Hell isn't literal, it's a mistranslation?


#1

I had a Catholic (wink wink) friend tell me that the idea of hell is based on a mistranslation. That the word in the Bible for hell is Gehenna, which was referring to an area outside of Jerusalem. He said the idea that hell was a literal place that dead people went is incorrect.

I haven't been able to find this particular complaint anywhere else online and wonder if anyone knows more about this topic. I don't know much of anything about translations and such.


#2

If what your friend said is true, then does he believe that everyone will go to heaven? Hell is real. Hell is a state of being, a place of eternal separation from God. As the CCC says, "To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called 'hell.'"

You see, God gave us free will, which fuels our choice on whether or not to love Him. If He forced us to love Him, He wouldn't be loving US, which is the only thing God will not do, for He is Love in Himself.

In reference to Gehenna, Jesus spoke of this place as a place of "unquenchable fire". He probably used the term "Gehenna" to describe what hell is like. He often used analogies to explain his teachings.

In conclusion, it is apparent that hell is very real. Look not only to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but to the infallible Bible.

May God bless you and your family!


#3

[quote="JIB, post:1, topic:311763"]
I had a Catholic (wink wink) friend tell me that the idea of hell is based on a mistranslation. That the word in the Bible for hell is Gehenna, which was referring to an area outside of Jerusalem. He said the idea that hell was a literal place that dead people went is incorrect.

I haven't been able to find this particular complaint anywhere else online and wonder if anyone knows more about this topic. I don't know much of anything about translations and such.

[/quote]


#4

[quote="St_Hilary, post:3, topic:311763"]

[/quote]

Hell is literally.

Donn't kid yourself. God tells us if we have one mortal sin weer member repent unless w e die which will be too late.

God has given you all of this time to repent and you better take advantage of it.

Most theologians are disagreeing that hell is full of fire; but a loss of God as in depression.

You should always make sure you are in the statwe of grace because you never kknow when God is going too call you. He is a mercifull God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

God doesn't send us to hell, we send ourselves.

God love you


#5

I am well aware of the reality of hell.

My point is that this fellow believes it's based on a mistranslation. He says everything else is based on that misconception. Telling me what the Church teaches about mortal sin and hell has nothing at all to do with my question.


#6

[quote="JIB, post:1, topic:311763"]
I had a Catholic (wink wink) friend tell me that the idea of hell is based on a mistranslation. That the word in the Bible for hell is Gehenna, which was referring to an area outside of Jerusalem. He said the idea that hell was a literal place that dead people went is incorrect.

I haven't been able to find this particular complaint anywhere else online and wonder if anyone knows more about this topic. I don't know much of anything about translations and such.

[/quote]

I could have sworn that Fr. Barron discussed this in his "Catholicism" series. I don't want to misquote him, but I believe he said the same thing about Hell, Gehenna, and an area outside of Jerusalem where they would dump and burn trash (hence fire and all that unpleasantness). But I also think he mentioned that that physical area was called Gehenna because of its likeness to people's perception of what Hell must be like. They did have the idea that there was a "bad place" in the afterlife for the wicked (think about the story of Lazarus and the rich man) and there was a physical place on earth that had similar characteristics.


#7

Ask him if the Church would believe in Hell if the Church knew it was mistranslated. The Church is infallible when teaching faith and morals, therefore the Church would not have erred concerning the matter of Hell.


#8

That's actually pretty funny when you think about it. Jesus spent a lot of time talking about hell, so if it really was just Gehenna, then that would basically be the same as Him saying that anyone who dies in a state of sin is going to spend eternity living in a van down by the river. That doesn't seem to have quite the same impact.


#9

I know I heard some of what you are asking about addressed on a podcast I listened to from Catholic Answers radio, but I can't find it. I typed into the search box for this website "Hell Gehenna" and got some hits that I think will address what you want. The articles are pretty detailed.

Sorry that I can't find the more concise explanation on the radio show. (And I would paste the links for you if I could manage it on my tablet. :blush:).


#10

The Greek word mentioned in passages such as Matt 5:22 is γέενναν (gheh'-en-nah). This word is a word that symbolically describes what eternal separation from God is, but also, as your friend pointed out, what we know as Gehenna. Gehenna was only one of the names for hell in the bible. Others were "Hades", "lower hell", "abyss", etc. There are numerous names for what we know today as hell.

