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Targum was written at the close of the 2d or beginning of the 3d century; and no higher authority on this point, can be quoted. Mr. Dwight expressed an universal opinion, when in his travels through Germany, he declared that the Germans in Biblical knowledge, were a century in advance of all the other nations of Europe. Buck, sir, and Encyclopædias, are but the mere echo of a traditional opinion, and are not to be compared with men who have examined for themselves into the merits of this question. And what I say of Buck, I say of nearly all your authorities, excepting Luesden, Hottinger, and some others, who followed the traditions of the Jews on this subject. It is pretty certain, therefore, that this Jonathan who was a disciple of Hillel, was not the Jonathan who wrote the Targum; and that his Tar gum was written at about the beginning of the 3d century. If so, it proves nothing about the New Testament use of Gehenna.
Before noticing the inferences which you have drawn from your authorities respecting Gehenna, I will introduce a few arguments to show, that the word could not have been used in its present popular sense in the days of Christ. Taking it for granted, that Gehenna in the Old Testament never signifies a place of future tormant, we wish to show:
1. That it is not used in this sense in the Apochrypha, Hell occurs in the following places: 2 Esdras ii. 29; iv. 8; viii. 53; Tobit xiii. 2; Wisd. xvii. 14; Eccles. xxi. 10; li. 5, 6. Song of the three children, v. 66. In all these texts, Gehenna is not used. Hades is the word in the
original. Now when we consider that two books of the Apochrypha (Wisdom of Solomon and 2d of Maccabees,) contain allusions to future punishment, but not under the figure of Gehenna, (as the word does not occur in them,) it shows conclusively, that Gehenna retained its etymological use, till near the Christian era, (the time according to Prideaux and Horne, when these two books were composed,) for if it had not, they would, without doubt, have introduced it. Indeed, why not, as well as Jonathan, if he wrote, as you say, his Targum about this time? 2. In all the writings extant at the period between the time of the Old and New Testament, we never find future punishment represented by fire, but uniformly by darkness, night, and death. This shows then, that Gehenna during all this period, retained its etymological sense, and that Jonathan's Targum, could not have been written, when you say, for in that, Gehenna is represented as an abode of fire, and not of darkness. 3. Josephus, whose writings bear date between A. D. 70 and A. D. 100, never introduces Gehenna in those passages where he speaks of the state of the wicked after death, nor in any other part of his works."*
The foregoing facts, taken in connexion with what we have proved respecting the date of Jonathan's Targum, show conclusively, to my mind, that as late as A. D. 100, Gehenna retain
*The facts of these three statements are tak en from Balfour's Inquiry, and an Article on Ge henna, by H. Ballou 2nd. published in the Universalist Expositor, vol. ii. No. 12.
ed among the Jews, the sense it has in the Old Testament. And as Christ addressed Jews, he must have used it in the same sense. Otherwise he misled his hearers.
From the time of Josephus onwards, there is an interval of about a century, from which no Jewish writings have descended to us. It was a period of dreadful change and ruin with that distracted people. Their body politic was dissolved; the whole system of their ceremonial religion had been crushed in the fall of their city and temple; and they themselves scattered abroad, were accursed on all the face of the earth. In these circumstances, it was natural that their sentiments and usages should undergo a rapid modification; and if we may judge from the state in which we find their doctrine, when their own compositions again appear in view, they adopted almost every conceit, provided it were sufficiently extra vagant and ridiculcus, that ever crossed the brain of a madman. Among these was that of representing hell by Gehenna.
I will now examine the inferences you have drawn from your authorities on the dates of the Targums. Passing over the 1st and 2d inferences which we have proved false, (for if the Targums were not written, they could not have been read in the synagogue at the time you say,) I will consider your 3d inference. Here you have referred to Gen. iii. 24; xv. 17; but Jonathan has no Targam on this book, or any of the five books of Moses; and Onkelos's Targum does
*Art. Gehenna, by H. Ballou 2nd in Univer. Expos..vol. 2, No. 12.
not contain Gehenna or any allusion to future punishment. You have been misled therefore, by the Targum falsely attributed to Jonathan, which is often quoted for authority on Gehenna. Besides, I doubt whether you or any Methodist would pretend that the texts to which you refer, teach endless misery in Gehenna, or any other place. Hence you would differ from the Targums here, and thus oppose in sentiment a people, whom you intimate understood correctly the Bible. But why such an intimation, when you and all Christians believe, that notwithstanding all their privileges, the Jews erred egregiously on some of the leading and most plain doctrines of the Bible?
Your 4th inference being drawn from the dates of the Targums is false; and of course Jesus used Gehenna in the sense of the Old Testament.Your 5th respecting the 12 Lexicographers appears with an ill grace, when we consider, that the 12 facts which I adduced as an offset, still stand in undisputed strength. Besides these Lexicographers, forming their opinion chiefly on the dates of the Targums were misled here; and before they can be regarded as authority on Gehenna, you must disprove what I have said, respecting the dates of the Targums. Not only so, the testimony of a thousand men, will weigh nothing in my mind, when they thus contradict the language of Jesus, that the damnation of hell should come on the generation then living. Your offer to give up the argument, if I would produce six Lexicographers, who say Gehenna does not signify endless misery, is puerile in the extreme. What! a question like this to be de
cided by vote! This is really sir, a very classical idea. But I have no confidence in these of. fers, for in a previous instance, you made one rcspecting aion, which I accepted, and demonstrated your error; but you have not had the honor to abide by your voluntary offer.
To sum up the whole matter then, in a few words,' you are entirely mistaken respecting the dates of the Targums, and the sense of Gehenna. Of this, there is not the least imaginable doubt. Your assertion, that Justin Martyr used Gehenna to signify endless wo, is entirely false, for he did not himself believe the doctrine, being an advocate for the annihilation of the wicked. And I defy you or any man to prove, that a single christian father advocated endless misery, before we find Universalism taught in the church. This fact, when we consider that the notion of endless misery prevailed among Jews and Heathens, shows that Christ and the Apostles taught Universalism; for if they did not, how did the chris tians learn it?
Tertullian, who lived A. D. 200, is thought to have been the first who asserted that misery would be of equal duration with happiness. The Universalists of the present age, therefore, are not the first who denied that Gehenna signified endless misery. Clemens, Origen, Ambrosius, Gregory Thaumaturgus, Alexander, bishop of Jerusalem, and Theosticus, bishop of Cesarea, denied it; and so did many of the fathers, from the days of Origen down to A. D. 370, among whom were Titus, bishop of Bostra; Basil, bishop of Nyssa, Gregory Nyssen, Didymus and Jerome; to say nothing of the distinguished men in after