The Evangelical Universalist Forum


I’ve stated before that I can’t buy Gregory’s book because my wife would have an absolute hissy; and man can she throw a hissy. :smiley: so I have been reading interviews and the limited access to the book that I can online. I read an interview yesterday where he seemed to suggest that Gehenna was the Lake of Fire or hell if you will. I personally don’t see any scriptural proof that Gehenna was anything other than a literal place with a literal fire, worms, and even a gnashing of teeth. I would love to know at what point in time did Gehenna become symbolic for hell. I also find it interesting that, at least a certain sect of Jews believed that Gehenna was temporary, nine months comes to mind. I would also like to know which scripture you folks best indicates that Gehenna is Hell?

If this has already been discussed just point me to the post. That will suffice.

Again Thanks

Still in One Peace


Hi Mike,

Here is Matthew 10:28 from Young’s Literal Translation.
And be not afraid of those killing the body, and are not able to kill the soul, but fear rather Him who is able both soul and body to destroy in gehenna.*

Here is the same verse in TNIV,
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Many versions translate the word gehenna to the word hell. And mentioning that both soul and body can be destroyed in gehenna clearly implies that the literal physical place of Gehenna that used to burn garbage is symbolically used to describe a place to punish souls after death. And Mark 9:42-48 also uses the word gehenna that is typically translated to the word hell.

The first thing that comes to mind is that He said that He was able to make rocks cry out as well yet I’ve never seen a rock cry out. I just don’t see how destroying the body and soul in Gehenna can be taken as punishment after death. Isaiah talks about corpses being in the valley. Do you agree that literal bodies were thrown into a literal ditch and literally burned? I can’t get over that these things took place as Jesus said they would.

I looked at an article on “Valley of Hinnon” in The New Bible Dictionary edited by J.D. Douglas. The Valley of Hinnon was later called Gehenna. During the days of Jeremiah, it was used for sacrifices in Molech worship that would have included human sacrifice. Later, Gehenna became a garbage dump set on fire. It was used to burn all types of garbage and also the corpses of animals and criminals. The Jews eventually said that nonstop fire in Gehenna was the gates of hell.

So history tells us that literal dead bodies of criminals were burned in Gehenna, but that wasn’t the focus of Isaiah’s Messianic Prophecy that included warning about suffering in Gehenna. For example, no dead body suffered while burning in the literal Gehenna.

I’m not as familiar with the Isaiah passage as I should be but I think he says that they will look on their corpses. I could see where there would be a national suffering because of the downfall of Jerusalem and that suffering would go on for ages.

Finally able to start catching up on some of these older posts after the macro-topical work of the past two months! Yeek! (sorry…)

By the way, this may have been mentioned earlier, but with a little persistence it’s possible to read Gregory’s book for free on Amazon by using the Search Inside The Book feature. (This would of course leave some pages in your browser’s history, but so does reading reviews of his book. :mrgreen: Plus the browser history can be purged under most systems pretty easily.)

I think James has outlined fairly well how the Valley of Hinnom became an analogical image in Judaism (and for Jesus) as the punishment of sinners either in hades/sheol or after the resurrection of the evil. The imagery is literal because it was in fact a literal place where epic-level sinners once burned things, and where garbage still was being burned in Jesus’ day.

(As an aside, when Jesus is standing on the wing of the Temple during the Synoptic Temptation scenes: that would have been right over the valley of Hinnom!–the farthest drop. It’s also where a priest would watch for the first hint of sunrise over the far-distant Hermon range of mountains, which is typically understood to be the scene for the phase of the temptation involving seeing all the nations of the world in a moment.)

Aside from the Matt 10 and Mark 9 refs previously mentioned, the term (Ge’hinnom, or ravine of Hinnom, transliterated over to Greek) occurs in the NT in the following places: Matt 5:22, 29-30; 18:9; 23:15,33; Luke 12:5; James 3:6.

James 3:6 “Look here!–what amount of fire is kindling what amount of material! And the tongue is a fire, a world of injustice. The tongue is constituted among our members as that which is spotting the whole body, and aflaming the wheel of our lineage, and is aflaming by Gehenna.” (I strongly suspect this has underlying thematic connections back to Isaiah 6:5-7, by the way.)

Matt 5:21-30: "You have heard that it was said to the ancients ‘MURDER NOT’, and ‘Whoever murders, shall be guilty before the judging’. But I am saying to you, that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the judging; and whoever calls his brother ‘Good-for-nothing!’ shall be guilty before the Sanhedrin; and whoever even says ‘You fool!’ shall be guilty to the Gehenna of fire! {…}

“You have (also) heard that it was said ‘ADULTER NOT’. But I am telling you, every man who looks upon a woman to lust for her, has committed adultery with her already in his heart! Now, if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it away!–for it is better for you that part of your body should die and you should enter the kingdom of God with only one eye, than to be cast with two eyes into the flaming garbage dump! And if your foot is making you stumble, cut it off!–for it is better to enter life as lame, than to be thrown with both feet into the flaming garbage dump! And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away!–for it is better for you that part of your body should die and you enter the life of the kingdom of God as a cripple, than for your whole body to be cast with both hands into the flaming garbage dump!” (I translated {gehenna} as ‘flaming garbage dump’ for contextual purposes.)

