Sunday, May 15, 2022

Is the Spirit Immortal?

Unlike animals, humans have an immortal soul.

Ecclesiastes 3:21

Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

Early Christians understood and believed in the existence of disembodied spirits.

Acts 12:15

And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.

This contrasted with Sadducee teachings.

Acts 23:8

For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

It was not just superstitious Christians that believed that the spirit lives on after the body dies.  Jesus endorsed and argued for an anti-annihilationist view specifically against the Sadducees. 

Matthew 22:32

I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

Likewise, Jesus taught us that the souls of believers immediately pass into glory.

Luke 23:43

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Nevertheless, death is something.  That is why we treat death as separation.  Indeed, James provides a clear statement to that effect:

James 2:26

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Clement and Eternal Conscious Torment

Chris Date (CD) has a video in which he claims that Clement of Rome held to "conditional immortality" (link - if you're interested to hear what he has to say about Clement of Rome, you can jump forward to timestamp 26:00 and listen to 44:09).  

First, note that we refer to the book we refer to as 1 Clement, a letter from the church at Rome to the church at Corinth, is traditionally identified as having been written by Clement of Rome, even though Clement may not have written the letter or may not have done so in an individual capacity.   The author of the book avoids using the first person to refer to himself, does not identify himself as Clement in the text of the work, and the letter begins, "The Church of God which sojourneth in Rome to the Church of God which sojourneth in Corinth...."  Likewise, the postscript of the letter asks that the messengers (who presumably carried the letter) be speedily returned to "us."  Although the author of 1 Clement is traditionally identified as Clement of Rome, I will refer to the author as "the author of 1 Clement." 

At least one other letter has been attributed to Clement of Rome (it's referred to as 2 Clement), but it is by another author.  The mid-second century author of that work does refer to "eternal punishment" (2 Clement 6:7), affirms that the dead will be judged (2 Clement 1:1), uses "death" to refer to something like spiritual death ("our whole life was nothing else but death" 2 Clement 1:6), suggests that the fire of the afterlife will have a hardening effect like fire has on clay with the effect of repentance being impossible there (2 Clement 8:1-3), and identifies the punishment of the damned with "grievous torments in unquenchable fire" (2 Clement 17:7) after quoting from Isaiah 66:24 (2 Clement 17:5).  Naturally, CD does not provide his detailed comments on this work, and he does not need to, since it is not the work of Clement of Rome.  I merely mention it as a minor aside against the false and ridiculous notion that the doctrine of eternal conscious torment should be associated with Augustine, centuries later despite being the understanding of Christians before then.

Returning to 1 Clement, the full text of the epistle in the original Greek and parallel English can be found at the following link (link to full text of 1 Clement).  

While Hell is not the central focus of the letter, the author of 1 Clement, does touch on the subject a little.

XI. Διὰ φιλοξενίαν καὶ εὐσέβειαν Λὼτ ἐσώθη ἐκ Σοδόμων, τῆς περιχώρου πάσης κριθείσης διὰ πυρὸς καὶ θείου, πρόδηλον ποιήσας ὁ δεσπότης ὅτι τοὺς ἐλπίζοντας ἐπ’ αὐτὸν οὐκ ἐγκαταλείπει, τοὺς δὲ ἑτεροκλινεῖς ὑπάρχοντας εἰς κόλασιν καὶ αἰκισμὸν τίθησιν. 2. Συνεξελθούσης γὰρ αὐτῷ τῆς γυναικὸς ἑτερογνώμονος ὑπαρχούσης καὶ οὐκ ἐν ὁμονοίᾳ, εἰς τοῦτο σημεῖον ἐτέθη, ὥστε γενέσθαι αὐτὴν στήλην ἁλὸς ἕως τῆς ἡμέρας ταύτης, εἰς τὸ γνωστὸν εἶναι πᾶσιν ὅτι οἱ δίψυχοι καὶ οἱ διστάζοντες περὶ τῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ δυνάμεως εἰς κρίμα καὶ εἰς σημείωσιν πάσαις ταῖς γενεαῖς γίνονται.

11. For his hospitality and godliness Lot was saved from Sodom, when all the country round about was judged by fire and brimstone; the Master having thus fore shown that He forsaketh not them which set their hope on Him, but appointeth unto punishment and torment them which swerve aside. [2.] For when his wife had gone forth with him, being otherwise minded and not in accord, she was appointed for a sign hereunto, so that she became a pillar of salt unto this day, that it might be known unto all men that they which are double-minded and they which doubt concerning the power of God are set for a judgment and for a token unto all the generations.

The author of 1 Clement argues that God has appointed unbelievers to "κόλασιν καὶ αἰκισμὸν" (punishment and torture).  Even if we were to accept annihilationist claims that kolasin can refer to a death penalty, as such (and that seems to be a stretch at best), aikismon is not similarly ambiguous: it means torture not death.  Moreover, the author of 1 Clement links these punishments and tortures with the fire and brimstone (πυρὸς καὶ θείου) that was put on Sodom.  

Furthermore, the author of 1 Clement suggests a perpetuity to the judgment by saying that the judgment will be "unto all generations" like Lot's wife who "unto this day" is a pillar of salt. 

Because CD has convinced himself to reduce the punishment of Sodom to annihilation, he fails to account for the "torment" aspect of the comment.  Indeed, eternal conscious torment fits much better both with "punishment" and "torment."  Likewise, while one can certainly appreciate that the memory of a death can serve as a reminder, the ongoing existence of Lot's wife as a pillar of salt suggests an emphasis on the damned continuing to exist in some form so that they serve a similar memorial function. 

What remains to be said?  The author of 1 Clement does not explicitly say that the torment will last forever.  So, if someone wants to claim that 1 Clement does not rule out the idea that the torment might end some day, I think it's fair to acknowledge that 1 Clement does not directly address this topic.

That said, because the author of 1 Clement focuses on the punishments and torture of the wicked, 1 Clement is not consistent with the annihilationist focus on cessation of being as the reward of the wicked.

CD argues from 1 Clement 9 that capital punishment (a term the author of 1 Clement never uses) awaits the wicked.  That section reads as follows:

IX. Διὸ ὑπακούσωμεν τῇ μεγαλοπρεπεῖ καὶ ἐνδόξῳ βουλήσει αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἱκέται γενόμενοι τοῦ ἐλέους καὶ τῆς χρηστότητος αὐτοῦ προσπέσωμεν καὶ ἐπιστρέψωμεν ἐπὶ τοὺς οἰκτιρμοὺς αὐτοῦ, ἀπολιπόντες τὴν ματαιοπονίαν τήν τε ἔριν καὶ τὸ εἰς θάνατον ἄγον ζῆλος. 2. Ἀτενίσωμεν εἰς τοὺς τελείως λειτουργήσαντας τῇ μεγαλοπρεπεῖ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ. 3. Λάβωμεν Ἐνώχ, ὃς ἐν ὑπακοῇ δίκαιος εὑρεθεὶς μετετέθη, καὶ οὐχ εὑρέθη αὐτοῦ θάνατος. 4. Νῶε πιστὸς εὑρεθεὶς διὰ τῆς λειτουργίας αὐτοῦ παλιγγενεσίαν κόσμῳ ἐκήρυξεν, καὶ διέσωσεν δι’ αὐτοῦ ὁ δεσπότης τὰ εἰσελθόντα ἐν ὁμονοίᾳ ζῷα εἰς τὴν κιβωτόν.

9. Wherefore let us be obedient unto His excellent and glorious will; and presenting ourselves as suppliants of His mercy and goodness, let us fall down before Him and betake ourselves unto His compassions, forsaking the vain toil and the strife and the jealousy which leadeth unto death. [2.] Let us fix our eyes on them that ministered perfectly unto His excellent glory. [3.] Let us set before us Enoch, who being found righteous in obedience was translated, and his death was not found. [4.] Noah, being found faithful, by his ministration preached regeneration unto the world, and through him the Master saved the living creatures that entered into the ark in concord.

CD is not wrong that the author of 1 Clement has in mind death as a consequence of sin.  However, the death that the author of 1 Clement uses as an illustration is the ordinary death that we all eventually face, and that even Noah himself eventually faced.  Thus, "capital punishment" as a description is a spin too far.

CD argues that the author of 1 Clement uses "death" in simply the ordinary way.  This is inaccurate.  First, the author of 1 Clement uses "death" in a way that also seems to refer to spiritual death in his quotation of "death into the world" (1 Clement 3).  Moreover, this usage is particularly relevant, because it links jealousy with death: "seeing that they have conceived an unrighteous and ungodly jealousy, through which also death entered into the world" (ζῆλον ἄδικον καὶ ἀσεβῆ ἀνειληφότας, δι’ οὗ καὶ «θάνατος εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον».  1 Clement 3)  This word for jealousy is, of course, the same Greek word used in 1 Clement 9.

Moreover, jealousy is what the author of 1 Clement identifies as a critical problem in Corinth.  Thus, jealousy is discussed in 1 Clement 3, and then repeatedly in 1 Clement 4, 5, and 6.  The author of 1 Clement comes back to jealousy in 1 Clement 9, 14, 43 and 45.  Finally, the author of 1 Clement brings up jealousy one last time in the conclusion at 1 Clement 63.

Perhaps even more significantly than the jealousy-death connection in general, the author of 1 Clement states at 1 Clement 4: "Jealousy caused Joseph to be persecuted even unto death, and to come even unto bondage." (Ζῆλος ἐποίησεν Ἰωσὴφ μέχρι θανάτου διωχθῆναι καὶ μέχρι δουλείας εἰσελθεῖν.)  

We know, and it seems fair to assume the author of 1 Clement knew, that Joseph was not literally persecuted to physical death, but instead to an imprisonment.  In case you are wondering, it's not because a different Greek word for death is used: it's the same Greek word for death.  

CD presents six other examples of this word use in the text, which falsely suggests that the author of 1 Clement only uses the word in one particular way. 

Moreover, the translation CD provided for 1 Clement 51 seems inaccurate and misleading in the context of our discussion.

LI. Ὅσα οὖν παρεπέσαμεν καὶ ἐποιήσαμεν διά τινας παρεμπτώσεις τοῦ ἀντικειμένου, ἀξιώσωμεν ἀφεθῆναι ἡμῖν· καὶ ἐκεῖνοι δέ, οἵτινες ἀρχηγοὶ στάσεως καὶ διχοστασίας ἐγενήθησαν, ὀφείλουσιν τὸ κοινὸν τῆς ἐλπίδος σκοπεῖν. 2. Οἱ γὰρ μετὰ φόβου καὶ ἀγάπης πολιτευόμενοι ἑαυτοὺς θέλουσιν μᾶλλον αἰκίαις περιπίπτειν ἢ τοὺς πλησίον· μᾶλλον δὲ ἑαυτῶν κατάγνωσιν φέρουσιν ἢ τῆς παραδεδομένης ἡμῖν καλῶς καὶ δικαίως ὁμοφωνίας. 3. Καλὸν γὰρ ἀνθρώπῳ ἐξομολογεῖσθαι περὶ τῶν παραπτωμάτων ἢ σκληρῦναι τὴν καρδίαν αὐτοῦ, καθὼς ἐσκληρύνθη ἡ καρδία τῶν στασιασάντων πρὸς τὸν θεράποντα τοῦ Θεοῦ Μωϋσῆν, ὧν τὸ κρίμα πρόδηλον ἐγενήθη. 4. «Κατέβησαν γὰρ εἰς ᾅδου ζῶντες», καὶ «θάνατος ποιμανεῖ αὐτούς». 5. Φαραὼ καὶ ἡ στρατιὰ αὐτοῦ καὶ πάντες οἱ ἡγούμενοι Αἰγύπτου, «τά τε ἅρματα καὶ οἱ ἀναβάται» αὐτῶν οὐ δι’ ἄλλην τινὰ αἰτίαν ἐβυθίσθησαν εἰς θάλασσαν ἐρυθρὰν καὶ ἀπώλοντο, ἀλλὰ διὰ τὸ σκληρυνθῆναι αὐτῶν τὰς ἀσυνέτους καρδίας μετὰ τὸ γενέσθαι τὰ σημεῖα καὶ τὰ τέρατα ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ διὰ τοῦ θεράποντος τοῦ Θεοῦ Μωϋσέως.

