The Evangelical Universalist Forum

What do you make of /u/koine_lingua's arguments? (Part 1)

Hey there – I’m the original author of this (and not the original poster here, Zoe Aionia). As was mentioned, I had originally posted this on Reddit… where it’s much easier to read, due to markup that didn’t get transferred over. (The original post can be found here:

I just want to take a second to respond to something brought up in this thread. JasonPratt quoted my comments on Jonah 2, and then wrote

…yet this (somewhat) confuses narrative intention with syntactic intention.

Basically, Jonah’s “retrospective” prayer in ch. 2 brings us into his mindset during his time in “Sheol.” Yet far from being just a rote autobiographical report, it’s still poetic. Again, if we’re using our normal day-to-day speech, and we say to someone “when I went to the grocery yesterday, I had to wait in line forever,” this is one thing… but this is decisively not the kind of speech that we find in Jonah 2.

For further clarity, imagine that the speech of Jonah in ch. 2 wasn’t actually phrased in the past tense, but was spoken in the present. Imagine that 2:6 read “I am in the land whose bars have closed upon me forever; yet (please) bring up my life from the Pit!”

This isn’t an incomparable example; rather this is precisely the type of language that we see in ancient Hebrew poetry. (And we can imagine Jonah saying “I am in the land whose bars have closed upon me forever” more-or-less immediately upon arriving there; there needn’t really have been any passage of time, whether three days or however long.)

To put it most simply: I think the ultimate confusion here may be between olam / aionios being used “to describe/denote a period of time that was finite, having already come to an end” (which in some cases could fit into my category of exaggerated uses “characterizing a span of time that was so long as to be virtually incalculable”… though, again, this is rarely attested) and being used “in a description of a period of time that was finite, having already come to an end.” Its use in Jonah 2:6 is clearly the latter: in his description of a period of time that was finite, Jonah uses olam / aionios to denote the situation he was in at the time.

It’s no different than me saying something like “while doing some solo cave exploration, I got stuck in a hole that I couldn’t escape from; but, miraculously, there happened to be another person who was in the cave, who went and got help.” Just because I was eventually saved doesn’t mean that I didn’t originally think that I couldn’t escape. (For an even closer parallel, try “while doing some solo cave exploration, I got stuck in a hole that I could never escape from [on my own].”)

Very much welcome here, KA! :smiley:

Sorry your post got lost in a flood from another member pushing it down on the active topic list. (Also, for anti-spam purposes all new members are on manual moderation for the first two or three posts. After that the system learns you’re legit and will automatically let your posts through.)

I’m just about sure I don’t disagree with anything in your reply, other than that I am somehow confused between narrative and syntactic intention there. :wink:

I don’t deny the poetic usage of the language there at all. I quite affirm it. I also affirm its narrative meaning, and that was the gist of my critique of that (small) part of your analysis. That’s why I replied using your own description in denial that you weren’t aware of any example in the LXX where {aioniôs} was used “to describe/denote a period of time that was finite, having already come to an end”. Yes, Jonah which you shortly afterward cited, does use the term to describe with poetic emphasis a time that by narrative context (since he’s talking about it after the fact) had come to an end.

It would be like saying as far as you’re aware the term “forever” is never used in English to describe/denote a period of time that was finite, having already come to an end; and then saying that obvious examples of the term in English being used in a description of a period of time that was finite, having already come to an end, don’t count as usage to describe/denote that period of time. If it describes the time, it describes the time, either way.

i.e., any confusion was introduced when you specifically required that the denotation included description, since the context of the description affects the denoted meaning of the description.

The example of Jonah stands (not even counting other examples – up to and including contrasting usages of the same term in close contextual proximity, rare though those are): yes, the term can be and sometimes is used to describe periods of time which are not infinite after all. (So were cognates of aion’s Latin spelling/pronunciation aevum, up to the time of Virgil at least, whose work didn’t become less popular in the mid-to-late 1st century.) Context, whether immediate, local, and/or extended, provides the information for signaling whether the term is or isn’t being used that way.

Of course, so far as you’re just arguing against attempts to restrict the usage to ALWAYS mean a limited time, more power to you. :slight_smile:

I in fact explicitly agree (in parallel with what I went on to say in granting for purposes of argument that what you called “the most powerful reading of this text” is also “the most accurate”), that Jonah could talk about being presently in the land whose bars have closed upon him forever, yet also pray presently with some hope of being granted that God would bring him out from the Pit. (As at least one of the Psalms does put it, though I forget which one offhand.) There need not even be any passage of time yet, not even three days.

But if Jonah (or rather whoever tells the story in the form and language being passed down, even if the story is a fictional parable) can put things that way and not mean to be actually describing an infinite amount of time, so can other authors in the same ideo-cultural setting (to coin a phrase). In the OT / LXX this even happens with some regularity, one striking example being how whoever wrote 1 Sam 2:12-17ff (and whenever that happened, possibly and probably though not certainly including oral transmission before then if any) represents God calling explicit attention to how He said He was going to just let Levi’s descendants inherit the priesthood olam, but now because of how Eli and sons have abused the privilege He’s changing the rules. (Sort of; they still inherit it, but now they have to beg for it to be implemented, rather than expecting it to come into effect automatically thanks to the previous olam promise. The next few chapters down to chapter 4 talk about how the olam priesthood comes to a practical end with the birth of Ichabod and the death of Phineas.)

