dianoigo blog

Tuesday 15 January 2019

Review of "The Fire That Consumes" by Edward W. Fudge (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of a three-part review of The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment by the late Edward W. Fudge (3rd ed.; Eugene: Cascade, 2011; 593 pages.) In Part 1 I looked at Fudge's introduction and epistemology, his treatment of the Old Testament, and his treatment of Second Temple Jewish literature (chapters 1 to 10). In this second part, I review the Fudge's chapters that discuss the New Testament (chapters 11 to 23). The third part of this review will attend to his treatment of other early Christian literature, and his theological findings (chapters 24 to 36).

The Positive Tradition and the Symmetrical Tradition
Chapters 11 to 15: Jesus
  Gehenna: Jewish Background  
  Gehenna in Mark  
  Gehenna in Matthew  
  Gehenna in Luke  
  Other Terms for the Same Place of Punishment  
  Imprisonment and Torture  
  Non-Existence and Execution vs. Eschatological Punishment  
  The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus  
  The Gospel (and Letters) of John  
Chapters 16 and 17: Golgotha: Judgment Revealed
Chapters 18 to 20: Paul's Letters
Chapter 21: Hebrews, James, and Acts
Chapter 22: 1-2 Peter and Jude
Chapter 23: Revelation
  Fiery Torment without Relief  
  The Lake of Fire  
  The Second Death: No Mere Repeat of the First  
  The Final Picture of the New Jerusalem: Evil not Absent but Outside  
Conclusion on New Testament

Before turning to the New Testament (or rather Fudge's treatment thereof), I would like to draw attention to an insightful distinction made by Bernstein in his book The Formation of Hell (an important historical study of belief in hell that unfortunately does not feature in Fudge's bibliography).1 Bernstein distinguishes between two strands of tradition on the fate of the ungodly within the New Testament, which he calls the positive tradition and the symmetrical tradition. The positive tradition, exemplified by the letters of Paul and the Gospel of John,
recognizes the need of assent from fortunate human beings who have been given the opportunity of redemption, and it states with varying degrees of clarity the possibility that not all will respond positively. Failure to respond earns the wrath of God expressed as a denial of eternal life, exclusion from the kingdom. Although they deny the reward of the blessed to those who are excluded, these positive texts do not actually describe the consequence of exclusion or the nature of any further existence.2
Thus, New Testament writers in the positive tradition regard the unsaved as headed toward an "indeterminate wrath or evil fate," which is not specified but in Bernstein's view is best interpreted as annihilation.3 "The symmetrical tradition," writes Bernstein, "leaves no such ambiguity."4 Exemplified by the Synoptic Gospels and the Book of Revelation, the symmetrical tradition does not shy away from describing the fate of the ungodly but explicitly proposes separate, contrasting destinies for the good and the bad: "both fates are described in full."5 Once we recognise that these two traditions coexist in the New Testament we can let Paul be Paul and Matthew be Matthew, interpreting each writer's language on its own terms and only then attempting a theological synthesis.

