Bishop Spong, on Hell.
"Hell is the Invention of the Church"
He says, Religion is in the guilt producing control business!!!
That guy just made my hero list.
This guy is awesome.
Based on his philosophy of humans "growing up" I wonder if he watched "Babylon 5"...
John Shelby Spong is a reasonable and intelligent christian. I highly recommend his book "Born of a woman" for an honest look at the church's view of women and the myth of the virgin birth in particular.
Too simplistic. Spong is way too sloppy with the Bible and history.
The concept of a burning hell predated the church by ages, and was developed somewhat in the Talmud. Mainstream orthodox Judaism did use it as fear of punishment, but as Jews can be in religious discussion, the rabbis had many stories woven around it, some of which were contradictory, but all pointed to clear physical punishment. Most all the cultures had similar punishments awaiting the damned.
While the OT Sheol was definitely a place for the bodiless soul, which "lived" on after death, awaiting the resurrection (recombination of soul and body in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives), the intertestamental period between the last of the prophets and Jesus borrowed all kinds of previously unknown concepts, such as Tartarus, the Lake of Fire, Gehenna, and God watching the torment of those who reject Christ from the AGES TO THE AGES (aionios ton aionios) as well as the abstract mathemetical concept of infinity; something foreign to the Jewish mind. Jehovah got meaner between the old and new testaments!
Jesus, in his parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus and other warnings to the Pharisees, simply expounded the same tradition of the Pharisees; unlike the Sadducees who did not believe much in the supernatural. Jesus used the same illustration types we find in the Talmud of hell; in fact he makes it somewhat worse on occasion.
This is what is so damning to the Watchtower - to reject hell they reject a prime teaching of Jesus. He didn't use a story of something disgusting to himself to warn people that they would meet the same fate - how stupid are the JWs with this.
sample quotes from Talmud: (Everyman's Talmud, by Abraham Cohen) (The first few quotes relate to the Jews' view of Christians; who soon wanted nothing to do with the divine name, but with Jesus their new Lord and Savior. Why do you think they replaced all the "YHWH"s with Lord, God and Jesus?)
This point alone makes all the efforts of Greg Stafford and other WT-type apologists a moot point:
The Watchtower under Rutherford was an attempt to become Yahwists, not Christians.
excerpts from EVERYMAN'S TALMUD
The Rabbis also had occasion to defend the monotheistic view of God against attack from the early Christians who sought a foundation for their trinitarian doctrine in the text of the Hebrew Bible.
p. 5 ET
To assist the comprehension of the place of the incorporeal God in the Universe, an analogy is drawn from the incorporeal part of the human being--the soul. 'As the Holy One, blessed by He, fills the whole world, so also the soul fills the whole body. As the Holy One, blessed be He, sees but cannot be seen, so also the soul sees but cannot be seen. As the Holy One, blessed be He, nourishes the whole world, so also the soul nourishes the whole body. As the Holy One, blessed be He, is pure, so also the soul is pure. As the Holy One, blessed be He, dwells in the inmost part of the Universe, so also the soul dwells in the inmost part of the body' (Ber. 10a).
p. 6 ET
'A heretic said to R. Gamaliel: "You Rabbis declare that wherever ten people assemble for worship the Shechinah abides amongst them; how many Shechinahs are there then?... the Rabbi retorted: "If the sun, which is only one out of a million myriads of God's servants, can be in every part of the world, how much more so can the Shechinah radiate throughout the entire Universe!"'
p. 10 ET
XI. THE INEFFABLE NAME
To the Oriental, a name is not merely a label as with us. It was thought of as indicating the nature of the person or object by whom it was borne. For that reason special reverence attached to 'the distinctive Name' (Shem Hamephorash) of the Deity which He had revealed to the people of Israel, viz. the tetragrammaton, JHVH.
In the Biblical period there seems to have been no scruple against its use in daily speech. The addition of Jah or Jahu to personal names, which persisted among the Jews even after the Babylonian exile, is an indication that there was no prohibition against the employment of the four-lettered Name. But in the early Rabbinic period the pronunciation of the Name was restricted to the Temple service. The rule was laid down: 'In the Sanctuary the Name was pronounced as written; but beyond its confines a substituted Name was employed' (Sot. VII. 6).
