Your mercy and compassion all too relished by me right now. I’m basking it unabashedly. I must ask, if you could summarize your personal soteriology and eschatology, how so?
1 Enoch is an interesting case here. Actually, one of the most recent posts I’ve been working on is precisely on the eschatology of 1 Enoch. What it may suggest is differing fates for different people/beings: one would be eschatological annihilation after a long period of torment; but for some others, they might not actually be annihilated at the eschaton. If I finish the post soon, I’ll let you know.
Another interesting little tidbit here is that although everyone knows the quotation of 1 Enoch in the Epistle of Jude, there’s actually a “hidden” quotation of 1 Enoch by Jesus himself (or at least in his parable), in Matthew 22:13—in direct conjunction with the “outer darkness.” (1 Enoch also emphasizes a dark realm of punishment.)
In your spare time, please share the convictions of your heart, mind, and studies on my treatise/rant. It would be greatly edifying, my brother, in Adam lol.
I actually have no issue with that at all… and especially with your “permanent” notion of αἰώνιος. As pantelist aka an inclusive prêterist, I tend to view αἰώνιος more in qualitative terms as opposed to quantitative as in longevity — I don’t discount it, but from my position I see the likes of Mt 25:46 as reflecting the TOTALITY of ruin or reward aka death or life, and such, pertinent to the life — or as Wright frames it… “the life of the new world.” Thus αἰώνιος undoubtedly carries exactly the same meaning either way in that verse and doesn’t need endless massaging to make it say something other than it does.
With regards to this qualitative approach to αἰώνιος such is reflected perfectly right here…
Jn 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
To know God equates to fullness of life, i.e., eternal life.
KL, do you think eternal punishment would be just? Loving?
I’m not sure how “a variable-application meaning” got understood as “a single fundamental meaning”, but I used that phrase because I understood you to say that the adjective has no singular fundamental meaning (as you put it in reply). I also (pedantically? not pedantically enough?) specified that I was talking about how authors in the Greek OT and NT texts used the adjective, and its very-much-related-via-Hebrew prepositional phrases.
Since we’re talking about the adjective (and its related prep phrases via Hebrew translation to Greek), I’m not sure of the point of the digression here.
But if you “think suggesting that trying to incorporate [the adjective’s] various uses into a single meaning here [i.e. the broad concept of “lasting”] runs into the same problems” as the position you’ve been combating (i.e. the fundamental meaning of eon is age); and then you go on to claim that “95%+ of the uses of [the adjective] are used in the sense of permanence in particular” – then I have to wonder how your two claims are supposed to synchronize.
If I replied to your claim about permanence being the particular sense, “I think suggesting that trying to incorporate the adjective’s various uses into a single particular sense runs into the same problems as when people try to say that the fundamental meaning of the noun is “age” and thus that the fundamental meaning of the adjective must be “age-lasting””, and then I went on to claim that the adjective has a single meaning (instead of a variable-application meaning) of “lasting”… wouldn’t you be wondering why I switched out my positions on single meanings so quickly?
So, you don’t suggest trying to incorporate its various uses into a single meaning since the root “in fact has no singular meaning” (your original emphasis), when I suggest a variable-meaning concept for the adjective that in practice covers 100% of the usage in the cultural texts under consideration; and instead you’re going to insist that the adjective has a “base denotation of permanence” which covers over 95% usage in those texts and from which the 5% variant usages of the adjective can be characterized as “rare/idiosyncratic… variations on its base denotation of permanence.” (your original emphasis)
Ooookay. Just so you’re very clear about that.
But to be very clear, it looks to me like your insistence against a single denotation for the meaning of the adjective, even when that’s proposed in a very broad and variable-application fashion (which I attempted as a reconciliation of variable-but-broadly-applicable single meaning, since you’re clearly going to insist on a single meaning anyway when I myself am fine with a number of meanings applied on a case basis), evaporates immediately in favor of a different single denotation for the meaning of the adjective.
