on the linguistic invention of a “hell” of fiery rage

The below content is from a public thread on Facebook. I will put my first comment below in ALL CAPS to show where the original comment ends.

Jacob M. Wright wrote:

The word “Hell” is not in the Bible. “Gehenna” is. “Hell” is a mistranslation. “Gehenna” is the right translation. Either you’re ignorant of this, or you’ve read it and yet choose to deliberately go with the mistranslation. Now you know.

The concept of “hell”, or eternal torment in the afterlife is literally and exactly nowhere in the Old Testament. “Gehenna” however is in the OT just a few times. It is a literal place, right outside of Jerusalem, where Israel practiced gross idolatry and later became called “the Valley of Slaughter” because of its reputation of idolatry and loathsomeness. Dead bodies were thrown in Gehenna and they were eaten by worms and turned to ashes by fire.

This provides the context of Jesus usage of “Gehenna”. Jesus quotes Isaiah when talking about Gehenna when he says “where the worm doesn’t die and the fire is not quenched”. He’s referring back to the valley of Gehenna, directly quoting Isaiah 66:24, which says “…the dead bodies, the worms that eat them up will not die and the fire that consumes them will not be quenched.” This literally happened. Dead bodies were eaten up by unquenchable fire and worms fed on the dead bodies until they were consumed to nothing. Interesting thing is, go to that Valley of Slaughter today and look in it and you will not see the fire still burning nor will you see immortal worms feeding on miraculously preserved dead bodies. The bodies are gone, the worms are gone, the fire is gone. The point is that the fire would not be deterred in burning up the dead bodies to nothing, the worms would not be deterred in eating up the dead bodies to nothing. And keep in mind these are mortal dead bodies in this life, not immortal conscious souls in the afterlife.

To read eternal torment into that is either gross ignorance or deliberate deception.

Even “eternal fire” or “eternal punishment” is a mistranslation, as “eternal” is a mistranslation of the Greek word “aionios”, which does not mean “never-ending” or anything of the sort. It means “of the age to come”, or to Plato, who may have invented the word, it means something which has its source in God and the unseen realm. It has nothing to do with ongoing, never-ending time.

There is literally no verse in scripture that can prop up the ridiculous, pagan, non-Jewish concept of eternal torment.

Spread the word to try to get rid of the ignorance on this issue.

This is not some new politically correct idea that people are making up because they don’t like hard biblical truths. There is a long list of early fathers who rejected eternal torment because they understood these correct meanings of words, they didn’t believe in the immortality of the soul (a pagan Greek belief), they had a touch of sanity (a good thing to have for theology), and they recognized that the scriptures either taught conditional immortality and/or final universal reconciliation. Eternal torment was the minority belief in the early church, and amongst those who were less familiar with the original meanings of the text. It did not become the prominent belief until after 500 AD, with the help of the violent organized institutional church established under Constantine.

Hell is not a good translation of Gehenna and it never will be. Gehenna was a real place with a real history in the Jewish mind, and it must be read in that context. Once it is read in that context, the idea of eternal torment falls to pieces, as it should.

I predict now that people will come on here quoting mistranslated verses to try to prop up their tradition of eternal torment. Most of these kind of people are not studied nor do they think very hard or honestly on these kinds of issues. They just accept what they are told. Nor have they probably ever had a dearly loved one that died an unbeliever. For them, it is completely fine that a bunch of dumb humans they don’t know nor have empathy for burn alive forever. Such a thing they wouldn’t give a second thought or shed one tear over. They simply must protect the only paradigm they know.

MY FIRST REPLY:

Below is a reference to hell in the New Testament. Hell (Gehenna) is a label for a state of rage or contempt.

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.”

http://biblehub.com/commentaries/james/3-6.htm

Here are several verses of that chapter, again with hell as the state of “burning” eternally with rage (and guilt / shame):

1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a [a]stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in [b]what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. 3 Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. 4 Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. 5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.

See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body [meaning the congregation as in “the body of christ(endom)], and sets on fire the course of our [c]life, and is set on fire by [d]hell. 7 For every [e]species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human [f]race. 8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing….

Also, like stories of Santa Claus, some stories are intended primarily to influence the experience and behaviors of the audience, not to be taken as literal truth. Huge amounts of the Hebrew scriptural tradition are considered by many Jews to be only parables, not history.

If a story is based on truth, so be it. Isaiah and many others warned people to focus on the “spirit” of a teaching, not on the “letter” (the literal accuracy). So, we can see gross errors in the “Christian goyim idolaters” who worship “the letter of the law.”