The tetragrammaton was included in the priestly benediction which was daily pronounced in the Temple (Sifre Num. Section 39; 12a). It was also used by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement, when he made the threefold confession of sins on behalf of himself, the priests, and the community....And when the priests and the people that stood in the Court heard the glorious and revered Name pronounced freely out of the mouth of the High Priest, in holiness and purity, they knelt and prostrated themselves, falling on their faces, and exclaiming: Blessed be His glorious, sovereign Name for ever and ever' (Joma VI. 2).
p. 24-25 ET
In the last stage of the Temple's existence, there was reluctance to give a clear enunciation of the tetragrammaton...Behind the care not to give explicit utterance to the Name may be detected a lowering in the moral standard of the priests. The Talmud declares: 'At first the High Priest used to proclaim the Name in a loud voice; but when dissolute men multiplied, he proclaimed it in a low tone' (p. Joma 40d).
On the other hand, there was a time when the free and open use of the Name even by the layman was advocated. The Mishnah teaches: 'It was ordained that a man should greet his friends by mentioning the Name' (Ber. IX.5). It has been
suggested that the recommendation was based on the desire to distinguish the Israelite from the Samaritan, who referred to God as 'the Name' and not as JHVH, or the Rabbinite Jew from the Jewish-Christian.
This custom, however, was soon discontinued, and among those who are excluded from a share in the World to Come is 'he who pronounces the Name according to its letters' (Sanh. X. I). A third-century Rabbi taught: 'Whoever explicitly pronounces the Name is guilty of a capital offence' (Pesikta 148a).
Instead of JHVH the Name was pronounced Adonai (my Lord) in the Synagogue service; but there is a tradition that the original pronunciation was transmitted by the Sages to their disciples periodically--once or twice every seven years (kid. 71a). Even that practice ceased after a while, and the method of pronouncing the Name is no longer known with certainty.
p. 25, 26 ET
Certain doctrines in connection with the Deity were forced into general prominence and received special emphasis at the hands of the Rabbis because of contemporaneous circumstances. The attribute of Unity had to be underlined when a trinitarian dogma began to be preached by the new sect of Christians.
p. 26 ET
Much more prominent, however, in the Talmudic literature is the conception of God's immanence in the world and His nearness to man. It follows as a corollary from the doctrine of His omnipresence...'the Holy One, blessed be He, appears to be afar off, but in reality there is nothing closer than He.' There follows a reference to the immeasurable distance of His dwelling-place from the earth, as cited above, and then the moral is drawn: 'However high He be above His world, let a man but enter a Synagogue, stand behind a pillar and pray in a whisper, and the Holy One, blessed be He, hearkens to his prayer. Can there be a God nearer than this, Who is close to His creatures as the mouth is to the ear?' (p. Ber. 13a).
p. 41 ET
With the object of utilizing the doctrine of the immanence of God in the world, while avoiding the suggestion that He could be located in any spot, the Rabbis invented certain terms to express the Divine Presence without giving support to a belief in His corporeality. The most frequent of these terms is Shechinah, which literally means 'dwelling.' It denotes the manifestation of God upon the stage of the world, although He abides in the far-away heaven. In the same way that the sun in the sky illumines with its rays every corner of the earth, so the Shechinah, the effulgence of God, may make its presence felt everywhere (Sanh. 39a).
Accordingly, the Shechinah is often depicted under the figure of light. The Scriptural phrase, 'The earth did shine with His glory' (Ezek. xliii. 2), receives the comment, 'This is the face of the Shechinah' (ARN II); and the priestly benediction, 'The Lord make His face to shine upon thee' (Num. vi. 25), is interpreted, 'May He give thee the light of the Shechinah' (Num. R. XI. 5).
