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Eagerly awaiting renowned biblical scholar Bart Erhman's forthcoming book making it clear that teachings about Hell are not Christian whatsoever.  How I wish this reading was compulsory in Sunday Schools around the world so that rather than be indoctrinated by falsehoods, children could start out their Christian journey with a far better understanding of the bible.

 

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Ehrman is also a good guy in person. Definitely a bit quirky, a bit of a nerd (which I consider a compliment) and even a bit shy (odd as that might be to say) with little jokes that sometimes fall fla

Exactly So their education never gave them pause for thought? The ramifications of physics, chemistry and biology? Perhaps I am a little different?  I am a product of my environment, even my se

Paul, 

While i do not believe in an eternal physical place called heaven and hell myself, I don't think Bart knows what Jesus believed or really taught . IF we believe the literal translated recorded words in Mathew, Mark and Luke that Jesus spoke then he did teach of hell as a place of eternal torment both in words and parables. Matt 25:46,  Mark 9:45, Matt 23:33, Luke 16:20-26 and more. I can present a good argument on how heaven and hell can't be physical places since nothing that is physical is eternal but if i accept the words of the Bible as written as innerant  then i would have to admit Jesus taught about heaven and hell.

Sheol which appears in the KJV OT 62 times is translated hell 31 times and the grave 31 times. Of course one could argue that the translation is in error as the Hebrew word Sheol refers to the grave or the abode of the dead ( Psalms 88:3 Psalms 88:5 ) There are 23 occurrences of the word hell in the KJV NT but of course translations can be challenged as the Greeks had 3 words that were translated as hell, hades, tartarosas, and Gehenna. However Gehenna which has 12 occurrences translated to hell .....

"Gehenna is a transliteration of an Old Testament Hebrew expression, “the valley of Hinnom,” which denoted a ravine on the southern side of Jerusalem. This valley was used by certain apostate Hebrews as a place where their children were offered into the fiery arms of the pagan god Molech (2 Chron. 28:3; 33:6). It was thus an area of suffering and weeping. When Josiah launched his reformation, this valley was regarded as a site of heinous abomination (2 Kgs. 23:10-14). It finally became the garbage depository of Jerusalem where there was a continual burning of refuse. Gehenna, being associated with these ideas, appropriately served as a symbolic designation for the place of suffering to which evil persons will be consigned following the Lord’s return. "

Employing several examples of hyperbole (for the sake of emphasis), Christ stressed that it would be better to proceed through life with great loss (e.g. deprived of an eye or a limb), rather than having Gehenna as a final destiny (Mt. 5:29-30; cf. 18:9; Mk. 9:43-47)

So called Biblical scholars can say what they want to believe or want people to believe but to me if you are using and believe the KJV Bible as it exists as your source,  reading all occurrences in context it leaves little doubt that Jesus taught about hell as a place of punishment/ torment.

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It will be interesting to hear what Ehrman has to say.

The cultural ideas I hear often don’t come from the bible but are derived from Milton and Dante.

I find the idea of an eternal fire in the bible but not eternal torment.  It’s more like being thrown into an incinerator than living in one, and the idea of any eternal life beyond the grave is only for the saved.

Biblical heaven is more like a waiting room for the resurrection of the dead.

Looking forward to the book reports.

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6 hours ago, JosephM said:

While i do not believe in an eternal physical place called heaven and hell myself, I don't think Bart knows what Jesus believed or really taught . IF we believe the literal translated recorded words in Mathew, Mark and Luke that Jesus spoke then he did teach of hell as a place of eternal torment both in words and parables. Matt 25:46,  Mark 9:45, Matt 23:33, Luke 16:20-26 and more. I can present a good argument on how heaven and hell can't be physical places since nothing that is physical is eternal but if i accept the words of the Bible as written as innerant  then i would have to admit Jesus taught about heaven and hell.

Well I'll be interested to read Bart's book because he does seem to be a biblical scholar with a fair amount of both knowledge and integrity, so not sure how he could otherwise mistake something that you consider so obvious.  From what I understand, Bart simply says that the Jesus message is Heaven = living on this earth under God's reign some time in Jesus' near approaching future and those in Sheol (translated as Hell) will be resurrected to either live again on earth or face obliteration.  I think he will make a case for Hell meaning obliteration or extinguishment for those who don't make the grade.  Nothing about the typical Christian understanding of Heaven and Hell.