(Haha, this is all getting pretty technical and confusing; so I apologize if I’m misunderstanding… and I also apologize if I was unclear about anything on my part.)

Just to be maximally clear here, to make sure we agree: my emphasis on it being poetic was not to argue that olam was here used non-literally, but only to emphasize that the fact that Jonah is “retrospectively” describing something is actually rather irrelevant.

That is, I kinda “bracketed” the saying in 2:6 (which is why, for example, I imagined it in present tense) to further hammer home the distinction between olam used as a descriptor vs. being used in a description.

Since, in Jonah 2:6, olam is used in a description – and since we know that what was said in 2:6 itself is indeed talking about a genuine eternity, because death was irreversible/infinite in ancient Near Eastern thought (again, cf. Job 7:9, as well as part 3 of my post series where I discuss the phrase “eternal home” as an idiom for death) – the fact that Jonah is narrating this hymn after-the-fact is irrelevant. The word is not to be taken as a descriptor of a period of time that he experienced.

The fact that you say

…makes me think that we are still not in agreement, though.

I hope my having further clarified the difference between olam used as a descriptor vs. being used in a description will clear that up; though perhaps we just have a legitimate exegetical difference of opinion re: Jonah 2:6.

I understood your interpretation; but I wonder if closer attention to the text itself might bring you closer to mine. It should be noted that הָאָרֶץ בְּרִחֶיהָ בַעֲדִי לְעֹולָם in Jonah 2:6 itself has ambiguous syntax, and admits of a different translation than what you might find in, say, NRSV (which up until now was the translation I had been using). The NET Bible – while not otherwise my preferred translation – actually does an excellent job with the Psalms and Job and other poetic material. Its actual printed translation of Jonah 2:6 here is “the gates of the netherworld barred me in forever,” taking בְּרִחֶיהָ etc. and translating it as a verb, for ease of reading, even though the clause is actually verbless in the original text. (Oh and it might also be useful to note here – quoting Taylor 2006 – that ‘Within embedded oral narrative discourse, verbless clauses provide “scene setting” information—the clause is meant to indicate the plight of Jonah.’)

But a footnote gives a more literal translation: “As for the earth, its bars [were] against me forever.” (This is actually too literal, though, because אֶרֶץ can definitely mean “underworld,” as it often does in closely cognate Semitic languages.) The first part of this literal translation, “As for…”, is also unwarranted. A true literal translation may look something like “(I went down to the bottoms of the mountains;) the underworld (with) its gates/bars behind/upon me forever.”

Jonah does not speak merely to his personal situation; rather, it is true of everyone that, once dead, the “gates” are shut and there is no return. Again, cf. Job 7:9; “eternal home”; and things like Job 10:21: “…before I depart to the land of darkness, not/never to return לֹא אָשׁוּב].”

In other words, even if one is compelled to translate a verb here (where there is none in the original text), it may not even be necessary to render it “its bars were against me forever.” Rather than the focus being on the qualitative dimension of Jonah’s personal experience (viz. the three days there), the focus would actually be more on the afterlife in and of itself (one that Jonah happened to partake of, albeit temporarily).

[Edit:] I’ve now made several major edits to this post, which I continue to do because I continue to link people to this post. At the present location in my original post, I had suggested a paraphrasing of Jonah 2:6 which would facilitate seeing it in a new light (or, rather, the light that I believe it was originally intended to be seen in): “I went down to the . . . underworld, (characterized by) having eternal gates/bars, (which were/are now) behind me (as they are for all humans who die, divine intervention notwithstanding).”

…but even though this was only supposed to be the loosest of paraphrases, I think it was a bit too complicated; and now looking back at it, I think that there’s a much simpler way to bring out (what is in my view) the original intention of the verse, simply by adding a parenthetical mark to my (literal) translation above. In this way, elsewhere we’re still close to the syntax of the Hebrew, especially as this doesn’t require the adjective “eternal” being grouped with “gates/bars,” and we can retain adverbial “forever” in its original location. (Though I should again emphasize that my original paraphrase was just that – a paraphrase – and above all was designed simply to be explanatory; there certainly is no warrant for translating an adjective “eternal” for the original.) Anyways, without further ado, only slightly modifying my literal translation, “I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the underworld (with) its gates/bars behind/upon me forever (never to be opened again).”

Of course, I have added “never to be opened again” in parentheses because these words do not appear in the original text; but this addition can orient the reader to Jonah’s predicament: he is a describing a state of affairs that has just (now) come into being; and the eternality is in the shutting of the gates here, with Jonah (rightly) assuming that this meant forever. (Cf. similarly Gaines 2003, who writes, about 2:6, that Jonah “[f]ears that his disobedience will serve as prison irons, jail him, and continue to separate him from the land of the living.”)

The New Living Translation follows this lead:

Funny enough, though, even the translation of the Septuagint ended up looking somewhat similar to my explanatory paraphrase… except it actually decided to make the adjective “eternal” modify bars here: κατέβην εἰς γῆν ἧς οἱ μοχλοὶ αὐτῆς κάτοχοι αἰώνιοι, e.g. translated (accurately) in NETS as “I went down to the land, whose bars are everlasting barriers” (and skipping the first-person language altogether in the second clause). (See my discussion of the Thanksgiving Hymns below for something very similar.)