p. 42 ET
Another Rabbinic concept to indicate the nearness of God and His direct influence on man is that of Ruach Hakodesh (the Holy Spirit). Sometimes it seems to be identical with the Shechinah as expressing the divine immanence in the world as affected by what transpires there. For instance, it is related that after the destruction of the Temple, the
Emperor Vespasian dispatched three shiploads of young Jews and Jewesses to brothels in Rome, but during the voyage they all threw themselves into the sea and were drowned, rather than accept so degraded a fate. The story ends with the statement that on beholding the harrowing sight: 'The Holy Spirit wept and said, "For these do I weep" (Lament. i. 16)' (Lament. R. I. 45).
p. 45 ET
Great care was then exercised in the examination of would-be converts and their motives closely scrutinized...He is told, "You must know that before taking this step you partook of forbidden fat and profaned the Sabbath without incurring punishment; but henceforward if you do these things dire penalties will befall you." In the same way that he is informed of the punishments attached to the precepts, he is likewise informed of the rewards...If he accepts, he is circumcised forthwith. After he is healed, he undergoes immersion without delay, and two disciples of the Sages stand by him and instruct him in some of the minor and more important precepts. When he has immersed himself and ascended from the water he is an Israelite in every respect' (Jeb. 47a, b).
p. 65 ET
It is related of Monobazus, King of Adiabene, who lived in the first century of the present era and became a convert to Judaism, that during a period of famine he gave away all his wealth to the poor. When his relatives upbraided him for squandering his riches in this manner, he replied to them, 'My ancestors stored up treasures for below, but I have stored up treasures for above; they stored treasures in a place over which force can prevail, but I in a place where force is powerless. They stored up treasures which yield no fruit, but mine will be productive. They stored up treasures of money, but I of souls. They stored up treasures for others, I for my own good. They stored up treasures in this world, but I for the World to Come' (Tosifta Peah IV. 18).
p. 69 ET
'The soul,' we are informed, 'is called by five names: Nephesh, Ruach, Neshamah, Jechidah, and Chayyah. Nephesh is the blood; as it is said, "For the blood is the life (nephesh)" (Deut. xii. 23). Ruach is that which ascends and descends; as it is said, "Who knoweth the spirit (ruach) of man whether it goeth upward?" (Eccles. iii. 21). Neshamah is the disposition. Chayyah is so called because all the limbs die but it survives. Jechidah, "the only one," indicates that all the limbs are in pairs, while the soul alone is unique in the body' (Gen. R. XIV. 9).
Of these terms the first three are in common use in Rabbinic literature, but it is difficult exactly to define their difference. Since the Nephesh is identified with the blood, it denotes vitality and is applicable to animals as well as human beings. There is, for example, a saying: 'Every nephesh restores the nephesh, and everything near to the nephesh restores the nephesh' (Ber. 44b). This means that any creature, animal or fish, which itself possessed vitality adds to the vitality of a person who eats it, and this is specially true of the part of the creature which is close to the vital organ. Accordingly the Nephesh ceases at death.
Ruach and Neshamah appear to be used interchangeably, to denote the psyche of the human being, which is his exclusively. It is the immortal part of his composition, the 'breath' infused into him by God.
p. 77 ET
Josephus has recorded that the doctrine of free will distinguished the Pharisees. 'When they say that all things happen by fate, they do not take away from men the freedom of acting as they think fit; since their notion is that it has pleased God to mix up the decrees of fate and man's will, so that man can act virtuously or viciously' (Antiq. XVIII. i. 3).
p. 93 ET
The philosophical problem connected with free will was appreciated by the Rabbis, but they would not allow it to restrict in any way the belief in man's power to control his actions. They made no attempt to solve the relationship between God's foreknowledge and freedom of will, but offered as a practical rule of life, 'Everything is foreseen (by God), yet freedom of choice is given' (Aboth III. 19.)