They say “thou shall not lie.” That is not right. It is a prohibition of perjury (false testimony).

They say “thou shall not kill.” That is not right either.

It is “thou shall not murder.” Clearly, killing was very common: “there is a time to kill and a time to heal, a time for war and for peace, a time for hate and for love.” That is from Ecclesiastes chapter 3 (Old Testament).

JH added: Yeah well we have a whole flock of people taking every word of the Bible literally.

JR continues: They take a few words of the Bible literally and ignore the rest. They may completely ignore Jesus quoting Isaiah on many important points about fixating on language and “worshiping with only the lips and not the heart.”

Is there value to ancient European (non-Hebrew) traditions about Hades, Pluto, and a goddess named Hel? Some say so….

JH responded:

My husband studied at Westmont he hates it when people pick out verses without context, but unfortunately he’s too busy to comment 😦 But I say we shouldn’t need to become an expert in interpreting the Bible to know God. And so many times I read something and I’m look it says this! then he tells me well you have to understand the audience and who Jesus was talking to and what he was addressing was different than it is now. And blah blah blah, so then I say well then I’m just going to make love my religion. Solves all language problems.

JR:

I appreciate your perspective, Janelle. It is not consistent with many other traditions though.

Take the three Greek words “Eros, agape, and Philia” and then translate them all as “love.” What just happened? A significant decrease in precision.

Respect is a better label for my religion (than “love”), which includes respect for logic and as well for hysteria and guilt. The religion about “unconditional love” is, how most people relate to it, actually a program for perfectionistic guilt. It is unhealthy.

It lacks healthy boundaries. It lacks self respect.

JH:
Unconditional love doesn’t mean you let people walk all over you in fact just the opposite if you have love for yourself then you won’t allow yourself to become a door mat.

JR:

Also, within the religion of respect, there are no language problems. There is language and either a respect for language or not.


JH:
Yes well English is terrible at describing love!!! Actually my husband did an awesome talk on those words and it was amazing. English falls short.


GM: Hell was invented by the catholic church as a way of keeping stupid people in line. Most people were deprived of education (not allowed to read) in order to keep them stupid. Both strategies are still used to some extent today.

JR: Prior to the Catholic Church, there were many traditions with afterlifes and underworlds and so on, including the European traditions relating to Hades, Pluto, and Hel.


GM: Yep. But usually only the one for everybody. (Greek hades was for everyone)

Egyptians believed that only people who had lived a good life (as measured by the feather of truth) would get to live for eternity in the afterlife (that predates christianity by thousands of years).

As far as I’m aware, the Catholic church was the first to determine a person’s eternal fate by the measure of their piety.

JR:

To GM, the Egyptian goddess who weighed the heart at death was Maat (as I recall). It would be fair to say that Maat was the precedent for St. Peter waiting at the gates of heaven to announce the goodness of someone and send them either to heaven or hell.

The heart was weighed against a feather to test for goodness. Maat is also depicted as holding a scale, wearing a blindfold, and carrying a sword. She is also known as justitia, portia, and “lady justice.”

Astrologers call her “Libra.”

Many “Christian idolaters” do not understand the most basic teachings in the Hebrew scripture of Genesis, such as that language is what divides “day from night, light from darkness, and heaven from earth.”

How does one year end and another begin? It is entirely a matter of language.

There is no substance to silence or darkness or stillness. These are just “linguistic conveniences” (or “poetry”).

The idea that “the darkness cannot darken a lamp” is not an obscure, mysterious reference. It is a casual, playful reference to the fact that “darkness” is not a something, but merely a label for the absence of light.

Whether intentionally or not, many Christian teachings produce “arrogant tools” who have hysterical contempt for “those stupid people over there.” Their self-contempt is projected all over.

For the one with inner contempt and self-disgust, there will be endless (as in countless) perceptions that will trigger a projection of disgust and contempt at “the disgusting thing out there that is CAUSING me shame.” They do not know the gospel of forgiveness and respect.

However, for the one who is pure, all things are pure. There is nothing unclean in itself, but if one relates to it as unclean, then it is unclean for YOU.

Do you recognize the verses I was just referencing?

The second is this:

http://biblehub.com/romans/14-14.htm

I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.

The first:

http://biblehub.com/titus/1-15.htm

To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.

JH:
Are you giving a sermon J R?? 🙂 I’m not sure who you are speaking to. I have some contempt because I spent almost my entire childhood being taught one way to see things… (presbyterian) Believe in Jesus or go to hell for your sins!!!

JR:
Janelle, I do not think you were properly taught. There is a way to “see things” that involves either experiencing the hell of eternal contempt or “believing in Jesus.” You could forgive those who may have misled you… or do something else.

