Tartarus

This word occurs but once in the Bible: "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to Hell (Tartarus) and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment." 2 Peter 2:4. The word in the Greek is Tartarus, or rather it is a verb from that noun. "Cast down to Hell" should be tartarused (tartarosas).

The Greeks held Tartarus, says Anthon, in his Classical Dictionary, to be "the fabled place of punishment in the lower world." "According to the ideas of the Homeric and Hesiodic ages, it would seem that the world or universe was a hollow globe, divided into two equal portions by the flat disk of the earth. The external shell of this globe is called by the poets brazen and iron, probable only to express its solidity. The superior hemisphere was called Heaven and the inferior one Tartarus. Here the poet of the Odyssey also places Erebus, the realm of Pluto and Proserpina, the final dwelling place of all the race of men, a place which the poet of the Iliad describes as lying within the bosom of the earth. At a later period the change of religions gradually affected Erebus, the place of the reward of the good; and Tartarus was raised up to form the prison in which the wicked suffered the punishment due to their crimes."

Virgil illustrates this view, (Dryden's Virgil, Aeneid, viz.):

"'Tis here, in dijj'rent paths, the way divides;—

The right to Pluto's golden palace guides,

The left to that unhappy region tends,

Which to the depths oj Tartarus descends—

The seat oj night profound and punished fiends.

The gaping guj low to the centre lies,

And twice as deep as earth is from the skies,

The rival oj the gods, the Titan race,

Here, singed with lightning, roll within th' unjathomed space."

Now it is not to be supposed that Peter indorses and teaches this monstrous nonsense of paganism. If he did, then we must accept all the absurdities that went with it in the pagan mythology. And if this is an item of Christian faith, why is it never referred to in the Old or New Testament? Why have we no descriptions of it, such as abound in classic literature?

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