If I look at the few verses you offer I could also imagine other interpretations - In Matthew's parable of the 10 Virgins you have Jesus saying people are going away to eternal punishment.  If you're punishment is obliteration, never to be resurrected, that would be eternal punishment, not eternal torture I expect.  Similarly, your Mark reference is referring to a physical place called Gehenna and again, it is easily understood as a finality, an end, and not an eternal, ongoing torture or existence in any way.  Matt 23:33 is also referring to Gehenna - finality, not eternal torture.  I'm interested to see how Bart explains the Lukan passage, but it does strike me as odd - almost as though it is a late addition to the story or a later story imposed on the character of Jesus.  I wonder if perhaps Bart thinks Jesus didn't actually say the rich man was being tortured in Hades, particularly as we know that Hades is a Greek introduction.  Nowhere in the OT scriptures is Hades supported, and the only OT references to Hell are indeed Sheol, the place where all dead go, not just the bad guys.

6 hours ago, JosephM said:

Sheol which appears in the KJV OT 62 times is translated hell 31 times and the grave 31 times. Of course one could argue that the translation is in error as the Hebrew word Sheol refers to the grave or the abode of the dead ( Psalms 88:3 Psalms 88:5 ) There are 23 occurrences of the word hell in the KJV NT but of course translations can be challenged as the Greeks had 3 words that were translated as hell, hades, tartarosas, and Gehenna. However Gehenna which has 12 occurrences translated to hell .....

Yes, so Hell means something, but I think Bart will argue that it doesn't mean what the majority of Christians believe it does (eternal torture or suffering).

6 hours ago, JosephM said:

"Gehenna is a transliteration of an Old Testament Hebrew expression, “the valley of Hinnom,” which denoted a ravine on the southern side of Jerusalem. This valley was used by certain apostate Hebrews as a place where their children were offered into the fiery arms of the pagan god Molech (2 Chron. 28:3; 33:6). It was thus an area of suffering and weeping. When Josiah launched his reformation, this valley was regarded as a site of heinous abomination (2 Kgs. 23:10-14). It finally became the garbage depository of Jerusalem where there was a continual burning of refuse. Gehenna, being associated with these ideas, appropriately served as a symbolic designation for the place of suffering to which evil persons will be consigned following the Lord’s return. "

Employing several examples of hyperbole (for the sake of emphasis), Christ stressed that it would be better to proceed through life with great loss (e.g. deprived of an eye or a limb), rather than having Gehenna as a final destiny (Mt. 5:29-30; cf. 18:9; Mk. 9:43-47)

Yes, so it would seem Bart is suggesting that Jesus thought Gehenna as a vivid example of what it means not to make it to God's kingdom on this earth when it was to come into being.  One was to be destroyed, not tortured or suffering for all eternity.

6 hours ago, JosephM said:

So called Biblical scholars can say what they want to believe or want people to believe but to me if you are using and believe the KJV Bible as it exists as your source,  reading all occurrences in context it leaves little doubt that Jesus taught about hell as a place of punishment/ torment.

Well, like I said, I'll be interested to read how Bart approaches that point of view.

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5 hours ago, Burl said:

I find the idea of an eternal fire in the bible but not eternal torment.  It’s more like being thrown into an incinerator than living in one, and the idea of any eternal life beyond the grave is only for the saved.

That does seem to be Bart's understanding from what I have read of him about his book so far.  I'll let you know.

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3 hours ago, PaulS said:

(snip)

If I look at the few verses you offer I could also imagine other interpretations - In Matthew's parable of the 10 Virgins you have Jesus saying people are going away to eternal punishment.  If you're punishment is obliteration, never to be resurrected, that would be eternal punishment, not eternal torture I expect.  Similarly, your Mark reference is referring to a physical place called Gehenna and again, it is easily understood as a finality, an end, and not an eternal, ongoing torture or existence in any way.  Matt 23:33 is also referring to Gehenna - finality, not eternal torture.  I'm interested to see how Bart explains the Lukan passage, but it does strike me as odd - almost as though it is a late addition to the story or a later story imposed on the character of Jesus.  I wonder if perhaps Bart thinks Jesus didn't actually say the rich man was being tortured in Hades, particularly as we know that Hades is a Greek introduction.  Nowhere in the OT scriptures is Hades supported, and the only OT references to Hell are indeed Sheol, the place where all dead go, not just the bad guys.

Yes, so Hell means something, but I think Bart will argue that it doesn't mean what the majority of Christians believe it does (eternal torture or suffering).

Yes, so it would seem Bart is suggesting that Jesus thought Gehenna as a vivid example of what it means not to make it to God's kingdom on this earth when it was to come into being.  One was to be destroyed, not tortured or suffering for all eternity.