To “relax” contempt may be rather intimidating for many people. Contempt can be so very familiar!

Some people “make it in to their religion” (even while preaching about love & “how those other people should love me”).

So, back to Maat, when someone is “lighthearted,” then they will not even have as much weight of guilt on their conscience as a single feather. The feather will weigh more than “their heart.”

This is not about the physical organ, but the weight of contempt as distinct from a “spirit of innocence, lightheartedness, purity, respect, etc….”

However, the one who is guilty / impure / has not forgiven themselves… will be “chopped.” (I am making reference to a TV game show that is a cooking competition… but also making reference to the sword carried by “lady justice / the goddess justitia.”)


JH: Well to be honest I have dealt a lot with my contempt for how I was raised, and I recently have come full circle.This post kinda re-ignited it lol.

JR:
Janelle, you can experience repulsion and alarm at the lack of intelligence in certain teachings. Or, perhaps those teachings were in some way intelligent, even if still repulsive to you (or me).

But caution and repulsion do not require contempt, right? When I was ashamed of my naïveté at being intimidated and misled by “mainstream Christians,” then I had contempt for them. However, now I respect that, when I was younger, I was EVEN MORE naive than I later became. In other words, I have learned some stuff since being born.

Did I ever push an “ignorant spiritual perspective” on others? Maybe. Maybe for sure. Okay, for sure.

Mostly, we are made impure by social pressure. The traditional Hebrew culture does not have a teaching of a fundamental innate “original sin.”

Many Jews consider the New Testament authors Matthew and Paul to be clear cases of “apostasy” (heresy), especially the ideas of humans as fundamentally “slaves to sin.” There are fundamental risks of hysteria and hypocrisy and contempt, but not a fundamental, natural presence.

The author Luke also is big on “slave to sin” and that is key to the “pitch” of salvation through the institutional church. Likewise, socialists see government as the only access to “political salvation.”

In fact, many analysts suggest that Christianity was a plot (perhaps by Jews) to create a culture of people who were spiritually enslaved but also ashamed of spiritual slavery, so that they would neglect to be conscious of what was otherwise very obvious.

The idea of institutional salvation begins with the church and then extends throughout the holy empire. All the local warlords (monarchs and their prime *ministers*) who have been crowned by bishops (the agents of the “king of kings” in Rome) will be the great saints who offer political and economic salvation to the masses (while oppressing them).

Throughout the world, “the holy empire of the star” has armed men wearing six-pointed stars (such as sheriff deputies) and pentagrams (city cops, US marshals, etc). Through a veil of spiritual sorcery, the masses are ritually blinded to the simple reality by the indoctrination rituals of churches and the mass media and of course schools (including “science” classrooms).


JH wrote: Interesting. Yeah it is hard to get outside of indoctrination. I mostly just question beliefs now.

TB wrote: Buddhism = your beliefs are what make you suffer. Let go of them, believe nothing. Just observe

JR:
Hysterical attachment to presumptions is risky. Presumptions themselves are not so risky.

If I innocently presume, but then I am corrected by observation, then that is simple enough. The bigger problem is the terror that leads to clinging to presumptions.

Negligence leads to disappointment and frustration. That is good though because those lead naturally to attentiveness / mindfulness.

A deeper layer is the terror (pre-occupation / fixation) that is a factor especially in certain socially-reinforced presumptions. To resolve those terrors and traumas and shames, that is when the value of the sangha is huge (sangha = being around wise, cautious people).

I consider indoctrination rituals fascinating. We can look at what the Roman Catholic Church did hundreds of years ago for the training of missionaries to go out and spread the faith. We can study Tavistock and Edward Bernays and the Rockefellers and Eugene Debbs and John Dewey.

From the innovations of the “sacra congregation de propaganda fide” (spreading of the faith), modified indoctrination rituals were created for mainstream schools. Students were socially pressured to memorize “science” and then blindly repeat the doctrines ABOUT science on a test (in order to receive social validation).

That is how anti-scientific attitudes were created in the name of science, with hysteria about an essential nutrient called cholesterol plus demonic possession by invading “living entities” such as cancer and diabetes and scurvy and asthma.

JH: Yeah I agree. Have you read Ivan Illich’s deschooling society by chance?

JR:

I do not recall that title. Schooling is essential to the current efficiency of systems of social oppression.

That was all by design. The Rockefellers were very focused on destroying the emergence of holistic medicine in the 19th century in the US because it was bad for their business. Their business was crude oil and a big seller was petrochemical pharmaceutical drugs. They needed a steady market for drug addicts, so they made some careful donations to various medical schools.

