Ge'enna & 'ades

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Mon May 13 07:09:03 EDT 2002


At 11:23 PM +1000 5/12/02, Lloyd Dawson wrote:
>Dear Fellow Greekers
>
>In studying Eschatology I have stumbled on what
>appears to be a translating inquiry.  Why is GEhENNAN
>(Mt. 5: 22, 28 + others) translated as 'hell'
>(NRSV).  To my thinking GEhENNAN is the name of a
>place and therefore its title is a proper noun the
>same as EFESOS is to Ephesus, why change it?

Well, yes. We can find Ephesus on the map; we are told that Gehenna was the
chasm to the south of the temple mount where garbage was burned, and I
suppose some might think that's exactly what the Biblical texts are
referring to rather than assume that the designation is being used
metaphorically for a spiritual place outside of space and time, a place not
to be located on a map.

>On the other hand, if we are to change it, then as
>equally puzzling is hADES being translated as hades in
>keeping with the proper noun (however the NIV has
>hades, depths, hell & grave).  It seems to me that I'm
>missing a piece of the puzzle.  Please help

hADHS involves similar problems, but already in Greek and Roman antiquity
its conceptualization and wide-ranging literary representations as the
realm of the dead (originally a genitive hAiDOU, the "house of Hades",
Hades being the name of the brother of Zeus and Poseidon to whom the
underworld had been allotted as a realm) made it a "fuzzy" sort of
designation of death, the place of the dead, the place of punishment AND
reward rather than what in the western tradition is meant by "hell." So I
think hADHS in the GNT cannot be pinned down to any single notion in all
its GNT usages; here are the citations in brief:

hADHS  hades, hell  (10)
	Matt. 11:23   hUYWQHSH? hEWS hAiDOU KATABHSHi
	Matt. 16:18   EKKLHSIAN KAI PULAI hAiDOU OU KATISCUSOUSIN AUTHS
	Luke 10:15   hEWS OURANOU hUYWQHSH? hEWS hAiDOU KATABHSHi
	Luke 16:23  KAI EN TWi hAiDHi EPARAS TOUS OFQALMOUS
	Acts 2:27   YUCHN MOU EIS hAiDHN OUDE DWSEIS TON ...
	Acts 2:31   OUTE EGKATELEIFQH EIS hAiDHN OUTE hH SARX ...
	Rev. 1:18  TAS KLEIS TOU QANATOU KAI TOU hAiDOU
	Rev. 6:8   QANATOS, KAI hO hAiDHS HKOLOUQEI MET' AUTOU
	Rev. 20:13   QANATOS KAI hO hAiDHS EDWKAN TOUS NEKROUS
	Rev. 20:14   QANATOS KAI hO hAiDHS EBLHQHSAN EIS THN ...

>If a response to these questions necessitates
>clarification theologically, please feel free to
>respond off list.

I would hope it doesn't, but there's always the possibility of somebody's
ox being gored when what the Biblical text may possibly mean LITERALLY what
many or most readers will understand in a FIGURATIVE sense.
-- 

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months:: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad at ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/



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