And it isn’t too hard to figure out the difference in practice: one single denotation is a broad variable that allows room for context to decide the specific meaning on a case-by-case basis, and cleanly covers all examples, and so leaves a terminological argument against universal salvation to one side; and the other single denotation is a narrow singularity that, aside from generating a few proposed exceptions to the narrower meaning, happens to count as a terminological argument against universal salvation.
This suggests the key factor of whether the term should be treated as having a single denotation or not, isn’t linguistic. Rather, it should be treated as a having a single denotation (not multiple ones) only if the denotation weighs against a particular doctrine being true; but proposing a single denotation at all, should also be rejected as running into variable-meaning problems, if the denotation does not weigh against a particular doctrine being true. Whichever stick is good enough, single-denotation, or no single-denotation, from moment to moment, is the consistent factor.
After all, when it comes time for applying either a broad single denotation that can include but doesn’t necessarily have to mean “permanence”, or else multiple denotations which can include but don’t have to necessarily mean “permanence”, or else a single denotation that necessarily has to mean permanence without regard to any allowed rare exceptions, then it isn’t like you’re willing to consider broad single denotations which comfortably fit all the data set, nor to consider a narrow single denotation other than permanence applied across the data set (with perhaps a few rare exceptions), nor to consider multiple denotations across the data set. We don’t hear anything then, about how even a broad variable-meaning single denotation of the adjective runs into problems because the noun has no singular fundamental meaning. Rather, we get this:
That’s all totally dependent on a very narrow single denotation of the adjective being true in practice (without regard to whether or not the noun has a single narrow denotation of meaning).
If you’re going to insist on that, then be consistent about insisting on one particular (and not another) very narrow (not broad) single (not multiple) denotation of the adjective, and come up with a linguistic rationale for insistence on that particular meaning. There should be no reason to appeal to a self-contradictive linguistic rationale instead when faced with a proposal that cleanly includes all the data.
How can you think preterism is indefensible when you yourself have recognized that Jesus’s statements about his return were circumscribed to the generation of his contemporaries?
It’s pretty clear when it’s being used in a rare or unusual sense—like in Diodorus Siculus 17.112.2, in some of its Septuagint usage (especially when we can characterize it as a “mistranslation”), or in Romans 16:25.
I don’t think the word “αιωνιος” is used in “a rare or unusual sense” in Romans 16:25.
…κατα αποκαλυψιν μυστηριου χρονοις αιωνιοις σεσιγημενου.
according to the secret that was concealed for lasting times.
χρονοις αιωνιοις (lasting times). In our day we don’t say “for lasting times”; we say “for a long time.” Some translators render the expression “for long ages.”
Ah okay, I think I see the root of the confusion; I may have been ambiguous on one thing. The key phrase I said was “trying to incorporate its various uses into a single meaning.” My problem is with taking several different denotations and trying to blend them into a single cohesive definition, as it were. Now, at first, that may seem like an entirely logical move—after all, why not attempt to come up with a dynamic definition that accounts for 100% of a word’s uses?—but in the end actually only obfuscates things. (My emphasizing the use of aion as “spinal marrow” was intended to be an example of how difficult it would be in that case.)
It’s like how the adverb “forever” fundamentally means lasting permanently, even despite the fact that we regularly say “it took forever at the grocery store” or whatever. Now, in a good dictionary, under “forever” there will be a sub-entry for its idiomatic/hyperbolic usage. But it’s not going to change the primary definition; the hyperbolic usage is just an exaggerated form of the primary.
And again, this is very similar to what we find in the entry for aionios in the leading New Testament lexicon, BDAG: an extensive sub-entry with countless examples for the meaning “pert. to a period of unending duration, without end,” and then very short sub-entries for “pert. to a long period of time, long ago” and “pert. to a period of time without beginning or end, eternal.” (You might also see the entry for aionios in DGE, though I have some slight qualms with that.) But of course it’d be a mistake to look at all these and just settle for a sort of blended “pertaining to some period of time” as the fundamental definition of aionios, despite that the definitions of all the sub-entries contain this element.