There is a repeat of this precept to the disciples during the final scene in Capernaum, which is paralleled in Matt 18 and Mark 9. (Luke also has the sequence of events, but omits this particular scene.) A harmonization of the relevant verses would read:

"Look here, then!–you should not be despising one of these little ones; for I am telling you: their angels in the heavens look continually on the face of My Father Who is in the heavens!

"But whoever is causing one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble… it would be better for him to hang a ton of stone around his neck and be sunk in the open sea!!

"Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! For, it is inevitable that stumbling blocks will come–but woe to the one through whom the stumbling block is coming!

"Now if your hand or foot is causing you to stumble, cut it off!–for it is better to enter life as lame, than to be thrown with both your hands and feet into the flaming garbage dump!

"And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it away!–for it is better for you that part of your body should die and you should enter the kingdom of God with only one eye, than to be cast with two eyes into the flaming garbage dump, where (as it is written in Isaiah the prophet) ‘Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched!’

“But how does that seem to you?! If any man comes to have a hundred sheep, and even one of those happens to be led astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying?

“And if it turns out that he finds it, I am telling you truly, that he is rejoicing more over this one than over the ninety-and-nine which haven’t gone astray!

"Thus it is not the Will before your Father in the heavens, that even one of these little ones shall be dying!”

"For everyone will be salted with fire!! (that is, per the Follower’s account, the fire in Gehenna)

"You are the salt of the earth; and salt is ideal! But if the salt becomes unsalty, how will it be made salty again? With what will you be seasoning it!? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men! Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear:

"Have salt in yourselves; and be at peace with one another.”

The Luke 12 context occurs while Jesus is on the final approach to Jerusalem from Jericho. The relevant verses read:

"Now, there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known! Instead, whatever you say in the dark shall be heard in the light, and whatever you speak in the ear in the inner rooms shall be heralded on the housetops!

"But I am saying to you, My friends–do not be afraid of those who kill the body, yet after this they have no worse that they can do to you. Now I will tell you as a friend whom you should fear: be afraid of Him Who after killing has authority to cast you in the flaming garbage dump! Certainly I tell you, be afraid of this One!

"Five sparrows are sold for two copper coins, aren’t they? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight! And even the hairs of your head have all been numbered!

“So do not fear!–you are worth more than many sparrows!”

The final occurrences in the NT are reported in the GosMatt version of the final condemnation by Jesus of the Pharisees and scribes and chief priests before He leaves the Temple:

"Wailing to you, you scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites!–because you travel around on sea and land to make one convert; and when he does become one, then you make him twice as much a son of flaming garbage as yourselves!! {…}

"Wailing to you, you scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites!–for you build the prophets’ tombs, and decorate memorials of the fair ones, and say, ‘If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been their partners in the blood of the prophets!’

“So, against yourselves, you give testimony that you are descendants of the murderers of prophets, and fill up the measure of your fathers!–you serpents, you sons of vipers! How shall you escape the judgment of fiery waste!!?”

(Here references to Gehenna are being used within context of rhetorical colloquialism, so I’ve paraphrased the translation accordingly.)

Each occurrence has elements of non-literal metaphor and/or analogy strongly attached to it; but the threat to body as well as soul, by its character, has to have some level of literality about it. The danger isn’t to be waved off, in any case, on grounds of it being a ‘metaphorical’ description. When Jesus gets piççed off, it’s long past time to take Him seriously. :wink:

Luke 12’s ref to Gehenna, as noted above, contrasts that we should not fear those who can kill the body and then do nothing more, compared to the One Who after killing has authority to throw both body and soul into Gehenna. If one is simply dead at death of the body, then there would be no rhetorical point to not fearing one but fearing the other. (Note: the Matthean parallel at Matt 10:26-28ff doesn’t include the qualifying detail that this happens after this One has already killed.)

Yet again, unless there is supposed to be more than one everlasting fire of Gehenna into which sinners are thrown, this topically has to be the same lake of fire as that at the end of RevJohn 20, where resurrected sinners are thrown (along with hades and death) into the lake of fire. Which isn’t the end of the story, even in RevJohn! But still, there’s the body-and-soul-of-sinners-into-fire after the general resurrection.

My extended critique of a popular scholarly apologist for annihilationism, Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi (which can be found here in our forums) covers a lot of the ground you’re asking about, including the ref to Isaiah and the bodies in the valley.