p. 94 ET
Is it possible to repent after death? Divergent answers are given to the question. One teaching is that a sinner, who has descended to Gehinnom is, as the effect of repentance, 'shot out of it like an arrow from a bow' (Tanchuma to Deut. xxxii. I). On the other side is the passage in the Midrash to Eccles. i. 15, 'That which is crooked cannot be made straight, and that which is wanting cannot be numbered': 'In this world he who is crooked (morally) can be made straight and he who is wanting (in virtuous deeds) can be numbered; but in the Hereafter he who is crooked cannot be made straight, and he who is wanting cannot be numbered. Imagine two wicked men who were associates in this world. One of them did penance early in his lifetime, before he died, and the other failed to do so. The former, by merit of his act of repentance, takes his place in the company of the righteous. The latter, standing in the company of the wicked, beholds his companion and cries, "Woe is me, there is partiality shown here! The two of us lived alike, we stole and robbed alike, and committed all sorts of villianies alike. Why, then, is he among the righteous and I among the wicked?" They (the angels) reply to him, "You fool! you were despicable two or three days after your death, when people did not give you honourable burial in a coffin, but dragged your corpse to the grave with ropes. Your associate saw your vileness and swore to turn from his evil way. He repented like a righteous man, and the effect of his penitence is that he here receives life and honour, and a portion with the righteous. You similarly had the opportunity of repenting; and if you had done so, it would have been well with you." Then says he to them, "Permit me to go and repent"; and they answer, "You fool! do you not know that this world is like a Sabbath-eve? If a man does not prepare his meal on the Sabbath-eve, what has he to eat on the Sabbath? Do you not know that the world from which you have come is like dry land and this world like a sea? If a man does not prepare his food on dry land, what has he to eat on the sea? Do you not know that this world is like a desert, and the world from which you have come like cultivated land? If a man does not prepare his food on cultivated land, what has he to eat in the desert?" He gnashes his teeth and gnaws his flesh; then he says, "Allow me to look upon the glory of my companion." To this they reply, "You fool! we have been commanded by the Almighty that the righteous must not stand with the wicked or the wicked with the righteous, the pure with the unclean or the unclean with the pure." He thereupon rends his garments in despair and plucks his hair.'
However true it be that repentance is possible up to the moment of death, it is considered unwise to postpone it. 'R. Eliezer said, "Repent one day before your death." His disciples asked him, "Does, then, anybody know on which day he will die?" He replied to them, "How much more reason is there for him to repent to-day, lest he be dead to-morrow; and as a consequence all his days will be spent in repentance"' (Shab. 153a).
p. 109-110 ET
Justice being an attribute of God, it follows that He deals justly with His creatures. That the righteous should be rewarded for their faithfulness to the divine will and the wicked punished for their rebelliousness is what one naturally expects in a Universe governed by a just Judge. If the facts of life seem to be in conflict with this conclusion, there must be an explanation which reconciles the apparent absence of the reign of justice with the certainty that God is upright in all His decrees.
p. 110 ET
A fundamental issue with the Rabbis was the acceptance of a traditional Torah, transmitted from one generation to another by word of mouth, side by side with the written text. It was claimed that the Oral Torah, equally with the Written Torah, goes back to the Revelation on Sinai, if not in detail at least in principle. Forty-two enactments, which find no record in the Pentateuch, are described by the Talmud as 'laws given to Moses on Sinai.' The rest of the Oral Torah was implied in the Scriptural text and was deducible from it by certain rules of exegesis...'At the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, revealed Himself on Sinai to give the Torah to Israel, He delivered it to Moses in order--Scripture, Mishnah, Talmud, and Haggadah' (Exod.R. XLVII. I).
p. 146 ET
In the first century of the present era the Schools of Shammai and Hillel took opposite views of the Biblical text, Deut. xxiv. I, which allows a man to send his wife away 'if she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some unseemly thing in her.' The phrase, 'unseemly thing' is literally 'nakedness of a thing,' which the School of Shammai explained to mean, 'A man may not divorce his wife unless he discovered her to be unfaithful to him.' The School of Hillel, on the other hand, understood the phrase in the sense of 'anything unseemly' and declared: 'He may divorce her even if she spoil his cooking.' From the words, 'if she find no favour in his eyes,' R. Akiba argued, 'He may divorce her even if he found another woman more beautiful than she' (Git. IX. 10). The more lenient opinion of the Hillelites prevailed and was adopted as law.