And (as might be inferred) I also don’t think that something like “enduring throughout time” would suffice, either. That of course doesn’t mean that, if I made my own lexical entry for aionios, I wouldn’t have sub-entries, as BDAG and the other lexicons do. And in terms of this definition “lasting,” about the closest sub-entry that I’d have to this would be something like “constant, continuous,” but here including just a small handful of uses. Diodorus Siculus 17.112.2 would probably be the clearest one; and perhaps Jude 7, too—though with some caveats for this. (For one, unlike the Diodorus Siculus example, the use of aionios in the Jude passage isn’t incompatible with the meaning “permanent.” At minimum, perhaps we don’t know whether it signifies “constant and permanent” or just “constant” without permanence here.)
This suggests the key factor of whether the term should be treated as having a single denotation or not, isn’t linguistic. Rather, it should be treated as a having a single denotation (not multiple ones) only if the denotation weighs against a particular doctrine being true
I gotta admit, you kind of lost me starting with this section. I’ve read it two or three times now, and I just keep getting lost in the syntax. (In truth, I get lost in the syntax in other earlier parts, too, so apologies in advance if I missed your point or if I was redundant or something.) Skipping ahead a bit: I originally said “I don’t think BIblical readers could have ever reasonably been expected to hear about ‘permanent/everlasting punishment,’ but then to do complex exegetical connect-the-dots to somehow realize that God may bring this otherwise permanent punishment to an end,” and then you said
That’s all totally dependent on a very narrow single denotation of the adjective being true in practice (without regard to whether or not the noun has a single narrow denotation of meaning).
But I think it’s important to point out that the earliest Biblical readers didn’t consciously carry around the sophisticated, technical, artificial considerations that we think about when doing lexicography today—certainly not in the sense that they’d read a passage with a particular word and then think about all the other specific uses of the word throughout Biblical (and non-Biblical) literature and then carefully and analytically parse the full range of possibilities here.
That’s not to say that they were simple-minded. Quite the opposite. But in this specific instance, the overwhelming association of aionios with “permanent, everlasting” in particular would have been such an intuitive point for them—again, in light of how rare the exceptions to this are—that considering other meanings for this would have been highly counter-intuitive.
Now, it could be argued that if they started to think about the abstract concept of eschatological punishment and reward more broadly, that this would have led them to think about various traditions they knew about these things (some of which didn’t involve infinite or permanent punishment). Or perhaps they would simply think about God’s mercy or wrath more broadly, and maybe start thinking in more systematic theological terms. But by and large this starts to leave behind purely linguistic considerations in the first place. More importantly though, it’s really not how people read/heard the Biblical texts to begin with. (Though it might also be noted that hearing aionios itself in conjunction with punishment would call to mine prior traditions of genuinely permanent/everlasting eschatological punishment.)
To take another example, if they heard about “unforgivable sin” or whatever, they just thought about unforgivable sin—they didn’t think about all the ways that this passage/teaching might not mean what it appears to mean on the surface, etc. For some reason, here I think of a comment that Biblical scholar Marcus Bockmuehl made about the disputed word ἁρπαγμός in Philippians 2:6:
At the end of the day, it must be highly doubtful that Paul or his audience would have tied themselves in knots over this word even remotely as much as his interpreters have.
Well, for one, I’m not a Christian.
I actually addressed that in an earlier comment:
for what it’s worth, χρόνοι αἰώνιοι in Romans 16:25, etc., is almost certainly a Semitism, and in any case is probably functionally equivalent to χρόνοι αρχαίοι: see, for example, the parallel in 1 Cor. 2:7 (πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων), and in 2 Timothy 2:9 and Titus 1:2, πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων.
Or to put it another way, I don’t think that aionios here is even necessarily intended to refer to a long period of time going forward, but may be particularly indebted to a Hebrew/Semitic idiom that’s particularly oriented toward a period of time that extends backward to the past—which I why I suggested that χρόνοι αἰώνιοι here may be (idiosyncratically) functionally equivalent to “ancient times,” χρόνοι αρχαίοι. (You might also have a look at LXX Psalm 77:5 here, as well as my discussion of Habakkuk 3:6 for some somewhat relevant considerations, too.)
