The worm and fire that never dies

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jaydam
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The worm and fire that never dies

Post by jaydam » Sat Dec 07, 2013 11:26 pm

I'm continuing to wade through Steve's book. I have a question about Steve's comparison between Mark 9 and Isaiah 66. Perhaps it is more of a proposal.

Could it be that the worm and fire never dying refers to the gravity of the number of dead? The worm and the fire have plenty to consume.

It is not meant to be literal, but to describe through exageration how many dead there will be, a lot, enough that it would seem the worm could survive endlessly on the corpses, and the fire could burn the corpses eternally.

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jaydam
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Re: The worm and fire that never dies

Post by jaydam » Sat Dec 07, 2013 11:48 pm

Hyperbole is the word I was trying to think of. Could it be hyperbole meant to convey the immensity of the dead?

Thanks to any who can give their thoughts!

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steve
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Re: The worm and fire that never dies

Post by steve » Sun Dec 08, 2013 11:00 am

Makes sense to me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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Bud
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Re: The worm and fire that never dies

Post by Bud » Sun Dec 08, 2013 1:37 pm

Gosh, I never thought of that. Thank you Jaydam.
Malachi 3:16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard [it,] and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. (NASB) :)

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jaydam
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Re: The worm and fire that never dies

Post by jaydam » Mon Dec 09, 2013 2:24 am

After looking at it more. I am fairly convinced that the phrase, at least as Christ says it, is hyperbole since the surrounding passage in Mark also uses hyperbole when talking about mutilating oneself.

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Re: The worm and fire that never dies

Post by steve7150 » Mon Dec 09, 2013 8:32 am

After looking at it more. I am fairly convinced that the phrase, at least as Christ says it, is hyperbole since the surrounding passage in Mark also uses hyperbole when talking about mutilating oneself.

jaydam

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Good thoughts, they all sound logical.

Singalphile
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Re: The worm and fire that never dies

Post by Singalphile » Sat Dec 21, 2013 12:54 am

The "Rethinking Hell" podcast episode here has some interesting things to say about those passages (Isaiah 66, Mark 9) and others.

The guest (a Greek man) said something or other about the present tense verb used in the Greek in Mark 9, which means that the emphasis is on the quality of the action, not the permanency of it ... or something like that.

All I can add is that in the OT, "unquenchable fire" always has to do with wrath and consumption/destruction, and worms (when not literal) always symbolize rot, death, consumption, disgust, or insignificance. I'm including Isaiah 66:24, which has both images, in there. The symbolism most likely is the same, and I guess that Christ meant it in the same way. In any case, your suggestion does not conflict.

Also, while I'm here, one of the other interesting ideas from that podcast is that Jesus Himself may have been the first to use Gehenna as a metonymy or verbal shorthand for the idea of punishment or destruction. I can't tell if that might be correct.
Jesus wowed the teachers at the temple in Jerusalem even as a child. Perhaps they picked up a few things from Him that made its way into the targumim or whatever, though they might have twisted it.
Anybody know anything about that? I couldn't find dates or references, so I gave up on it, but it's interesting.
... that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. John 5:23

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steve
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Re: The worm and fire that never dies

Post by steve » Sat Dec 21, 2013 10:27 am

All I can add is that in the OT, "unquenchable fire" always has to do with wrath and consumption/destruction, and worms (when not literal) always symbolize rot, death, consumption, disgust, or insignificance. I'm including Isaiah 66:24, which has both images, in there. The symbolism most likely is the same, and I guess that Christ meant it in the same way.
It is my opinion that neither of these passages intends any reference to hell, though they both are referring to Gehenna. The destruction here described involves corpses, slain in battle. The Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) was the "Valley of Slaughter," according to Jeremiah.
Also, while I'm here, one of the other interesting ideas from that podcast is that Jesus Himself may have been the first to use Gehenna as a metonymy or verbal shorthand for the idea of punishment or destruction. I can't tell if that might be correct.
Jesus wowed the teachers at the temple in Jerusalem even as a child. Perhaps they picked up a few things from Him that made its way into the targumim or whatever, though they might have twisted it.
The first use of Gehinnom (Gehenna) as a place of postmortem judgment was in the book of 1 Enoch, which dates from the centuries just prior to Christ's birth. After Enoch's usage, the rabbis picked it up and used it the same way. There has been debate among participants here at the forum as to whether Jesus used the words in the rabbinic way or in the scriptural way (as Jeremiah and Isaiah had used it). Some think Jesus borrowed His ideas from the rabbis and intertestamental literature. I am on the side of the prophets in that dispute.

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Re: The worm and fire that never dies

Post by Singalphile » Sat Dec 21, 2013 9:23 pm

Steve wrote:The first use of Gehinnom (Gehenna) as a place of postmortem judgment was in the book of 1 Enoch, which dates from the centuries just prior to Christ's birth. After Enoch's usage, the rabbis picked it up and used it the same way.
I can't find a reference to the actual word in Enoch, although various valleys are mentioned. Maybe it's just the translation.

I can see that Jesus may have taken back some of the language of the time and used it in His teaching (i.e., correctly).
... that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. John 5:23

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Homer
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Re: The worm and fire that never dies

Post by Homer » Sun Dec 22, 2013 12:09 am

Singalphile wrote:
Also, while I'm here, one of the other interesting ideas from that podcast is that Jesus Himself may have been the first to use Gehenna as a metonymy or verbal shorthand for the idea of punishment or destruction.
And Steve replied:
The first use of Gehinnom (Gehenna) as a place of postmortem judgment was in the book of 1 Enoch, which dates from the centuries just prior to Christ's birth. After Enoch's usage, the rabbis picked it up and used it the same way. There has been debate among participants here at the forum as to whether Jesus used the words in the rabbinic way or in the scriptural way (as Jeremiah and Isaiah had used it). Some think Jesus borrowed His ideas from the rabbis and intertestamental literature. I am on the side of the prophets in that dispute.
I do not believe it was His borrowing ideas so much as it was Jesus' use of an idiom common among the Jews. Johannes Buxtorf, renowned professor of Hebrew at Basil for 39 years, is said to have proven that the ancient Hebraic writers never used Gehenna in any other sense than to designate the place of the punishment of the damned.

The question must be asked whether Jesus wished to make His hearers understand His many threats and warnings. Wouldn't He speak in terms they understood? How could He convey the meaning of future things than by speaking as the people spoke? Why would He use Gehenna in an unfamiliar sense? I do not understand why someone who heard Jesus' sermon on the mount would think his personal sin would result in the destruction of Jerusalem. Makes no sense to me. And it is argued that the apostles never used the threat of Gehenna when addressing the gentiles, but how would gentiles have been able to understand a Hebrew idiom?

Whether or not Jesus used words in the sense the Rabbis used them, consider that Jesus, speaking of the fate of the wicked, almost quoted Sirach:

Sirach 7:17, circa 200BC
7:17 Humble thyself greatly: for the vengeance of the ungodly is fire and worms.

Jesus, Mark 9:45-46
45. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 46. where
‘Their worm does not die,
And the fire is not quenched.’

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