Note that Shammai was the President of the Sanhedrin during the ministry of Jesus, possibly dying just before or after Jesus’ DBR.
The School of Shammai offered this description:
There will be three groups on the Day of Judgment: one of thoroughly righteous people, one of thoroughly wicked people and one of people in between. The first group will be immediately inscribed for everlasting life; the second group will be doomed in Gehinnom [Hell], as it says, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence” [Daniel 12:2], the third will go down to Gehinnom and squeal and rise again, as it says, “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on My name and I will answer them” [Zechariah 13:9]… Babylonian Talmud, tractate Rosh Hashanah 16b-17a]
As implied in the Book of Daniel, the Jewish notion of resurrection in the Maccabeean period was tied to a notion of judgment, and even to separate realms for the judged. In rabbinical thought, the model for heaven was Eden. The rabbinic word for hell, “Gehenna”, is taken from the name of a valley of fire where children were said to be sacrificed as burnt offerings to Baal and Moloch (Semitic deities). Gehenna is a place of intense punishment and cleansing. This place is also known as “She’ol” and other names. This line of Jewish thought argues that after death the soul has to be purified before it can go on the rest of its journey. The amount of time needed for purification depends on how the soul dealt with life. One Jewish tradition states that a soul needs a maximum of 11 months for purification, which is why, when a parent dies, the kaddish (memorial prayer) is recited for 11 months. The concept of Gehenna as a place for temporary purification was the source for the orthodox Christian doctrine of “purgatory.”
Only the very righteous go directly to Gan Eden. The average person descends to a place of punishment and/or purification, generally referred to as Gehinnom (guh-hee-NOHM) (in Yiddish, Gehenna), but sometimes as She’ol or by other names. According to one mystical view, every sin we commit creates an angel of destruction (a demon), and after we die we are punished by the very demons that we created. Some views see Gehinnom as one of severe punishment, a bit like the Christian Hell of fire and brimstone. Other sources merely see it as a time when we can see the actions of our lives objectively, see the harm that we have done and the opportunities we missed, and experience remorse for our actions. The period of time in Gehinnom does not exceed 12 months, and then ascends to take his place on Olam Ha-Ba.
As noted in previous posts, Matthew is the one who predominantly uses the word Gehenna. Luke and Mark only mention Gehenna once each, and each of those is a copy of a passage in Matthew. And it’s interesting that Luke, in the parable/story of the rich man and Lazarus does not use Gehenna, but the generic term Hades. And it’s interesting that Mark and Luke transliterate Gehenna, instead of translating it as Tartarus. If ECT was intended by Gehenna, then Tartarus would have been THE term to use to convey that concept. Of course, Matthew was written to the Jews, possibly in Hebrew or Aramaic originally, and focused on Jesus countering the attitudes, doctrine, and practices of the Pharisees especially and the Sadducees; so using the transliteration Gehenna was only natural for his Jewish audience would have understood the cultural context of that word, and the debates it fostered.
As you noted, Josephus does use wording indicating that the Pharisees taught ECT, and some of them did, for the most wicked such as Herod or Pharoah; but others taught annihilation. Josephus doesn’t mention that Shammai taught that most people suffered the flames of Gehenna for a season for purification before the rose to Ga Eden. But to me the quotes in the Mishnah and Talmud concerning the teachings of the school of Shammai carry more weight as evidence of what they actually taught than Josephus’ brief notes.
Anyhow, I believe that Jesus used the Pharisees’ Gehenna metaphor as a means of warning them of their bad attitudes and practices, and denouncing their doctrines. One of the most interesting uses of it was in Mt. 23:15 where Jesus uses it as a source or orientation, “son of Gehenna”. It’s not a place they being consigned to, but from which they live according to.
So, was Jesus affirming the Pharisees’ doctrine of Gehenna? I don’t know that He was, but he was certainly using it to challenge their attitudes and actions. The Pharisees tended to be exclusive, prideful, and self-righteous, condemning all “others” as not being acceptable to God and thus would be consigned to Gehenna for who knows how long. Jesus turned this weapon of fear on them affirming that if they did not repent, they need to fear the flames of Gehenna and will be judged by God themselves for mistreating others, for their pride, for their doctrine that nullifies the Word of God, for their…
Will there be punishment in the afterlife, remedial and/or punitive? I trust that in making things right, God will do as needed to accomplish His will in us all. What I fear most and believe will be the most devestating is the fire of undiminished Truth! I believe we shall all face, without choice, the absolute Truth concerning our lives, individually and collectively. And this Truth will burn the Hell out of us! All of our self-deception, cultural-deception, and demonic-deception will be stripped from us and we’ll face the Truth! And well, the truth will likely cause much weeping and grinding of teeth. We’ll need to ask forgiveness of those we’ve hurt and of the Lord. All of this will be done though on the foundation of the truth of the Love of God for us all, the revelation of the Atonement which redeemed us, provided for the forgiveness of all of our sins, and justified us in God’s sight. In order for forgiveness to reign, the truth must prevail. In order for there to be Justice, things made right, I believe there must be restitution and reconciliation. How God accomplishes all this in the eternal, I don’t know, and don’t know that anyone has a firm grasp on it. I just trust that He does because of the exceeding great and precious promises of such in His Word. And I live my life knowing that one day “I” will face the judgment. I even seek the Lord’s judgment Now, in my life, for I trust His judgments are good and true.