51. For all our transgressions which we have committed through any of the wiles of the adversary, let us entreat that we may obtain forgiveness. Yea and they also, who set themselves up as leaders of faction and division, ought to look to the common ground of hope. [2.] For such as walk in fear and love desire that they themselves should fall into suffering rather than their neighbors; and they pronounce condemnation against themselves rather than against the harmony which hath been handed down to us nobly and righteously. [3.] For it is good for a man to make confession of his trespasses rather than to harden his heart, as the heart of those was hardened who made sedition against Moses the servant of God; [4.] whose condemnation was clearly manifest, for they went down to hades alive, and Death shall be their shepherd. [5.] Pharaoh and his host and all the rulers of Egypt, their chariots and their horsemen, were overwhelmed in the depths of the Red Sea, and perished for none other reason but because their foolish hearts were hardened after that the signs and the wonders had been wrought in the land of Egypt by the hand of Moses the servant of God.

Rather than "death shall be their shepherd," CD provides "and death swallowed them up," and omits "alive" from "into hell."  When he mentions this same section a few minutes later, to claim that "alive" has a uniform meaning in 1 Clement, he asserts that they go there to die, which is not what the text says.  

The author of 1 Clement is referring the rebellion of Korah described in Numbers 16, and particularly quoting from Numbers 16:30, which says that "they go down quick (i.e. alive) into the pit (i.e. hell)" (LXX: καταβήσονται ζῶντες εἰς ᾅδου), and from Psalm 49:14 (LXX Psalm 48:15, θάνατος ποιμανεῖ αὐτούς - [NETS] death shall be their shepherd ), which is about the sons of Korah.

If anything, the judgment of Korah is suggestive of the eternal conscious torment view.  The shepherding of those in Hades by the personification of Death is one that treats the dead as, in some sense, alive.

I will point out that "Death shall feed upon them" is another interpretation of the underlying Psalm.  The difference is similar to the difference between feeding someone and feeding upon someone.  Nevertheless, I agree with Lightfoot's translation of 1 Clement, which agrees with the New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS) translation of Psalm 48:15. 

Regarding 1 Clement 11, CD argues that "torture" is not a good translation of aikismos, because aikismos can also just refer to "bad treatment." Even if aikismos can more broadly include other kinds of bad treatment, the context is the reason it gets translated as "torture" or the like.  Moreover, if the meaning is even softer than "torture," this would only further undermine, not support, the denial that the author of 1 Clement held the eternal conscious torment view.  In any event, I disagree with CD's criticism of the translation.

I don't know of anyone who has translated it merely "bad treatment." Instead, here are some of the translations in addition to Lightfoot's translation (1869).
  • William Burton (1647) translated: "punishment and plagues" (link at XIV in Burton's sectioning of the text)
  • William Wake (1719) translated: "punishment and correction" (link
  • Temple Chevallier (1833) translated: "punishment and correction" (link)
  • John Keith (1897) included in Schaff's edition: "punishment and torture" (link)
  • Kevin Edgecomb (2006) translated: "punishment and torments" (link)
  • Adolf von Harnack (English ed. and trans. Jacob Cerone) (2021) translated: "punishment and torment" (p. 15)
Incidentally, I criticize the translation 1 Clement 51 that CD provided, but I don't know what translation CD is using.  I think the original language text of the epistle does not support his reading, though, regardless of his translation choice.

CD makes an argument that because the author of 1 Clement sees immortality and life as a gift from God for the righteous, that this implies that he does not think that the wicked will live forever in hell.  This is one of what I would refer to as the fundamental errors of CD's method of argumentation.  He provides a reductionist interpretation of life and death, and then imposes that interpretation onto certain texts.

CD argues that the author of 1 Clement takes the position that only believers will be resurrected.  On the other hand, this would not make a 1 Clement a holder of the conditional immortality position for which CD usually advocates, since that position affirms a general resurrection.  More bluntly, this reductionism misses the fact that for 1 Clement the resurrection that matters is the resurrection to life, not the resurrection to torment.

Moreover, 1 Clement's way of considering life, death, and resurrection does not follow CD's reductionism, as evidenced by 1 Clement 24, where the resurrection is compared to our daily sleeping and waking and to the growth cycle of plants.  Further evidence is provided in 1 Clement 25 where the author relates the myth of the Phoenix.  In the case of 1 Clement 24, the author of 1 Clement is following gospel metaphors for death, but - of course - these are metaphors.

I further criticism I have is that CD tends to spin 1 Clement and then treat the spin as though it was what 1 Clement says.  For example, around 39:00 to 39:15, CD repeatedly emphatically says that the author says "only ..." when, at most, CD would be justified in saying that the author of 1 Clement "only says" or "implies that only ...."  There are about 17 uses of "only" in the English of 1 Clement, the majority of those are "not only" and none of them is in the context of any of the above-discussed issues, except that the Phoenix is the "only one of its kind," despite its unusual 500 year cycle of life. 

According to CD, if Clement (and Ignatius) denied the general resurrection, they would still be "conditionalists" because of their denial of continued union of body and soul of the wicked.  This is because the "conditionalist" movement is being defined negatively, as a rejection of the eternal conscious torment position.

CD suggests to his listeners to claim that Clement and Ignatius are "indisputably conditionalists," which is a dramatic oversell of his conclusion.  We will address Ignatius in another post.  For now, suffice to say that there is no strong reason to deny that Clement held to the same view as the author of 2 Clement or other early Christian writers, who believed that what awaits the lost is an eternity of torment.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Polycarp and Eternal Torment

Chris Date has a video arguing for the idea that Polycarp of Smyrna held to conditional immortality (link to video).

CD's arguments hang on several points:

1) Ignatius writes to Polycarp that Polycarp views immortality and eternal life as being the prize set before him (Ignatius' Epistle to Polycarp, Chapter 2).  However, this would only be relevant to CD's contentions if eternal torment is rightly said to be immortality and eternal life.  CD tends to argue that eternal torment is (or at least would be if it happened) immortality and eternal life.

As a minor aside of interest probably only to me, I point out that the Epistle to Polycarp exists in a long recension and a short recension.  The wording that CD relies on includes a variant.  I don't think the variant directly or meaningfully affects his argument.  One recension describes immortality and eternal life as a prize and the other describes it as the will of God. 

2) The Martyrdom of Polycarp reports Polycarp as having said that resurrection, incorruption, and immortality will be his reward (Martyrdom of Polycarp, 14, 17, and 19)

While this is the case, the author of the Martyrdom of Polycarp argues that the martyrs did not flinch before the torments they were faced with, because they were set in contrast to eternal torments.  CD tries to argue that duration was not the contrast that the author of MoP had in mind, but the contrast between "eternal" and "single hour" is fairly straightforward.  Moreover, the contrast is between two different torments.  See Martyrdom of Polycarp, 2.

Moreover, CD's own position has to affirm that the damned are resurrected and that Polycarp believes that they will be.  After all Polycarp avers that Christ will come to judge not just the living but the dead:

Polycarp, Epistle to the Philippians, Chapter 2, (translation in Schaff) "He comes as the Judge of the living and the dead. [Acts 17:31] His blood will God require of those who do not believe in Him."

Lightfoot translation (link to translation): "who cometh as judge of quick and dead; whose blood God will require of them that are disobedient unto Him."

Now, "his blood God will require" seems to be a usage of the Hebraism originating at least as early as Genesis 9:5 (see also, Genesis 42:22, 2 Samuel 4:11, Ezekiel 3:17, 18, and 20, 33:6&8, Luke 11:50-51).  Contrary to CD's gloss, to "require his blood" does not necessarily mean to die a violent, bloody death.  It means to be held accountable for the blood that was shed.  It is interesting that Polycarp's letter uses this wording, as it relates to the doctrine of the atonement, but that's not a subject for this particular post.

I would echo CD's comments about the potential unreliability of the work, the Martyrdom of Polycarp.  Candida Moss's "The Myth of Persecution," mentions some of the issues associated with the work. 

3) Polycarp in his Epistle to the Philippians implies that only the righteous will be raised and live:

Polycarp, Epistle to the Philippians, Chapter 2, (translation in Schaff) "But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise us up also, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved," 

Lightfoot translation (link to translation): "Now He that raised Him from the dead will raise us also; if we do His will and walk in His commandments and love the things which He loved," 

Polycarp, Epistle to the Philippians, Chapter 8, (translation in Schaff) "Let us then continually persevere in our hope, and the earnest of our righteousness, which is Jesus Christ, who bore our sins in His own body on the tree, [1 Peter 2:24] who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth, [1 Peter 2:22] but endured all things for us, that we might live in Him."

Lightfoot translation (link to translation): "Let us therefore without ceasing hold fast by our hope and by the earnest of our righteousness, which is Jesus Christ who took up our sins in His own body upon the tree, who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth, but for our sakes He endured all things, that we might live in Him."

Polycarp, Epistle to the Philippians, Chapter 1, (translation in Schaff) "our Lord Jesus Christ, who for our sins suffered even unto death, [but] whom God raised from the dead, having loosed the bands of the grave."

Lightfoot translation (link to translation): "our Lord Jesus Christ, who endured to face even death for our sins, whom God raised, having loosed the pangs of Hades;"

While this is certainly the case, the solution is not to insist that Polycarp means "it will be as if they hadn't been resurrected," but instead that Polycarp considers eternal punishment to be something other than the promised eternal life.

Just as Polycarp doesn't count the resurrection of damnation as the resurrection, so also Polycarp doesn't count eternal punishment as eternal life. The only people who seem to count it that way are opponents of eternal conscious torment.

Monday, May 02, 2022

Some Thoughts on Meros (μέρος)

One of the key texts regarding hell is Revelation 21:8, which states:

But the fearful, and

unbelieving, and

the abominable, and

murderers, and

whoremongers, and

sorcerers, and

idolaters, and

all liars,

shall have their part (τὸ μέρος αὐτῶν) in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Some folks commenting on this verse are quick to rush past "their part," and just act as though the various folks mentioned are just thrown into the fire, like one might through ingredients into a soup.

On the other hand, the word translated "part" has in mind something closer to a geographic area.  This is not like our English "take part in," meaning "have a role in."  It's more like having a portion or an allotment, or in the real estate sense, a lot.

In context, the portion of these wicked is in contrast to Revelation 20:6

Blessed and holy is he that hath part (μέρος) in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Recall that Christ went to prepare a place for us (John 14:2-3).

Likewise, Revelation 19:22 uses the word to describe a place in the tree of life (or book of life, if you follow the KJV reading there).  Revelation 16:19 uses the word to describe that Babylon is carved up into three parts.

Matthew, the gospel with the greatest focus on hell, uses the word in connection with hell:

Matthew 24:51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion (τὸ μέρος αὐτοῦ) with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew similarly uses the term as a geographic designator in Matthew 2:22 ("parts of Galilee"), 15:21 ("coasts of Tyre and Sidon"), 16:13 ("coasts of Caesarea Philippi").  

Luke does the same in the parallel to Matthew 24:51:

Luke 12:46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion (τὸ μέρος αὐτοῦ) with the unbelievers.