They took the business model from their allies among British royalty, whose primary business has been opium for centuries (including opium derivatives like OxyContin, morphine, and heroin). The opium wars in the 1800s were all about the British invading China to keep their heroin profits flowing. The US navy and French navy also assisted the British in demolishing the Chinese military defenses.

GM adds:Some of you might be interested in this blog I wrote last night.
http://thinkersplayground.com/the-man-who-lost-his-soul


TB: Gavin [that article] is absolutely fantastic. I think you’ve tackled one of the biggest issues for many people in their quest for critical thinking… and done so in a way that is understandable, relatable, and highly intelligent. I loved many phrases along the way, and find deep resonance with your thought patterns. I’ll share this, too, and I hope it spreads far and wide.

GM: Thanks, Travis. that means a lot to me

JR:
I will share that article, GM. I liked it. I am a big fan of being attentive to “embedded linguistic presumptions.”

I like the idea (my paraphrasing) that organic life is what happens when light hits inorganic matter for a long enough time. I also like the section on the brain (as it relates to lobe isolation as well as parasites).

GM: Thanks 🙂

I might tidy up the conclusion. I got a bit tired yesterday 😞

(a semi-related subthread:)

Janelle Hoxie
Janelle Hoxie Very interesting, good arguments! I still would like to believe that our essence lives on somehow 🙂 And then maybe you could come up with an explanation for near death experiences. There is this lady I follow Anita Moorjani, who is an inspiration to me, that went into a coma from terminal lymphoma her organs were shutting down and felt unconditional love for the first time, chose to come back and healed within weeks… completely unexplained by science.
Unlike · Reply · 3 · Yesterday at 8:20am
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Travis Burch
Travis Burch I don’t know what we can know for sure, except that unconditional love is the only thing that makes any sense at all….even as the cheetah eats the antelope, it’s still there… I don’t know why
Like · Reply · 1 · Yesterday at 8:30am
Travis Burch
Travis Burch I also like how Thich Naht Hanh talks about how when the cloud rains and nourishes the flower, the cloud isn’t gone, it lives on in the flower
Unlike · Reply · 3 · Yesterday at 8:31am · Edited
Travis Burch
Travis Burch Although I’d hardly suggest with any confidence that that’s the limitation of our “abiliity” to endure beyond our being’s death… But if that’s how we live on, it’s beautiful.
Like · Reply · 2 · Yesterday at 8:35am · Edited
Janelle Hoxie
Janelle Hoxie That is beautiful! And if we think of energy and vibration I think love would definitely have a higher vibration than hate.
Like · Reply · Yesterday at 8:58am
Gavin Morrice
Gavin Morrice Thanks Janelle.

I think that sense of universal connectedness and love comes from the right hemisphere in the brain….See More

My stroke of insight
Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a…
TED.COM|BY JILL BOLTE TAYLOR
Unlike · Reply · 2 · Yesterday at 9:03am
Travis Burch
Travis Burch Yes! Think about how hate necessitates or invokes cortisol and acute or even chronic stress… which is the opposite of a low stress state… and low stress is high energy. So love is probably the highest state to store energy in a cell and a body. One might say we run fastest when we are afraid of, say, a lion chasing us, but I think we might find ourselves become even more superhuman in a situation where we needed to rescue a child, or our child. Perfect love drives out fear, and I think that’s where our greatest energy potential lies. Great thoughts Janelle!
Like · Reply · 1 · Yesterday at 9:03am
Stephanie Peña
Stephanie Peña My son had a similar experience Janelle. Before his transplant he got the flu which almost killed him. He was so sick he had to be air lifted from PHX Children’s to Colorado Children’s and we were told he probably won’t make it to CO (they didn’t even want to air lift him but I threw such a crazy fit they finally gave in). He got to a point where he was only able to take in tiny puffs of air (his last breaths) and the flight crew was trying to intubate him, but there was too much turbulence, so one of the nurses said “fuck it, lets pray” so we all did and with in 30 seconds he was completely healed (from the flu). We landed in Colorado and went to the ICU and the docs were like “why are you guys here?” It was pretty incredible healing experience all brought on by love and intention.
Unlike · Reply · 3 · Yesterday at 9:03am
Travis Burch
Travis Burch Three simultaneous posts!
Like · Reply · 1 · Yesterday at 9:03am
Janelle Hoxie
Janelle Hoxie Yes, that fear state… I am doing everything I possibly can to get out of that fear state, it is torture! Love is the state I want to be in. Not that I am denying emotion, but I really believe the chemicals that go along with fear lead to sickness.
Like · Reply · 2 · Yesterday at 9:20am
Janelle Hoxie
Janelle Hoxie Stephanie Peña wow! thanks for sharing that, what an intense moment that was!
Like · Reply · 2 · Yesterday at 9:21am
Travis Burch
Travis Burch I believe denying raw emotion is a great path to love deficiency
Like · Reply · 2 · Yesterday at 9:38am
Janelle Hoxie
Janelle Hoxie Yeah, I’m learning how to accept suffering and emotions that arise, but not coming from a place of fear. One of the ways I healed my panic disorder is to accept the panic, I’ve had times where I was fighting it and fighting it and that seems to feed into it, but then when I just accept what it is, everything just calms back down again within minutes. I was just thinking about that last night. To accept that being human is to suffer is to transcend.
Unlike · Reply · 3 · Yesterday at 9:43am
Travis Burch
Travis Burch very well said, janelle!
Like · Reply · 1 · Yesterday at 9:48am