I saw this more of a destruction of the soul of Israel. A destruction of the pharisiacal way. The body was not destroyed but their soul was. It would kinda be like the USA being stripped of its colors, constitution, freedom, etc in a communist takeover. Sure bodies would be killed but we are willing to sacrifice bodies. We fight for the Soul of the Nation.

Yep. I know I’m probably grasping at straws but sometimes this whole UR thing seems to be grasping at straws.

Anyway thanks for the commentary.

Heres the problem I have with direct literal translation. When you say it seems to grasp at straws, I get the sense that the obvious meaning to scripture is not in the literal reading.

At the end of Luke, it says that God opened thier (the disciples) minds so they could understand the scriptures. The problem I have is that we believe that they spelled EVERY detail out for us. I tend to believe the bible is complicated than just read it and accept it.

Bob’s paper in the “essays” category A Case Against Jesus demonstrates this powerfully.

Give that a read and see how you feel about taking the text at face value? I find if I do that I’m a pharisee hanging Jesus on the cross. I tend to think that Jesus was philisophical about the scriptures because he understood them. So when he was asked about God’s mercy he didn’t have to wonder about the slaughter of the canannites vs. the deliveance of Isreal. He simply understood it more deeply and we do not. The same is true of the character of God.


The way I see it is that Gehenna may have been a contemporary literal picture pointing to the LoF perhaps as a type, but I don’t think we can safely say they are the same thing in a literal sense. If they are, then why not just call it the LoF or Gehenna in both places?

I don’t think they are the same thing, so I agree with Auggy here.

Thanks guys for reading and responding. So do you think that hell is a good translation for gehenna?

Who are these sinners? Are they those who simply had the misfortune of not hear and responding to the Gospel the correct way?

No. I don’t believe that Gehenna should have ever been translated as “hell”

Neither do I but it seems that some are the others are suggesting that Jesus was describing the LOF in Revelation when He spoke of Gehenna. Most of the time these discussions are a little bit out of my league so I may be missing something.

I personally don’t think that the LOF is what was being described by Jesus. If that’s what was meant, why didn’t he just say, Lake of Fire? I agree with those who see the Gehenna threat as referring to a temporal national judgment. In my view, the point of “fearing the one who could destroy both body and soul in Gehenna” was the fearing of the one who could, not that this is what that one would actually do. The imagery surrounding Gehenna and the imagery from the words of the Lake of Fire and brimstone are very different. Gehenna was a garbage dump where trash and dead criminals were tossed. It was not a place of conscious torment. There is purification imagery all over the Greek wording of the Lake of Fire, in contrast. I see the lake of fire as the destruction of death and everything that contributes to it.

The Lake of Fire reference only occurs in Revelation, which is the revealing of Jesus Christ
Gehenna was a real place known to the Jews, and so it makes the most sense that this was a threat aimed specifically at them, and was not meant to refer directly to the Lake of Fire .

I still think that the best translation for Gehenna is Gehenna, just like every other place name.

We are in agreement then! Thanks.

Jesus used Gehenna as a symbol for the lake of fire to get across a spiritual truth. What was the spiritual truth? That all who do not believe in Jesus for salvation, anyone who is not sheltered by the sacrifice of Jesus will go to hell as surely as the Devil. Anyone’s name that was not found written in the book of life, was thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. Rev 20:14-15. . :cry: :open_mouth:

this an higly interesting article, dealing both with Gehenna and the lake of fire:

would be interested to hear your opinions!

Isaiah 66:24…Isaiah prophesies that when the new heavens and the new earth are manifested that people will go forth and look down on the corpses of the men who transgressed against God and their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched and they will be an abhorrence to all mankind. These corpses are in the lake of fire. :frowning: :frowning:

Yes, that is true. They are in Gehenna, the judgment of God which occurred in 70AD.

Luke 19:43-45
“For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

Mark 9:43
"If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into Gehenna.

Jeremiah 19:5-7
They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offerings to foreign gods and false idols—something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind. So beware, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when people will no longer call this place Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter (Gehenna)."

'In this place I will ruin the plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will make them fall by the sword before their enemies, at the hands of those who seek their lives, and I will give their carcasses as food to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.

Gehenna is a physical valley which literally was filled with bodies of those who stayed in Jerusalem when Rome attacked in 70AD and destroyed the Temple. This prophesy was literally fulfilled, and God is no respecter of persons, the religion of Christianity has become like the apostate Judah and the calloused Jerusalem.

Romans 11:13
I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

That which happened to Israel was physical destruction, but as prophesy is being fulfilled, Israel is being grafted back in because we, as gentiles, have gone astray concerning God and His promises. Gehenna is a warning, but it is not a permanent end, it is a sign to the generations.


Isaiah 66:24 is teaching the new heavens and the new earth manifests after the millennium reign of Christ and people who view the corpses are in hell during the time of the New heavens and the New Earth which is eternal Glory with God.