Monday, October 22, 2012

Hell, Gehenna,

Go to Hell?
Who's Going to Hell?
Valley of Gehenna
The Valley of Gehenna as it looks today.
Valley of Gehenna (One Hell?)

Going to hell has been quite a fear for thousands of years and it has been a major reason that people have unflinchingly followed their religions teachings.

What is hell and where does the word come from.  According to many academic sources, there are several words that were in original Biblical texts written separately, but were all translated in the King James version as hell.  The words are hades, tartaros and gehenna and all of them have different meanings. 

To complicate maters more, there is also the Hebrew word sheol which like hades, means grave or pit, which can also be mixed up in this debate, because it is used in the Old Testament in place of the word hades.

First of all "hell" is an old English word that originally meant a hole in the ground.  At the time the King James version of the Bible was translated, people in England reportedly spoke of putting their potatoes in hell for the winter to keep them from rotting, it meant a hole in the ground and also may have meant a grave.

Starting with the word hades, which is used 11 times in the New Testament, we see a pattern of possible mis-translation.  Hades, is a Greek word  which like sheol is more accurately translated as a pit or hole in the ground where the dead are placed.  Neither the word hades or the word sheol refers to a place of fire or of eternal punishment, but both are translated as hell in the King James version, which to Bible readers means the place of eternal damnation.

The word "tartaros" is translated as the word "hell" in II Peter 2:4.  "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell (tartaroo in the original texts), and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgement..."  The Greeks used this word to describe the place where Zeus confined the rebellious Titans and the Bible refers to it in II Peter 2:4 as where the angels that followed Satan were cast, but it does not refer to it as a place where humans are cast.  In SRSR's opinion, tartaroos (translated as hell in King James Verson) is probably meant as the place where Satan and his legions are said to be cast, not humans who have missed the mark.

A third word that has been translated as hell is "gehenna", coming from the Hebrew words      Gai Hinnom, meaning "valley of Hinnom." This valley of Hinnom is a real place located south by southwest of Jerusalem.   Today Gai Hinnom is reported to be a fairly nice place, with at least some grass and flowers growing there.  In Biblical times however it was a place where pagan rites, possibly even infant sacrifices may have occured.

It was thus considered an unclean place by the Israelites and was used as a dump for the bodies of criminals, animals, garbage and sewage.  Fires are said to have burned there continuously because of the supply of "fuel" and to reduce the foul odor.  It is natural that became known as a place of evil and ruination.

SRSR believes that serious study shows that when the Bible talks about destruction in hell (gehenna) it means complete and final destruction, but not necessarily eternal or constant torture.  The Bible, SRSR believes, does speak of eternal life, but not eternal punishment, instead it speaks of final and permanent destruction of the souls and bodies of the "wicked."

In Matthew 10:28 Jesus says, "fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."  Originally the word gehenna was used here and the word hell was used starting with the King James version.   Similarly gehenna is translated as hell in Mathew 23:33, "Ye can ye escape the damnation of hell?", here he is talking about the Pharasees.

In Malachi 4:1-3, this prophet speaking of the Day of the Lord, says,"For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up saith the Lord of hosts, that it will leave them neither root nor branch..."  SRSR see's this as more evidence that the Bible may originally have meant that the "damned" will be permanently terminated, not eternally tortured and this is perhaps more in tune with a loving and just God. Source:

'Hell' as an invention of the church


"So where did the teaching of "Hellfire and damnation" come from?
As the Nicene Church was establishing its official doctrines and replacing biblical Judaism with Catholicism ("Universalism"), it is a well known and easily established fact that they incorporated the teachings of many different religious systems. These early "church fathers" were attempting to establish a new and global political and religious authority in order to control every aspect of human life. Whatever their motives, the Vatican created dogma of eternal torture as a powerful stick to wield against its opponents.

To this end the Catholic Bishops incorporated the Roman Pagan teaching of Hades: A subterranean place of eternal fiery torment and damnation. Never mind that the dogma has no biblical basis, the Magisterium of the Church declared it so. The threat of eternal damnation made their subjects docile and the collection plates rang with tithes, offerings and indulgences as deceived people sought to purchase their salvation.
The imagery of the Nicene Hell is largely taken from the underworld abode of the god Hades and his part time lover Persephone.

Present day Nicene Christians vary on why people go to Hell. Some teach that the "lost" are condemned to Hell because they fail to make the one decision necessary to achieve salvation: they refuse to accept the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as taught by the Church. Others teach that if ones good deeds do not outweigh the negatives one goes there. Calvinists believe people have no choice in the matter at all. They say that the God of love and justice created most human being as fodder for Hell and only a few will be allowed to enter "Heaven." Catholicism is more clear: people go to Hell because they fail to accept Catholic Communion and authority. All Nicene Christians are quick to point out that Hell is not something God "does to us," it is something we do to ourselves.

This is known as blaming the victim! There is nothing just nor loving about this doctrine nor about a god that who create billions of beings solely to torture them throughout eternity. This is NOT the God of the Bible!"

The Facts

  • There is no biblical basis for this teaching.
  • God can do anything and He could easily make another option for those who do not accept His gift of salvation.
  • No Believers from the Abrahamic traditions living in the first century C.E. conceived of such a post-life torture.
  • Many Pagans did believe in such horrors and they were viewed as savages because it.
  • Not a single person in the Gospel accounts ever challenge Jesus as to the origins of this non-Jewish teaching he allegedly taught.
  • The doctrine directly challenges the Torah claims that God is Loving and Just 
  • Many "Bible believing Christians" believe many unbiblical heresies. The near universality of the belief does not make it biblical
For more information see Hell, Gilgul Neshamot and Ibbur Neshamot: 
What Happens When We Die?

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