that have been entertained concerning this book, some have imagined that it might have been composed soon after the destruction of Jerusalem, by a Christian writer ; who, as was customary among the ancients, might have assumed a borrowed title, not with intention to impose on the world; but to exhibit under the name of Ezra, as that of a great doctor