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worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched," is an argument against your application of the text, rather than in its favour. This is evident because, Isaiah (LXVI. 24) represents the destruction of the Jews under the same figures; and our Lord using it in Mark IX. 18 the strongest proof that could be given, of his having reference to the same event. Isaiah's prediction was literally fulfilled, at the destruction of Jerusalem; and as the Saviour uses the same language, and alludes to the body, like the prophet, he without doubt refers to the same destruction. As therefore our Lord's language had no reference to futurity, the fire of which he speaks can no more be endless, than theone of which the prophet speaks, for "there is nothing to feed it." Hence we see, that the phrases under consideration, are as you admit, equivalent to Gehenna, and that both are applied by inspired prophets, to the destruction of Jerusalem. Thus, therefore, our Saviour used them.
5. Concerning the two texts, which you have placed in juxtaposition, I will remark, 1. Luke says nothing of casting the spirit into hell; and in all the places which speak of Gehenna, nothing is said of punishing the spirit, but the body is mentioned. Thus Luke says, fear him who after he hath killed the body, hath power to cast (the body) into Gehenna. So Matthew says, destroy both soul (life) and body in Gehenna. 2. Gehenna had long been a place where the filth of Jerusalem was deposited, where criminals were executed, and where dead bodies were permitted to lie unburied. This explains our Lord's
language, cast the body into Gehenna, destroy the body in Gehenna: that is, leave it unburied, exposed to beasts, birds and worms, where the worm did not die and the fire was not quenched. This men could not do, for sympathy and respect for the dead would prevent it; public sentiment would not allow so shameless a violation of common feeling. But in the terrible judgment which God was about to bring upon that people, they would be destroyed soul (life) and body in Gehenna.After they were killed, they would be cast into Gehenna. Such, according to Josephus, was the case with thousands; for in the siege of Jerusalem, the living and dead were thrown into Gehenna, where they remained a prey to fire, worms and beasts. Viewed in this light, the mention of casting the body into Gehenna, and of destroying it there, showed the terrible nature of the impending judgment. 3. In the two chapters of Matthew and Luke, from which the texts you have placed in juxtaposition are taken, it is expressly said, that those should lose their lives, that did not follow Christ, while those should save their lives, that did follow him; and to impress this more deeply upon the mind, Jesus reminds them of his coming to destroy Jerusalem, when punishment would be inflicted on his enemies. 4. Gehenna was the figure to represent this punishment. This I have quite fully illustrated in my fourth letter. 5. The same word rendered life in Matth. chap. x. 39, (lose his life) is the one rendered life in Matth. x. 28, and Luke XII. 4, 5. Now as both reter to the same event, it is evident that the (psuche)
life or soul is the same in both. The opnion of Parkhurst will not answer as a reply to this.
For these reasons I must say, that it is clear as noon-day to me, that in the texts under consideration, our Lord had no reference to the future world. And as all the passages where Gehenna occurs are silent respecting punishing the spirit, I do think you must yield the point.
5. Your remarks on apokteino (kill) require but a passing notice. My criticism is met by a sneer and denounced as a gloss. I am told too that Parkhurst, Grove and Bass, are against me. But such is not the case. Parkhurst says that apokteino is used figuratively; and refers to Rom. vII. 11; 2 Cor. 111. 6, as instances. The Lexicons of Grove and Bass I have not before me, but Donnegan, who is certainly as good authority, says, it means, "to torture, torment, render miserable or wretched." In justification of this definition, let us observe, 1.That when it is said, God is able to destroy soul and body, a different word (apolesai not apokteino) is used. This word signifies death in all the following places: Matth. 13; xvIII. 20; Mark x1. 18; John x. 10; Mark Iv. 38. It is a general word for death and the destruction of a thing. See Matth. IX. 17; Heb. 1. 11. Now why was this different word used, if apokteino here signified to put to death? 2. Apollesas is the word used to express the loss of life, in a verse (39) following the one (Matth. x. 28) which says, God is able to destroy soul and body. This shows, that what is meant by losing the life, in verse
39, is meant by God's destroying the life (soul) in verse 28. Hence, apokteino could not have been used, to signify death. My criticism therefore is just-Fear not those who will torture or scourge you; but fear God who will destroy you with the Jews.
6. What you have written respecting the power of the Jews to take life, does not meet the question. You say they had power to take it for certain offences. But of this you have given no proof. You refer me to Clarke, but he says it is only probable, that they had this power. You say, Stephen was stoned by a regular procedure; Clarke says, it was done tumultuously. By turning to Acts VII. you will see, that he was killed in a riotous manner. I must therefore, still believe, what the Jews said to Pilate, "that it was not lawful for them to take the life of any man.
Had I not already extended this letter to a sufficient length, I would present some additional proofs in favor of the position taken respecting the power of the Jews. I will however observe, 1. That though it is said (Luke XI. 49) they would slay prophets and apostles, kill and crucify them (Matth. xx. 34) it does not follow that they had power to do this; for in all countries when death is inflicted, it is ascribed to the prosecutor and judge. Thus the Jews are said to have crucified Christ, though it was done by the Romans. In like manner it is said, the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son, and children shall cause their parents to be put to death. But it was never legal according to any constitution in the world, for children to
put their parents to death. This language then signifies, that they would procure the death of their parents. 2. The Roman Lawyers, as quoted by Lardner, state, that the power of life and death was not in the hands of the Jews.
7. The last paragraph but one in your letter, contains a strange medley, which I confess my inability to understand. You have jumbled together, the law of retaliation, the colour of European and Ethiopian devils, and an assertion that the Jews derived the doctrine of endless misery from the Old Testament. All this is a reply to that troublesome fact, which you have so often attempted to answer, viz. that none but Jews and those connected with their nation, were ever threatened with Gehenna.
8. In your last paragraph I am accused of a palpable contradiction. Not quite so fast. My position is, that Gehenna was a figure of the punishment, which God would inflict upon the Jews. Your contradiction therefore is only imaginary.
Thus, sir, do we see, that the word on which such unshaken reliance has been placed, is no proof of endless woe. In rescuing this from your hand, I take away the main pillar of endless misery; for when partialists have been driven from all their other grounds, they turn to Gehenna as their last resort. I am, &c.
OTIS A. SKINNER.