JR: Janelle, if we compare panic to a place (like “coming from a PLACE of panic”), that implies disorderliness. I am not aware of any way to extract panic from hyperventilation / neurological hypoxia… or to extract hyperventilation from panic.

Simple fear, however, is “a place” of great efficiency. If I am startled in to alertness by an unexpected sound, that fright or fear can correspond to very high efficiency, as in “getting in the zone.” For someone not already “in the zone,” fear is a very common pathway to getting in the zone.

Distress and shame and pre-occupation / distraction / paranoia do not correspond to high efficiency or perceptiveness. Those tends to be states of low neurological efficiency.

JH: Interesting way of looking at it, are you saying you can’t take panic away from hyperventilating? I’ve been studying panic disorders for 2 yrs, the only way I could ever get a hold of it is changing my thoughts, accept that adrenaline is running through my veins but not to panic about it.

I realize fear is useful it is a primitive way to motivate you to action. I have extremely sensitive fear responses. My nervous system reacts so instantaneously!! Supposedly this is a good thing I’m not sure. But panic attacks that happen for no apparent reason made me generally fearful in life which means constant fight or flight. I’d rather live life fearlessly.

JR: Janelle, I respect fear. I am not afraid of it, which is to say that I am completely relaxed in regard to whether I experience fear or not. If there is potential danger, I want to have the advantage of alertness to accurately assess dangers and risks. Then, any risks can be addressed (whether by avoiding from some potential danger or neutralizing it etc).

As for “panic attacks,” consider that there is no “attack.” Same for asthma “attacks” and anxiety “attacks” and even heart “attacks.”

When a brain is low on oxygen, it can send signals to “breathe faster,” which is a favorable reflex in some cases. However, it is also valuable sometimes to slow down the rate of breathing. Slower, calmer breathing allows for the oxygen to get out of the bloodstream and in to the brain cells (and other cells beyond the blood stream).

This principle has been recognized for a very long time (like for thousands of years in meditation practices across many cultures), although the specific biochemical mechanism of why slowing down the breath can be so helpful was only documented in 1904. More: https://jrfibonacci.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/how-to-ward-off-demonic-attacks-of-panic-by-slowing-down-your-breath/

It is possible for someone to get more frazzled (as in grumpy, jumpy, etc), such as by lack of sleep. Most anyone who has raised or watched young children know the value of “noticing when they NEED a nap.”

It is also possible for someone who has been “jumpy” for years or even decades to become a “grounded person” (or a “mellow” person). When we are dealing with neurological functionality, that means electrons and oxygen and all those other very important components.

There is a video in a subthread above (as I recall) about a lady named Jill who studied strokes, and then had a stroke, then recovered fully. I also had a similar “neurological disaster” and recovered quite well.

JH: Yeah I don’t like the terminology, its not like something is attacking my body, I understand the mechanism quite well now. And do use breathing to get out of it as well. But the first trigger for me is never because I was just hyperventilating and thus the panic happened. Maybe I was shallowly breathing because of being anxious or worried or fearful.

JR: Since 1904 when the biochemical mechanism was established, there has been a lot of research on the huge “downline” of consequences to “sub-optimal” breathing (which is VERY common).

Anyone who breaths through their mouth most of the time (including while sleeping) can benefit by retraining their breathing. There are many other issues of course that can be factors.

Again, some people can easily hold their breath for three to four minutes (and repeatedly, like while exerting themselves vigorously underwater most of the time for twenty minutes straight while only coming up for a breath a few times). So, not only is breathing a method to decrease or increase panic / distress, but to measure broader neurological health.

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