It is often remarked that as, according to Josephus, the Jews in our Savior's times believed in endless punishment, Jesus must have taught the same doctrine, as "he employed the terms the Jews used." But this is not true, as we have shown. Christ and his apostles did not employ the phraseology that the Jews used to describe this doctrine. As we have shown Philo used athanaton and ateleuteton meaning immortal, and interminable. He says,(59)zoe apothneskonta aeikai tropon tina thanaton athanat on upomeinon kai ateleuteton, "to live always dying, and to undergo an immortal and interminable death." He also employs aidion, but not aionion.(60) Josephus says: "They, the Pharisees, believe 'the souls of the bad are allotted aidios eirgmos, to an eternal prison, and punished with adialeiptos timoria, eternal retribution." In describing the doctrine of the Essenes, Josephus says they believe "the souls of the bad are sent to a dark and tempestuous cavern, full of adialeiptos timoria, incessant punishment." But the phraseology of Jesus and the apostles olethros aionios or aioniou kriseos "eternal chastisement," or "eternal condemnation." The Jews contemporary with Jesus call retribution aidios, or adialeiptos timoria, while the Savior calls it aionios krisis, or kolasis aionios, and the apostles olethros aionios, everlasting destruction; and puros aionios, eternal fire. Had Jesus and his apostles used the terms employed by the Jews to whom they spake, we should be compelled to admit that they taught the popular doctrine. See this point further elucidated at the end of this volume on the word Aidios.
"To live always dying and undergo an endless death," is the language of "orthodox" pulpits, and of the Greek Jews, but our Savior and his apostles carefully avoided such horrible blasphemy as to charge God with being the author of so diabolical a cruelty.
Says a learned scholar:(61) "Aionios is a word of sparing occurrence among ancient classical Greek writers; nor is it by any means the common term employed by them to signify eternal. On the contrary, they much more frequently make use of aidios, aei on, or some similar mode of speech, for this purpose. . . . To me it appears that the Seventy, by choosing aionios to represent olam, testify that they did not understand the Hebrew word to signify eternal. Had they so understood it, they would certainly have translated it by some more decisive word; some term, which, like aidios is more commonly employed in Greek, to signify that which has neither beginning no end."
Let us now allude to the other texts in the New Testament in which the word is applied to punishment.
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