Fudge devotes five chapters to the teachings of Jesus concerning hell, and rightly so, since Jesus has a great deal to say in the Gospels about the fate of the ungodly.6 Fudge divides up the material thematically, with "fire" as the organising principle: chapter 11 covers "Fire (Gehenna)," chapter 12 "Fire (Gehenna Not Named)," chapter 13 "Fire (Parable of the Sheep and the Goats)," chapter 14 "Fire (Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus)," and chapter 15 "Non-Fire Images." It might have been wiser to consider the individual Gospels separately, since the distinct eschatological emphases of the different Evangelists are blurred by considering them all together.7 Be that as it may, Fudge begins by discussing the background to the term Gehenna. There is, in fact, no pre-Christian use of the term "Gehenna" apart from the Septuagint, where it refers merely to the literal Valley of Hinnom. The concept of Gehenna as the place of eschatological punishment appears to have developed out of Jeremiah's prophecy that the Valley of Ben-Hinnom would become a place of slaughter due to the abominable idolatry practiced there (Jer. 7:31-32; 19:2-6) together with the imagery associated with the outside of Jerusalem in Isa. 66:24 (discussed in Part 1 of this review). Fudge is sympathetic to the idea that the Valley of Hinnom served as a continually burning garbage dump during antiquity, though he acknowledges that "some have asked for more evidence" (p. 182). In fact, the earliest "evidence" for this idea seems to be a comment by a medieval rabbi (c. 1200 C.E.)8 Fudge notes the occurrence of the term in Jewish texts such as 4 Ezra 7.36 and 2 Baruch 59.10-11 (which, however, post-date Jesus' ministry) and the occurrence of the concept (though not the term) in the "accursed valley" outside the transcendent Jerusalem in 1 Enoch 27.2-3 (cf. 90.25-27).9 A well-developed concept of Gehenna is found in rabbinic literature, but cannot be assumed to go back to Jesus' day. Fudge correctly acknowledges (p. 183) that the rabbis were divided on whether the fires and torments of Gehenna would last forever or eventually end.10 We saw in Part 1 of our review that the Hebrew Bible (in Isa. 66:24) already speaks of a punitive fire that will never go out, and that Second Temple Jewish literature—particularly portions of 1 Enoch—speak of transcendent fires that torture angels and men unceasingly. The exegetical question we must ask (but that Fudge does not adequately consider) is whether the Synoptic Gospels' fire of Gehenna is an ordinary physical fire (albeit a very hot and destructive one) or a transcendent, unceasing fire.
Probably the earliest New Testament reference to Gehenna is found in Mark 9:42-48, where the Markan Jesus warns about going "into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire" (eis ten geennan, eis to pur to asbeston). He adds, quoting from Isa. 66:24 LXX, that Gehenna is "where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched'" (hopou ho skōlēx autōn ou teleuta kai to pur ou sbennutai). Now, Fudge thinks that "unquenchable" here (and elsewhere in the Gospels) means that the fire "keeps burning until nothing put in it finally remains" (p. 191). However, Mark has clearly drawn the term "unquenchable" (asbestos) from Isa. 66:24 LXX, where (as discussed in Part 1 of this review) the fire clearly burns indefinitely, "month after month and Sabbath after Sabbath" (v. 23). Moreover, we have seen that already in the second century B.C.E. (Judith 16:17), some readers of Isa. 66:24 were interpreting its fire and worms in terms of unending torment ("they will weep and suffer forever") and not merely unending burning of inanimate corpses. It is not clear which of these two views Mark takes, but Mark 9:42 favourably compares a gruesome form of execution (being cast into the sea with a millstone around one's neck) with Gehenna, suggesting that Gehenna is a fate worse than death.
Most of Matthew's seven uses of Gehenna are too cursory to provide clues about the nature and duration of the punishment.11 However, he too understands it as a place of fire, and "eternal fire" at that (to pur to aiōnion, Matt. 18:8-9). As he had already proposed in Chapter 4 (discussed previously), Fudge takes the word aiōnios ("eternal") here not as infinite in duration but as infinite in consequences and as pertaining to the age to come rather than the present age. However, we have already seen that both Isaiah 66:24 and Second Temple texts that depend on it (e.g., Judith 16:17; 1 Enoch 10.13-14; 23.1-24.1; 103.7-8; 108.3-6, 14-15), including Mark, envision an unending fire. Ceteris paribus, this makes it likely that aiōnios for Matthew likewise denotes the unending duration of the fire (in addition to its transcendent, age-to-come nature).12 Moreover, in a phrase that Fudge passes over far too quickly (pp. 190, 208), Matthew adds that the "eternal fire" was "prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt. 25:41). This detail, which certainly does not come from the Old Testament, strikingly parallels a number of statements in the Enochic corpus that link the eschatological punishment of sinful humans to that of sinful angels. For example, in 1 Enoch 54.1-6, Enoch is shown "a deep valley burning with fire" into which "the kings and the mighty" are thrown. He also sees there "iron chains of immeasurable weight," which "are being prepared for the hosts of Azazel" (who is also called "[the] Satan" in this passage).13 In 1 Enoch 62-63, a judgment scene involving the "Son of Man" sitting "on the throne of his glory" (a striking parallel, given that this phrase occurs only in the Parables of Enoch and in Matthew) ends with the kings and the mighty stuck in "the flame of the torment of Sheol" forever without respite. That Matthew's eternal fire is also prepared for suprahuman beings and that this notion is unmistakably dependent on the Enochic tradition (with its notion of unending torment for angels and humans) provides a compelling argument for interpreting Matthew's Gehenna as a place of unending torment.

