[Admin edited to add [url=https://forum.evangelicaluniversalist.com/t/what-do-you-make-of-u-koine-linguas-arguments-part-4/5387/1]a link to part 4 here.]
I’ve skipped over a few pages of Ramelli and Konstan’s Septuagint analysis, where for example they look at terms like מעולם, understood as “from ancient times,” which is uncontroversial. There are a few instances throughout this, however, where they make careless errors that could have been avoided with a greater familiarity with the languages and context of the verses here. On p. 40, they write
Yet the motif of the עוֹלָם אֹרַח/שְׁבִיל/נָתִיב is attested elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible (Jeremiah 6.16; 18.15), and clearly means “ancient” path. (And cf. NETS’ translation of LXX Job 22.15, “…the ageless way that unjust men trod”)
They claim οἱ αἰώνιοι in Job 3.18 refers to “men of the world”; yet it is in fact impossible to determinate what the translator meant here, as this is obviously a scribal corruption, with MT reading אסירים. (Walters (1973:316) proposes that ΔΕ ΟΙ ΑΙΩΝΙΟΙ is a corruption of the original translation of יַחַד אֲסִירִים as ΔΕΣΜΙΟΙ ΑΝΕΙΜΕΝΟΙ; the translator “obviously reduced to guess-work.”)
On p. 44, Ramelli and Konstan write
Yet why on earth could this not indicate an absolute eternity? In the idealistic mindset of the author of Micah here, was there really any reason that Israel, in its idealistic future, would not “walk in the name of the God” genuinely forever? Ramelli/Konstan’s translation of the Greek as “from generation to generation” is not impossible; but I think it’s too weak, and a more compelling (literal) translation would actually be very close to a Buzz Lightyear-esque “to infinity and beyond”—especially considering the very next verse (Micah 4.7)’s מֵעַתָּה וְעַד־עֹולָֽם / ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν καὶ ἕως εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. (A more modest translation, though, would just be a simple “forever.”)
On p. 46, LXX Jeremiah 20.17’s “pregnancy of ʻôlām” is called “paradoxical, a pregnancy that lasts an entire life.” Yet in context this seems to be a sort of figurative way of someone wishing to have never been born. Likewise, for LXX Jeremiah 28.39 (MT 51.29), Ramelli/Konstan point to the “sleep of ʻôlām” which “lasts a lifetime or forever.” Surely Ramelli/Konstan could not have failed to miss that this simply refers to death, right? (See my comments on Tobit 3.6; Qohelet 12.5, etc., in Part 3.) Yet, unless I’m mistaken, the context in which these are cited seems to be instances in which αἰώνιος and עוֹלָם cannot signify true eternity; thus the LXX Jeremiah verses appear to have been enlisted as support for this.
Most egregious of all, however, is the claim on pp. 47-48:
Above all, this begs the question of “genuine eternity” only being denoted for, say, aspects of the nature of God. Yet Ramelli and Konstan are obviously aware of negative uses here:
…and can we really say that none of these intended to denote genuine eternity (even if only in the sense of irreversibility—and and also note that even a rhetorical/exaggerated “eternal” is still an eternal)?
Noting that ἀίδιος, aidios, is largely absent from the New Testament, they begin their analysis of aiōnios in the NT by discussing several essays that appear in the volume Universal Salvation? The Current Debate, edited by Robin Parry and Christopher Partridge. The first of these is “A Wideness in God’s Mercy: Universalism in the Bible” by Thomas Johnson, who
and that, with the uses of aiōnios in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in “nearly every case, they refer, not to unending time, but to the quality of eternity, the kind of life that characterizes the age to come” (57). Further, Thomas Talbott’s “A Pauline Interpretation of Divine Judgement” is quoted, where aiōnios “came to function as a kind of eschatological term, a handy reference to the age to come” (emphasis mine).
Ramelli and Konstan themselves tip their hand as to their agreement here, noting (p. 60) that “[the] use of αἰώνιος in reference to the life beyond is frequent, especially in the formula ζωὴ αἰώνιος, to indicate life in the αἰών, in the world to come.”
Yet, at this juncture, these claims are simply asserted, not proven. Can this interpretation indeed be supported?
Hebrews will be used as a test case, on the basis of both Johnson’s and Ramelli and Konstan’s analyses/claims here. (Bear in mind, though, that there are actually only six occurrences of the term aiōnios in Hebrews [with three of these occurring in the span of four verses]: 5.9; 6.2; 9.12, 14, 15; 13.20.)