Luke doesn't use the term geographically in Luke (though Mark does at Mark 8:10 "parts of Dalmanutha"), but Luke uses the term of divided portions in Luke 11:36 ("no part dark" of your body), 15:12 ("portion of goods" requested by the prodigal son), and 24:42 ("piece of a broiled fish" given to Jesus after his resurrection).  Luke uses the term geographically in Acts 2:10 ("parts of Libya about Cyrene"), 19:1 ("upper coasts" passed on the way to Ephesus), 20:2 ("those parts" he passed over on the way to Greece).  Luke also uses the term to describe parts of the crowd (part Sadducees and part Pharisees) in Acts 23:6 and 9. The idol-makers used the term to describe their profession in Acts 19:27.   Finally, Luke also uses it to describe the part of the sale of land that was kept back by Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:2).  

In John 13:8 Jesus tells Peter that he doesn't have a part with Jesus if Jesus doesn't wash his feet.  John also uses this word to describe the parts of Jesus garments that the soldiers took for themselves (John 19:23) and the right side of the ship (John 21:6) that Jesus told Peter and the others to fish on after the resurrection.  

Paul uses the term to refer to the grave ("the lower parts of the earth") in Ephesians 4:9.  Paul also uses the term in a variety of other ways, usually in the sense of something being partial rather than complete or according to some defined partitioning (Romans 11:25, 15:15&24, 1 Corinthians 11:18, 12:27, 13:9-10&12, 14:27, 2 Corinthians 1:14, 2:5, and Ephesians 4:16). In a few places, Paul uses the term to mean something like "in regard to," (2 Corinthians 3:10, 9:3, and Colossians 2:16) which we could equate to something like "about this part."  Peter uses the word that same way in 1 Peter 4:16.

The author of Hebrews uses the term to refer to the details of the temple (Hebrews 9:5).  

In short, the word can have a range of meanings, but the general sense is one of a part, portion, or the like.  The point is that the lake of fire is the destination of the wicked.  The righteous have a place in the tree (or book) of life, but the wicked have place in a lake of fire.  

Yes, the lake of fire is a metaphor for a place of pain and suffering.  The point, however, is that this is where the wicked are going.  

Saturday, April 30, 2022

What about Olam (עוֹלָם), Ad (עַד), and Nesah (נֶצַח)?

If you are going to consider the subject of the eternal torments of hell, you cannot limit yourself to the New Testament.  You also should not limit yourself to English, but should also consider the usual words translated as "eternal" or the like in the Old Testament text.

Olam, Ad, and Nesah

One fairly common (439 uses) word in the Old Testament is the masculine noun, Olam (עוֹלָם), which is usually translated ever, everlasting, old, perpetual, or evermore.  It is the word used to describe the effect of the tree of life in Genesis 3:22 ("live for ever").  It is also the word used to describe Jehovah as the "everlasting God" in Genesis 21:33 and the reign of God as being "for ever (עוֹלָם) and ever (עַד)" in Exodus 15:18.  It's a word that typically refers to a long duration.  So, even when it doesn't mean eternity, it means a long time (like the pre-flood "mighty men which were of old").  Sometimes olam is used in connection with an ordinance or law, such that it is designated a perpetual law.  Many times we are told (especially in Psalm 136) that God's mercy endures for ever. 

Ad (עַד) mentioned above in Exodus 15:18 is a less common word (49 uses) that has a similar sense of continuity.  Sometimes it's used as a poetic variety word choice, as in Habakkuk 3:6, where it is parallel to olam, or Amos 1:11 where it is parallel to nesah (נֶצַח), or as an emphatic, as in Genesis 3:22 and Micah 4:5 where it is piled onto olam ("for ever and ever").  

Nesah (נֶצַח) is used about as often (43 uses) as ad.  While it is often translated as "ever," the connotation is more forward looking, as to a distant goal.  In 1 Samuel 15:29 God is called the "Strength of Israel" using this word (נֵצַח יִשְׂרָאֵל) and this word translated as "Victory" is also treated as one of God's attributes, alongside greatness, power, and glory in 1 Chronicles 29:11.  

Some Key Verses 

There are a number of Old Testament verses that are key to any discussion about hell being a place of eternal torment.

Daniel's Two Resurrections

Daniel 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life (לְחַיֵּי עוֹלָם), and some to shame and everlasting contempt (לַחֲרָפוֹת לְדִרְאוֹן עוֹלָֽם).

In this verse, Daniel is given a prophesy about the general resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.  The former are resurrected to everlasting life, whereas the latter are resurrected to everlasting shame/contempt.

Isaiah's Contrasting Destinations

Isaiah 45:17 But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation (תְּשׁוּעַת עוֹלָמִים): ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded (לֹא־תֵבֹשׁוּ וְלֹא־תִכָּלְמוּ) world without end (עַד־עוֹלְמֵי עַֽד).

Of course, there are two ways of looking at this promise in Isaiah 45:17.  One way is as a promise of endless (the use of "ad" twice and "olam" once is translated here as "world without end") protection from shame/confounding.  This may indeed be the best way.  The other way is as contrasting endless salvation with endless shame/confounding.  Even if the former way is correct, when you compare Isaiah 45:17 with Daniel 12:2 it becomes clear that Daniel is making a claim about perpetual shame.

Imprecatory Psalm  

Psalm 83:17 Let them be confounded and troubled for ever (עֲדֵי־עַד); yea, let them be put to shame, and perish:

In this psalm, Asaph prays for the wicked to be "confounded and troubled" "for ever" using an emphatic duplication of ad.  Does Asaph have in mind the punishments of hell or merely the temporal punishments of this life? Perhaps it is the latter.  Nevertheless, the perpetual administration of God's wrath on the wicked is the point being conveyed.

Unquenchable Fire

Isaiah 34:10 It shall not be quenched night nor day (לַיְלָה וְיוֹמָם); the smoke thereof shall go up for ever (לְעוֹלָם): from generation to generation (מִדּוֹר לָדוֹר) it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever (לְנֵצַח נְצָחִים).

"Day and night" is a Hebrew way of saying "constantly" or "without interruption."  See, for example, Leviticus 8:35, Deuteronomy 28:66, Joshua 1:8, 1 Samuel 25:16, 1 Kings 8:59, 1 Chronicles 9:33, 2 Chronicles 6:20, Nehemiah 1:6 and 4:9, Psalms 1:2, 32:4, 42:3&8, 55:10, Isaiah 60:11, Jeremiah 9:1, 14:7, 16:13, 33:25(?), and Lamentations 2:18.  It's the same reason that Jesus three day and night burial does not mean 6 half days, but instead an uninterrupted period that starts on the first day and ends on the third day. 

The point about the fire not being quenched day or night is that there is no relief from the fire. It's not as though the fire burns for one hour and then there is a break.  No, the fire is continual.

The endless (olam) ascent of the smoke is not that the column of smoke is a really high column that never gets to the top of the atmosphere.  The endless ascent of the smoke is an indication that the fire continues forever.

The phrase "from generation to generation" (מִדּוֹר לָדוֹר)(midor lador) is another Hebrew idiom for "forever."  See, for example, Exodus 17:16, Isaiah 13:20, 34: 17, and 51:8, Jeremiah 50:39, Lamentations 5:19, Daniel 4:3 and 4:34, and Joel 3:20. Mary uses this same idiom (as translated into Greek) in Luke 1:50.  It's similar to the expression, "to all generations" (לְדֹר־וָדוֹר)(ledor vador) (Exodus 3:15 and numerous places in the Psalms).  Likewise, Mary uses this idiom (as translated into Greek) in Luke 1:48.

To "lie waste" here refers to the land being, in essence, desert - ruined, destroyed, or the like.

Finally, the duplication of nesah (forever and ever) is used to describe the fact that one one will pass through the land.  This seems to be connected to the idea that this a wasteland, as per the "lie waste." All the goodness of the land is gone.

Interestingly, though, this same verb, "to pass," is used like in English to refer to death.  When someone dies, we say they passed away. I'm reluctant to dogmatically insist that the sense of this verse is that no one will die.

Fire that Burns Forever

Jeremiah 17:4 And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever (עַד־עוֹלָם). 

This passage is not necessarily primarily about the fires of hell.  Nevertheless, this verse demonstrates that the idea of God's judgment wrath burning like a never-ending fire is one Old Testament picture of God.

Everlasting Reproach, Shame, and Confusion

Jeremiah 20:11 But the LORD is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten.

Jeremiah 23:40 And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.

I mention these verses as examples of God's never-ending judgment including not only pictures of physical suffering (like that caused by fire) but also of mental anguish (reproach, shame, and confusion).  Hence the weeping/wailing and gnashing of teeth that Matthew mentions (link to post) or the darkness (fear) and furnace (pain) metaphors Matthew employs. 

Psalm 9:5 Thou hast rebuked (גָּעַרְתָּ) the heathen, thou hast destroyed (אִבַּדְתָּ) the wicked, thou hast put out (מָחִיתָ) their name for ever and ever (לְעוֹלָם וָעֶֽד).

The heathen and wicked are the same group in mind, and rebuking them should be taken as something more akin to cursing them as opposed to just offering constructive criticism.  Destroying them uses the word, abad, which we have seen above.  The putting out their name here refers to something like blotting out or erasing their name. There is a similar expression in Deuteronomy 9:14, Deuteronomy 29:20, and 2 Kings 14:27.  The 2 Kings reference refers to the LORD contrasting such a judgment with salvation.  The Deuteronomy passages provide interesting parallels.  Deuteronomy 9:14 says, "Let me alone, that I may destroy them (וְאַשְׁמִידֵם), and blot out (וְאֶמְחֶה) their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they."  Here the parallel word, a form of samad, is a very strong term for destruction. Similarly, Deuteronomy 29:20 states, "The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out (וּמָחָה) his name from under heaven."  Notice that here the cursing is explicit and God's negative disposition is described as "smoking."  

While the putting out of their names could have various senses, it seems to have at least a negative psychological connotation, namely a reputational loss. 

Psalm 78:66 And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual (עוֹלָם) reproach (חֶרְפַּת).

The hinder parts would be the rear ends of the enemies.  Children get smitten there when they disobey their parents.  Part of the punishment of God's enemies is the shame of being punished by God.  The humiliation is part of the punishment.  

Destroyed Forever  / Perish Forever

Psalm 92:7 When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed (לְהִשָּֽׁמְדָם) for ever (עֲדֵי־עַֽד): 

There are cases where the Old Testament uses "for ever" in the context of destruction, in a way that when taken in isolation may sound a bit like annihilation.  Everlasting destruction can have a very different connotation from everlasting punishment.  So, it's easy to understand how this verse could be interpreted as though the wicked will be permanently destroyed, if it were taken alone.

Job 4:20 They are destroyed (יֻכַּתּוּ) from morning to evening (מִבֹּקֶר לָעֶרֶב): they perish (יֹאבֵֽדוּ) for ever (לָנֶצַח) without any regarding it.

From morning to evening is another Hebrew way of saying "continuously" (Exodus 18:13, Exodus 27:21, and Acts 28:23).  The first word translated "destroyed" (katat) here has the sense of receiving a beating or smashing.  Thus, this is more of a picture of continually being struck.  

The word for "perish" here (abad) implies death and seems to literally come from the sense of wandering away or being lost in that sense.

The best way of understanding this verse, however, is that the being destroyed and perishing are characteristics of humanity as such, and not about individuals.  The point of the text is about how the human race is continually dying off.

Job 20:7 Yet he shall perish (יֹאבֵד) for ever (לָנֶצַח) like his own dung: they which have seen him shall say, Where is he?