In any case, this whole line of thought is echoed in countless academic works. Walsh 1982 speaks of “sinking to the ultimate depths, to the eternal abode of death”; Smith and Page 1995 that “[Jonah] felt that he had passed into the underworld from which he would never escape.” Jenson (2009) comments on the poetic strength of interpreting “forever” not as Jonah’s exaggeration about his stay of three days, but rather that this was Jonah expressing his fear that he had come into a(n) (genuinely) “eternal” condition:

(Notice that he writes of the “finality” of Jonah’s assertion: something disputed by universalists, who see the referent here to the time that Jonah did spend, not the time that he would spend.)

Similarly, Stuart (1987: 477) writes

and Sasson (1990: 190),

Richard Bauckham (1998: 16-17):

Most important of all, Shalom M. Paul (in Lundberg et al. 2012: 132-33) writes

S. Paul says elsewhere (2005: 268), about 1 Samuel 28,

(“Ishtar descended to the netherworld and did not ascend” is line 84 in Foster’s edition; though he translates “Ishtar has gone down to the netherworld, she has not come up.”)

Further, it might be instructive to quote Foster’s translation of the first lines of the Akkadian version of Ishtar’s descent:

Finally, we shouldn’t forget some other close Biblical/Semitic resonances to this. At one point in Psalm 24, we read “Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O eternal doors פִּתְחֵי עֹולָם]! that the King of glory may come in” (cf. the bars, בריחם, of Jonah 2:6); though it’s unclear here whether the “eternal doors” here are positive or negative (viz. those of Temple or of the underworld; cf. the “gates of death” in Job 38:17). Even more relevant, though, in the Thanksgiving Hymns (1QH) from Qumran, we have a passage (XI 18) that speaks of the “doors of the pit,” “around/behind” someone (דלתי שחת בעד) and the “eternal bars around/behind” them (בריחי עולם בעד), too, using the exact same word as in Jonah. Notably, though, in this passage from Qumran עולם is the adjectival nomen rectum. (Also, on an interesting note, death is referred to as the “eternal sleep” at several points in the Bible; and in the Targums to these verses, the מותא תנינא is mentioned: the annihilationist “second death,” made famous from Revelation. There’s a good case to be be made that both the phrase from Revelation and from the Targums derive from the Egyptian concept; cf. Ulmer’s Egyptian Cultural Icons in Midrash for a general study of Egyptian influence in rabbinic texts.)

Anyways, moving on…

…this only goes to confirm that I think you genuinely have misunderstood me. 1 Samuel 2:30 reverses what was (clearly) originally supposed to be an “eternal” office. How is this substantially different than the Jonah situation? If there was slight ambiguity re: the latter, how does the complete clarity of the current example (the Levite priesthood in 1 Samuel) not substantiate the point I’ve been making?

Of course, an argument could be made that it would be absurd to think that they really did expect that the Levites would be priests for an actual eternity – considering, among other things, that Israel was vulnerable to the type of sociopolitical events that might endanger the priesthood itself – and thus that this is an example of an exaggerated “eternal”… yet the idea of “eternal priesthood” itself comes from a standpoint of high idealism; and in this sense, I think one has to ask whether these idealists ever truly imagined the (Levite) priesthood coming to an end (or the covenant coming to an end, etc.). I mean, really, is this any different from Jesus being “a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” according to Hebrews? – and is there any reason to believe that the author of Hebrews thought that this isn’t genuinely eternal? (Similarly, is there any reason to believe that the eternal rule of the ideal Davidic/messianic king predicted in 2 Samuel 7 and elsewhere wasn’t actually expected to be eternal?)

…in all of this, I’d caution you against taking a fundamentalist view of the Bible where there are no differing theological viewpoints and no progression, etc.

As another analogy: if Barack Obama says “we are building a new national monument to be an eternal symbol of our patriotism, embodying the hope that our great nation will last forever,” but then a later President says “we are dismantling the monument by Barack Obama, which was just a symbol of unrealistic idealism,” does this mean that we have to go back and reinterpret Obama’s original words, redefining what he meant by “eternal”?

Addendum: Shalom M. Paul again:

I wasn’t in the forum for a long time but sometimes still visit, I would like to bring this summary concerning aionios in remembrance:

PS: If somebody knows renown scholars in this matter personally, I would be grateful if somebody could share this summary with them and ask if my conclusions are valid.
eternity and the bible.pdf (248 KB)

For me the core issue is the relationship between aion and olam , aionios being “of the aion”, the relationship between aionios and olam is still intensely relevant.

I think the argument for aionios as having a finite end is weak, always have. Olam is not a period of time with a finite end, it is an indefinite period of time determined by the subject it has in view.

"It shall come about if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he fares well with you; 17then you shall take an awl and pierce it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your servant forever/olam.

The finite end of olam here is unknown, hidden from view- could be 3 days could be 30 years. It is translated “servant for life” in most versions because it is the indeterminate period connected to a flexible subject, the remaining duration of a human life. This might seem like too much to take into consideration in acquiring the thought within the word each time it is used- but if it proves consistent- aionios, regardless of how Plato or Aristotle used it, should be viewed through OLAM.

