In these modern days of instant communications and a virtual non-stop news and information, a false story can become a fact almost instantly. Fortunately with the proliferation of this same information technology the truth can also be quickly disseminated leaving the public with competing versions of reality.
At this point it comes down to what it always comes down to, which story do you choose to believe. Faced with conflicting information usually a person will simply choose the version which fits closest to his beliefs or preconceptions and fail to deep investigation into the truth.
Despite this information overload, which at times can be burdening, at least in today's world we have the resources to seek out facts and the truth...if we want to. For most of human history this was not the case.
Living under kings and other such despots men were not as free to seek out the truth as they are today, they lived in societies where only the "elite" were literate and told "the people" only what they, the elite, wanted them to hear or believe. Historically the "common man" has been predominately dependent upon their "betters" for information beyond their immediate sphere of common knowledge.
Nowhere was this information gap between the classes more prevalent or more abused than in religious teachings. Virtually since its conception. Christianity has been shaped by political and "worldly" influences. First the Romans persecuted this new religion in an attempt to destroy it seeing it as a threat to the sovereignty of the empire. It is very difficult for worldly rulers to subjugate people who believe and whose total allegiance is to an invisible King not of this world. Then the rulers of this world completely changed directions and absorbed the Christian faith into the structure of empirical governance as a way to control the citizens beginning with what we refer to as the Holy Roman Empire. Ever since Emperor Constantine chose to accept Christianity at the beginning of the third century, Christianity has been intricately connected to the "rulers of this world", rulers whose primary function has always been to...well rule.
The idea that this union for most of Christianities existence to the secular powers would not greatly influence and distort in small and large ways the truth of Christ is not only naive, but shows an almost willful blindness on the part of those who have the tools to know better.
So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies. Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth. 2 (Thessalonians 2:11-12)It is irony defined that when men, other than the elites and potentates who had controlled mankind since the beginning of human history, became increasingly literate they were given their Bible by a king, King James. A bible that was so revered that for centuries it was considered The Bible. Isn't it interesting that the King James Version which for centuries was considered the infallible Word of God, is called a version. How can the Word of God be a version?
Yet this version has had a greater influence on Christian doctrine and thought than any other single written document in Christian history. Don't get me wrong in some ways I love the King James Version, I believe it is both poetic and inspiring, but the one thing I do not believe it is, is Holy. Nor for that matter are any other versions of the Bible. They all contain within them both Holiness and deception.
The following are some facts, easily checked out, especially in today's world of computers and the internet, a true gift from God if there ever was one. Simply absorb them and then I will editorialize about them a bit
- The King James version of the Bible contains 54 references to the word hell, 31 in the old Testament and 23 in the New Testament.
- The new American Standard Version of the Bible contains exactly 13 references to the word hell, all in the New Testament. These references to the word hell are found in the so called Gospels of Mathew, 7 times, Mark 3 times. and Luke once as well as 1 time each in the books of Second Peter and James. Of these thirteen instances 4 are duplication from one book to another, part of that so called harmony of the Gospels. So in fact the American Standard Version actually only contains 9 references to the word hell-period.
- Those duplications are also in the King James version so you can say that the KJV only contains 50 references to hell, 31 Old Testament and 19 New Testament. Along with those referenced in the American Standard Version above, the KJV also refers to the word hell two additional times in Luke, twice in the Book of Acts and four times in the Book of Revelations.
- If you go to the Amplified Bible you will find 13 uses of the word hell identical to those in the American Standard Version with the Greek translation of the word (Gehenna) next to 12 of the 13 "hell" entries.
- All of the many versions of the bible which Christians cherish as the infallible Word of God have varying numbers of references to the word hell falling somewhere between none found in the Complete Jewish Bible and the 94 found in the Wycliffe Bible. However you will find that as a general rule the more recent the version (translation) the less hell you will find in the Bible. The reason that the Wycliffe Bible (1898) has so many more references to hell than any other version is that they were at least intellectually honest in their translation. If they translated a Greek or Hebrew word as hell they did so consistently throughout their version-well mostly. Other versions might take great liberties in deciding when to apply hell to the translation and when not to.
Hell, it would seem, is very subjective in God's infallible Word.
How can you go from 31 references of hell in the Old Testament in the King James Version to none in the American Standard Version (and others)? Simple, you properly translate Hebrew into English. The vast majority of the references to hell in the Old Testament are translated from the Hebrew word Sheol
It connotes the place where those that had died were believed to be congregated.This is why in different versions of the Bible you will find this word Sheol not only translated into hell but also death. In addition you will find the Hebrew word for death translated into hell as well as the word grave. But the important thing to remember is that in no version or translation is the word hell as we commonly understand it what the author was trying to convey. In most cases they were just referring to death. A good example of how various words have been juxtaposed in various translations is 2 Samuel 22:6 . If you take a minute to read those various versions of the same verse you will see that translating the Bible is more an art than a science.
I guess it comes down to which scribe/scholar you believe was most divinely inspired in their various translations now doesn't it. It sure seems as if God is making it difficult to understand His truth now doesn't it?
We will get deeper into the actual translations, their actual meaning and how they have been distorted in later studies but for the sake of argument and believe me people will argue vehemently to hold onto hell, let's just say that nowhere in the Old Testament was the word hell as we commonly understand it intended by the authors.
This does not take a tremendous leap of faith on your part since there are now several versions of the Bible that do not have the word hell in the Old Testament IE: the American Standard Version.
It is important in closing to remind people of the point of the first part of this study, the bible has been the exclusive tool and in the hands of worldly rulers for the vast majority Christian history. Further, the primary translation, the King James Version, has been used by scholars, theologians, priests, pastors and just every day Christians as a guidebook of their faith for centuries now.
A narrative was created, and accepted by the vast majority of Christians that the God of Love, the Creator and Ruler of All has a demonic side to Him/Her which is far crueler than the most evil men that ever walked the face of His Earth. Further they are taught to even question this demonic side of their God is to play into the hands of some co-equal god (the devil) who is bent on capturing men's souls to spend eternal torture and torment in a place which the God they (Christians) worship has created. Insane
I will ask you a simple question which I have asked doubters of God's love for many years now.
If you are correct and there is a hell and I teach that God has more love than to create such a despicable place, then will your God cast me into it? Doesn't that make me, a mere mortal servant, more loving than God? If your answer is yes, then your God is not only too small, he is Satan. For only the devil himself could have Christians worshiping such a fiendish and tortuous entity as the one that Christians find themselves proclaiming as their God.
Because of all the evil of the children of Israel and of the children of Judah, which they have done to provoke me to anger, they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and their prophets, and the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
And they have turned unto me the back, and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction.
But they set their abominations in the house, which is called by my name, to defile it.
And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. (Jeremiah 32:32-35)
valley of the son of (Hebrew) Hinnom, = Gehenna (Greek)= hell (English)
Yes indeed history does repeat itself, "Let those who have ears to hear"
The English word may be in part from O.N. Hel (from P.Gmc. *halija "one who covers up or hides something"), in Norse mythology the name of Loki's daughter, who rules over the evil dead in Niflheim, the lowest of all worlds (nifl "mist"). Transfer of a pagan concept and word to a Christian idiom. In M.E., also of the Limbus Patrum, place where the Patriarchs, Prophets, etc. awaited the Atonement. Used in the KJV for Old Testament Hebrew Sheol and New Testament Greek Hades, Gehenna. Used figuratively for "state of misery, any bad experience" since at least late 14c. As an expression of disgust, etc., first recorded 1670s.