Well, like I said, I'll be interested to read how Bart approaches that point of view.

I'm not trying to say that there are not other possible interpretations. Only that Bart doesn't know what Jesus was really teaching from the recorded writings. Personally i don't buy into what to me seems obvious to most Christians reading the NT because i don't buy into its accuracy as recorded. In the area of dogma and doctrine it has been corrupted, so to second guess what was meant of corrupted and mistranslated writings to me is futile except to prove there is corruption. I also don't buy into a physical place of heaven or hell as i mentioned because nothing  physical by nature including this earth is eternal. The physical is subject to decay and change.

 

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In some ways I get this interest in what the original authors 2000 years ago meant by heaven and hell. It is some academic puzzle to be solved.

If it simply means, heaven and hell are actually our perceptions of now, (this is the interpretation I lean to, admittedly on minimal study) then fair enough. 

Stuff has been written about this universe since then, and I don't mean the interminable interpretations of Biblical texts (and other religious texts). 

I find this to be a really interesting universe, how it ticks and unfolds is amazing and yet we seem stuck.

I suppose the question I am asking why do we here show so little interest in things outside of Progressive Christianity and religion in general?

 

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17 hours ago, JosephM said:

Paul, 

While i do not believe in an eternal physical place called heaven and hell myself, I don't think Bart knows what Jesus believed or really taught . IF we believe the literal translated recorded words in Mathew, Mark and Luke that Jesus spoke then he did teach of hell as a place of eternal torment both in words and parables. Matt 25:46,  Mark 9:45, Matt 23:33, Luke 16:20-26 and more. I can present a good argument on how heaven and hell can't be physical places since nothing that is physical is eternal but if i accept the words of the Bible as written as innerant  then i would have to admit Jesus taught about heaven and hell.

Sheol which appears in the KJV OT 62 times is translated hell 31 times and the grave 31 times. Of course one could argue that the translation is in error as the Hebrew word Sheol refers to the grave or the abode of the dead ( Psalms 88:3 Psalms 88:5 ) There are 23 occurrences of the word hell in the KJV NT but of course translations can be challenged as the Greeks had 3 words that were translated as hell, hades, tartarosas, and Gehenna. However Gehenna which has 12 occurrences translated to hell .....

"Gehenna is a transliteration of an Old Testament Hebrew expression, “the valley of Hinnom,” which denoted a ravine on the southern side of Jerusalem. This valley was used by certain apostate Hebrews as a place where their children were offered into the fiery arms of the pagan god Molech (2 Chron. 28:3; 33:6). It was thus an area of suffering and weeping. When Josiah launched his reformation, this valley was regarded as a site of heinous abomination (2 Kgs. 23:10-14). It finally became the garbage depository of Jerusalem where there was a continual burning of refuse. Gehenna, being associated with these ideas, appropriately served as a symbolic designation for the place of suffering to which evil persons will be consigned following the Lord’s return. "

Employing several examples of hyperbole (for the sake of emphasis), Christ stressed that it would be better to proceed through life with great loss (e.g. deprived of an eye or a limb), rather than having Gehenna as a final destiny (Mt. 5:29-30; cf. 18:9; Mk. 9:43-47)

So called Biblical scholars can say what they want to believe or want people to believe but to me if you are using and believe the KJV Bible as it exists as your source,  reading all occurrences in context it leaves little doubt that Jesus taught about hell as a place of punishment/ torment.

KJV bible?  That’s a beautiful work of English literature, but it is antiquated.  We now have better translators, have found more texts and our understanding of Koine Greek has advanced tremendously.

It is absolutely sufficient for salvation, but not for academic work.

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3 hours ago, romansh said:

 

I suppose the question I am asking why do we here show so little interest in things outside of Progressive Christianity and religion in general?

 

Good question.  Probably because we don’t have much else in common.

 
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Reading the Bible in one's own language can be helpful to the individual or the community but that is different than a scholarly consideration of the Bible. 

In addition to Ehrman's upcoming book, David Bentley Hart just wrote 'That ALL shall be Saved' and covers some to the same material. These two (just to name two) know the biblical languages and also know, for example, the common beliefs or understandings of Jewish apocalypticists of the Second Temple period and the historical Jewish understanding of 'heaven and hell.'

Given that Jesus was a Jew and was such a 'prophet' of the Second Temple period, the preponderance of information/evidence in on the side of Ehrman and Hart regarding these topics. And if you tie in the works of Allison and other scholars about the gist material (without once again revisiting that discussion) it only adds to the high probability and reliability that Ehrman and Hart are on the money.