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old(olam), men of renown. Gen 6:4

In Gen 6;4 olam refers to a period of time, too far back to determine specifically. In Deut 15:17 a period of time to subject to circumstance to determine specifically.

In current usage among Jews “olam ha-ba” is the good world to come. “olam ha ze” is this present troubled world. This is why we see aionios translated also as “world” … but the identifying concept was never “finite” or having a finite end, in fact it is just the opposite. It is the indefintiness of olam that makes it fitting for a spectacle through which to view aionios. The indefinite period is relative to its purpose. Thus the ages. Thus terms of imprisonment relative to the crime. Thus hazy views of the far distant past. Thus hazy views into the far distant future.

The strenght of aionios in the UR paradigm is not that it has a finite end- because it doesnt always. It is not a completely reversible application. It takes a stretch of exegetical integrity to make it so. ET scholars see it and they use it to refute a UR interpretation. It looks like a fast shuffle when you are really in the know concering the language of scripture. This is because in terms of the life of God and of believers and of the age in which God will be all in all- it has no end, the unknowably distant olam IS everlasting. Therefore this “finite end” assertion about aionios isnt effective when used as a term limit for “hell” among knowledgable scholars.

The real strength(of course this is just my opinion) of aionios/olam in relation to the UR paradigm is its VERY FLEXIBILTY, and application as a sort of random quantifier of “unknowness” and “unknowableness”

In the next world, the world to come, some will endure an indefinite term of some kind of correction. It will be many stripes for some, with comparatively few stripes for others. It will be olam punishment. Some will live forever in God, a life that has no end, a life we cannot see- olam life.

Olam still persists when used to describe the life of God in terms of duration and “beyond knowingness” because God’s life is “beyond the horizon”- “hidden with mists” as olam asserts, as is the “world to come”.

The insistence upon “age-during” correction or punishment is not thorough scholarship or completely defensible reasoning, imo- nor is it an easily proveable offensive solution to the doctrine of eternal punishment, because for one thing it presumes to base its strength on the Greek thought as original in nature. But that would be inconsistent with this Hebrew of Hebrews- Paul, who if he wrote aionios, was surely thinking of it in terms of Olam. What everyone really ought to want to know is what the word expresses out of the mind of God. Olam is the truer and more effective representative of that thought, so aionios should be considered in that light- as far as a contextual affirmation of meaning, at the very least.

Is the word in Jonah 2:6 aionios or αἰώνιοι?

According to two posters in the following thread the word in Jonah 2:6 is a plural form of the noun aion, not the adjective aionios:

“Please can I have a list of all LXX occurrences of aionios?”

“What do you make of /u/koine_lingua’s arguments?”

To put it succinctly, i think they are full of it.

To his credit, he does give the appearance of scholarship or expertise in certain very limited aspects.

Does that make him or any of us a:

  1. scholar of philosophy reason & logic as per a Tom Talbott, for example? Who, i might add, has confounded & destroyed many such scholars as KL.

  2. scholar of the Scriptures? No. KL seems rather an amateur in that regard.

  3. scholar of the Holy Spirit’s teaching. No, apparently KL is not even a Christian.

  4. scholar of understanding UR? Again, KL looks like a novice.

  5. scholar who appears unbiased, objective, without an agenda? Yes/no? I’d say no.

  6. scholar who is not on someone’s payroll or doing work for his own advancement, selfishness, ego, etc, without regard for the truth?

  7. scholar of Satan (including those select scholars one references), who is the “god of this age” & world, as in the 1000+ years of ETC dominance,
    with inquisitions, crusades, burnings of “heretics” & their writings.

Some Scriptures to consider in this regard re his comments above are:

“Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.” (Titus 1:14)

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on the sons of disobedience.” (Eph.5:6)

"O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid irreverent chatter and the opposing arguments of so-called “knowledge,” (!Tim.6:10)

“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Cor.11:3)

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed about by the waves and carried around by every wind of teaching and by the clever cunning of men in their deceitful scheming.” (Eph.4:14)

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Cor.11:14-15)

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be under a divine curse!”

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph.6:12)

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2Tim.3:16)

“This is good, and is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” (1Tim.2:3-6)

“Origen”, if you’re going to continue, please withhold from insulting our guest posters, especially about being a scholar of Satan. That runs directly against our forum rules of discourse.

I’ve seen the scriptures you quoted flicked up against Christian universalists, too.

As far as your question about αἰώνιοι, I think the plural form of the noun wouldn’t have the iota after the nu; and if it’s translating a cognate for olam, specifically la-olam (me-limit or me-horizon), then it’s in bounds for translating as a Greek adjective (setting aside a related discussion about whether Hebrew even has adjectives: Greek definitely does, and both the LXX and the canonical authors use them when translating Hebrew, in the case of canonical authors whether directly or by reference to the LXX or by an inspired paraphrase/midrash, or some combination.)

Anyway, {aio_nioi} (with the underscore there signifying an omega, since I don’t have or don’t know a good diacritic mark on this keyboard for signalling the long vowel) is a 2-1-2 form adjective as far as I’ve been able to tell looking up things. It’s a masculine nominative (or vocative) plural form, meant to describe {hoi mochloi} or the bars.