Fudge's main argument that the Gospels' Gehenna is a place of annihilation comes from Matt. 10:28, which contrasts "those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul" with "the one [i.e., God] who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna." Fudge emphatically asserts that "destroy" here refers to annihilation, and there are a number of commentators who agree with him. However, lexical sources and the usage of the verb apollumi and its noun form apoleia confirm that this word connotes total destruction or ruination that may, but does not necessarily, entail the cessation of all existence (cf. Matt. 9:17).14 1 Enoch 10.13-14 speaks of those who are "destroyed" being bound together with the fallen angels in the fiery abyss; clearly such destruction does not entail the end of all existence. The word destroy/destruction also seems not to imply annihilation in 4 Ezra.15 Fudge's exegesis of Matt. 10:28 relies entirely on an assumption about the meaning of apollumi here.16 Fudge believes that Jesus here "equates 'kill' and 'destroy,' making them interchangeable" (p. 188). However, given that this saying is an antithetical parallelism, it seems more likely that "destroy" is intended to contrast with "kill." Moreover, the emphasis in Fudge's exegesis is purely time-oriented: the death that humans inflict is limited by the resurrection, whereas God's killing encompasses "both now and hereafter" (p. 187). Yet Matthew's specific emphasis here is not on the when but on the what and the where. Humans can kill body but not soul; God can destroy body and soul in Gehenna. These last two words are superfluous in Fudge's interpretation, but essential to Matthew's point. Moreover, Matthew elsewhere describes the "furnace of fire" (undoubtedly Gehenna) as a place "where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth" (Matt. 13:42, 50).17 Matthew thus clearly characterises Gehenna as a place of torment and not merely of killing. Unfortunately, in Fudge's discussion of Matt. 13:42 (pp. 204-205) he seems not to notice that Matthew explicitly locates the "wailing and grinding of teeth" in the furnace of fire.
Fudge devotes less attention to the Lucan version of this saying (Luke's sole mention of Gehenna), but Luke clearly depicts Gehenna as a postmortem punishment, a place one can be "thrown into" after having been killed (Luke 12:4-5). Imagery involving being "thrown," for Luke, can refer to being discarded or cast into fire (Luke 3:9; 14:35), but more denotes imprisonment (Luke 12:58; 23:19, 25). In Luke 13:28, Jesus does not name Gehenna but describes the place of punishment simply as "there" or "that place" (ekei), a term also used as a stand-alone designation for the place of eschatological punishment in 1 Enoch 22.11.18 That this place is Gehenna is evident from the idiom "wailing and grinding of teeth," which Matthew locates in the furnace of fire (Gehenna). Notably, the evildoers who are in "that place" have been "thrown out" of the kingdom of God and can see Abraham and the prophets in the kingdom of God—they are unmistakably conscious. If Luke envisioned the new world as a macrocosm of Jerusalem (as was common in apocalyptic Judaism and early Christianity), then it appears that the kingdom of God is the new Jerusalem. The evildoers have been killed, thrown out of the transcendent city and thrown into Gehenna outside, where they remain conscious. This is clear from Matt. 24:51, which says that the master "will dismember (dichotomeō) [the disobedient servant] and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth" (my translation).
Fudge's treatment of non-fire punishment imagery from Jesus' teachings in a separate chapter is unfortunate, since it seems to have caused him to erroneously conclude that such imagery depicts something other than Gehenna, whereas in fact these other texts depict the same place of punishment in different language. Matthew's use of the phrase "wailing and grinding of teeth" (and Luke's, in Luke 13:28) consistently locates this activity too in the place of eschatological punishment—in other words, in Gehenna—using the adverb ekei ("there"; "in that place"): "the outer darkness" (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30), "the furnace of fire" (13:42, 50), "with the hypocrites" (24:51). Crucially, Fudge seems to misconstrue the "weeping and gnashing of teeth" as a prelude to the punishment of Gehenna whereas, in the text, this phrase describes the punishment of Gehenna.19 Although never explicitly located in "Gehenna," it is located in "the furnace of fire," which is obviously synonymous with Gehenna/the eternal fire.20 Nothing in Matthew or Luke suggests that the "throwing out" of evildoers (e.g., into outer darkness) is a separate event that precedes their being "thrown into" Gehenna.21 The outer darkness is Gehenna.22 Fudge also seems to take language of exclusion from God's presence as automatically implying annihilation, since "God is the ground of our being and the only source of our existence" (p. 245), but the Gospels repeatedly describe this exclusion as equivalent to going to a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth—clearly not a description of non-existence.
Fudge notes various other Synoptic Gospel judgment metaphors that he regards as implying annihilation but which are consistent with either annihilation or traditionalism.23  However, I want to comment on a couple of other pictures that seem to explicitly favour traditionalism. One is that of imprisonment with torture. Matthew 5:25-26 and Luke 12:57-59 contain a saying about settling with one's opponent before the matter comes before the courts. While the final saying, "I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny" could relate merely to a this-worldly court situation, the solemn introductory formula "I say to you" suggests an eschatological application:24 failure to settle accounts with God before the final judgment could lead to imprisonment until one's debts have been paid in full (forever?) The eschatological connotation is even clearer in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matt. 18:23-35), which ends thus: "Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart" (NABRE). Like the earlier saying, this one refers to indefinite confinement in a debtors' prison, and in this case the ten-thousand-talent debt is effectively infinite.25 Moreover, the servant is not only thrown in prison but handed over to "the torturers" (tois basanistais). As Reiser points out, the basanos word-group is used in early Jewish literature for "the sufferings of the damned in hell."26 In the Gospels this word occurs in eschatological contexts in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (discussed below) and in the Matthean Gadarene demoniacs story, in which the demon(iac)s express fear of their own eschatological punishment: "They cried out, 'What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?'" The clear implication is that there is an "appointed time" (kairos; cf. Matt. 13:30) when God will torment the demons, and Matt. 25:41 aligns punishment of evil humans with that of evil transcendent beings.