p. 167 ET
Not only has the honour to be shown in fact, but there must be the right spirit motivating the deed. The Talmud declares: 'There was a person who fed his father on fat poultry and yet inherited Gehinnom, whereas another person made his father grind at the mill and inherited Paradise. How could this be? With regard to the former, his father said to him, "My son, where did you get this poultry?" And he answered, "Old man, eat and be quiet, because dogs eat and are quiet!" With regard to the latter, he was grinding at the mill when an order came from the king to conscript grinders. He said to his father, "You take my place here and I will grind for the king, so that if there is to be any insult it will be better for it to fall upon me, and if there is to be any beating, it will be better that I should suffer it"' (p. Peah. 15c).
p. 182 ET
The belief was general that the sending of the Messiah was part of the Creator's plan at the inception of the Universe. 'Seven things were created before the world was created: Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden (i.e. Paradise), Gehinnom, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah' (Pes. 54a). In a later work there is the observation: 'From the beginning of the creation of the world king Messiah was born, for he entered the mind (of God) before even the world was created.' (Pesikta Rab. 152b).
p. 347 ET
II. RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
No aspect of the subject of the Hereafter has so important a place in the religious teaching of the Rabbis as the doctrine of the Resurrection. It became with them an article of faith the denial of which was condemned as sinful; and they declared: 'Since a person repudiated belief in the Resurrection of the dead, he will have no share in the Resurrection' (Sanh. 90a).
The prominence which this dogma assumed was the effect of religious controversy. It was one of the differences
between the Pharisees and Sadducees. The latter, as we know from other sources, taught that the soul became extinct when the body died and death was the final end of the human being. This denial of a Hereafter involved the doctrine of reward and punishment to which the Pharisees attached great importance, and for that reason they fought it strenuously.
p. 357 ET
One of the points of dispute between the Schools of Hillel and Shammai related to the order in which the human body will be re-formed. 'The School of Shammai said, Not like the formation of the human being in this world will be his formation in the World to Come. In this world, it begins with skin and flesh and ends with sinews and bones; but in the Hereafter it will begin with sinews and bones and end with skin and flesh. For it is so stated with regard to the dead in the vision of Ezekiel, "And I beheld, and lo, there were sinews upon them, and flesh came up, and skin covered them above" (Ezek. xxxvii. 8).
p. 362 ET
Will the bodies arise clothed or naked? The answer is: 'As man goes (into the grave) clothed, so he will return clothed. This may be learnt from the example of Samuel whom Saul beheld. He asked the witch of Endor, "What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up and he is covered with a robe" (I Sam. xxviii. 14)' (Gen. R. XCV. I).
p. 363 ET
The divinely appointed agent for the accomplishment of the Resurrection is Elijah. 'The Resurrection of the dead will come through Elijah' (Sot. IX. 15), who will likewise act as the herald to announce the advent of the Messiah (see Mal. iv. 5). The reawakened life will be of endless duration. 'The righteous whom the Holy One, blessed be He, will restore to life will never return to their dust.' (Sanh. 92a).
p. 364 ET
On the question whether Gentiles will share in the Hereafter there was not an agreed opinion. 'R. Eliezer declared, "No Gentiles will have a share in the World to Come; as it is said, 'The wicked shall return to the nether world, even all the nations that forget God' (Ps. ix. 17)--'the wicked' refers to the evil among Israel." R. Joshua said to him, "If the verse had stated, 'The wicked shall return to the nether world and all the nations,' and had stopped there, I should have agreed with you. Since, however, the text adds, 'that forget God,' behold, there must be righteous men among the nations who will have a share in the World to Come"'(Tosifta Sanh. XIII. 2).
p. 369 ET
...in the Hereafter the wicked will be sentenced to Gehinnom and will murmur against the Holy One, blessed be He, saying, "Lo, we looked for His salvation, and such a fate should befall us!" He answers them, "When you were on earth did you not quarrel and slander and do all kinds of evil? Were you not responsible for strife and violence? That is what is written, 'Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that gird yourselves about with firebrands' (Is. l. II). That being so, Walk ye in the flame of your fire and among the brands that ye have kindled' (ibid). Should you say, 'This have ye of Mine hand,' it is not so; you have done it for yourselves, and hence 'ye shall lie down in sorrow' (ibid)"' (Eccles. R. to iii. 9).