Davo isn’t correct about it being a plural form of aion (except in the sense of it being a plural form of the adjective for aion). Paidion and I both agree on it being a plural adjective form. I didn’t find another poster saying it was a plural form of the noun; and Davo himself might not have really meant that, since there is some common conflation or confusion over the use of nouns and adjectives. (Even Paidion, who knows better, didn’t exactly specify for correction that {aion} just means age – it doesn’t mean “lasting”, that’s the adjective form of eon.)

Paidion and I have an ultimately trivial disagreement about whether eonian can mean eternal or everlasting or not. We both agree it doesn’t have that intrinsic meaning; and we both agree its meaning can be used in reference to that which is eternal or everlasting etc. I conclude this means the adjective can mean (as a secondary application, by extension) eternal/everlasting/never-ending. It can also mean, by the same token, a qualitative reference to the divine, whether as a euphamism for God (the Eternal as we’d say in English), or that which comes uniquely from God – but this meaning seems more proper to the NT, not the LXX. (Although there at least a small exegetical basis for it in the OT, too, where God once tells Israel He is “your eonian”. But most OT refs only accidentally fit that concept, and the underlying two Hebrew terms OLM and AHD don’t have an intrinsic meaning along that line; they’re nouns of horizontal and vertical distance used for adjective purposes by a poetic comparison.)


I’m pretty sure no fundamentalist would regard me as having a fundamentalistic view of the Bible. :wink: You did notice the part where I allowed that Jonah might be a fictional parable, right?

I think our differences are actually pretty minor, if there are any such at all. All I’m pointing out is that the terms (whether Greek or Hebrew, and there are two different Hebrew terms involved in translating to the Greek, the other term of which we haven’t been discussing in this thread) can and often (in the OT) do refer to things that in fact come to an end.

We may be disagreeing on whether the core meaning of the term (or term-group rather) refers in its normal OT usage (broadly considered across several centuries worth of texts at least) to that which never ends: I think it can mean that, not that it always means that; you seem to think it always means that, even when events turn out otherwise. If so, we’re only disagreeing though about a fluidity of meaning in the minds of the speakers/writers: Mom and I use “forever” in an exaggerated way on a regular basis, as many English speakers do. Do we actually mean at the moment of usage forever? The answer is both yes and no: yes, otherwise the rhetorical point wouldn’t make sense, but also no. If you pressed Obama on what he strictly meant in the (fictional?) example you gave, the answer would probably be the same: no, he doesn’t really think the monument and so the symbol will last forever/eternally; but yes, he was borrowing that meaning for the purpose of emphasis so he was positively using that meaning as eternal/forever.

When it comes to a theological argument, however, then your Obama parallel doesn’t really work: first, it would have to be Obama who is taking down something he previously described as olam, and second Obama would have to have God-level omniscience or some relevant level of intentionality with regard to the future. If God says He is giving X olam to Y, that raises questions of what God as God in the position of God meant by describing the gift that way when He turns around and repeals the gift later. No doubt there are several ways to look at answering those questions, some of which are not mutually exclusive to each other and/or to any given theology (although some answers may exclude one or more theology, too.)

Nevertheless, the example must stand that if God says (or is translated as saying, let us say :wink: ), that X is olam/eonian/AHD (or into the eon(s), to bring in the related prepositional phrase and its cognates, which probably translate the underlying Hebrew terms more literally anyway), that doesn’t necessarily mean God will choose to keep olam/AHD X going forever after all. He might or might not – the term(s) itself (or themselves) don’t make the decisive difference. Context, whether immediate, local, or extended, including conceptual as well as grammatic context, makes the decisive difference.

All of which is to say, more simply, that appealing to the term(s) per se doesn’t settle the question, even though they have an important role in setting expectations to work from.

Relatedly, as I said before, neither am I at all on the side of those who argue that the term(s) only pertain to an age – not least because the underlying Hebrew terms don’t have ages per se in mind at all in their intrinsic meanings. But also because while plural ages may eventually cease, although I doubt that’s what the {telos} refers to in that verse from EpistHeb people like to cite on the topic, I don’t see anything to argue that the ultimate Day/Age of YHWH ever comes to an end. That would be like saying the Lordship of YHWH ever comes to an end, or like saying a happy ending must itself necessarily come to an end even for God simply because it’s called an “ending” in English. (And as I have pointed out, if there can be “eons of eons”, then any eon can have eons, so there doesn’t have to be a hard-cut distinction between the Day of the Lord and continuing eons during that Age. Moreover, there can be overlaps between Ages, as demonstrated in various scriptural ways.)

So my objections have less than nothing to do with trying to promote that idea instead, in case you thought that’s what I was trying to do. :slight_smile:

Hi Jason… are you referring to HERE?

<αἰώνιος> ‎aiōnios is indeed the adjective derivative of the noun <αἰών> aiōn.

Adjective (2-1-2): αιώνιοι aiōnioi = nominative and vocative masculine plural form of <αιώνιος> ‎aiōnios = age-long / unending age-long, and therefore: practically eternal, unending; partaking of the character of that which lasts for an age, as contrasted with that which is brief and fleeting.