 Non-Existence and Execution vs. Eschatological Punishment

Another significant judgment image is the saying concerning Jesus' betrayer, "It would be better for that man if he had never been born" (Mark 14:21||Matt. 26:24). It appears that Jesus favourably compares non-existence with the eschatological punishment, which is odd if the eschatological punishment is non-existence. Fudge states that "Jesus does not say that this is a fate worse than death, but a fate worse than non-birth" (p. 251). However, another saying of Jesus explicitly compares a horrible execution favourably with the eschatological punishment of those who cause little ones to offend.27 Fudge adds that 1 Enoch 38.2 uses the same better-never-born idiom, in the context of annihilation (as he interprets this text). However, in Part 1 of this review we saw that the Book of Parables—although not necessarily entirely consistent in its eschatology—clearly envisions unending torment for the wicked.28 This Gospel saying once again ties in the eschatological teachings of Jesus on judgment with those of 1 Enoch and the Book of Parables in particular. Moreover, 4 Ezra also contains statements similar to this, and they are explicitly interpreted in terms of postmortem judgment.29 Thus it appears that Jesus' betrayer would have been better off never born because of the punishment that awaits him after death (see below on Acts 1:25).
The final text from the Synoptic Gospels to be considered is the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). Fudge is dismissive of the relevance of this passage to his study: this parable "likely was not intended to teach anything on that subject [i.e., hell's torments] at all" (p. 226); he devotes a chapter to it only "because of its long public association with the topic of final punishment." There is indeed debate over whether this parable is intended to teach anything about the afterlife. As I have discussed in more detail elsewhere, some scholars maintain that the afterlife imagery in this story is only incidental to the primary message, which is a moral one. Others go further and claim that the parable intentionally subverts existing Jewish ideas about the afterlife!30 However, a detailed recent monograph by Outi Lehtipuu has, I think, shown conclusively that the parable's afterlife imagery is "believable according to the parameters of [its] cultural world."31 Furthermore, Lehtipuu argues rightly that while the main point of the parable is ethical, "The reversal of fate of the rich man and the poor man in the afterlife is a vital part of the message of repentance and thus central to the story."32 Thus, the story of the selfish rich man suffering fiery torments in an afterlife must be taken seriously as part of Luke's (and Jesus') eschatology. Fudge expresses doubt "that Jesus, merely by relating this revised rabbinical parable, thereby endorses any parabolic details concerning the state of the departed" (p. 231), but this fails to take into account Luke's editorial hand, which weaves the parable seamlessly into the Gospel narrative, its imagery aligned with other Lucan texts on eschatological punishment (e.g., Luke 12:5; 12:59; 13:28).