The comparison here is interesting. Dung is (generally speaking) something which we make sure goes away, never to be seen by us again.  The point is not just that the wicked will get temporarily misplaced but that he will be gone (abad) and not be coming back.  By itself, this verse might seem to suggest that the wicked will not be resurrected.  Nevertheless, we know from other Scripture that the death of the wicked is their end in this life only, but that they will face eternal judgment in the next life.

Numbers 24:20 And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable, and said, Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish (אֹבֵֽד) for ever (עֲדֵי). 

Numbers 24:24 And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and shall afflict Asshur, and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish (אֹבֵֽד) for ever (עֲדֵי).

Once again, the word for "perish" here is abad.   The thing being discussed is the personification of Amalek.  In the case of Amalek (as a nation), one can say that it was annihilated.  You may recall that a significant destruction of the Amalekites came under Saul (whose failure to completely destroy them cost his family the kingdom) and then a further destruction of the Amalekites came under David (who killed all but 400 of them) and then the final destruction of the Amalekites came under Hezekiah.  The verses don't have much to do with our subject, but I've included them anyway just for the sake of completeness.

Poetic Uses

Psalm 143:3  For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long (עוֹלָֽם) dead.

To dwell in darkness is here demonstrated to refer to those who have been dead for a while, as distinct from those recently deceased. It provides contrast to the beauty of Isaiah 9:2,  "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined."

Jonah 2:6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever (לְעוֹלָם):  yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.

I find this fascinating.  Obviously, Jonah does not mean he literally was underground nor that he was literally there forever.  Moreover, we know from the New Testament that the sign of Jonah was a sign of Jesus Christ.  So, it is interesting to reflect on the sense in which Jonah's death forever under the earth, kept in by the bars of the earth (Hell's gates), was something that Christ experienced for us.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Gnashing (Brygmos βρυγμός) of Teeth

Amongst the various descriptions of suffering in hell, one notable description is the gnashing of teeth.  In the New Testament, Matthew provides this description six times, and Luke just once.  While we use a gerund, the Greek is usually a noun, Brygmos.

Matthew 8:12  But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing (βρυγμὸς) of teeth.

Matthew 13:42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing (βρυγμὸς) of teeth.

Matthew 13:50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing (βρυγμὸς) of teeth.

Matthew 22:13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing (βρυγμὸς) of teeth.

Matthew 24:51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing (βρυγμὸς) of teeth.

Matthew 25:30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing (βρυγμὸς) of teeth.

Luke 13:28 There shall be weeping and gnashing (βρυγμὸς) of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.

There is one Septuagint use of the term, in a passages that is wrath-related but probably not particularly relevant:

Proverbs 19:12 The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion (βρυγμῷ λέοντος); but his favour is as dew upon the grass.  (Cf. Proverbs 20:2 and see the discussion below)

Aside from the Lex Taliones, Matthew only references teeth in connection with them being gnashed in suffering.  While Mark does not speak of the Brygmos of teeth, Mark similarly describes of a demonic gnashing (τρίζει) his teeth in Mark's only mention of teeth (Mark 9:18).  Teeth show up for the last time in the NT in them mouths of the locusts from hell (Revelation 9:8).

The corresponding verb Brycho (βρύχω) is used once in Acts and a number of times in the Septuagint, in a similar way.

Acts 7:54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed (ἔβρυχον) on him with their teeth.

Job 16:9  He teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me: he gnasheth (ἔβρυξεν) upon me with his teeth; mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me.

Psalm 35:16 With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed (ἔβρυξαν) upon me with their teeth.

Psalm 37:12 The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth (βρύξει) upon him with his teeth.

Psalm 112:10 The wicked shall see it, and be grieved; he shall gnash (βρύξει) with his teeth, and melt away: the desire of the wicked shall perish.

Lamentations 2:16 All thine enemies have opened their mouth against thee: they hiss and gnash (ἔβρυξαν) the teeth: they say, We have swallowed her up: certainly this is the day that we looked for; we have found, we have seen it.

Except for Proverbs 19:12, the OT examples of gnashing are some form of haraq (חָרַק).  Proverbs 19:12 uses naham (נַהַם), which means something like "roar,"  While this may seem unrelated, the related word (nāham) can refer both to the roarings/growlings of wild animals and also to the groanings of those suffering.  Ultimately, though, the point is fundamentally the same.  It is a sense of anguish and frustration.

Matthew associates this gnashing of teeth with:

  • Outer Darkness (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30)
  • Furnace of Fire (Matthew 13:42&50)

This may seem paradoxical as fire produces light, not darkness.  Nevertheless, when one remembers that the darkness and fire here are images to represent an underlying idea, and not the thing itself, darkness is a source of fear (mental anguish) and fire is a source of pain (physical anguish).

Moreover, notice the connection between Luke 13:28 about seeing Abraham and all the prophets and the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (e.g. Luke 16:23), in which the Rich Man sees Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham.  This emphasizes that the punishment of the wicked will include a consciousness of their own relative misery set in contrast to the blessedness of the believers.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

What about Apollymi?

Sometimes a person who is an annihilationist will argue as follows (Please note that I'm not endorsing any aspect of this representation except the spelling of the lexical form of the Greek word):

1) The most common description of the fate of the wicked is that are destroyed, using the verb, ἀπόλλυμι (apollumi or apollymi).

2) The verb ἀπόλλυμι is the same verb used by certain apparently annihilationist Greeks to describe their own view, as well as by Athenagoras to describe a view he rejects in favor of the eternal conscious torment view.  

3) Therefore, an annihilationist understanding of "perish" should be understood as the meaning of ἀπόλλυμι in passages that speak of the fate of the wicked.

I answer:

A) Reading minority Greek views of the afterlife into New Testament usage is a terrible, terrible hermeneutic.  While the New Testament uses Greek, and while Hellenistic views are part of the cultural background of the New Testament, the "mainstream" Greek view of the afterlife was not annihilation, but continued conscious existence as a disembodied spirit in a place of the dead.  So, it makes little sense to apply the seemingly minority views of certain Greek philosophers.

B) We cannot simply adopt the dominant Greek understanding of the afterlife.  After all, Paul consciously rejects the Greek view by teaching a resurrection from the dead, which the Greeks rejected as foolish (see Paul's message on Mar's Hill, Acts 17). So, just because Greek mythology regarding the afterlife is anti-annihilationist, is in itself insufficient to resolve the question. 

C)  There is no undisputed New Testament usage where the verb ἀπόλλυμι refers to annihilation of body and soul. While this may seem like a trivial point, it distinguishes this discussion from cases where a word has an undisputed meaning in other parts of the New Testament.  In this case, however, the annihilationist meaning is never the undisputed meaning.  

D) In the places where the meaning of the verb ἀπόλλυμι is undisputed, it has a semantic range similar to the English word, "lost."  The meaning is very context dependent.  If a ship is lost at sea, we never see it again.  If you get lost driving to Grandma's house, you arrive an hour late.  If a sheep is lost, a shepherd goes and finds it.  If soldiers are lost in battle, a funeral is appropriate. Similarly, as shown below, while the word usually just means to kill a person, there is a wide range of meanings.

E) In at least one relatively undisputed place, the meaning of  the verb ἀπόλλυμι referring to a human loss of life cannot be interpreted in annihilationist sense: "He that findeth his life shall lose it (the disputed use; cf. John 12:25): and he that loseth (the undisputed use) his life for my sake shall find it." (Matthew 10:39; and the same again in Matthew 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24-25)  The undisputed use here does not refer to annihilation, but simply death from which the person is resurrected.  

F) The verb ἀπόλλυμι in some form occurs about 92 times in about 86 verses in the NT, and about 271 times in about 263 verses in the canonical books of the Septuagint. The following surveys the NT use.

Most often the meaning is something like "kill" or "die":

- Matthew 2:13 Herod wants to kill the young child

- Matthew 8:25 (Mark 4:38; Luke 8:24) The disciples woke up Jesus because they thought they would die in the storm

- Matthew 10:39 (as mentioned above and similarly Matt. 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; Luke 17:33) speaks about people being martyred for Christ

- Matthew 12:14 (Mark 3:6; Mark 11:18; Luke 19:47) Jewish leaders plot to kill Christ

- Matthew 21:41 (Mark 12:8; Luke 20:16) Master of the garden will kill the wicked husbandmen

- Matthew 22:7 King killed the murderers

- Matthew 26:52 Sword will kill those who use it

- Matthew 27:20 Jews ask Romans to kill Jesus

- Mark 9:22 Devil tried to kill possessed man by quasi-suicide

- Luke 6:9 Killing on the sabbath

- Luke 9:56 Jesus didn't come to kill people

- Luke 11:51 Zacharias was martyred

- Luke 13:33 Jesus must die at Jerusalem

- Luke 15:17, 24, and 32 Prodigal son was dying of starvation and was presumed dead

- Luke 17:27 (2 Peter 3:6) Flood killed everyone except Noah and his family

- Luke  17:29 Fire from heaven killed those of Sodom 

- John 11:50 better to prevent the whole nation from dying

- John 18:14 better for Jesus to die instead of the people

- Acts 5:37 Judas of Galilee died

- 1 Corinthians 10:9-10 Rebellious Israelites killed in the wilderness by the serpents and the destroyer

- Jude 5, 11 Rebellious Israelites killed in the wilderness

Sometimes the meaning is something like "lose" in the sense of not having the thing any more:

- Matthew 5:29-30 losing an eye or a right hand (by being plucked out or cut off) rather than being cast into hell
- Matthew 10:42 (Mark 9:41) not losing the reward (a seemingly idiomatic usage) for giving a cup of cold water
- Luke 21:18 losing a hair from your head
- 2 John 1:8 not losing a reward

Sometimes the meaning is something like "spoil" in the sense of the thing going bad:
- John 6:12 uncollected fragments of food going to waste
- John 6:27 food going bad

Sometimes the meaning is something like "ruin" or "spoil":
- Matthew 9:17 (Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37) Breaking old wine skins by putting new wine in them
- John 10:10 Thief comes to destroy (the word in question) in addition to stealing and killing
- Romans 14:15 (1 Corinthians 8:11) Don't hurt your brother with your Christian meat-eating liberty
- James 1:11 of the decay of flowers
- 1 Peter 1:7 of the decay of gold

Sometimes the meaning is something like "misplaced":

- Matthew 10:6 & 15:24 The lost sheep of the house of Israel

- Luke 15:4, 6 the 100th sheep that was lost

- Luke 15:8-9 the 10th silver piece that was lost

Sometimes the meaning is similar to mentally ruin:

- 1 Corinthians 1:19 the wisdom of the wise will be destroyed  in parallel to prudence being despised 

Dead without resurrection:

- 1 Corinthians 15:18 (if there is no resurrection then ...)

Disputed (at least I assume they would be) passages:

- Matthew 10:28
- Matthew 10:39 (the first usage in that verse, as discussed above)
- Matthew 18:11 & 14
- Mark 1:24 & Luke 3:34 (about devils)
- Luke 13:3, 5
- Luke 19:10
- John 3:15-16
- John 6:39
- John 10:28
- John 12:25
- John 17:12 and 18:9 (regarding Judas)
- Romans 2:12
- 1 Corinthians 1:18
- 2 Corinthians 2:15
- 2 Corinthians 4:3, 9
- 2 Thessalonians 2:10
- Hebrews 1:11
- James 4:12
- 2 Peter 3:9 (cf. 6)

We could (and perhaps in a future post we will) distinguish the disputed uses into various categories.  For example, sometimes "those who perish" or "the lost" is a collective term for those who are not saved.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The Lake of Fire and the Abyss

In any discussion on Hell, I would be remiss to omit discussion of the Abyss, sometimes translated the "deep" or the "bottomless pit."

