« PreviousContinue »
Had we any evidence that this designation had been given to Christianity in the times of the apostles, there might be some plausibility in the conjecture. But there is no trace of such a designation; and, indeed, it would have been exceedingly improper as applied to a doctrine which was preached publicly every-where, and of whose ministers both Jews and Pagans complained, that they turned the world upside down. There are few words in the New Testament more common than idios, but there is not a single instance wherein it is accompanied with the article, that can be rendered otherwise than his own, her own, or their own.
23. So much for the distinction uniformly observed in Scripture between the words διάβολος and δαιμόνιον; to which 1 shall only add, that in the ancient Syriac version these names are always duly distinguished. The words employed in translating one of them are never used in rendering the other; and in all the Latin translations I have seen, ancient and modern, Popish and Protestant, this distinction is carefully observed. It is observed also in Diodati's Italian version, and most of the late French versions. But in Luther's German translation, the Geneva French, and the common English, the words are confounded in the manner above observed. Some of the later English translations have corrected this error, and some have implicitly followed the common version.
"Αδης AND Γέεννα. . The next example I shall produce of words of which, though commonly translated by the same English term, there is a real difference of signification, shall be aons and yesvva, in the common version rendered hell. That yćévva is employed in the New Testament to denote the place of future punishment prepared for the devil and his angels, is indisputable. In the Old Testament we do not find this place in the same manner mentioned. Accordingly the the word yéerva does not occur in the Septuagint. It is not a Greek word, and consequently not to be found in the Grecian classics. It is originally a compound of the two Hebrew words na ge hinnom, the valley of Hinnom, a place near Jerusalem, of which we hear first in the book of Joshua.* It was there that the cruel sacri fices of children were made by fire to Moloch, the Ammonitish idol, 2 Chron. 33:6. The place was also called Tophet, 2 Kings 23:10; and that, as is supposed, from the noise of drums, (toph signifying a
* Josh. 15: 8. It is rendered by the Seventy, Josh. 18: 16, rai-Evrój, and in some editions Talevya, hence the name in the N. T.
drum), a noise raised on purpose to drown the cries of the helpless infants. As this place was, in process of time, considered as an emblem of hell, or a place of torment reserved for the punishment of the wicked in a future state, the name tophet came gradually to be used in this sense, and at length to be confined to it. This is the sense, if I mistake not, in which gehenna, a synonymous term, is always to be understood in the New Testament, where it occurs just iwelve times. In ten of these there can be no doubt; in the other two the expression is figurative; but it scarcely will admit a question, that the figure is taken from that state of misery which awaits the impenitent. Thus the Pharisees are said to make the proselyte, whom they compass sea and land to gain, twofold more a child of hell, vios yćevvns, than themselves, Matt. 23: 15; an expression both similar in form, and equivalent in signification, to vios diábolov, son of the devil, and viòs ins anodeias, son of perdition. In the other passage (James 3: 6), an unruly tongue is said to be “set on fire of hell," qroyecouévn uno iñs yćevvrs. These two cannot be considered as exceptions, it being the manifest intention of the writers in both to draw an illustration of the subject from that state of perfect wretchedness.
2. As to the word odns, which occurs in eleven places of the New Testament, and is rendered hell in all except one, where it is translated grave, it is quite common in classical authors, and frequently used by the Seventy in the translation of the Old Testament. In my judgment, it ought never in Scripture to be rendered hell, at least in the sense wherein that word is now universally understood by Christians. In the Old Testament the corresponding word is bix sheol, which signifies the state of the dead in general, without regard to the goodness or badness of the persons, their happiness or misery. In translating that word, the Seventy have almost invariably used ödns. This word is also used sometimes in rendering the nearly synonymous words or phrases niz bor, and is 228 al bor, the pit, and stones of the pit, nin-x tsal moth, the shades of death, 7217 dumeh, silence. The state is always represented under those figures which suggest something dreadful, dark, and silent, about which the most prying eye, and listening ear, can acquire no information. The term adns, hades, is well adapted to express this idea. It was written anciently, as we learn fron the poets, (for what is called the poetic is nothing but the ancient dialect), odns, ab a privativo et cido video, and signifies obscure, hidden, invisible. To this the word hell in its primitive signification perfectly corresponded ; for, at first, it denoted only what was sacred or concealed. This word is found with little variation of form, and precisely in the same meaning, in all the Teutonic dialects.*
See Junius' Gothic Glossary, suhjoined to the Codex Argenteus, on the word hulyan.
But though our word hell, in its original signification, was more adapted to express the sense of ödns than of yćevva, it is not so now. When we speak as Christians, we always express by it the place of the punishment of the wicked after the general judgment, as opposed to heaven, the place of the reward of the righteous. It is • true that, in translating heathen poets, we retain the old sense of the word hell, which answers to the Latin orcus, or rather infernus ; as when we speak of the descent of Æneas, or of Orpheus, into hell. Now the word infernus, in Latin, comprehends the receptacle of all the dead, and contains both elysium the place of the blessed, and tartarus the abode of the iniserable. The term inferi comprehends all the inhabitants, good and bad, happy and wretched. The Latin words infernus and inferi bear evident traces of the notion that the repository of the souls of the departed is under ground. This appears also to have been the opinion of both Greeks and Hebrews, and indeed of all antiquity. How far the ancient practice of burying the body may have contributed to produce this idea concerning the mansion of the ghosts of the deceased, I shall not take it upon me to say ; but it is very plain, that neither in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, nor in the New, does the word ädns convey the meaning which the present English word hell, in the Christian usage, always conveys to our minds.