p. 373-374 ET
In preparation for the Day of Judgment a record is kept of all that the human being does while on earth. At the time of a man's departure from the world, all his actions are detailed before him, and he is told, "So and so have you done in such a place on such a day."...'The Holy One, blessed be He, will sit in judgment with the righteous and wicked. He will judge the righteous and conduct them to Gan Eden. He will judge the wicked and condemn them to Gehinnom. The wicked say, "He has not judged us fairly; He acquits whomever He likes and convicts whomever He likes." The Holy One, blessed be He, replies, "I did not desire to expose you." So what does He do? He reads out their record and they descend to Gehinnom' (Midrash to Ps. i; 12b).
p. 375 ET
The question whether punishment is exacted of both body and soul was the theme of a parable which has already been quoted. The moral was that as body and soul are equally concerned in the commission of sin, they are alike penalized. Another parable reaches the opposite conclusion...The opinion generally adopted was that the soul is rejoined to the body for the purpose of judgment, and is expressed in this statement: 'Throughout twelve months (after death in Gehinnom) the body exists and the soul ascends and descends; after twelve months the body ceases to exist and the soul ascends without descending' (Shab. 152b et seq.).
p. 376 ET
The School of Shammai declared, There are three classes with respect to the Day of Judgment: the perfectly righteous, the completely wicked, and the average people. Those in the first class are forthwith inscribed and sealed for eternal life. Those in the second class are forthwith inscribed and sealed for Gehinnom; as it is said, "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt" (Dan. xii. 2). The third class will descend to Gehinnom and cry out (from the pains endured there) and then ascend; as it is said, "I will bring the third part through fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on My name and I will hear them" (Zech. xiii. 9). Concerning them Hannah said, "The Lord killeth and maketh alive, He bringeth down to Sheol and bringeth up" (I Sam. ii. 6).
p. 377 ET
The sinners of Israel with their bodies and the sinners of the Gentiles with their bodies descend to Gehinnom and are judged there for twelve months. After twelve months their bodies are destroyed, and their souls burnt and scattered by a wind under the soles of the feet of the righteous; as it is said, "Ye shall tread down the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet" (Mal. iv. 3). But the sectaries, informers, epicureans who denied the Torah and denied the Resurrection, they who separated themselves from the ways of the community, they who set their dread in the land of the living, and they who, like Jeroboam the son of Nebat and his associates, sinned and caused the multitude to sin (cf. I Kings xiv. 16), will descend to Gehinnom and be judged there generations on generations; as it is said, "They shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against Me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched" (Is. lxvi. 24). Gehinnom will cease but they will not cease (to suffer); as it is said, "Their form shall be for Sheol to consume that there be no habitation for it."
p. 378 ET
We gather from this extract that in the first century one of the principal Schools, influenced by a verse from Daniel, assigned the utterly wicked to eternal punishment; but the other School found such a doctrine incompatible with Divine mercy. Sinners must be penalized. They undergo twelve months of pain and then suffer annihilation because they are unworthy of entrance into Gan Eden. They who have been exceptionally wicked stay in Gehinnom for 'generations on generations.' That this expression does not signify eternity is clear from the statement that 'Gehinnom will cease.' They will not, after their sufferings there, undergo extinction, but will continue in existence as conscious entities--how and where is not explained--in a perpetual state of remorse.
p. 378 ET
The fate of the wicked, as the reader has already learnt, is to descend into a place of punishment called Gehinnom. 'A Roman lady asked R. Jose b. Chalaphta, "What is the meaning of the text, 'Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward' (Eccles. iii. 21)?" He answered, "It refers to the souls of the righteous which are deposited in the Divine treasury; as Abigail told David through the medium of the Holy Spirit, 'The soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord thy God' (I Sam. xxv. 29). It is possible to think that the same destiny awaits the wicked; therefore the verse continues, 'And the souls of thine enemies, them shall He sling out as from the hollow of a sling.'" 'And the spirit of the beast that it goeth downward to the earth'?" He answered, "It refers to the souls of the wicked which descend below to Gehinnom"' (Eccles. R. to iii. 21).