They are not 'so called' biblical (and/or early Christianity) scholars, they actually are real scholars. Actual scholars are essential for academic work.  It is apparent that such actual scholars provide one 'block' of information on which the PC perspective is built (and supported)

 

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As one of those who was taught the accepted understanding of heaven and hell in Christianity, I never took it, nor do I now, as indoctrination by falsehoods. The ones who taught me (us) also believed what they were teaching: they were not falsehood to them. However (in hindsight and as the result of education), I think they were wrong, that we know much more today and I do think it would be advantageous and healthy if kids could be presented with a 'newer' take on heaven, hell and, my personal favorite, purgatory. 

Whether all Churches would allow for this or agree with the new insights and findings is the bigger issue. However it seems that within PC, these insights have been with us for decades. 

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2 hours ago, Burl said:
2 hours ago, Burl said:
Good question. Probably because we don’t have much else in common.

I also enjoyed deleting your PM, Burl. 

But there are traces of your reply to my question "why do we here show so little interest in things outside of Progressive Christianity and religion in general?"

It would seem that you think PCs are not interested in how the universe ticks. Interesting.

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11 hours ago, JosephM said:

I'm not trying to say that there are not other possible interpretations. Only that Bart doesn't know what Jesus was really teaching from the recorded writings. Personally i don't buy into what to me seems obvious to most Christians reading the NT because i don't buy into its accuracy as recorded. In the area of dogma and doctrine it has been corrupted, so to second guess what was meant of corrupted and mistranslated writings to me is futile except to prove there is corruption. I also don't buy into a physical place of heaven or hell as i mentioned because nothing  physical by nature including this earth is eternal. The physical is subject to decay and change.

I agree Bart can't 100% 'know' what Jesus was really teaching, and quite possibly he is working with material that has indeed been corrupted since Jesus actually said and did whatever he did, if in fact he even existed as we think of him today.

I do think that much of Bart's work has demonstrated the corruption of any original writings and the significance that there is a lot we can't actually know, though Christianity in general pretends it does.

But I do like the idea of taking the very same documents that have been used to paint a certain picture and shed a bit more historical accuracy on them to demonstrate they don't actually mean what many have been told they do.  Whether that happens to be historical reality of what Jesus actually said at the time, may forever remain uncertain.

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8 hours ago, romansh said:

I suppose the question I am asking why do we here show so little interest in things outside of Progressive Christianity and religion in general?

I'm not sure it's a lack of interest but rather most of us probably just stick within our comfort zones with what we are more familiar with.

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57 minutes ago, PaulS said:

I agree Bart can't 100% 'know' what Jesus was really teaching, and quite possibly he is working with material that has indeed been corrupted since Jesus actually said and did whatever he did, if in fact he even existed as we think of him today.

I do think that much of Bart's work has demonstrated the corruption of any original writings and the significance that there is a lot we can't actually know, though Christianity in general pretends it does.

But I do like the idea of taking the very same documents that have been used to paint a certain picture and shed a bit more historical accuracy on them to demonstrate they don't actually mean what many have been told they do.  Whether that happens to be historical reality of what Jesus actually said at the time, may forever remain uncertain.

Yes.  Which is why I always use the bible as a reference and insist on proper hermeneutics.  Reading the bible is not a simple task.

There is not much original thought in Ehrman’s work.  Everything he writes has been taught in seminaries and universities for decades.  He is an excellent teacher and author who has brought this scholarship into the popular press.

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2 minutes ago, Burl said:

There is not much original thought in Ehrman’s work.  Everything he writes has been taught in seminaries and universities for decades.  He is an excellent teacher and author who has brought this scholarship into the popular press.

Yes, unfortunately Erhman's work is exceptionally original to the bulk of Christianity.  I agree the information is available in universities and seminaries, but it simply ain't what gets preached about in the majority of Christian Churches. 

Something like 72% of Americans believe in a literal heaven and 58% in a literal hell.  Clearly they are listening to sources other than seminaries and universities if they think this is what Jesus was preaching.  

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It's not even that people remain in their comfort zones. This site is specifically a PC site and one comes to it with that understanding and topics like the Bible, Christ, God, etc. are the main and most relevant topics to discuss. Sometimes we move to other issues but typically always with an eye to 'ultimate' meaning which is also a point of interest to many here.

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9 hours ago, Burl said:

Yes.  Which is why I always use the bible as a reference and insist on proper hermeneutics.  Reading the bible is not a simple task.