Thank you for the warning, Jason. I made several minor changes to make the statements speak more generally to all of us, myself included, especially regarding points 6 & 7.

BTW i would note the following remark from KL in post two of this series:

“Again, this isn’t to try to assassinate the character of the authors of the monograph, but I’ve isolated more than one instance where it looks like the larger context (or the form of its citation)—which would suffice to show that their revisionist reinterpretations are impossible on other grounds, too—may have been purposely omitted so as to reinforce their conclusion, and preemptively deflect criticism. And this seems to have gone well beyond a sort of natural/inadvertent selective bias, and into the territory of deception (unless it is merely incompetence of the highest order; though I tend toward it being more deliberate in some instances).”

Actually i am not seeing any references to the NWT on UR websites or forums where the subject is debated.

YLT is a most common one referenced or quoted, as well as the Concordant Literal Version. Also to a lesser
extent, Weymouth’s translation, which is also included in the following list. Additionally URists refer to
Greek-English and Hebrew-English interlinears. There is overall a clear preference for literal over idiomatic
(idiotic?) translations of the Sacred Scriptures, but UR is also easily argued from a KJV/dark ages/Augustine
ECT tradition (mis)translation (mere interpretation) of the Scriptures.

Translation of the New Testament from the Original Greek Humbly Attempted by Nathaniel Scarlett Assisted by Men of Piety & Literature with notes, 1798: “And These will go away into onian punishment: but the righteous into onian life.”

The New Testament by Abner Kneeland, 1823:
“And these shall go away into aionian punishment: but the righteous into aionian life.”

The New Covenant by Dr. J.W. Hanson, 1884:
“And these shall go away into onian chastisement, and the just into onian life.”

Young?s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible, 1898:
“And these shall go away to punishment age-during, but the righteous to life age-during.”

The Holy Bible in Modern English, 1903
“And these He will dismiss into a long correction, but the well-doers to an enduring life.”

The New Testament in Modern Speech, 1910:
“And these shall go away into the Punishment 1 of the Ages, but the righteous into the Life 1 of the Ages.”

  1. [Of the Ages] Greek “aeonian.”

A Critical Paraphrase of the New Testament by Vincent T. Roth, 1960
“And these shall go away into age-continuing punishment, but the righteous into life age-continuing.”

The Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible, 1976
“And these shall go away into age-abiding correction, but the righteous into age-abiding life.”

The twentieth Century New Testament, 1900
“And these last will go away into onian punishment, but the righteous into onian life.”

The Peoples New Covenant, 1925
“And these will depart into age-continuing correction, but the righteous, into age-continuing life.”

Emphatic Diaglott, 1942 edition
“And these shall go forth to the aionian 1 cutting-off; but the RIGHTEOUS to aionian Life.”

The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Anointed, 1958
“And these shall go away into agelasting cutting-off and the just into agelasting life.”

The New Testament, a Translation, 1938
“And these will go away into eonian correction, but the righteous into eonian life.”

The New Testament, A New Translation, 1980
“Then they will begin to serve a new period of suffering; but Gods faithful will enter upon their heavenly life.”

Concordant Literal New Testament, 1983
And these shall be coming away into chastening eonian, yet the just into life eonian."

Rotherham Emphasized Bible, 1959
“And these shall go away into age-abiding correction, But the righteous into age-abiding life.”

(Note: the forum engine prevents anyone from embedding more than three quote recusions, so I had to break out the quote format in another way.)

Yep, there, where you said it was a plural form of aion (the noun). It’s only a plural form of the noun in the sense of being a plural form of the adjective of that noun. “Origen” was challenging k_l based on your reply about it being the plural form of the noun aion (i.e. the proper translation should be “ages”), over against it being the plural form of the adjective (i.e. the proper translation should be “lasting” or something like that in a form connected in Greek grammar to the nearby plural nominative noun).

You didn’t clarify back there that you actually meant a plural of the adjective based on the noun, although I acknowledged you might have meant that but (for brevity’s sake perhaps) just didn’t say so. Either way, “Origen” was accidentally misled to challenge that the Greek word involved might have been “ages” which could open up a different category of translation options.

I don’t know why [tag]Paidion[/tag] was acting like there was a relevant distinction between the adjective “aiōnios” and the adjective “aiōnioi”. The only distinction would be which noun that either form is supposed to be connected to, and there isn’t an option for another noun to be described by the adjective in that sentence in Greek. Otherwise the terms mean exactly the same thing (for broad values of whatever “eonian” should mean in a context. :wink: ) My tentative guess is that he slightly misread it since the plural form of the noun looks quite a bit like the plural form of the adjective? – but he goes on very soon afterward to clarify he definitely recognizes the word is the plural adjective, not the plural noun. (Consequently, I was left wondering who the other person was that “Origen” thought was taking the position of the word being the noun and not the adjective, since as far as you went you looked like you were taking the position of the word being a plural form of the noun.)

I think k_l is being more nuanced than that. He seems to just be arguing that olam always has an intentional meaning of “eternal” in the sense of never-ending or ever-lasting or something along that line, even when things turn out differently, and he’s responding against attempts by some universalists to claim that the term never actually has that meaning but only happens to sometimes be used to describe things that do happen to continue forever. (And I’ve read some “kath” exponents myself who take that even farther, and argue that eonian life per se and the eonian God etc. have an end as “eonian” even though God, or possibly a god depending on their Christology, and the life involved happen also to not have an end.)

