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themonkeyman
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Hi Folks,

 

After reading the works of Celsius and Porphyry I found that other religions in Ancient Greece all taught the 'Eternal Hell' Doctrine - It completely removed my fear from any Damnation from following that Fraud Jesus.

 

However I was listening the other day to an eBook on the Book of Enoch who mentioned an eternal hell,  This book was not written by Enoch which is a Godsend however It then makes me fear that this whole afterlife stuff may well have been a Jewish belief from way back.

 

I have read somethings that the Book of Enoch was composed around 200 BC and completed in 100 AD - During the time of 500 BC The Jews were under capture in Babylon which is where Daniel got his beliefs in an afterlife because of the Babylon / Zoroastrian system,  Would it then be true that the Book of Enoch was just a fabrication of some folk lore / legend and myth stealing from other religions.

 

Right now I am a bit worried that Heaven and Hell are Jewish constructs which means that to not follow Judaism could end me up in Hell because of this book of Enoch,  Outside of this book there is little that shows any belief in an Afterlife - so perhaps it got a more modern spin on things?

 

I have also listened to the Book of Jasher which is interesting as it elaborates more of Genesis and Exodus - Strangely even with more information the original points to defame these books still stand at large.

 

The flood happens in several sages

 

 

1) God tells Noah to give 3 wives from the fallen angels to his sons.

2) Noah then builds a ship

3) God gathers all animals together on one day

4) All the animals enter the ship on the second day

5) God sent wind and rain

6) Noah spoke to those outside the ark offering them repentance.

7) The did not repent so god became more angry and the waters rose further

8) Noah then pleaded again to offer repentance

9) They did not repent.

10) Noah said one last time when the water was around their necks

11) They did not repent

12) They then shouted to repent to God when they were being submerged

13) At this point God and Noah say its too late

14) God regretted his creation.

 

 

So although this flood myth shows a god of compassion it still ultimately shows he is genocidal.  Its the same as asking your kid not to do something several times then committing murder because the did not apologize until you had the knife in your hand at which point it is too late.

 

Also shows that although the human race became very evil - God being God knew this would happen.  Even further God never taught what sinning was until the commandments so these people could not know what right and wrong is and against who's standard?

 

It also shows there are still the problem of where did the animals come from and did it include the tigers and penguins?  Where did they store all the food that each animal eats.  How did their boat hold large elephants.

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You have touched on several issues here. Take one at a time.

 

Early on the Hebrews believed that death was death… i.e.: sheol - the grave. That the dead slept, sort of and that god's blessings were worldly. They believed in heaven.. where god and the angels lived but that wasn't for people (except for a couple.. like Elijah), but 'hell' was not an original Hebrew theology. That they picked it up from those around them later is the consensus amongst scholars.

 

The Zoroastrians did, however and several other religions. The Greeks had Hades, but it's not quite like the christian hell… more of a limbo - a shadow world. There were several different levels… as Persephone was in (hell) with the God Hades…which was underground and where he ruled. Hades was not even close to the christian satan or devil though. The theologies are very different.

 

The OT was much rewritten and added to after the captivity in Babylon. This is much later than the stated time it covers by about 500 to 1000 years or more. Remember… before the captivity the Hebrews still had many tribes, after there was really only one left.. the Tribe of Judah (Jews) the rest dispersed and have been lost to history. Amongst the Tribe of Judah were the Yahwists who are credited with a lot of the rewrite of the Torah.

 

and ummm… dinosaurs.

 

I'll let others respond to your other questions.

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I'd back up a couple steps, actually, themonkeyman. Which sources are you drawing from in your research, and why? If you are questioning if Christianity is true, why only look at such a narrow slice of sources, from scholars who are likely to confirm their own beliefs - always keep an eye to bias. If you don't read the dead languages yourself - almost nobody reads all of the languages involved here, spanning centuries at that - and you're really serious about getting a translation of primary sources, then what I would do is go to peer-reviewed academic journals - in history, not theology - which are usually accessible through educational institutions, or public libraries. Databases like EBSCOHost or JSTOR are fantastic resources for such journals.

 

Research in primary sources will get you nowhere without a firm grip on the historical context. When you say "Greeks" - which ones do you mean? The ones that were Christian, or the centuries of non-Christian Greeks who came before? If it's ALL "Ancient Greeks" then you're going to have a rough time pinning down one belief system - a massive span of time and city-states and all that. Pythagoreans, for example, were maths cultists. Then, even Tartarus doesn't match well with a Christian view of Hell, per se. If you're willing to look into time periods in which Christianity didn't exist, then why not other cultures, too. After all, only about a third of Earth's population right now is Christian. If you're concerned about a possible Jewish Hell - which is seriously debatable, and I'd go for Jewish theology for that discussion (there's no reason to rely on outside accounts of Jewish theology, when there's plenty of very healthy scholarship straight from the source) - then why not, for the very same reasons, worry about going to Diyu (the hellish regions of the Chinese Buddhist afterlife), or being reborn as some loathsome critter like a hungry ghost? That's a major reason why Pascal's Wager utterly fails to hold water: it's a false dilemma, and a major logical fallacy. The choices regarding beliefs in the afterlife, even if you don't take tens of thousands of non-Christian human history into account, are infinite.