On second thought, though, I may have started the second part of that too strongly. I certainly think that the parallels with the other Pauline texts that I mentioned (2 Timothy 2:9 and Titus 1:2; 1 Corinthians 2:7) are compelling—and see also things like ἡμέραι αἰώνιαι in LXX Isaiah 63:11, etc.—though I looked into it a bit more and found some other parallels, too: e.g. εἰς χρόνον αἰώνιον in IGI 383. (In context, εἰς χρόνον ἀνέγραψεν αἰώνιον, viz. that the inscription has been “engraved to last forever,” or more literally, engraved for “everlasting time.”) There are also some related adverbial phrases using the noun aion itself, like ἐξ ἀπείρου αἰῶνος in Pseudo-Plutarch, or “from an infinite time [past].”
So I guess it comes down to whether you think the dative χρόνοις αἰωνίοις in Rom. 16:25 is equivalent to something like πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων, as in the other Pauline texts, or more like the other sense of, say, εἰς χρόνον αἰώνιον. (BDAG takes it in the sense of the former, too—though again it might not be quite so solid as I first thought.) In either case though, the meaning is either something like “for countless time” or “from time immemorial.” I think just “for a long time” does injustice to the force of the idiom, though. In any case, we need to acknowledge that the dative construction χρόνοις αἰωνίοις is unusual; and, well, that this is an unusual usage of aionios in general, too.
Lol, kinda saw that one coming
Do you think there’s evidence that those Pharisees who, once they believed in Christ (i.e. Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, Paul), maintained their once common tradition of “aidios timoria” in Sheol/Hades as an afterlife reality for unbelieving/unsaved/backsliding man?
Almost certainly so. If there was genuine continuity between the Pharisees in Josephus’ time and the Pharisees of the rabbinic period, then Jesus’ teachings on Gehenna in the New Testament are to be related to some of the more severe traditions about Gehenna and eternal punishment as we find them in the Mishnah and Talmud, etc.
It’s also worth noting that, despite the claims of those like Ramelli and Konstan, aidios timoria and the New Testament’s own kolasis aionios are perfect equivalents of each other. The idea that there was a natural distinction between how timoria and kolasis were understood and used in the Hellenistic era (and particularly by early Jews and Christians), or between aidios and aionios, is a total fiction.
KL, you may have missed my other question: Do you think eternal punishment would be just? Do you think it would be loving?
In the sense of actual eternal torment, absolutely not. If “eternal punishment” meant annihilation… well, that’s obviously a bit less absurd (though IMO still problematic). But, really, the idea of a God who punishes people at all isn’t something I would accept.
I again, recapitulate that you indeed have given us reason to reconsider our positions though I must relay my and many individual Christian observations (not saying anyone here) that expose non-Torah adherent, Satanic, anti-Christ, occultic, NWO and Zionist concepts brought forth in the deeper literary format of the Talmud known in Jesus’ day as the “traditions of men that made the word of God none effect.” To me, this is a valid reason (not to the dismissal of other contrary evidences), not to trust in any of its prescriptons coming henceforth, and casts a dark shadow of doubt on using the consensus of the Talmud as a definitive authority for believing or not believing a doctrine. It is however useful for the historical testimony/record of Jesus’ existence.
the consensus of the Talmud as a definitive authority for believing or not believing a doctrine.
The funny thing is that one thing that you don’t often see in the Talmud is precisely “consensus.” It’s for the large part a compendium of different Jewish teachers disagreeing with eah other on matters of interpretation. And relevant to the current topic, you can find evidence for eternal torment, annihilationism, and universalism within it.
One of the ways in which the Talmud is most useful, though, is as a philological resource. A lot of important idioms and terminology used in the New Testament can also be found in the rabbinic texts, which can further elucidate their meaning.