In most places in the Scripture, the abyss seems to be watery place (for example, the Spirit of God moves over the watery abyss in Genesis 1).  The main exceptions in the Old Testament are the Red Sea as dried (Psalm 106:9, Isaiah 51:10, and Isaiah 63:13 and possibly Isaiah 44:27).  

Amos 7:4 is the most interesting (for our discussion) exception to the typical usage in the Old Testament.  Amos 7:1-9 provides three pictures of judgment, of which the first is the locusts coming and eating the already-mown grass, and the second is of a fire that devours the Abyss and a part.  These judgments are deemed too severe for Jacob and so a final image of a wall with a plumber's line is provided.  Fascinatingly, the revelation given to John combines these two images with locusts coming forth from the smoking Abyss (Revelation 9:3).     

Paul seems to use the abyss as equivalent to Sheol (Romans 10:7), but for Luke and John it seems to be the place of the fallen angels and the beast (Luke 8:31, Rev. 9:11, 11:7, 17:8, and 20:3).  John may not explicitly mention fire in the Abyss, but it smokes like a furnace (Rev. 9:2).

Moreover, there may be a connection between the Abyss and the lake of fire.  After all, in Revelation 20:7 Satan is loosed from his prison (which is the Abyss per Rev. 20:1-3), wreaks a measure havoc, and is then sent to the lake of fire for eternal torment:

Revelation 20:10

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. 

They were consigned to the lake of fire in Revelation 19:20.  That's the same place that the reprobate come, according to Jesus: 

Matthew 25:41

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Likewise the Abyss is the place from which the Beast ascends (Revelation 11:7 and Revelation 17:8).

So, it may be reasonable to connect the two, such that while the Abyss is not explicitly identified as being the Lake of Fire or a part thereof, it is still an image of the same place of eternal torment. 

Monday, April 18, 2022

Josephus on Pharisees on Compatibilism and Hell

Various Jewish sources of the Pharisaical (or related) stripe, provide us with useful background information on the subject of hell.  

Josephus, Jewish Wars, Book II, Chapter 8, Section 14:

But then as to the two other orders at first mentioned, the Pharisees are those who are esteemed most skilful in the exact explication of their laws, and introduce the first sect. These ascribe all to fate [or providence], and to God, and yet allow, that to act what is right, or the contrary, is principally in the power of men; although fate does co-operate in every action. They say that all souls are incorruptible, but that the souls of good men only are removed into other bodies, but that the souls of bad men are subject to eternal punishment. But the Sadducees are those that compose the second order, and take away fate entirely, and suppose that God is not concerned in our doing or not doing what is evil; and they say, that to act what is good, or what is evil, is at men’s own choice, and that the one or the other belongs so to every one, that they may act as they please. They also take away the belief of the immortal duration of the soul, and the punishments and rewards in Hades. Moreover, the Pharisees are friendly to one another, and are for the exercise of concord, and regard for the public; but the behaviour of the Sadducees one towards another is in some degree wild, and their conversation with those that are of their own party is as barbarous as if they were strangers to them. And this is what I had to say concerning the philosophic sects among the Jews. 

What do we know about Jesus and the Apostles?

Matthew 23:1-3

Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

Acts 23:6

But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

Now, I would not go so far as to suggest that we should simply embrace wholeheartedly whatever one particular Pharisee, such as Josephus, said.  Nevertheless, Josephus' comments provide us with a background to the New Testament.  They provide us with the cultural assumptions of the first century readers.

Similarly, Philo writes: "Clearly this indicates the incorruptibility of the soul, which removes its habitation from the mortal body and returns as if to the mother-city, from which it originally moved its habitation to this place." (Questions and Answers on Genesis 3.11) 

Many modern-day Jewish sects reject eternal damnation.  Nevertheless, we find traces of this idea in, for example:

And, the following are they that have no share in the World to Come but suffer excision and loss of identity, and are damned for ever and ever for their exceeding wickedness and sinfulness: atheists, infidels, traducers of the Torah, dissenters of resurrection and the coming of a Redeemer, apostates, enticers of many to sin, seceders from the congregation, a public perpetrator of sins emulating Jehoiakim, informers, leaders who cast fear upon the congregation not for the sake of God, shedders of blood by defaming people in public, evil-tongued people, he who abolishes circumcision.

Mishneh Torah, Repentance 3.6

Once again, I must reiterate, we do not base our doctrines on those of the unbelieving.  We base our beliefs on Scripture.  These views merely provide background and help us to identify the appropriate interpretation of words within their first century context.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Other Hell-Related Passages and Themes

In my previous post (link), we saw some of the passages and themes related to hell.  This is a supplemental post that addresses some of the other themes related to hell that didn't necessarily make it into the original post.   

Hell was Prepared for the Devil and His Angels and will be Eternal

Matthew 25:41

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Revelation 12:9

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Hell is Outer Darkness with Suffering

Matthew 8:12

But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 22:13

Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 25:30

And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Hell is Eternal Fire

Isaiah 33:14

The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?

Hell's Smoke Ascends Forever

Isaiah 34:10

It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.

Revelation 14:11

And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

Revelation 19:3

And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.

Lake of Fire Takes Living Victims and is the Second Death

Revelation 19:20

And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

Revelation 20:10

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Revelation 20:14-15

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 21:8

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Hell is Described as a Firey Torment

Matthew 5:22

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

James 3:6

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

Hell is a Place for Both Body and Soul

Matthew 10:28

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Hell Fire is Unquenchable

Mark 9:43

And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

Mark 9:45

And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

Mark 9:47

And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus Demonstrates that the Suffering of the Damned is Conscious

Luke 16:23

And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

Opening Remarks in Debate on Hell with Chris Date

The second death will be suffered in both body and soul by the reprobate for all eternity. The following is a Scriptural outline of some of the key verses that teach this important doctrine.

In short summary, here is the argument.

Two Resurrections
There will be two resurrections, one of which (the resurrection of the righteous) is better than the other (the resurrection of damnation).

John 5:29

And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life (ἀνάστασιν ζωῆς); and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (ἀνάστασιν κρίσεως).

Hebrews 11:35

Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection (κρείττονος ἀναστάσεως):

Conventional Death will be No More

1 Corinthians 15:26, 42, 52, and 54

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.


So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:


In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.


So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Isaiah 25:8

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.

Isaiah 65:19-20

And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.

The World will Face Judgment including those already Conventionally Dead

Acts 17:31

Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Revelation 11:18

And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged (ὁ καιρὸς τῶν νεκρῶν κριθῆναι), and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

For the Wicked (but not the Righteous) there is a Second Death

Revelation 20:6

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death (ὁ δεύτερος θάνατος) hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Revelation 21:8

But the fearful, and
unbelieving, and
the abominable, and
murderers, and
whoremongers, and
sorcerers, and
idolaters, and
all liars,

shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death (ὁ θάνατος ὁ δεύτερος).

The Punishment of the Second Death is Both Physical and Psychological

Matthew 18:8-9

Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire (τὸ πῦρ τὸ αἰώνιον). And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire (τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός).

Daniel 12:2

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life (לְחַיֵּי עוֹלָם)(LXX: ζωὴν αἰώνιον), and some to shame and everlasting contempt (לְדִרְאוֹן עוֹלָֽם)(LXX: αἰσχύνην αἰώνιον).

The Duration of the Second Death is Eternal

Hebrews 6:2

Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

Matthew 25:46

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment (κόλασιν αἰώνιον): but the righteous into life eternal (ζωὴν αἰώνιον).

Revelation 19:3

And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.

Revelation 14:11

And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

Isaiah 34:14

It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.

These are the Scriptures and arguments I intend to set forth when I debate Chris Date (Lord willing, later this month).  I welcome my readers' comments and suggestions.

Saturday, March 05, 2022

Response to Kappes "Part 2"

 Dr. Christiaan Kappes has graciously provided a multi-part response to my previous post (here).  His first post, which dealt with mostly irrelevant matters, has been addressed in a video (here).  "Part 2" was supposed to get to the substance of the matter.  I've done my best to separate the wheat from the chaff. 

CK: "Provided that we can find two or more words that Mary is said to have spoken (Luke 1:34) and we can find these two or more words from a source earlier than and other than Mary, then she may be plausibly suspected of quoting them."

First, why stop at two? It's possible to have a one word quotation.   Dr. Kappes is just stopping at two, because he's trying to argue for an extremely short "quotation" (see what I did there?), namely a two-word quotation.  An example of a one-word quotation in Scripture is when Jesus says, "Why do you call me 'good'?" (Matthew 19:17; Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19)  In Luke 1:39, we don't have a two-word quotation, a one-word quotation, or any other kind of quotation except (as mentioned in my tl;dr post) a quotation of Mary by Luke.  Mary is not quoting anyone, she's just asking the angel a question.

Second, we are framing this issue in terms of quotation, rather than literary dependence, allusion, or the like, because Albrecht and Kappes (A&K) repeatedly framed the matter that way.  Literary dependence is typically a lower bar. For example, the synoptic gospels exhibit literary dependence with one another, and there are numerous places where they tell the same story in approximately the same words. That said, we would not typically say that one of the evangelists is quoting the other. Indeed, there is speculation that the synoptics derive their similarity by mutually obtaining material from a common source.  As a different example, if someone said, "Let them eat cake," they are almost certainly borrowing an expression that is traditionally attributed to Marie Antoinette.  There would, in that case, be literary dependency on the queen's words, but it may not be intended as quotation.  In fact, the person using this expression may not know the story of the phrase's origin.  Quotation is one form of literary dependency, but literary dependency is not necessarily quotation.  In Luke 1:34, Mary is not literarily dependent or quoting from anyone, she's just asking the angel a question.

Not every idiom is traceable back to an original source.  For example, “hit the books,” (as an idiom for studying) or “hit the hay,” (as an idiom for sleeping) may have come into English usage without leaving us with the clues necessary to track down the original author.  Using that idiom may reveal various information about the person who uses it, but it does not hint or suggest that the person is quoting any earlier user of the same idiom.

In the case of this particular idiomatic usage of “know” to euphemistically describe what husband and wife do, perhaps God inspired Moses to use it when writing Genesis.  Perhaps it was in use before Moses.  We simply do not know.  It’s easy to see that “not know” as a euphemism for abstaining from marital acts derives from the affirmative idiom, but beyond that we cannot say who first used it.  Likewise, the specifically female version of the negative idiom (“not know man”) has a literary history that, as far as we know, has been lost.  

Accordingly, just as with most idioms today, the idiom that Mary used does not, itself, imply a quotation of some earlier source who invented that idiom.

Third, simply finding the same two words in a previous source is not enough for us to "plausibly suspect" that there is a quotation.  I've already demonstrated this with the Hosea/Judges example in my previous post.  Even though the exact same three words are used in the same order and same form in Hosea as in Judges, it is absolutely absurd to suspect that Hosea is quoting Judges.  Such a suspicion would not be plausible, it would be absurd. 

Fourth, we should acknowledge that if we find the same 100 words in the same form and same order from an earlier source, we would not just "plausibly suspect" quotation, we would automatically assume there is some kind of literary dependency.  For example, the two could be quoting from the same still earlier source, or the latter quote be quoting from the earlier source.  The huge amount of verbal overlap among the synoptic gospels is an example of this issue.  

Fifth, we should acknowledge that there is not some bright line between 100 words and two words.  If we have ten words the same, it's looking like literary dependence, but of course it depends on other factors.  At some lower number of words, it increasingly looks like a coincidence.  That said, if the one word is, "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," or a similarly unique word, literary dependence may still be a reasonable conclusion even with just the one word matching. 

Sixth, indeed what we need to recognize is that while 100 words would be an unbelievable coincidence, and 1 word is usually just a coincidence, the determination about literary dependency more broadly, and quotation more specifically, is not simply based on the number of aligning words.  Two words the same doesn't automatically trigger a presumption of quotation, nor does the use of the two same words itself make suspicion of quotation plausible.