Fudge seems to think it very significant that the parable describes the place of punishment as Hades rather than Gehenna ("this parable never comes within viewing distance of gehenna," p. 231). In fact, "Hades" may simply function as a translation of "Sheol" here.33 In the Enochic corpus, the place of eschatological punishment is sometimes a valley (presumably Gehenna) but elsewhere is Sheol (1 Enoch 63.10; 103.7).34 Similarly, in 4 Ezra 7.36-38, "the furnace of Gehenna" is also called "the pit of torment," an expression that "indicates the transformation of Sheol to the place of punishment of the wicked."35 The choice of Sheol/Hades rather than Gehenna as the place of punishment may reflect that the afterlife imagery is that of the intermediate state rather than the post-resurrection final judgment. Certainly Lazarus, although in the "bosom of Abraham," remains "dead" (Luke 16:31) from the vantage point of the story. Yet situating the rich man's torments in the intermediate state does not render the parable irrelevant to final punishment.36 The setting of the afterlife imagery in the intermediate state was necessary to make the story's chronology work (i.e. to make feasible a visit from the dead to the rich man's living brothers). Moreover, Luke seems to concentrate on immediate postmortem retribution for the wicked (cf. Luke 12:5, 20) whereas Matthew emphasises retribution at the final judgment.37

The best reason to take the parable's depiction of postmortem punishment seriously is that it aligns closely with other passages in Luke. Most strikingly, in Luke 16:23-26 the rich man can see Abraham despite being physically separated from him, just as the evildoers in Luke 13:28 can see Abraham in the kingdom of God despite being "thrown out" into the place of punishment. Lazarus "in the bosom of Abraham" implies reclining at table with Abraham (cp. John 13:23), just as people in Luke 13:28-29 come to the kingdom of God, where Abraham is, and "recline at table." The association of a subterranean place of punishment with "torment" is paralleled in Luke 8:28-31.38 The disbursement of rewards and punishments after death is paralleled in Luke 23:43 and 12:5 respectively (cf. Acts 7:59),39 while the severity and irreversibility of the punishment is paralleled in Luke 12:59 ("I tell you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.") The afterlife picture of this parable coheres with the afterlife picture of the rest of the Gospel and therefore cannot be dismissed as incidental or irrelevant. The rich man's fate is, in the teaching of the Lucan Jesus, the fate of all the selfish rich who ignore the plight of the poor.

Fudge also treats the Gospel of John in these chapters (and the Letters of John later). As I have already mentioned, I follow Bernstein in assigning the Fourth Gospel to the "positive tradition." John describes the fate of the unredeemed negatively or vaguely: non-entry into the kingdom of God (John 3:3-5), perishing (3:16), abiding "wrath" (3:36), something "worse" than illness (4:14), "condemnation" (5:24, 29), dying in one's sins (8:24), "no inheritance" (13:8), burning in fire (15:5-6), "destruction" (17:12), and "death" (1 John 5:16-17). This ambiguous data is consistent with annihilation and perhaps most plausibly explained in terms of annihilation. However, it is also possible that for pastoral reasons the Fourth Evangelist downplays the idea of hell (notice how, in 1 John 4:18, the same writer sets his love commandment in antithesis with "fear," which "has to do with punishment.") In any case, since there is tension but no contradiction between the symmetrical picture in the Synoptic Gospels and the positive picture in John's Gospel, the theologian's task is not to force them to be saying the same thing but to arrive at a coherent synthesis of the two pictures.

In these two chapters, Fudge offers a formidable argument for annihilationism that is more theological than exegetical. Fudge notes that theologians of various traditions "agree...that the Passion of Jesus Christ uniquely revealed God's judgment against sin—the same judgment that those who knowingly and persistently reject Christ now will face at the end of the world" (p. 262). His argument, then, is that if Jesus suffered the ultimate penalty for sin in our place, then that punishment must correspond to what Jesus actually suffered, which was physical death and not unending torment. A detailed response to this argument is not possible here, since the argument is tied up in the theology of the atonement—itself a complicated matter. I have argued elsewhere that Paul's model of atonement is not one of penal substitution but of participation. Jesus' sinless death condemned sin, opening the way for all who participate in his death through faith and baptism to participate also in his resurrection life. In order for Jesus to condemn sin, it was necessary for him to physically die but not to exhaust divine punishment against sin. Indeed, while Fudge maintains that "The Bible exhausts the vocabulary of dying in speaking of what happened to Jesus" (p. 262), this is clearly not the case. The Bible says that Jesus laid down his life, died, and was killed, but not that he perished, was destroyed, underwent the "second death," was thrown into Gehenna, etc.40 Moreover, while Fudge mentions in passing the ancient doctrine of the Descensus ad Inferos ("Descent into Hades"), this doctrine is not about Christ suffering the torments of hell but about Christ opening the way to heaven for the just who had gone before him, and announcing victory to the powers of darkness. In short, while the Cross of Christ may create a serious theological problem for a traditionalist view of hell among proponents of a strict penal substitutionary model of the atonement, more ancient models of the atonement do not demand that Christ have experienced the fullness of eschatological punishment.