There is not much original thought in Ehrman’s work.  Everything he writes has been taught in seminaries and universities for decades.  He is an excellent teacher and author who has brought this scholarship into the popular press.

This is true. Any can and do read the Bible for 'guidance' in life and to draw closer to Jesus. This is valid for them and it works given many good people who have done this throughout time and have been 'salt of the earth' people. However, a critical study of the Bible begs for scholarly insights and assistance. This is evident if one has ever gone to an Ehrman lecture series - which are typically sold out.

Ehrman's contribution is that he has a knack for speaking and explaining this stuff not only to fellow scholars but to everyday people. Is it original? Perhaps not to the scholarly class but certainly to a mass audience. I have read about this topic (H&H) in the works of other authors but truly readable authors? I can think of two: Ehrman and Hart (and the latter is not for the uninitiated). I also like that Ehrman has no apparent ax to grind (being an atheist and a good man) but tries to be an 'objective' historian.

So, I agree with you!

p.s. I don't find this unfortunate as Ehrman presents to college kids coming of age and, in writing to a mass audience, is meeting a need that is present for others 'now'   at different points in their lives. Since we are on a PC site, such works are often found on such sites (including the main site and the old Spong site) and on the sites of individual scholars whose audience, given the responses, lean PC.

Some 'other' churches are not there yet (may never be) and many people are a bit busy with their own lives. Yet some of them and still others have developed an 'itch' and are looking for something more and answers.

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On 3/1/2020 at 6:02 PM, PaulS said:

I'm not sure it's a lack of interest but rather most of us probably just stick within our comfort zones with what we are more familiar with.

So existence is not within PC's comfort zone and we are reduced to speculating about the meaning and authenticity of some 2000 year old story?

Interesting.

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2 hours ago, romansh said:

So existence is not within PC's comfort zone and we are reduced to speculating about the meaning and authenticity of some 2000 year old story?

Interesting.

Rather I was trying to say that I think perhaps the more popular focus of discussion on here tends to be God/Bible/Jesus related because of a familiarity/commonality that most people here have in that area.

I don't think we're 'reduced' to anything.  Anybody can start a discussion thread on existence or any other matter at any time (providing its within our guidelines).  I myself think it might be very interesting to discuss - are you interested in kicking it off?

For me personally, whilst thinking about existence is of interest to me, because of my life experiences I also find a lot of interest in discussing misunderstandings and misteachings about the bible that Christianity in general either ignores or seems oblivious to. 

I have other interests apart from speculating about the meaning and authenticity of some 2000 year old story - namely sailing, breeding finches, gardening, camping and fishing, making things, drinking & socializing, parenting & family, and more - I just don't discuss them much here.  This forum is but one small aspect of my life.

 

 

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3 hours ago, romansh said:

So existence is not within PC's comfort zone and we are reduced to speculating about the meaning and authenticity of some 2000 year old story?

For some, and for many associated with PC, those 2000 year old stories and the earlier stories that brings us back even farther into history, has everything to do with existence.

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38 minutes ago, PaulS said:

Rather I was trying to say that I think perhaps the more popular focus of discussion on here tends to be God/Bible/Jesus related because of a familiarity/commonality that most people here have in that area.

I agree that this is the primary (not the only) focus.

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Just wanted to say that I'm one of those Christians that finds that Bart Ehrman is one of those writers and scholars that really and honestly has enhanced and increased my faith. I don't know how many of us there are at this point, but I know I am not the only one.

Don't agree with everything he says, ( guess that goes without saying), but there's enough that he says that I either agree with, or find enlightening, or both, that I can really appreciate and celebrate the fact that I've found his teaching and works.

Don't really feel like talking/writing about hell right now. . . . . maybe later.

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5 hours ago, Elen1107 said:

Just wanted to say that I'm one of those Christians that finds that Bart Ehrman is one of those writers and scholars that really and honestly has enhanced and increased my faith. I don't know how many of us there are at this point, but I know I am not the only one.

Don't agree with everything he says, ( guess that goes without saying), but there's enough that he says that I either agree with, or find enlightening, or both, that I can really appreciate and celebrate the fact that I've found his teaching and works.

Don't really feel like talking/writing about hell right now. . . . . maybe later.

Ehrman is also a good guy in person. Definitely a bit quirky, a bit of a nerd (which I consider a compliment) and even a bit shy (odd as that might be to say) with little jokes that sometimes fall flat accompanied by his own little laugh at them. He is a great teacher/presenter, takes pains to be understood and genuinely cares about those in need (everything from his blog goes to his charities). 

I agree that his work (and the works of others) has been enlightening and enhancing for many people. 

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