What is Hell? (Part One)

Hel-Statue-norse-mythology

Odin contemplated the girl [named Hel], and he remembered his dreams. Then Odin said, “This child will be the ruler of the deepest of the dark places, and ruler of the dead of all the nine worlds. She will be the queen of those poor souls who die in unworthy ways — of disease or of old age, of accidents or in childbirth. Warriors who die in battle will always come to us here in Valhalla. But the dead who die in other ways will be her folk, to attend her in her darkness.”

For the first time since she had been taken from her mother, the girl Hel smiled, with half a mouth.

Odin took Hel down to the lightless world, and he showed her the immense hall in which she would receive her subjects, and watched as she named her possessions. “I will call my bowl Hunger,” said Hel. She picked up a knife. “This is called Famine. And my bed is called Sickbed.”*

***

The kingdom of the dead was ruled by one of the twelve great Olympians, Hades [or Pluto]… It is often called by his name, Hades. It lies, the Iliad says, beneath the secret places of the earth. In the Odyssey, the way to it leads over the edge of the world across Ocean. In later poets there are various entrances to it from the earth through caverns and beside deep lakes.

Tartarus and Erebus are sometimes two divisions of the underworld, Tartarus the deeper of the two, the prison of the Sons of Earth; Erebus where the dead pass as soon as they die. Often, however, there is no distinction between the two, and either is used, especially Tartarus, as a name for the entire lower region.†

***

“And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell [Hades]: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.”‡

***

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell [Tartarus], and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment … The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgement to be punished…§

***

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell [Gehenna].”||

***

“If I wait, the grave [Sheol] is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness. I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister. And where is now my hope? as for my hope, who shall see it? They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust.”¶

***

Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.
Justice the founder of my fabric mov’d:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.
Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure.
All hope abandon ye who enter here.**

***

* Gaiman, Neil. Norse Mythology. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017, page 81.
† Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. Little, Brown and Company, 1942, page 42.
‡ Matthew 11:23
§ 2 Peter 2:4,9
|| Matthew 5:29
¶ Job 17:13-16
** Dante Inferno. Words above the gates to Hell.

Unicorns in the Bible

unicorn 001
The Bible (King James Version) mentions the unicorn several times: Numbers 23:22, 24:8; Deuteronomy 33:17; Job 39:9; Psalm 22:21, 29:6, 92:10; Isaiah 34:7.

Other versions of the Bible, such as the New American Standard Version, will instead use the term wild ox, as the Hebrew word, rê’em [pronounced: reh-ām’], probably refers to a wild bull.

Atheists like to bring up the Bible’s use of unicorns to attack its validity. Surely, if the Bible mentions unicorns, a mythical beast lacking any evidence for ever existing, then the Bible itself is a mythical document not to be taken seriously.

But what an intellectually lazy argument it is to automatically assume that the KJV Bible, a document translated over 400 years ago from Hebrew, Greek,* and Latin sources,** would use the word unicorn in the same way it is used today. Indeed, all you have to do is go back 200 years to find unicorn defined differently than today. The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines it as this…

unicorn

A rhinoceros. And the same dictionary defines rhinoceros as this…

Rhino

This does not mean that the KJV Bible is talking about rhinoceroses when using the term unicorn. But, it does make it rather obvious that the definition of unicorn is not the same today as it was 400 years ago, and the argument to write-off the Bible as myth due to its use of the word unicorn is unfounded.

Here is a good video which inspired this article…

* The Greek of unicorn is μονόκερως transliterated as monokeros [one horn].

** The Latin version of the Bible (the Latin Vulgate) uses the term rinocerotis in Deuteronomy 33:17 and rinoceros in Job 39:9.

Chase the Lion (Brief Book Review)

Chase the Lion: If Your Dream Doesn't Scare You, It's Too SmallChase the Lion: If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It’s Too Small by Mark Batterson

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A typical “chase your dreams” type book. Nothing groundbreaking. Lots of unnecessary fluff. Lots of psychologizing the Old Testament. The book is based on 2 Samuel 23:20 in which a man named Benaiah kills a lion. The NLT version (the version the author uses) says he chased a lion into a pit, but the Hebrew version says he went down into the pit (meaning the lion was already down there) and killed it. That sounds like semantical nit-picking, but if your book is about chasing lions based on a verse about a guy chasing a lion, it would help if the verse actually said he chased the lion.