In this regard there are a couple quotes that come to mind, one from the early Christian church father, Clement of Alexandria, and the other from Philo a contemporary to Christ:
“He uses the exact phraseology of Matthew, xxv:46, precisely as Christ used it. “It is better not to promise than not to give prompt assistance, for no blame follows in the former case, but in the latter there is dissatisfaction from the weaker class, and a deep hatred and everlasting punishment [kolasis aiónios] from such as are more powerful.” Here we have the exact terms employed by out Lord, to show that aiónion did not mean endless but did mean limited duration in the time of Christ.” http://tentmaker.org/forum/word-studies/kolasis/
"We may further note that aiónios was used by first-century Jewish writers to describe those things that are of a limited duration. Philo used the exact phraseology we find in Matthew 25:46 - just as Christ used it - in the context of temporal affairs between people of different socio-economic classes:
“It is better not to promise than not to give prompt assistance, for no blame follows in the former case, but in the latter there is dissatisfaction from the weaker class, and a deep hatred and everlasting punishment(kolasis aiónios) from such as are more powerful” (Fragmenta, Tom. ii., p. 667)." http://thathappyexpectation.blogspot.ca/2015/01/eternal-or-eonian-part-five.html
“In the late 2nd century/early 3rd century, Clement of Alexandria clearly distinguished between kólasis and timoria: “For there are partial corrections [padeiai] which are called chastisements [kólasis], which many of us who have been in transgression incur by falling away from the Lord’s people. But as children are chastised by their teacher, or their father, so are we by Providence. But God does not punish [timoria], for punishment [timoria] is retaliation for evil. He chastises, however, for good to those who are chastised collectively and individually” (Strom. 7.16).” https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2017/10/08/sometimes-eternity-aint-forever-aionios-and-the-universalist-hope/
Even in any Biblical instance where Divinely executed or ordered capital punishment occurs in a context with KOLASIS can we definitely conclude this was not intended by Love Omnipotent as a corrective measure for the offender, as in e.g. sending him to a place such as Hades described in Luke 16:19-31 where he is being instructed, taught of God, for his own good? Just as a parent chastens his child. Throughout Scripture we see the Creator’s harsh dealings with humanity are often stated to be for corrective or salvific purposes. Many scriptures show God’s punishments in this life are corrective & there’s nothing in the Bible saying that He suddenly changes His ways in that regard postmortem, e.g.:
1 Cor.5:4 When you are gathered in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, along with the power of the Lord Jesus, 5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.
Hab.1:12 O LORD my God, my Holy One, you who are eternal–surely you do not plan to wipe us out? O LORD, our Rock, you have sent these Babylonians to correct us, to punish us for our many sins.
Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the LORD’s wrath, until he pleads my case and upholds my cause. He will bring me out into the light;I will see his righteousness. (Micah 7:9)
Then you will say on that day, "I will give thanks to You, O LORD; For although You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, And You comfort me.
"Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.
Isa.57:17 “Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry and struck him;
I hid My face and was angry, And he went on turning away, in the way of his heart.
18“I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners,
Mat 18:34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
Isa.45:24 The people will declare, “The LORD is the source of all my righteousness and strength.” And all who were angry with him will come to him and be ashamed.
And he that “comes to Him” shall find rest & He shall not cast out (Mt.11:28; Jn.6:37).
Isa.45:23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.
I’m glad you agree with me (and most if not all universalists) that the idea of a loving Being eternally punishing is absurd. As a Christian, I have certain core assumptions pertaining to the faith that inform every interpretation of scripture. One of those is “God is love”. So, ASSUMING THAT CHRISTIANITY IS TRUE, translating aionios as “eternal” can’t be right because it would lead to an absurdity. This is why I think the book “God’s Final Victory” was so persuasive (arguing for universalism); the writers didn’t break down the grammar of eternal punishment texts, but instead asked if eternal punishment is consistent with core themes of the faith. Obviously that’s not going to have any sway on someone who doesn’t start with the assumption that Christianity is true though.