That is much closer to the mark… but I would go as far to say… NOT the aftermath BUT THE actual aftermath itself. As a pantelist I contend that ‘gehenna’ and ‘the lake of fire’ are one and the same… even Paidion agrees with me on that score, although I go on to take those both be euphemisms of the AD70 destruction of Jerusalem.
What interests me greatly is that many prominent universalist of the 1800’s are way closer to my pantelist position on this matter than they are to the likes of purgatorial universalism (PU). Check out these few examples…
Fire, Lake of. – An emblem of severe calamity, judgment, discipline (Rev. 21:8), sometimes destruction (Rev. 20:13-14). This is the first instance of its use in the New Testament. It originated in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24). The destruction of Jerusalem (see Isa. 34:10) is referred to by the “lake of fire.” [Hanson’s “Bible Threatenings Explained;” “Universalist Book of Reference.”]
Death, Second. – Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8. The primary meaning of second death in the Scriptures is the second destruction of the Jewish nation. The first death was the captivity. But “by accommodation” we may say that those who awaken out of sin, after having died in trespasses and sins, and then relapse, have died a second death. The language, however, literally refers to the second devastation of the Jews, after their first national death which was in the Babylonish captivity, and the second when Jerusalem was destroyed. But it was also applied to those who had once been aroused from moral death, and again died in trespasses and sins. There is no propriety in applying it to endless torment. [“Universalist Book of Reference;” Thayer’s “Theology.”]
Gehenna. – (See “Hell”) This is a well know locality on the south of Jerusalem, where the Jews once worshipped the idol Moloch. Children were roasted there as sacrifices (Josh. 15:8, 18:16; 2 Kings 23:10). So say Campbell, Schleusner, Stuart, Parkhurst, etc. The word should not be translated hell, but should stand as Gehenna. It should no more be rendered hell than should Babylon. In process of time this valley became the receptacle of the filth and sewage of Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 7:31-32, 19:2, 6). Into this place bodies of criminals were thrown without burial; and it became a place of horror to the Jews, who have great regard for their places of sepulchure. At length it became an emblem of sorrow, sin, calamity; and in the twelve times the word is found in the New Testament, it denotes either first, the literal place; or, secondly, those calamities of which it is a fit emblem, – but always of temporal duration. It is found only twelve times, used on eight occasions, and always to Jews. Only Jesus and James employ it. Paul, who :shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God," never warned the Gentiles against it, in the thirty years of his ministry. Jesus never addressed it to unbelievers but once, and then explained it as about to come in this life (Matt. 23:33). It is used to signify: –
- Shameful death, severe punishment in this life (Schleusner, Farrar, etc.).
- Literal fire in this world (Mark 9:43, 48).
- The literal destruction of the bodies of men (Matt. 5:22, 28:9).
- Clement, one of the earliest of the Christian fathers, uses it to describe his ideas of punishment, and yet he was a Universalist; which demonstrates that, in the early days of the church, the word did not signify a place of endless torment.
It means either a literal place of destruction, or it is an emblem of moral, civil, or spiritual calamities; but always in this life. It stands as Gehenna in the French Bible, Wakefield’s translation, Improved Version, etc.
Farrar says (Preface “Eternal Hope”): “In the Old Testament it is merely the pleasant valley of Hinnom (Ge Hinnom), subsequently desecrated and defiled by Josiah; on this account used, according to the Jewish tradition, as the common sewerage of the city. The corpses of the worst criminals were flung into it unburied, and fires were lit to purify the contaminated air. It then became a word which secondarily implied (1) the severest judgment which a judge could pass upon a criminal, the casting forth of his unburied corpse amid the fires and worms of this polluted valley; and (2) a punishment, which to the Jews as a body never meant an endless punishment beyond the grave. Hell must be a complete mistranslation, since it attributes to the term used by Christ a sense entirely different from the sense in which it was used by our Lord’s hearers, and, therefore, entirely different from the sense in which he could have used it.”
Origen says (c. Celsus, 6:25) that Gehenna denotes (1) the Vale of Hinnom and (2) a purificatory fire (eis ten meta basanon katharsin)
The Jewish authorities say (Mishna), “the judgment of Gehenna is for twelve months.” (Asarath Maamaroth) “There will hereafter be no Gehenna.” (Emech Hammelech) “The wicked stay in Gehenna till the resurrection, and then the Messiah, passing through it, redeems them.”
Whatever Gehenna means or does not mean, endless punishment is a doctrine that derives no support from the use of Gehenna in the Bible. [Hanson’s “Bible Hell;” “Universalist Book of Reference.”]
Hell Fire. – This phrase denotes the fire of Gehenna, the literal flame of the valley near Jerusalem, in which constant fires were kept burning to consume the offal and refuse of the city, into which criminals were cast, and which received the bodies of those who were slain when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman armies, as prophesied by our Lord, in Matt. 24, 25. It has no reference to punishment after death; or, indeed punishment anywhere else than in and near Jerusalem in the first century of the Christian era. The Revised Version places “Gehenna of fire” in the margin, to indicate the real meaning of “hell fire.” [Hanson’s Bible Hell]