Seventh, my previous post dealt with the specific claims made by A&K that this quotation was "verbatim" and "the exact words." Those assertions as such are demonstrably false (they are not "verbatim" nor "the exact words").  Hypothetically the more general claim of quotation could still be true.  That's merely hypothetical, because in this case there is no quotation.  The reason for the hypothetical possibility is (1) that people sometimes provide quotations that are paraphrastic, abbreviated, or the like.  Yes, arguably those would be something other than a direct quotation, but they would still be a form of quotation.  Moreover, it appears that paraphrases and the like were an accepted way of quoting at the time.  Likewise, (2) because Greek does not heavily rely on word order to convey meaning (the way English does) the word order could be different and it could still be a quotation.  Furthermore, (3) the same words could appear in some different form. For example, "good" in Luke 18:18 is vocative, while "good" in Luke 18:19 is accusative. While this may be viewed as a specific subset of (1), it's worth mentioning it separately here.

Eighth, just as "quotation" is broader than "direct quotation" and is broader than "verbatim" and "the exact words," so also "allusion" is even broader than quotation.  Allusion can be made in many ways, such as by the recitation of similar concepts.  As I think I noted before, though, allusion is sometimes in the eye of the beholder.  While it is fun to try to find allusions, it's easier to find them than to demonstrate that they were intended by the author.  In this case, I find the argument for an allusion underwhelming, but I would view A&K as being more reasonable if they would merely assert that there is an allusion.  Of course, that loses its rhetorical impact, but that's the price of integrity.

CK: "However, more arguments might be needed to solidify or prove such a conclusion of “quoting” depending on factors that might weaken the assertion that Luke’s Mary quoted Judges 11:39."

Yes, more arguments are definitely needed to go from "hey, they use the same two words," to "this is a quotation."

The factors that must be considered chiefly include the context.  By way of comparison, in the context of Jesus' statement, "Why do you call me, 'good,'" we see that (1) Jesus has just been called "good" and now is repeating the word and (2) Jesus introduces the word "good" with a phrase that indicates he's about to provide a quotation, "do you call me."  So, even though the word "good," is an extremely common word, in this particular context it's easy to see that it's a quotation even though agathos goes from vocative (ἀγαθέ) to accusative (ἀγαθόν).  

CK: "... word-for-word parallels, the same syntax between selected words in two phrases, and inclinations/conjugations are useless for this example because it is an idiom!"

It is indeed an idiom (as already pointed out in my tl;dr post here).

The fact that the phrase is an idiom is a factor to be considered, for sure. Remember when we mentioned above that a one-word similarity is most likely a coincidence? When you consider a group of words as an idiom, the same principle applies: a one-idiom similarity is most likely just a coincidence.

Moreover, this idiom did not originate with Judges 11. It was already used in Genesis 19:8 regarding Lot's daughter, as mentioned in my original post.  Moreover, that usage is just a variation on the euphemism introduced in Genesis 4:1.  It is a Hebrew idiom that appears in the Septuagint because, at least sometimes, the Septuagint provides literal translation.  It's not unique to Judges 11 and it's not original to Judges 11.  It may not be the most common idiom/euphemism, but its presence in Mary's mouth merely demonstrates that she is Jewish, much as if she had used the word "rabbi."

CK: "“The only difference is the object of knowledge.” Incorrect! The difference is that Judges 11:39 and Luke 1:34 are Hebrew sexual idioms (see above for definition) first found in Greek in the LXX, and Hosea 2:8/10 represents not an idiom but what an idiot does with the Bible who knows not idioms."

CK's response is replete with similar attempts to be clever, and this is (imho) his best attempt at wordplay in furtherance of his insults, which is why I've presented it for you.  

He is eager to find fault, but of course the statement he labels "incorrect," is actually correct.  It is the difference in the object of knowledge that leads us to understand that "know a man" or "know her" is a different sense of "know" from other examples of "know [object]."  His comment that one is a sexual idiom and the other is not, is perfectly true.

CK offered an example to prove the point he was trying to make:

(1.) That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (original idiom)

(2.) That which doesn’t kill somebody makes someone stronger (oblique quote of idiom)

(3.) You dummy! Protein isn’t that which kills you, it makes you stronger (literal statement, not an idiom)

For Albrecht and Co., the “quote” here -presuming #1 above to be prior to nos. 2-3, is from sentence #2. It is a quote, the words are the same or verbatim (adjusted for the author’s literary purposes), and the idiom in English is preserved. But what about #3? Sentence three is not a quote of either #1 or #2, but it does happen to have the same words even closer to #1 by chance but with a much different meaning that is literal not an idiomatic expression. 

I appreciate CK's seeming concession in his parenthetical that (2) is an "oblique" quote, rather than a "direct" or "verbatim" or "the exact words" quote.  Oddly enough, he seems to say in the following paragraph that the words "the same or verbatim" (some are, like "doesn't kill" and "stronger") but obviously some have been changed or as he says, "adjusted for the author's literary purposes."  I would point out that the original idiom should probably be, "what" not "that which," but it has no effect on CK's point.  If I were to read (3) in a book, the similarity to the idiom would probably make think it was allusion to the idiom (though not an allusion to some specific previous use of that idiom).  Obviously, Kappes is stipulating that it is just a chance coincidence that there are similarities between them.  One could certainly imagine something like that happening by chance.

There is a further nuance I should address, at the risk of seeming pedantic.  Except for Kappes' stipulation that it is a quotation, (2) would just look like a use or adaptation of the idiom, rather than a quotation of the idiom.

Although that may seem pedantic, it turns out to be relevant to the idiom under consideration.  Mary is definitely using the idiom that means "virgin." She is not quoting someone else's use of that idiom.  Luke is quoting Mary's use of the idiom. 

For the reader's benefit, I note that Albrecht and Co. seems to be Kappes' term for Albrecht and Shamoun.  Shamoun, while one of the debaters in the debate, was not involved in these false claims of quotation.

CK: "Luke (who, Dr. White explicitly claims, thought the LXX to be Scripture)"

Dr. White has made even stronger claims about the Septuagint translation of the canonical books of the Old Testament.  I don't always agree with Dr. White, but if all CK means is that Luke treated the Greek translation he had as a reliable translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, then this isn't the least bit objectionable.  I should point out here that in CK's mind, Dr. White is somehow involved in my dialog with Albrecht and/or Kappes.  I have no idea what makes him think that.

CK: "So far, we have seen that ... TF believe[s] that Mary among the Evangelists is flawed because: (1.) Albrëcht and co. (=A & co.) don’t resolve problems using a ... critical edition of Judges/LXX (2.) A & co., do not take into account ... pre-AD 70 translations of the Bible other than the LXX (3.) A & co., do not consider that Luke ... may have wanted to translate exactly as the LXX but by using the Hebrew and not the LXX (an unverifiable claim), and (4.) because A & co. don’t see that Hosea 2:8/Genesis 2:9, & 27:2 are actually equal or better candidates for Mary’s words in Luke 1:34, as if applying A & co.’s logic, since they can find many words that match between Luke 1:34 & Hosea 2:8/Genesis 2:9, & 27:2."

It's hard to understand how Kappes gets the point of the article so wrong.  Then again, Kappes thinks that Luke is quoting from Judges.  The point of the article, which was clearly stated is that one flaw of A&K's book and of Albrecht's debate arguments, is that neither Luke quotes from Judges nor does Mary quote from Judges.  Luke quotes from Mary, who being a Jewish girl uses a Jewish way of talking about her virginity.

As to (1), the original article pointed out that both Judges A and Judges B have the same phrase here, although they have other variants in the same verse.  Rahlfs is the most popular (by sales) critical Septuagint (I'm perfectly ok with Dr. Kappes' insistence on referring to Rahlfs as merely "semi-critical").  The reason for mentioning the problem of Judges is that "the Septuagint" as it pertains to Judges provides some ambiguity.  If A&K's book were a scholarly treatment of the topic, I would have expected at least a footnote about the issue.  Perhaps Dr. Kappes disagrees with that point, but it does not seem he has recognized it.

As to (2), that wasn't remotely a point of the article.  While various things have been hypothesized, there's nothing to "take into account" as far as other Greek translations (if they were even made) are concerned. 

As to (3), again, Kappes is way off.  First, it wasn't the contention of the post that Luke wanted to translate anything (other than Mary, if she spoke in Hebrew, i.e. Aramaic).  Second, what Luke provides is not "exactly" what the Septuagint says.  Third, there may be some reason to suppose that if Luke wanted to quote from the Old Testament, he would have preferred to originally translate from Hebrew.  That said, no - just no.  Now, Luke was quoting Mary, and Mary may have been speaking Hebrew (Aramaic), which Luke then translated into Greek.  

As to (4), once again, not even close.  Hosea was provided as an example of the absurdity of asserting quotation based on verbal similarity or even multi-word match.  It's hard to understand how someone of Dr. Kappes' caliber could misunderstand that so badly.  Dr. Kappes has, however, placed the cart before the horse and assumed that there is some OT quotation going on.  He's trying to decide which text is being quoted, rather than whether a text is being quoted at all.  In this particular verse, the only one being quoted is Mary.  It is true that Luke also quotes Gabriel in the same dialog, and that Gabriel seems to allude to the promise to David, "There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel," which can be found in a number of places in the Old Testament (inconveniently for A&K, not in Judges 11), most likely the version at Isaiah 9:7, which states: "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."  

Notice, dear reader, that I'm making a probable claim about an allusion, not a claim of direct quotation.

Likewise, the Genesis passage was not provided as a candidate source for Luke's text.  The Genesis passage was provided an example of the fundamental problem of A&K's methodology.

CK: "So, although I have been well aware of these verses per the TLG (largest Greek database in the world) since 2020, how did I come to the conclusion that the verses proposed rationally by ... TF, below, are not worthwhile competitors with LXX Judges 11:39 for Mary (according to Luke) to quote in Luke 1:34?"

Once again, that is not the question being asked.  The question is not "which is the correct candidate source text."  The question is why on earth anyone would assume there was a quotation taking place here.  Mere similarity of words, especially when it is a short phrase that is not distinctive of anything besides being a Hebraism, is not enough.  

I will add, though, that I'm glad to see Kappes acknowledging the existence of other matches to his database query.  That leads to the question of why Albrecht and he would represent the usage in Judges 11 as being the only hit, but we digress.

CK: "We saw that “woman not to know a man” is a Hebrew idiom. "

Yes, it's just a way of saying that a woman is a virgin, based on the Hebrew euphemism of "know" for what husbands and wives do in bed.

CK: "The first claim made by us that moves toward the criterion of exclusivity lies in the use of the TLG (Greek world’s most powerful search engine) for the lemmata (roots) “not + know + man.” As predicted (just as in 2020), the idiom first appears in the third century BC Jewish literature. These LXX examples above exhaust its use in Greek from approximately 500 BC until AD 70."

Of course, a very similar use of language is found in 1 Kings 1:4 ("... the king knew her not") and Matthew 1:25 ("And knew her not till .. .").  It's not the exact not + know + man query, but it's the same manner of speaking.  Both the King and Joseph were men, and indeed Joseph is in the same line as David.  I hesitate to point this out to someone with parallelomania, but in terms of looking for examples of royal men being around a virgin, the situation is not entirely unprecedented.  It's not the parallel that Roman Catholics are looking for, though there does seem the possibility that Abishag may have died a virgin, since Solomon refused to allow her to marry his older brother. 

Moreover, the negatively worded idiom is not particularly special given that the positively worded form "know man" is also used  (for example, Numbers 31:17 and following) and similarly to know a woman especially one's wife is also used (for example, Genesis 4:1 and 17).