At the outset, I should also note that it’s hard to know exactly what Johnson intends with the first part of his description of the qualitative dimensions of aiōnios, “belonging to eternity or the age to come.” Does he intend to say that the two can be differentiated in some way? And, if so, what might “belonging to eternity” signify that a “quantitative” aiōnios does not? Johnson’s claim that aiōnios in Hebrews mostly refers to “the kind of life that characterizes the age to come” does not help much here, nor his comment on κρίματος αἰωνίου in Hebrews 6.2, that this “is not a judgment that lasts forever but one that takes place in eternity.” (Why say “in eternity,” and not just that it takes place at/during the eschaton, if the latter is what he intended?)
But perhaps this is reading too much into it.
In any case, re: Hebrews, Ramelli and Konstan write (p. 66) that
A footnote here reads
Again, this is all simply asserted, not supported. Due to their lack of argumentation here, it’s hard to determine why exactly they assert this so equivocally.
The first verse (of Hebrews) referred to by Ramelli and Konstan was 6.2:
Again, Ramelli and Konstan argue that that aiōnios here refers to “the world to come” and not “eternal.”
We have other parallels to the phrase κρίματος αἰωνίου, e.g. in 1 Enoch. The first of these is found in 1 En. 10.12: καὶ ὅταν κατασφαγῶσιν οἱ υἱοὶ αὐτῶν καὶ ἴδωσιν τὴν ἀπώλειαν τῶν ἀγαπητῶν, καὶ δῆσον αὐτοὺς ἑβδομήκοντα γενεὰς εἰς τὰς νάπας τῆς γῆς μέχρι ἡμέρας κρίσεως αὐτῶν καὶ συντελεσμοῦ, ἕως τελεσθῇ τὸ κρίμα τοῦ αἰῶνος τῶν αἰώνων. Nickelsburg translates this “And when their sons perish and they see the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, until the day of their judgment and consummation, until the everlasting judgment is consummated.” For clarity, we might translate ἕως τελεσθῇ τὸ κρίμα τοῦ αἰῶνος τῶν αἰώνων here more along the lines of “until the eternal [lit. “(of) ages of ages”; viz. “forever and ever”] judgment is given/executed.” (There’s no extant Aramaic fragment for these verses; though the duplication “forever and ever” is attested in the Hebrew Bible, as we’ve already seen: e.g. לעולם ועד and לנצח נצחים.)
The phrase דין עלמא is found in 4QEnᵍ—a fragment from 1 Enoch 91.15. 1 En 91.15-16 as a whole reads
Stuckenbruck comments here that ‘The judgement is “eternal” because it marks the complete, unrepeatable defeat of evil’ (148), which seems to be on point.
Finally, mention should be made of 1 En. 104.5. This is a somewhat enigmatic text, both in the Greek and Ge’ez:
The differences between the Ge’ez and Greek text of the latter verse are great; but what seems clear is that ኵነኔ እንተ ለዓለም here refers to a decisive eschatological judgment, which will forever affect those after it (whether positively or negatively)—Eth. (ለ)ኵሉ ትውልደ ዓለም (cf. כל דרי עלמין from 4QEnᵍ) (“the rest of your days” might be a comparable idiom).
To conclude, all of these verses seem to hint towards the idea of eternal judgment/punishment not as truly infinite in duration, but rather consequence (as will be discussed further below). This is confirmed when we look at a final verse from 1 Enoch, 1 En. 91.9, where eschatological annihilation appears to be clearly in view:
Unfortunately there’s another lacuna in my original writing here. I had some incomplete thought about people making 'too much of a dichotomy between “judgment” and “punishment”, sometimes ascribed to the difference between κρίσις and κρίμα; and I apparently ended writing that we should understand the aiōniosin κρίματος αἰωνίου in the sense of “ultimate in significance and everlasting in effect” (quoting Christopher D. Marshall)—that is, (almost certainly) suggesting annihilationism.
Skipping down to pp. 94-85 (on a related theme), Ramelli and Konstan discuss the Greek Apocalypse of Ezra:
Yet the Apocalypse of Ezra clearly does conceive of eternal judgment/punishment. For example, 1.24 reads
(The idea of “storehouses” of punishment is employed in several places, figuratively and perhaps literally: cf. Romans 2.5; LXX Prov 16:27; Philo, Leg. 3.105-06; 2 Baruch 59.5f.)
[Admin edited to add [url=http://www.evangelicaluniversalist.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=6333]a link to the finale, part 6, here.]