I would also go with the infallibility of the Church on doctrines such as this. The Holy Spirit, which leads the Church, makes no mistakes, especially ones that concern salvation, or lack thereof.


#11

My main point would be that "Gehenna" is not the only word that refers to hell. There are so many places where hell is mentioned with different words and in different contexts. Limiting the entire teaching on hell to one Greek word with one analogy for a life of eternal separation is just ignorant.


#12

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#13

[quote="St_Hilary, post:4, topic:311763"]
Hell is literally.

Donn't kid yourself. God tells us if we have one mortal sin weer member repent unless w e die which will be too late.

God has given you all of this time to repent and you better take advantage of it.

Most theologians are disagreeing that hell is full of fire; but a loss of God as in depression.

You should always make sure you are in the statwe of grace because you never kknow when God is going too call you. He is a mercifull God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

God doesn't send us to hell, we send ourselves.

God love you

[/quote]

Amen
May God have Mercy on all who about to die today
Jesus, Mary , I Love You!! Save Souls!!!!


#14

The word gehenna (Greek: γέεννα) comes from the Hebrew ḡê’ Hinnōm ‘Valley of Hinnom’, originally denoting one of the two principal valleys surrounding the Old City of Jerusalem. The “Valley of (the son/s of) Hinnom,” (Joshua 15:18; 18:6; 2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chronicles 28:3, 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31; 19:2-6, 11; 32:35; Nehemiah 11:30) as it was called in the Old Testament, is infamous because it is the location where Israelites performed worship of other deities like Moloch. In the gospels, Gehenna is qualified twice by “of fire” (Matthew 5:22; 18:9) and once paralleled by “the unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:43); all in all, while various vivid images are used to describe Gehenna, the image of fire is predominant.

The later view of Gehenna as a place of punishment, especially by fire, is anticipated in a reference in Isaiah to a large tōfeṯ (“burning place”) in Jerusalem, said to be lit by God as punishment for the Assyrians and their king (Isaiah 30:33). Isaiah’s contemporary king Ahaz of Judah (reigned ca. 735/31-715 BC?) is said to have sacrificed his sons in the tōfeṯ of Hinnom Valley (2 Chronicles 28:3), and also his grandson Manasseh (reigned ca. 687-642 BC) according to 2 Chronicles 33:6. Josiah (ca. 640-609 BC), during his cultic reforms, is said to have “defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no one might burn his son or his daughter as an offering to Molech” (2 Kings 23:10), although this was apparently not entirely successful, since somewhat later Jeremiah was still attacking the tōfeṯ and prophesied that the valley would become a general burial place (7:31; 19:11; 32:35).

Jewish apocalypticism would later adopt the template of the Valley of Hinnom and its “burning place” (perhaps under influence by parallelism with Persian ideas of a judgment in fire) for a place of punishment in an eschatological milieu. The book of Enoch (ca. 4th/3rd to 1st century BC) describes a certain vision by Enoch into which the faithful Jews, gathered on the holy mountain, would look down upon a certain ravine to see the righteous judgment and eternal punishment of the damned dwelling there (1 Enoch 26:4; 27:2-3):

And I went from thence to the middle of the earth, and I saw a blessed place ⌈in which there were trees⌉ with branches abiding and blooming [of a dismembered tree]. And there I saw a holy mountain, ⌈⌈and⌉⌉ underneath the mountain to the east there was a stream and it flowed towards the south. And I saw towards the east another mountain higher than this, and between them a deep and narrow ravine: in it also ran a stream ⌈underneath⌉ the mountain. And to the west thereof there was another mountain, lower than the former and of small elevation, and a ravine ⌈deep and dry⌉ between them: and another deep and dry ravine was at the extremities of the three ⌈mountains⌉.And all the ravines were deep ⌈⌈and narrow⌉⌉, (being formed) of hard rock, and trees were not planted upon them. And I marveled ⌈⌈at the rocks, and I marveled⌉⌉ at the ravine, yea, I marveled very much.