Thanks Jason… makes sense.

I put no value in the above opinion. IMO the doctrine of endless hell began with old horns & pitchfork. He, the god of this evil world & age
transmitted it to others of his choosing.

Perhaps many of the Jews, not all, adopted a belief in hell from their captivity in Babylon? Who knows.

In any case, Jesus says to many of them, particularly the leading Jewish sects, that they were erring re the scriptures and doctrine, hypocrites, of their father, the devil, etc.

Therefore, your chances of finding the truth from them are comparable to watching the Flintstones on the cartoon channel. Or shows depicting Greek fairy tales about Hades, the god of the underworld and Egyptian fairy tales from the “book of the dead”.

The early church searched the inerrant inspired Scriptures for truth, not the fables & fantasies of uninspired writings:

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:21)
and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. (Titus 1:14)

The revelations of Paul’s epistles - given to him directly from the Lord Jesus Christ - are particularly enlightening in this regard.

Moreover it was given to him alone, the “worst of sinners”, to “complete the word of God” (Col.1:25).

No wonder in early church history, after Paul’s epistles were written and widely distributed & read, we see very many Christian universalists:

“Augustine himself, after rejecting apokatastasis, and Basil attest that still late in the fourth and fifth centuries this doctrine was upheld by the vast majority of Christians (immo quam plurimi).”

"Of course there were antiuniversalists also in the ancient church, but scholars must be careful not to list among them — as is the case with the list of “the 68” antiuniversalists repeatedly cited by McC on the basis of Brian Daley’s The Hope of the Early Church — an author just because he uses πῦρ αἰώνιον, κόλασις αἰώνιος, θάνατος αἰώνιος, or the like, since these biblical expressions do not necessarily refer to eternal damnation. Indeed all universalists, from Origen to Gregory Nyssen to Evagrius, used these phrases without problems, for universalists understood these expressions as “otherworldly,” or “long-lasting,” fire, educative punishment, and death. Thus, the mere presence of such phrases is not enough to conclude that a patristic thinker “affirmed the idea of everlasting punishment” (p. 822). Didache mentions the ways of life and death, but not eternal death or torment; Ignatius, as others among “the 68,” never mentions eternal punishment. Ephrem does not speak of eternal damnation, but has many hints of healing and restoration. For Theodore of Mopsuestia, another of “the 68,” if one takes into account also the Syriac and Latin evidence, given that the Greek is mostly lost, it becomes impossible to list him among the antiuniversalists. He explicitly ruled out unending retributive punishment, sine fine et sine correctione.

"I have shown, indeed, that a few of “the 68” were not antiuniversalist, and that the uncertain were in fact universalists, for example, Clement of Alexandria, Apocalypse of Peter, Sibylline Oracles (in one passage), Eusebius, Nazianzen, perhaps even Basil and Athanasius, Ambrose, Jerome before his change of mind, and Augustine in his anti-Manichaean years. Maximus too, another of “the 68,” speaks only of punishment aionios, not aidios and talks about restoration with circumspection after Justinian, also using a persona to express it. Torstein Tollefsen, Panayiotis Tzamalikos, and Maria Luisa Gatti, for instance, agree that he affirmed apokatastasis.

“It is not the case that “the support for universalism is paltry compared with opposition to it” (p. 823). Not only were “the 68” in fact fewer than 68, and not only did many “uncertain” in fact support apokatastasis, but the theologians who remain in the list of antiuniversalists tend to be much less important. Look at the theological weight of Origen, the Cappadocians, Athanasius, or Maximus, for instance, on all of whom much of Christian doctrine and dogmas depends. Or think of the cultural significance of Eusebius, the spiritual impact of Evagrius or Isaac of Nineveh, or the philosophico-theological importance of Eriugena, the only author of a comprehensive treatise of systematic theology and theoretical philosophy between Origen’s Peri Archon and Aquinas’s Summa theologiae. Then compare, for instance, Barsanuphius, Victorinus of Pettau, Gaudentius of Brescia, Maximus of Turin, Tyconius, Evodius of Uzala, or Orientius, listed among “the 68” (and mostly ignorant of Greek). McC’s statement, “there are no unambiguous cases of universalist teaching prior to Origen” (p. 823), should also be at least nuanced, in light of Bardaisan, Clement, the Apocalypse of Peter’s Rainer Fragment, parts of the Sibylline Oracles, and arguably of the NT, especially Paul’s letters.” … coming-in/

Ilaria Ramelli, The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis: A Critical Assessment from the New Testament to Eriugena (Brill, 2013. 890 pp.)

The 8 words you have listed after αἰώνιος (aionios) are commonly rendered as follows:

  1. ἄπαυστος = unceasing
  2. ἀθάνατος = immortality, without death, deathlessness
  3. ἀίδιος = everlasting, eternal
  4. συνεχής = continuous
  5. ἀδιάλειπτος = unintermitting, incessant
  6. ἀτελεύτητος = not brought to an end or issue
  7. ἀπέραντος = boundless, infinite, endless
  8. ἀκατάλυτος = indissoluble, permanent, endless

Of those 8, the 5 that appear in the inspired Christian Greek Scriptures (the NT/27 books) are #'s 2,3,5,7 & 8.

