Monday, May 11, 2009

100th Post: The Septuagint and Eternal Punishment

So, I'm already at my 100th post. Arbitrary marker, I know, But I decided I'd make this an interesting one. I want to discuss eternal punishment with you. Why eternal punishment? Because eternal punishment in hell is one of the most commonly used methods of intimidating people into believing the lies of evangelical christians.

The evangelical christians love the idea of eternal hell. It puts the impetus on a potential convert to either choose to believe or be potentially tortured forever. Its a great big initimidation con, and no doubt gets alot of weak converts from those who are afraid of that potential torture. That said, even so, I will set out to show that the idea of everlasting punishment is not only ridiculous as a doctrine, but completely unbiblical.

In this instance we should look at both the New and Old Testaments, but first the new. Yeshua, in those scriptures, which as best we can tell were initially published in Greek used the words Aionoios Kolasis to describe the eventual comeuppance of sinners and unbelievers. Now, while kolasis does equate to some kind of punishment for a crime or the rehabilitation, aionios is a bit trickier,a nd far more at odds with the fundies.

Aionios means "long enduring" based on all the greek sources that I can muster. It does not imply everlasting, and can be as short as a few years or a few centuries, but it is not eternal even in its implication. The term aionios is used dozens of times in the Septuagint (which Yeshua quoted from) in fact, and every single time it is in its meaning of "long enduring" not eternal. At least, not until you get to the New Testament where translators in the late Roman era and early middle ages decided that it meant eternal.

Highly conservative churches of course hate this idea, because it smacks of Origen's ideas about universal salvation, and of course, if you're going to be saved in the end regardless, alot of people aren't going to back the church, and the church's purpose of getting people to their salvation is completely shot, and many people would lose their purpose of living while not actually having to contribute productively. The very idea of universal salvation was very prevalent in early Christian communities, in fact, and even Augustine makes note of such doctrines and their popularity.

So, maybe I've misread something, but I cannot find anything to dispute this. Even if hell were to exist, I would not fear it because I would know it to be only for some time. Of course, as I don't believe in hell at all I fear it even less. But I highly recommend hitting fundies with that one every once in a while, as they really need a reality check, and watching them twitch in the throes of their cognitivie dissonance can be terribly amusing.

While I was researching all this I came upon a book called The Jerome Conspiracy which I recommend people check out. Its not a long read, and puts this all in a more comprehensive narrative. I actually wish I had come upon this source first, since most of my information is also therein.


  1. The whole concept of hell is a little suspect anyway. Early Jews didn't have much of an afterlife concept, good or bad, at all. So, god gave them over 600 rules for living, but forgot to mention what happens afterwards? It seems a little odd- until you realize that Yeshua was part of a highly orthodox, messianic apocalypse cult.

  2. Congrats on hitting your Century, EC.

    Yep, Hell is a strange one. I just came from Wayne Dawg's new blog and he was street-witnessing to someone who said; "I don't believe in hell"

    His response was to say that if he jumped off a building saying that he didn't believe in gravity, he'd still fall. So, yeah. Hell's as real as gravity.
    (see Newton's 666th Law of Gravitation)

    Do they really believe this though, that's what I wonder? Clearly nobody has any actual evidence of hell's existence outside of a few Bible quote-mines but they treat it like it's an absolute certainty despite its monstrous implications.

    Not sure why I'm surprised.

  3. "Clearly nobody has any actual evidence of hell's existence"

    There is also no scriptural evidence in the Hebrew Bible(Christian Old Testament) too.

    Which is why Jews don't believe in hell. Also next time you might want to throw in the fact there is no mention about the "The Devil" either. One more thing that Jews don't buy into also.

    This Jewish article debunks the bogus claim that the Christianity has "Jewish" roots

    Once you study the rise of Christianity, you can clearly see that it was marketed for the pagans, who readily accepted concepts like Devil and Hell because it was something they were familiar with.