In short, it's not a particularly distinctive or special idiom, except that it is a Hebrew euphemism that (and here I'm trusting A&K's TLG search) was not known to the Greeks as such.

CK: "So, what is already exclusive about this phrase? It is exclusively found in the Hebrew Bible according to the LXX (nowhere else) until it is cited by a Greek-speaking (without incontrovertible evidence of knowing Hebrew) St. Luke."

Setting aside whether Luke knew Hebrew, this is not an especially surprising nugget of information.  It's nice to know, but it doesn't resolve the question of quotation in the least.

CK: "Even without looking at the greater context of Luke chapter 1 (viz., the other literary allusions/borrowings surrounding Luke 1:34), we can still come to the almost certain conclusion that the verbatim citation (of the verb: gignôskô, and of the noun: anêr, and the negative particle ou) require us to look to Judges 11:39."

Notice that Kappes just assumes there is a quotation here.  The question he's interested in investigating is which of the possible previous uses of this idiom is the best candidate for quotation..  Kappes seems to have missed the obvious: this is not a quotation.

Kappes goes on to point out that the only time this particular negative form of the idiom is used with regard to a singular female subject (she - not - know).  Kappes then characterizes the contexts of the uses of the idiom in a way that he thinks shows closer connection between Luke 1 and Judges 11 than the other two passages.  Finally, in what amounts to a variation on the first point, Kappes highlights the changes that are needed to go from the wording in the three OT passages to the wording in Luke.

If it were already a foregone conclusion that Luke must be quoting, Judges 11 may indeed be the best candidate for a quotation.  The problem is, this isn't a quotation.  The problem is not that Kappes found the wrong source, but that Kappes thinks this is a quotation in the first place.  It's not a quotation.

CK: "But why doesn’t St. Luke quote Judges 11:39 verb in the past, but changes it into the present tense?"

Once again, Kappes has already missed the fundamental question of whether Luke quoted the material.  Now he's speculating as to why Luke is changing a verb tense.  I will reserve my comments on this point, which have to do with his analysis of Luke's verb use, for a separate post, as it does not really relate to the question of quotation, as such.

CK: "But what about LXX Judges 11:39 versus Luke 1:34 word order? Answer: the first class that I ever had with Reggie Foster (greatest Latinist perhaps in modern history, whose rule applied to Greek too) was one in which we learned: “Word order doesn’t matter in Latin/Greek!”"

What an interesting claim, and perhaps quite useful to a first year Latin student.  It's true that, compared to English, Latin word order is relatively free.  English syntax requires a more rigid word order.  On the other hand, there is a reason that one often sees verbs at the ends of the sentences in Latin (sounding a bit like Yoda to English readers), even though it is not a rigid rule of the language.  Instead, word order ends up serving more a more pragmatic role.  As you can guess, pragmatics is not the domain of first-year Latin students.

While I don't claim to be an expert in Latin or Greek, Greek has similar flexibility to Latin.  While the word order often does not matter, there is a reason various patterns are familiar.  There is a reason why certain patterns are usually observed, and why violation of those familiar patterns can sometimes have significance. While, "consider Turretinfan's point you should," is understandable and easily translated literally into other languages, its violation of the ordinary verb position in the sentence is glaring to someone fluent in English.  I'm not making a direct comparison to Greek.  On the other hand, I would say that strictly following source word order could be one evidence of quotation, particularly in cases where the word order is flexible, and most particularly when the word order is significant.  I tend to agree with Kappes' point that, generally speaking, the word order in Greek is not particularly significant.  This does not seem to be an exception on its face.  So, the difference in word order is the minutest of points against quotation.

CK: "Sometimes word order does provide you with hints as to the source, sometimes it does not, based on many other variables."

No disagreement here.

CK: "In English, even to change the sentence as follows: “To have erred is human but to have forgiven is divine” is not enough to save a student from plagiarism. The meaning and the quotation are sufficiently literal, and the meaning is exactly conveyed in its essence. One is still guilty of plagiarism, when there is no attribution in these cases, as attribution is today due to the author."

I'm not sure that anti-plagiarism requires tracking down sources of adages.  I am being too persnickety here. If the adage were not an adage but were instead, an argument from one of the sources of one's research, then the change is not enough to remove the taint of plagiarism.

Plagiarism is a kind of literary dependency.  Plagiarism can even be found where a "thought for thought" substitution has been made, but the source has not been cited.  Plagiarism is about source use without credit.

To return to my previous example, if the angel Gabriel turned in a paper with his comment about the throne of David in it, and did not cite his source (perhaps Isaiah), he would risk an accusation of plagiarism.  By contrast, Luke quoting Gabriel and Luke quoting Mary, is immune to such a charge, not because he is not quoting, but because he is citing his source.

Of course, it's anachronistic to apply the standards of plagiarism to the first century.  I have been (jokingly) called "TurnitinFan," and one assumes that the synoptics would be tagged as plagiarists by such software.

Nevertheless, there is no reason to think that Mary is quoting anyone here, nor that Luke is somehow inserting a quotation of someone else into Mary's mouth.

CK then proceeds to provide what he calls, "Contextual Analysis #4 for Criterion of Exclusivity." CK provides five points of alleged parallel between Judges 11 and Luke 1.

Before analyzing these points, I pause to point out that it is not hard to draw parallels between arbitrarily selected passages.  For example, we could draw parallels between the Sodom/Lot account and Luke 1.

It ought to go without saying, but this set of parallels is not intended in the least to suggest that Luke actually intended such parallels, that Luke is quoting from Genesis, or anything of the like.  It is merely illustrative of the fact that the primary limit on drawing parallels is one's creativity.

Returning to CK's parallels.  

CK's First Parallel

Judges: And the spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthae […] And Jephthae vowed a vow to the Lord

Luke: The Holy Spirit will come upon you

In English both reference the Spirit and both talk about it coming upon someone.  The differences are almost too many to count.  In Judges, this formula is used to declare that the judge in question was divinely inspired to go to fight (cf. Judges 3:10, Judges 6:34, Judges 11:29, Judges 14:6, Judges 14:19, and Judges 15:14).  I appreciate Kappes acknowledging his omission of the war material, but that is the material to which the Lord's inspiration relates.  The Greek way of describing this inspiration is different in Luke than in the recension of Judges that I had handy, and even if it were the same, it wouldn't be particularly significant.  The inspiration provided to Mary is presumably to conceive Jesus.  That has nothing to do either with warfare (as per the text) nor with a vow (there is no mention of a vow in Luke 1, unless the implied vows of marriage).

My First Comparison Parallel  (remember, these are just for the sake of demonstrating that A&K’s parallels are arbitrary)

Genesis 19:1 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

Luke 1:26: And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

Angels arrive to Lot, an angel arrives to Mary.

CK's Second Parallel

Judges: Do to me accordingly as the word went out of thy mouth

Luke: Let it be to me according to your word

CK characterizes this as a "clear allusion."  It's clearly a similar statement in English (and in meaning), though the underlying Greek is different.  Both are statements of accepting what has been told them.  Of course, what they are accepting is radically different (the curse of death, and the blessing of a baby).

My Second Comparison Parallel

Genesis 19:21-22 And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

Luke 1:38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. 

A statement of acceptance of what was said is expressed immediately before Lot and the angel part ways, and a statement of acceptance of what was said is expressed immediately before Mary and the angel part ways.

CK's Third Parallel

Judges: let me alone for two months, and I will go up and down on the mountains, and I will bewail my virginity, I and my companions. And he said, Go: and he sent her away for two months; and she went, and her companions, and she bewailed her virginity on the mountains. And it came to pass at the end of the two months that she returned to her father 

Luke: Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah [..] And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her house.

CK notes that " Both go to hills and both return on or around the third month."  Of course, two months is not three, but even more notably going to a city is not going into the wilderness. 

My Third Comparison Parallel

Genesis 19:17 And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.

Genesis 19:22 Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

Luke 1:39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;

Lot and Mary each head in the direction of the mountains, they go in haste, and they wind up in a city.

CK's Fourth Parallel

Judges: he performed upon her his vow which he vowed; and she knew no man

Luke: Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

Once again, Kappes needlessly mentions a vow for which the closest parallel in Luke would be Mary's betrothal.  Moreover, Jephthah's vow was not about virginity but about a burnt offering.  Maybe indeed he merely sacrificed her fertility in place of a burnt offering.  If so, however, this conclusion of no fertility is exactly the opposite of the conclusion of the story with Mary, which is fertility.

My Fourth Comparison Parallel

Genesis 19:8-9 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.

Luke 1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

Lot's two daughter are virgins like Mary, and like Mary they remain virgins during the course of this particular story (though like Mary they are both later identified as having children).  

CK's Fifth Parallel

Judges: [t]he daughters of Israel went from year to year to bewail the daughter of Jephthae

Luke: And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!

CK admits that these are opposite. I mention this because it demonstrates how fluid the standard of allusion can be.  Kappes assumes they both die virgins, but of course Scripture reveals that Mary went on to live with Joseph and had an identifiable family with him.

My Fifth Comparison Parallel

Genesis 19:14 And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.

Luke 1:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

Like Mary, Lot's virgin daughters were betrothed.

My Sixth Comparison Parallel (just to demonstrate greater faux-parallelism)

Genesis 19:19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

Luke 1:38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Lot describes himself as a servant, and Mary describes herself as a handmaid.

My Seventh Comparison Parallel (just to demonstrate yet greater faux-parallelism)

Genesis 19:19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

Luke 1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

Lot found grace and Mary found favor.

My Eighth Comparison Parallel (because why not?)

Genesis 19:24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;

Luke 1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

The Lord was literally with Lot and the Lord was literally with Mary.

Finally, in favor of this absurd parallelism to Genesis, is the fact that Sodom is explicitly mentioned twice more (ha!) in Luke (Luke 10:12, 17:29).  By contrast, Jephthah is only mentioned once in the NT (Hebrews 11:32), and never by Luke. No reference is made to Jepthah's daughter ever again in Scripture.  By contrast, Luke mentions Lot himself in Luke 17:28-29 and Lot's wife, who is part of that story, is mentioned as well (Luke 17:32).

Lot's daughters go on to give birth in a highly unusual way (Genesis 19:31-36).  Moreover, like Mary, one of Lot's daughters ends up being a female ancestor of Christ (Genesis 19:37, Ruth 1:4, Matthew 1:5).  Jepthah's daughter definitely doesn't (Judges 11:39) nor does Jephthah himself (Judges 11:34).

In short, if this were a contest of parallels, my proffered parallel to Lot's daughter would win.   I have identified more parallels and stronger parallels, and Lot is a more significant Scriptural figure than Jephthah.


I would be remiss if I did not end by pointing out that Kappes essentially concedes the main point:

CK: "There may be a small concession due to TF in the debate on 9 February, in spite of the nugatory nature of the majority of 10 February ... TF study overall: When Albrëcht is quoted as saying that Mary gives a “direct quote” from Judges 11:39, in one cited instance by TF, not otherwise mentioned in Mary among the Evangelists, nor in other shows nor other debates, this may not be the best way to represent the nature of the citation. It is a quote, it is verbatim from Judges, and it is oblique, in my view, since some grammatical changes had to be made in order to adjust the LXX Judges 11:39 citation to St. Luke’s historical narrative, constrained by his document source, moving him to use the first-person singular with Mary speaking of a future (not of a past) action. However, regarding Albrëcht’s lapsus glossae, I too have historically put in print errors and usually misspeak at least once every time I do a show. But, in fairness, I would want us to avoid the term “direct citation” only until I know better the English semantic range of direct quoting, but I think that the hundreds of other mentions in which we have consistently referenced the Luke 1:34 and Judges 11:39 citation are entirely accurate and I stand by my name as a coauthor of Mary among the Evangelists and I hope that Dr. Sebastian Brock will find, if ever asked, that this present answer to A & Ω is for him satisfactory to continue his enthusiastic endorsement of our ecumenical and pro-Marian work to bring the message of the Gospel to Christians about the biblical Mary mother of Jesus the Lord."