Then said I: ‘For what object is this blessed land, which is entirely filled with trees, and this accursed valley ⌈⌈between⌉⌉?’ ⌈⌈Then Uriel, one of the holy angels who was with me, answered and said: 'This⌉⌉ accursed valley is for those who are accursed for ever: Here shall all ⌈the accursed⌉ be gathered together who utter with their lips against the Lord unseemly words and of His glory speak hard things.

(Ethiopian: Here shall they be gathered together, and here shall be their place of judgement. In the last days there shall be upon them the spectacle of righteous judgement in the presence of the righteous for ever: here shall the merciful bless the Lord of glory, the Eternal King.)

(Greek: Here shall they be gathered together, and here shall be the place of their habitation. In the last times, in the days of the true judgement in the presence of the righteous for ever: here shall the godly bless the Lord of Glory, the Eternal King.)

In the days of judgement over the former, they shall bless Him for the mercy in accordance with which He has assigned them (their lot).’ Then I blessed the Lord of Glory and set forth His ⌈glory⌉ and lauded Him gloriously.

The locales are not named, but since the details of the picture somewhat evoke the topography of Jerusalem, the valley in question must have been meant as the Hinnom Valley. The joining of the eschatological perspective to Jerusalem then led to an explicit use of the name Gehenna for that place of punishment, although surviving references calling that place of punishment by that name from the Second Temple period are very rare. (The gospels are in fact one of the first literary evidence to this.)


#15

Everyday I see more universalism thinking and more and more lessening of the exquisite literal reality of the suffering that will be experienced in Hell.

It isn't sophisticated modern bible scholarship--it is thinking FROM the devil.

Why does the devil want thinking like that to become prevalent in the Catholic Church? So that people won't work out their salvation in fear and trembling.

Hell is REAL! Repent today! Why go to Hell when you can go to Heaven?


#16

[quote="Jerry-Jet, post:15, topic:311763"]
Everyday I see more universalism thinking and more and more lessening of the exquisite literal reality of the suffering that will be experienced in Hell.

It isn't sophisticated modern bible scholarship--it is thinking FROM the devil.

Why does the devil want thinking like that to become prevalent in the Catholic Church? So that people won't work out their salvation in fear and trembling.

Hell is REAL! Repent today! Why go to Hell when you can go to Heaven?

[/quote]

Be a saint! What else is there? :)


#17

[quote="JIB, post:1, topic:311763"]
I had a Catholic (wink wink) friend tell me that the idea of hell is based on a mistranslation. That the word in the Bible for hell is Gehenna, which was referring to an area outside of Jerusalem. He said the idea that hell was a literal place that dead people went is incorrect.

I haven't been able to find this particular complaint anywhere else online and wonder if anyone knows more about this topic. I don't know much of anything about translations and such.

[/quote]

I actually saw Gehenna when I went to Jerusalem. Its actually a nice garden valley now. But apparently back in Jesus' day it was a garbage dump where they burned garbage. This is the imagery that Jesus uses to describe hell. So hell is real. Whether it is a literal fire or the fire is a metaphore for the pain of being separated from God I am not certain. The Church knows best. But, whatever you think of hell it is not a place you want to be.

Jesus said it was so serious that it would be better to pluck your eye out if it causes you to sin then to have two eyes and end up in the fires of Gehenna.


#18

[quote="fisherman_carl, post:17, topic:311763"]
I actually saw Gehenna when I went to Jerusalem. Its actually a nice garden valley now. But apparently back in Jesus' day it was a garbage dump where they burned garbage. This is the imagery that Jesus uses to describe hell. So hell is real. Whether it is a literal fire or the fire is a metaphore for the pain of being separated from God I am not certain. The Church knows best. But, whatever you think of hell it is not a place you want to be.

Jesus said it was so serious that it would be better to pluck your eye out if it causes you to sin then to have two eyes and end up in the fires of Gehenna.

[/quote]

The idea that Gehenna is a fiery rubbish heap derives from the medieval French rabbi David Kimhi (in rabbinic Judaism, Gehenna has also become the common term for the place where the wicked are punished), who was apparently inferring this from the OT references to the "burning place" once situated there. What it was back in Jesus' day however was pretty much a cemetery: there is evidence that the southwest shoulder of this valley (the Ketef Hinnom) was a burial location with numerous burial chambers that were reused by generations of families from as early as the 7th until the 7th century BC, continuing up to the 1st centuries BC and AD.


#19

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