 

At the time the primary sources you're investigating were written, Christianity was an emergent religion, not an established one, or in the very early stages of becoming established as Rome's official religion. (Very slick guy, that Constantine.) Honestly, a lot of the answers to some of the questions you seem to have may come from this period - when you have to call a conference to decide what Christianity officially IS, then there's clearly no consensus. That's why a Christian is defined as someone who can check off the items on the list of the Nicene Creed. Imagine the number of primary sources that weren't included, and explicitly filtered out of the bible as we know it now. There's a LOT. And all for political reasons: religion and sociopolitics are two sides of the same coin. Christianity becomes so important, because it was the glue holding the latter stages of the Roman Empire together, and the authoritative skeleton left behind in European history. It spread because it gave warring princelings something to back their power with. If you want to thoroughly research this stuff, I'd also suggest getting a solid idea of the historical context in which these primary sources were written. Books are written and become important, preserved over centuries, because they perform a specific function to people and their social world.

 

Christian books aren't even unique in this regard, either... There's a lot of holy books out there, and all of them have the same exact level of proof that Christianity does.

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The Book of Enoch, and the Book of Jasher are really just accounts of the Canaanite pantheon--that's why both books spend so much time on archangels and what they do. It's Hebrew polytheism, really--I wouldn't worry about it any more than you worry about Zeus.

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I have not read the bible from cover to cover - Though there are many that have,  What I am asking is that through your knowledge of OT History,

 

Is it a sure thing that the Book of Enoch was devised as a hogepoge of ideas of the time around 200BC.  I have heard it said that Hell was Zoastrian around the time of Daniel but I dont know the time of Daniel?

 

If so then it makes sense why the later OT books speak of vauge after lifes where as older books are entirely silent.

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Monkeyman, 

 

I think you're on the right track.  Daniel is deemed by critical scholars to be a post-exilic work.

 

I've read through the Orthodox and Catholic Bibles (i.e., with their Apocrypha books) but never Enoch.  As far as I know, Enoch is only in the Ethiopian Orthodox canon and in the Ethiopian Jewish canon:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_canon 

 

Stephen Batchelor wrote a fascinating book in which he describes his fears (as a Buddhist monk) that he would go to hell for doubting the law of karma: http://www.amazon.com/Confession-Buddhist-Atheist-Stephen-Batchelor/dp/0385527071

A great read, and I found it helpful for bringing a fresh look as to why believing in realms of torment doesn't make any sense...

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you're worried about the doctrine of eternal hell being taught in the Jewish scriptures, you needn't even look outside of the canon.  Check this out:

 

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2, ESV)

 

This right here could very well be a classic Christian "proof text" teaching the doctrines of the general resurrection and of eternal conscious torment in hell.  I deliberately use the words "proof text" because that's how Christians have historically arrived at many of their doctrines.  Go back to the ante-Nicene church fathers and you'll see them tearing the Bible out of context in ways that would make even Ironhorse cringe.

 

OK, why should you not be afraid you'll go to eternal hell because of Daniel 12:2?  Consider this.  First of all, the New Testament very clearly and consistently teaches the doctrine of eternal hell.  The Old Testament does not, and it isn't taught in any rabbinic tradition I'm aware of.  So obviously there are other interpretations of this verse and of anything you might find in the Book of Enoch.  For example, it could mean that "the deeds we do here echo into eternity" (I think that's a quote from the Russel Crowe movie Gladiator, but my point is that the Bible is so vague as to be open to all kinds of interpretation...if you're going to take it seriously).

 

Furthermore, if you're worried that Judaism condemns you to an eternal hell, go to the most ultra-Orthodox synagogue you can find and spend five minutes with the rabbi; this will alleviate your fears.  Judaism is not a missionary religion.  In fact if you seek out a rabbi wishing to convert, Jewish law requires him to deny you three times before even letting you do the intense study that is first required.  Jews believe that the Torah is an eternal covenant between God and the nation of Israel.  The only biblical laws that Jews believe apply to Gentiles are a handful of "Noachide Laws," rules that rabbis infer from God's dealings with Noah in the bible.  They are relatively simple things like don't murder, don't blaspheme God, set up legal courts, etc.  There's one against idolatry, so I guess I as a Hindu am screwed (yet Jews and Hindus seem to get along uncannily well).  Jews are generally agnostic about the afterlife.  Some believe in reincarnation, many believe that a good life is its own reward, all believe that what you do in this life is more important than worrying about eternity, and none believe that you "go to heaven" when you die.

 

If you're worried about eternal hell, then Judaism is your best friend in the world.

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