3. It were endless to illustrate this remark by an enumeration and examination of all the passages in both Testaments wherein the word is found. The attempt would be unnecessary, as it is hardly now pretended by any critic that this is the acceptation of the term in the Old Testament. Wbo, for example, would render the words of the venerable patriarch Jacob, (Gen. 37: 35), when he was deceived by his sons into the opinion that his favorite child Joseph had been devoured by a wild beast, “I will go down to hell to my son mourning?" or the words which he used, (ch. 42: 38), when they expostulated with him about sending his youngest son Benjamin into Egypt along with them, “ Ye will bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to hell ?" Yet in both places the word in the original is sheol, and in the version of the Seventy hades. I shall only add, that in the famous passage from the Psalms (16: 10), quoted in the Acts of the Apostles (2: 27), of which I shall have occasion to take notice afterwards, though the word is the same, both in Hebrew and in Greek, as in the two former quotations, and though it is in both places rendered hell in the common version, it would be absurd to understand it as denoting the place of the damned, whether the expression be interpreted literally of David the type, or of Jesus Christ the antitype, agreeably to its principal and ultimate object.
4. But it appears at present to be the prevailing opinion among critics, that the term, at least in the Old Testament, means no more than R keber, grave or sepulchre. Of the truth of this opinion, after the most attentive, and I think impartial examination, I am far from being convinced. At the same time I am not insensible of the weight which is given to that interpretation by some great names in the learned world, particularly that of Father Simon, a man deeply versed in oriental literature, who has expressly said * that sheol signifies in the Hebrew of the Old Testament sepulchre, and who has strenuously and repeatedly defended this sentiment against Le Clerc and others who had attacked it.t And since he seems even to challenge his opponents to produce examples, from the Old Testament, wherein the word sheol has the signification which they ascribe to it, I shall here briefly, with all the deference due to names so respectable as those which appear on the opposite side, lay before the reader the result of my inquiries upon the question.
5. I freely acknowledge, that by translating sheol, the grave, the purport of the sentence is often expressed with sufficient clearness. The example last quoted from Genesis is an evidence. “Ye will bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave,” undoubtedly gives the meaning of the sentence in the original, notwithstanding that the English word grave does not give the meaning of the Hebrew word sheol. This may at first appear a paradox, but will not be found so when examined. Suppose one in relating the circumstances of a friend's death, should say, “ This unlucky accident brought him to his shroud,” another should say, “ It brought him to his coffin," a third, " It brought him to his grave;" the same sentiment is expressed by them all ; and these plain words, “ This accident proved the cause of his death," are equivalent to what was said by every one of them. But, can we justly infer thence, that the English words shroud, coffin, grave, and death, are synonymous terms? It will not be pretended by those who know English. Yet I have not heard any argument stronger than this, for accounting the Hebrew words sheol and keber synonymous. The cases are entirely parallel. Used as tropes they often are so
Who can question that, when there is any thing figurative in the expression, the sense may be conveyed without the figure, or by another figure ? And if so, the figures or tropes, however different, may doubtless, in such application, be called synonymous to one another, and to the proper term. I
* Hist. Crit. du N. T. ch. 12.
| Reponse à la Defense des Sentimens de quelques Theologiens de Hollande, ch. 16.
This is precisely the idea which Cappellus (to whom Hebrew criticism owes inore perbups than to any other individual) had of the relation between the words sheol and keber. In answer to Villalpandus, who, in explaining a Hebrew inscription, supposes sh, the letter schin, to stand for
Now, if this holds of the tropes of the same language, it holds also of those of different languages. You may adopt a trope in translating, which does not literally answer to that of the original, and which, nevertheless, conveys the sense of the original more justly than the literal version would have done. But in this case, though the whole sentence in the version corresponds to the whole sentence in the original, there is not the like correspondence in the words taken severally. Sometimes the reverse happens, to wit, that every word of a sentence in the original has a word exactly corresponding in the version, and yet the whole sentence in the one does not correspond to the whole sentence in the other. The different geniuses of different languages render it impossible to obtain always a correspondence in both respects. When it can be had only in one, the sentiment is always to be preferred to the words. For this reason I do not know how our translators could have rendered sheol in that passage better than they have done. Taken by itself, we have no word in our language that answers to it. The Latin is, in this instance, luckier; as it supplies a word perfectly equivalent to that of the sacred penman, at the same time that it justly expresses the sense of the whole. Such is the translation of the verse in the Vulgate, " Deducetis canos meos cum dolore ad inferos." Now, though our word the grave may answer sufficiently in some cases for expressing, not the import of the Hebrew word sheol, but the purpori of the sentence, it gives in other cases but feeble, and sometimes an improper version of the original. But this will be more evident afterwards.
6. First, in regard to the situation of hades, it seems always to have been conceived by both Jews and Pagans as in the lower parts of the earth, near its centre, as we should term it, or its foundation, according to the notions of the Hebrews, who knew nothing of its spherical figure, and answering in depth to the visible heavens in height; both which are, on this account, oftener than once contrasted in sacred writ. In general, to express any thing inconceivably deep, this word is adopted, which shows sufficiently that unfathomable depth was always a concomitant of the idea conveyed by sheol. Thus God is represented by Moses as saying, Deut. 32: 22, “A fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn to the lowest hell," as it is rendered in the common version. The word is sheol or hades; and Simon hiinself admits * that it is here an hyperbole, which signifies that the fire should reach the bottom of the earth, sheol and mean sepulchre, he expresses himself thus: “Quis non videt, quam coacta sit ejusmodi interpretatio, quamque aliena & more, ingenio, et phrasi vere Ebraica. Nam ut v significet 318, quis Ebraismni peritus dixerit, cum 12 sepulcrum non significet, nisi figurata locutione apud prophetas, qui tropice loquuntur.” Diatriba de Literis Ebr.
Rosponse à la Defense, etc. ch. xvi.