First, I appreciate this concession.  Notwithstanding his other comments, I appreciate his willingness to acknowledge that at least one of the representations was not correct.  Although it might seem easy admitting that someone else made a mistake, Albrecht is his co-author.

Second, I documented two places in the debate with wording that Kappes identifies: "directly quoting" (18:25) and "quotes directly" (1:14:40).

Third, even if Kappes wants to insist that Luke is quoting Judges (which is itself an error), there is simply no defense to the claim that these words are the words "in Jephthah's daughter's mouth" (56:52) or that Mary is "quoting the words of a virgin, a perpetual virgin." (1:05:06)

Fourth, I think it is reasonable to get the error of saying "directly quoting" or "quotes directly" from the phrase "quotes verbatim," which appears twice in Mary among the Evangelists (pp. 84 and 87).  Likewise, "the exact words" or "line up exactly" (21:00, 56:52, 1:04:34) is also a mischaracterization of the text.

Fifth, and most importantly, the only thing Kappes has offered to support his quotation theory is a tenuous (and easily imitated and surpassed) set of parallels between the Judges 11 account and the Luke 1 account.  As everyone should realize, the existence of parallels between the stories does not itself prove allusion, much less quotation.  The Luke 1 story was not alluding to the destruction of Sodom, and it was not alluding to Jephthah's daughter.

Sixth, there is an issue that I have left to the side in my response until now.  That is the issue of Dr. Kappes attempt to enlist the dictionary to justify some of the characterizations that A&K have made.

CK writes: “So, let’s get our terms straight. I’ll take as the standard use of terms (I do not deny that the Oxford [complete] English Dictionary may provide more meanings). Let’s be clear: (1.) “Verbatim: […] word for word”; “Quote: […] to repeat words from.””

Here’s a screen shot of the actual definition of verbatim:

Definition of Verbatim from

Notice the choice by Dr. Kappes to ignore the first definition of the word, in favor of the second definition of the word. Verbatim, however, does mean “exactly the same words,” and “word for word” itself normally means the same thing as “exactly the same words.”

One presumes that Dr. Kappes realizes that if you change the tense of the verb (from aorist to present), and the person of the verb (from third to first), you’re no longer in the land of quoting verbatim. 

Even if this is somehow a quotation, it is certainly not a verbatim quotation.  Changes have been made to the alleged source of the quotation.  It’s been adapted.

Seventh, while Dr. Kappes seems to acknowledge that “directly quotes” is the wrong way to describe the situation, Dr. Kappes seems to acknowledge this at some places, but fails to follow through with the implications.

Post Script: What Triggers a Search for a Quotation Source?

In scholarly writing these days, there are conventions for indicating a quotation.  Normally a short quotation is identified by the use of quotation marks, and a longer quotation is provided as a block of text with different formatting.  This was not always the case.  If you read books in English from previous centuries, you will sometimes see longer quotations set off by a quotation mark at the beginning of every line of text, or by the quoted words being set in italic type. Sometimes single or double chevrons are used to indicate quoted text.  At least at some points of his response, Dr. Kappes used color to identify quoted text.  For printed publications, the color approach has been usually disfavored.  One could imagine many different conventions that could be used, including using different font types or sizes to distinguish the author’s own words from quoted material.

These days, in scholarly writing, if you reuse someone’s words without identifying those words as a quotation, it is usually considered plagiarism.  The most blatant form of plagiarism is simply copying the original words and reusing them without changing them.  There have been some scandals lately due to pastors copying another pastor’s sermon and copying the original words - even to the point of relating stories from the source author’s life as though it were from the plagiarist’s life! Although a sermon is not an academic work and does not have to follow the rules of academic writing, it seemed a bit deceptive, and certainly misleading.

Ancient writers had different conventions in their days and ages.  For example, the synoptic gospels share a lot of material, but it would not be precise to say that they plagiarize each other. Likewise, it would not be accurate to say that they quote from each other.  The most accurate way to describe the situation would be to say that they exhibit literary dependence (sometimes also called literary dependency).  It’s a tangent, but we see the same literary dependency in the Book of Mormon: one of the many reasons to understand that it is what the copyright indicated and not what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints says about it.

Returning to ancient writers, there is an important difference between an allusion and a quotation.  As an example of the former, we have this interesting verse in Hebrews:

Hebrews 11:37  They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

The “they were stoned” appears to be an allusion to the death of Zechariah, recorded for us in 2 Chronicles 24.

2 Chronicles 24:20-22  

And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD. Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The LORD look upon it, and require it.

This is probably the same Zechariah that Jesus refers to in Luke 11:51, “From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.” There’s an interesting question about why Zacharias is called “son of Barachias” in Matthew’s account in Matthew 23:35, but that’s for another day.

Notice the difference between Jesus citing a specific case, as opposed to the author of Hebrews alluding to what is apparently the same case.  In Jesus’ example, the referenced case is pretty specific: we have a name and a place.  In the Hebrews example, we only have the mode of killing.

In 2 Chronicles 24:20-22, the Septuagint has “καὶ ἐλιθοβόλησαν αὐτὸν” (and they stoned him).  Hebrews 11:37 has  “ἐλιθάσθησαν” (they were stoned).  This is not a direct, verbatim, word-for-word or exact quotation.  In fact, it’s not a quotation at all.  Even if Hebrews had said something like, “Zecharias had faith and they stoned him,” using the exact same Greek words for “and they stoned him” as the Septuagint, this would still not be a quotation.

The reason is, of course, that in such a case Hebrew would still just be reporting the facts of what happened, and the verbal alignment is just coincidental to the reporting purpose.

Quotation in Scripture can be signaled in a variety of ways. For example, “And the Lord said unto Moses,” signals that a quotation follows.  The writing of Moses did not (as far as we know) contain any marks equivalent to quotation marks.  Nevertheless, just as we can tell in spoken English that “he said” introduces a quotation, the same works in ancient languages.  In English today we have the concept of paraphrase, in which we report an idea in different words than were originally used. One signal in spoken English for paraphrase is, “He said that ….”  The “that” tells the listener that the words that follow are not necessarily the exact words that were spoken.  To make matters more complicated, sometimes the “that” is just left unstated, and other grammatical clues indicate that paraphrase is used.

Example Paraphrase, Quotation, and Meta-Quotation(?)

Matthew 2:4-6

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

In this example, Matthew first describes that Herod asks the chief priests and scribes a question. However, Matthew does not characterize this as a quotation.  We cannot assume that Herod used these words at all, but the point being paraphrased is provided to us: there was a demand and the demand was about the birthplace of the Messiah.

Next, Matthew quotes the chief priests and scribes.  We know this is a quotation because Matthew introduces it, “And they said unto him.”  Now, I think we would be amiss to assume that first century standards demanded that quotations always be verbatim quotations, in which the exact words are used.  Nevertheless, our default assumption is that when we see a signal like “they said …” then the following would be their words.

After that comes what is possibly a meta-quotation (not a real technical term, to my knowledge), namely a quotation within a quotation.  In this case, there is also a citation, “the prophet.” In this case, “the prophet” is shorthand for the third section of the Hebrew Scriptures, “The Prophets.”  The verse being quoted is Micah 5:2.  Nevertheless, notice that there are some differences between Matthew and Micah, whether we go with a translation from the Hebrew or from the Septuagint:

Matthew: And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Micah (Hebrew): But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; …

Micah (Greek) And you, O Bethleem, house of Ephratha, are very few in number to be among the thousands of Ioudas; one from you shall come forth for me to become a ruler in Israel, …. (NET Septuagint)

There are multiple possibilities, of course.  One possibility is the existence of a Greek translation of Micah that was known to Matthew or to the chief priests and scribes, but is not known to us today.  Another possibility is that the proto-Masoretic text of Micah differs from the Masoretic text at a few points, and that Matthew was translating from that text to Greek.  Nevertheless, another possibility is just that Matthew (or the scribes and Pharisees) is slightly paraphrasing and compressing the text of Micah.  For example, the detail about Ephrata is probably intentionally omitted by Matthew and the “not” is a way of conveying the same sense as in the English translation of the Hebrew above.  Moreover, the substitution of “princes” for “thousands” may similarly be intended to convey the sense that “thousands” was originally meant to be “rulers over thousands” (cf. Exodus 18:21).

The bottom line is that although Matthew is quoting or meta-quoting from Micah 5, it is not an “exact” quotation, it is not a “verbatim” quotation, and it is not “word for word.”  It is, however, a quotation.  It’s not just a paraphrase, even though Matthew may be abbreviating or even partially rewording or rephrasing.

It’s also not just an allusion. We know it’s not just an allusion, because there is a citation.

Returning back to the main question, what triggers a quotation search.  Generally speaking, what triggers a quotation search is some contextual clue that quotation is being made.  There are obvious and explicit signals, like “it is written” or “he said,” but there may also be less obvious clues.  For example, because of the structure and beauty of the Carmen Christi, some New Testament scholars speculate that Philippians 2:6-11 is a quotation of an early Christian hymn.  

Another clue of quotation would be if we detect literary dependency.  For example, today when we hear people say, “To be or not to be, that is the question,” we usually assume that the person is quoting from Shakespeare, even if they have no  idea the original meaning, context, or perhaps even that it was Shakespeare who wrote it.

Plagiarism detection similarly begins with detecting literary dependency.  These days there are computer algorithms, but the basic idea of plagiarism is that source material is being used, either directly or with alteration, without credit.  Because it is without credit, there are not typically going to be explicit signals of plagiarism.  Instead, one may find enough similarity of wording, topics, etc. and conclude that one author plagiarized another.

Why this long tangent?  The reason for this long tangent is, of course, that instead of simply acknowledging that he and Albrecht should never have said “quoted” to describe the relationship between Luke and Judges, he insists on trying to defend that characterization.

However, there is nothing that leads us to conclude that Luke (or Mary) is quoting any other source. Mary simply uses a Hebrew idiom.  Using the same idiom as a previous author does not mean or imply that the previous author is being quoted.

Furthermore, what would be the purpose of quoting the anonymous author of Judges?  In Dr. Kappes’ wishful exegesis, it is in order to somehow signal Mary’s perpetual virginity.  However, in reality, Mary’s use of the idiom is simply to indicate Mary’s current virginity.  If Mary wanted to indicate her perpetual virginity, she could say, “I shall never know man” or the like.  It is bizarre and convoluted for Mary to refer to her present condition of Virginity as some kind of cryptic clue that she plans to stay a virgin, despite being betrothed to her husband Joseph.

While it is true that if Mary were quoting from Judges, she could make minor changes to the wording (as per the Micah example above), nevertheless for this context the most natural change to reveal Mary’s plans for the future would be for Mary to speak about the future.  Indeed, Luke - writing later - could simply as the narrator provide the exact same phrase: “and she never knew man,” if that’s what Luke wanted to convey.

Why then the need for secrecy?  There is no adequate explanation.

I should remind you, dear reader, that we’re already several branches down a hypothetical fork.  There is no quotation here, except Luke quoting Mary.  Mary is not quoting anyone.  Her language contains no explicit or implicit signals of quotation, and she is simply using a contextually-appropriate and historically expected idiom to describe her virgin state.  She is not quoting anyone, neither on her own terms, nor on the terms of Luke, the narrator.

The idea that she’s quoting is just made up by Dr. Kappes and Mr. Albrecht.  Instead of continuing to try to defend this position, they should just withdraw it.  We will see what they do.