A quote from page 8 which sums up the book quite accurately is: “The size of your dream may be the most accurate measure of the size of your God.” That statement is true… if your dream is your god.

If you are searching for meaning in your life, read a book like Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl instead.

“A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the ‘why’ for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any ‘how.'”
~Viktor E. Frankl

View all my reviews

Notes for My Students ~ Eschatology

I’m uploading some notes on the book of Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and the book of Revelation here. This is for my students to have easy access to the notes online.

If anyone else stumbles on this post, you are welcome to the notes if you are interested in the subject.

The notes on Daniel are based primarily on James B. Jordan’s commentary The Handwriting on the Wall.

The notes on Revelation are based mainly on James B. Jordan’s Revelation Lectures (which, at the time of this posting [August 22, 2016] are on sale for $40 – down from $175 – on WordMp3.com).

Click below for the notes…

Daniel, Olivet, and Revelation

**Please note: The notes have not been edited for spelling mistakes or other formatting issues.

Some Atheist Brief Book Reviews

19280426All God Worshippers Are Mad 

A short and stupid book. I give it one star out of five because it was only $1.99 on Kindle. I can’t decide if the book was written for 12 year olds, or if it was written by a 12 year old. For example… His first argument against God is basically summed up as: “In order for God to create the space/time universe, God’s existence can’t depend on space/time. My human brain can’t comprehend that. Therefore there is no God. Booyah!”

11081433

Why I Believed 

He’s got a couple of decent Dostoevsky-type arguments against faith/God, but most of what he says follows a “I just don’t want to believe anymore” kind of thinking. Christianity is a faith which requires engagement. If you choose not to engage it you will grow cold towards it.

 

4420281Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes 

I’ll come back to this book for the language sections. Everett is a talented linguist. He had no business being a missionary though. I don’t think he ever fully understood what Christianity is. His descriptions of the faith show he never moved beyond a Sunday-school understanding of it.

 

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God Needs to Go 

It’s hard to get into one of these books when it starts out with a straw-man argument; which this book does. In fact, this book is one straw-man after another — falsely representing Christianity and then attacking that false representation.

He makes a couple good points against prayer (or, what I would call the misuse of prayer).

Atheists often argue that morality is based on the evolved sense of the common good. While that might be true for economy, it is not true for morality. Morality is not the same across the world. A westerner being accepting of a transgender person is doing so because he believes it is loving to do so. That belief of loving acceptance stems directly from Christian morality. A Buddhist in Thailand who is accepting of a transgender person is not doing so out of love; his acceptance and noninterference is based on karmic justice. A Buddhist would be less inclined to help the poor for that very same reason, whereas a westerner would be more inclined to help the poor based on Christian morality.

The author states: “Except for certain religiously based societies, many of the secular nations display a sense of right and wrong that has allowed them advance in a positive way.” (page 23) “Certain religiously based societies” — every society is a religiously based society, including the ‘post-Christian’ west. A society’s morality is tied to its predominant religion. This is not hard to see. Western morality is based on Christianity, absolutely. If you don’t see that, you just need to do some travelling. A Buddhist nation’s morality is based on Buddhism. The same is true for Hindu and Muslim nations. If a person born and raised in a Buddhist nation becomes an atheist, his morality will still be based on Buddhism. (Although, Buddhism as a religion lacks the conditions to create atheists — which is a whole other interesting topic. Western atheism would not exist if it weren’t for Christianity.)

Then there are the usual arguments about slavery and God’s wrath and so forth. If you want to understand those issues in the Bible you have to understand two very important things: covenant and holiness. If you don’t get those two things, you won’t get the Bible.

And there are the attacks on biblical prophesy. Jesus said certain things about His return that supposedly didn’t happen. Well, there are plenty of books on eschatology to explain that. But if you’re not willing to study it out, then there’s nothing more to say. Reading Psalm 110 and Daniel 7:13-14 will get you well on your way to understanding what Jesus said when prophesying about Himself.