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Re: Depression, Evolution...B.

Posted by Adam on November 13, 1999, at 1:40:59

In reply to Re: Depression, Evolution..., posted by Bob on November 12, 1999, at 20:22:09

> > (I certainly laughed at both Bob's and Phil's posts. Thanks, guys.)
> ( ;^)
> > From a "serious" POV, this is an interesting topic, too.
I do need to lighten up, I guess. I think part of my problem was an honest misreading of your post. I seem to have
misinterpreted the last line to somehow mean that I was a pedantic spewer of trivia (and that may be still...) whose
musings belonged in the trash. After re-reading I realised that line was about God. So I've got it figured out. I
really am delusional after all, and need desperately to get this god complex treated. In the mean time, I'll stop
projecting my doubts into the responses of others, if I can.

> I'm no bible scholar or traditional hermeneut, but I do recall reading something a dozen years ago or so that traced the development of the concept of heaven and hell in late judaic/early christian thought. Then there's all them sociological studies about the demonization of pagan gods by conquering monotheists. Some true bible scholar out there may be able to correct me, but as I understand it from some early-morning midwest cable baptist evangelist, the concept of heaven and hell as it is commonly perceived really isn't in the bible anyway ... it's more like we're just dead until the Second Coming, and THEN we find out who stays in bliss and who gets confined to absolute obliteration.
Actually, the concept of Heaven and Hell goes way back in Judaism. The oldest form of "hell" may be Sheol, which is more of
a Hades-like place of drear and darkness where our shades would eventually reside until Judgement Day.

Some mentions:

Psalm 139, 7-8:

"Whither shall I go from thy Spirit,
Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend to heaven, thou art there
If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there!"

Amos, 9, 2

"Though they dig into Sheol,
from there my hand shall take them:
though they climb up to heaven,
from there I will bring them down."

Job 10, 20-22

"Are not the days of my life few?
Let me alone, that I may find a
little comfort
before I go whence I shall not return,
to the land of gloom and deep
the land of gloom and chaos
where light is as darkness."

Isaiah 14, 14-15

"I will ascend above the heights of
the clouds,
I will make myself like the Most
But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the depths of the Pit."

Later on came more of a Hell proper, with fires and torment and the like. For a nice transition to the day of Christ, there is a fun
description of hell in the Old Testament Apocrypha:

2 Esdras 7

"Then the pit of torment shall appear, and oppisite it shall be the place of rest; and the furnace of hell shall be disclosed, and opposite it
the paradise of delight. Then the Most High will say to the nations that have been raised from the dead, 'Look now, and understand whom you have
denied, who you have not served, whose commandments you have despised! Look on this side and on that; here are delight and rest, and there are
fire and torments!"

By the Christian era you have the Gehenna of Rabinical teaching, named for a valley where the Canaanites performed human sacrifices, and later
a place used to burn garbage. Jesus purportedly used this word, translated to "hell" in his sermons in, for instance, the book of Matthew ("...
whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says 'You fool!' shall liable to the hell of fire", 5:22; "And if your
eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye that with two eyes to be thrown into
the hell of fire.", 18:9)

It is true that these firey torments await the dead on Judgement Day, but the idea predates Christianity by quite a lot, is included from its
inception, and is firmly rooted in Judeo/Christian tradition. That Judaism and Christianity afterward was influence by gentile/pagan religions
is a given. But heaven and hell do make it in the Bible in one form or another quite often, and is usually depticted as a firey pit or a lake
of fire or some other really hot place. It's odd that heaven/paradise, other than being a very nice place to be way high up, isn't really fleshed
out at all. Is it, you know, temperate and breezy? More like a nice sauna? Biting into a York Peppermint Patty? I guess hell was more fun to
talk about.




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