p. 379 ET
The place of happiness allocated to the righteous is called Gan Eden, 'the Garden of Eden'. It was usually regarded as distinct from the abode of that name which had been prepared for Adam. 'What is the meaning of "No eye hath seen what God, and nobody but Thee, will work for him that waiteth for Him" (sic Is. lxiv. 4)? It refers to Eden, upon which the eye of no creature has gazed. Perhaps you will ask, Where, then, was Adam? In the Garden. But perhaps you will say that the Garden is the same as Eden! Therefore a text teaches, "A river went out of Eden to water the garden" (Gen. ii. 10). Hence the Garden and Eden are distinct (Ber. 34b). Its exact site was a matter of doubt. 'If Gan Eden is located in the land of Israel its entrance is Beth-Shean; if in Arabia its entrance is Beth-Gerem; if between the rivers (Mesopotamia) its entrance is Damascus' (Erub. 19a). This evidently refers to the terrestrial Garden, the Paradise of the righteous being thought of as located in heaven.
p. 383-384 ET
The main characteristic of this heavenly abode is that the pious, who suffered privation while on earth, will now come into their own. 'In this world the wicked are rich and enjoy comfort and rest, while the righteous are poor. But in the Hereafter, when the Holy One, blessed be He, will open for the righteous the treasures of Gan Eden, the wicked, who extorted usury, will bite their flesh with their teeth; as it is said, "The fool foldeth his hands together and eateth his own flesh" (Eccles. iv. 5); and they will exclaim, "Would that we were labourers or carriers or slaves, and our fate were like theirs!" As it is said, "Better is a handful with quietness than two handfuls with labour and stri our fate were like theirs!" As it is said, "Better is a handful with quietness than two handfuls with labour and striving after wind" (ibid. 6)' (Exod. R. XXXI. 5).
p. 385 ET
Still bolder in expression are these extracts: 'In the Hereafter the Holy One, blessed be He, will arrange a dance for the righteous in Gan Eden, He sitting in their midst; and each one will point to Him with his finger, exclaiming,
"Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him and He will save us; this is the Lord, we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation" (Isa. xxv. 9)' (Taan. 31a). '"I will walk among you" (Lev. xxvi. 12). To what is this like? To a king who went out to walk with his tenant in his orchard; but the tenant hid himself from him. The king called to him, "Why do you hide from me? See, I am just the same as you!" Similarly the Holy One, blessed be He, will walk with the righteous in Gan Eden in the Hereafter; and the righteous, on beholding Him, will retreat in terror before Him. But He will call to them, "See, I am the same as you!" Since, however, it is possible to imagine that My fear should no longer be upon you, the text declares, "I will be your God, and ye shall be My people" (ibid)' (Sifra ad loc.).
p. 386 ET
Remember, Jesus believed pretty much the same as the orthodox Jews (Pharisees).
Is this right?
What must one do to escape Hell, as believed/taught by Jesus?
Calvinism: There is nothing that you can do. God will spare the ones that he chooses to spare. His decision will not be based upon any actions that this person takes while alive on on Earth.
Arminianism: Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior.
In the 1st Century two Jewish schools promoted differing views. The School of Shammai taught that there were 3 classes of people, the righteous, the wicked and the so-so. The Righteous could go directly into Gan Eden, the Wicjed would be consumed in the Firey Pit, and the So-so's could be reformed and upon expressing sorrow enter Paradise. Daniel 12:2 was used as support.
The other was The School of Hillel and they viewed God as all compassionate and Gehinnom was not only a place of reformation but would cease at the right time, Zechariah 13:9 was their favorite text.
Talmudic Judaism evolved to embrace the concept of the 'perfectable human'. The Talmud says 'Every man has a share in the World-to-Come. This dicta became part of the Sages of the Mishnah.
Rabbi Ben Azzai advanced the view that man alone holds Gehinnom and Gan Eden alive inside himself and when we have evovled enough we would abolish it.
Talmudic Judaism evolved to embrace the concept of the 'perfectable human'. The Talmud says 'Every man has a share in the World-to-Come. This dicta became part of the Sages of the Mishnah.
Actually that should read,
Talmudic Judaism evolved to embrace the concept of the 'perfectable human'. The Talmud says 'Every [Jew] has a share in the World-to-Come. This dicta became part of the Sages of the Mishnah.