Of those five, # 2, ATHANATOS, is used in Scriptre of immortal life (1 Cor.15:53-54; 1Tim.6:16), but never of the punishment of anyone. If, as you allege, extrabiblical uninspired texts used this word of “the eternity/continuity of afterlife torment”, the Divine Author rejected such an application. Instead, He only uses the word in a positive way re God & human beings.

According to LSJ (url below) ATHANATOS is used outside of Scripture of “death that cannot die”. OTOH Scripture nowhere speaks of such or anyone suffering a “death that cannot die” or an endless death. In fact, to the contrary, the New Testament says death will be abolished (1 Cor.15:26).ἀθάνατος

Number 3 above, AIDIOS, is used in Scripture only of God & chains (Rom.1:16; Jude 6) but never of the afterlife endless torment of anyone. If Love Omnipotent believed in a doctrine of torments that have no end, why didn’t He apply this word, AIDIOS, in that regard, unlike that of which you allege in extra scriptural texts? If such a monstrous thing as endless torments were true, wouldn’t He want to express it as clearly as possible, using various words to express it forcefully & unambiguously, so that there would be no doubt about it?

Number 5, ADIALEPTOS, (cf Strongs #'s 88, 89) appears in the Scriptures, but is not used in regard to eschatological life or punishment.

Number 7, APERANTOS, occurs only in the NT at 1 Tim.1:4 & is not used there in regards to eschatological life or punishment.

Number 8, AKATALUTOS, occurs only in the NT in Heb.7:16 re life, so Scripture never uses it of eschatological punishment or torments, but only in a positive way.

BTW Scripture uses the phrase “no end”, OUK TELOS, of God’s kingdom (Lk.1:33), but never of the future punishment or torments of anyone. Surely this phrase would have been a superior way to express endless torments, as opposed to aionios, if Love Omnipotent, i.e. God, ever had such an intention in His heart of love. Therefore i conclude that He never did.

Aionios (& aion) was Jesus’ & Scripture’s word of choice re future eschatological punishment (or correction or chastening) & is clearly used of finite duration as evidenced in this thread:Scholarly EUs Assemble!

I’d suggest the New Testament evidence, as follows, opposes your “great elongation” theory & shows that the New Testament usage of the noun aion (age/eon) corresponds to its associated adjective, aionios (eonian) very closely, just as the English noun, eon, corresponds to its adjective, eonian, meaning of, or pertaining to, or related to, or constituting, an eon or eons.

  1. In the NT aionios (Mt.25:41) corresponds exactly to aion (Rev.20:10), both verses speaking of the aionios destiny of Satan, one verse using the word aionios, the other verse using the related noun, aion (in the plural).

  2. Another example is the aionion correction/chastening of the wicked (Mt.25:46) is spoken of in terms of an aion in Jude 1:13. These terms, aion and aionion are, then, exactly parallel.

  3. Likewise Mark 3:29 equates the loss of pardon for an eon with the penalty of an eonian sin.

  4. Other instances of the inspired correspondence between the noun aion & its adjective aionios are Mk.10:30; Lk.18:30… " and in the coming eon, life eonian" (Mk. 10:30, CLV)

“In the Gospels there are instances where the substantive aion and the adjective aionios are juxtaposed or associated in a single image or utterance (most directly in Mark 10:30 and Luke 18:30). This obvious parallel in the Greek is invisible in almost every English tanslation” (p.540, The New Testament: A Translation, by EO scholar David Bentley Hart, 2017).

BTW, comparable to Lk.18:30 above, ECF John Chrysostom limits aionios to a specific age of finite duration: “For that his[Satan’s] kingdom is of this age,[αἰώνιος] i.e., will cease with the present age[αιώνι] …” (Homily 4 on Ephesians, Chapter II. Verses 1-3).

  1. There are many passages showing that aionios life is equivalent to life for an aion. See Lk.20:35; Jn.6:51, 58; 8:51-52; 11:26 for aion & compare that to others referring to aionion life (Jn.3:15-16, 36, etc). In each of Jn.4:14 & 10:28 both words occur in parallel in a single verse in regards to the blessing of eschatological life.

  2. Likewise “before the eons” [aion plural] (1 Cor.2:7) is equivalent to “before times aionios” (2 Tim.1:9; Titus 1:2).

Excellent! I am very happy that we have your input here!

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary eonian is a variant spelling of aeonian. Another variant is aeonic. They all mean, according to Webster’s definition, “lasting for an immeasurably or indefinitely long period of time”. Webster’s adds “Origin and Etymology of aeonian…from Greek aiṓnios “lasting an age, perpetual” (derivative of aiṓn eon) + 2-an; aeonic from eon + 1-ic”.

Another dictionary says re eonian “Of, relating to, or constituting an eon” & “eonian - of or relating to a geological eon (longer than an era) aeonian. 2. eonian - continuing forever or indefinitely…”

“continuing forever or indefinitely”

"Pertaining to or lasting for eons; everlasting: also spelled aeonian. "

"lasting for an indefinitely long period of time"

"Of, relating to, or constituting an eon"

"Of or pertaining to an eon"