In chapters 18 to 20, Fudge discusses the epistles of Paul: 1 and 2 Thessalonians (chapter 18), Galatians and 1 and 2 Corinthians (chapter 19), and Romans, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians (chapter 20). As was mentioned earlier, I concur with Bernstein in assigning Paul to the "positive tradition" that does not describe the fate of the lost in detail but emphasises that they do not receive the rewards of the saved and otherwise speaks of their fate in general terms. In what Fudge agrees (p. 308) is Paul's most detailed statement on the fate of the ungodly (Rom. 2:8-12), he offers no descriptive imagery but merely four abstract nouns ("wrath and anger...trouble and distress") and one verb ("perish," apollumi). Paul elsewhere speaks of the unrighteous not inheriting the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:21; 1 Cor. 6:9) but reaping corruption and death (Gal. 6:8; Rom. 8:13). As with the Gospel of John, the Pauline witness is consistent with annihilation, and annihilation is arguably the most plausible interpretation of Paul's view, but Paul does not contradict the symmetrical tradition. This leaves open the possibility that he opted, perhaps for pastoral reasons, not to delve into the details of eschatological punishment in his letters. Again, the systematic theologian is required, not to choose between the symmetrical and positive traditions, but to build a synthesis from the two.

One Pauline text that may suggest an eschatological punishment beyond annihilation is 2 Thess. 1:8-9, which speaks of the coming of the Lord Jesus "in blazing fire, inflicting punishment on those who do not acknowledge God..." (NABRE). It adds, "These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction (dikēn...olethron aiōnion) from the Lord's presence and from the glory of his power (apo prosōpou tou kuriou kai apo tēs doxēs tēs ischuos autou)" (my translation). The latter part of the statement is drawn almost verbatim from Isa. 2:10 LXX, which tells idolaters, "And now enter into the rocks, and hide in the earth from the Lord's fearsome presence and from the glory of his power" (cf. 2:19-21). The Greek of Paul's phrase is identical to that of Isa. 2:10 LXX apart from the absence of the word phobou (fear). In the Isaianic context, the idolaters are hiding from God's presence on their own initiative. Perhaps due to Isa. 2:10 LXX being expressed as an imperative, Paul understands this as their punishment, a pronouncement of sentence. Fudge states that the Greek of 2 Thess. 1:9 is ambiguous and "can be interpreted as causal (the everlasting destruction issues from the presence of the Lord) or as separative (the 'destruction' consists of exclusion from the presence of the Lord" (p. 289), and that both views are consistent with annihilation. These two views are not mutually exclusive, but the context in Isaiah 2 is unambiguous: there is spatial movement of the idolaters away from the Lord's presence and entry "into the rocks...in the earth...into the caves and into the clefts of the rocks and into the holes of the earth". It is plausible that Paul has interpreted this topographical language as referring to a place of eschatological punishment.41 In any case, the spatial movement implies that the evildoers are going somewhere, not simply ceasing to exist. Fudge states that "The text plainly speaks of eternal destruction" (p. 291, resorting to a strategy already seen in Matt. 10:28 of assuming without argument that certain biblical terms denote annihilation). However, olethros has a semantic range that includes both "destruction" and "ruin" and does not intrinsically imply annihilation.42 Fudge notes that "The phrase 'eternal destruction' appears also in 4 Macc. 10:15" but claims that this passage "offers no insight into Paul's meaning here" (p. 287). In fact, in 4 Maccabees the term "eternal destruction" (aiōnios olethros) is used interchangeably with "eternal torment" (aiōnios basanos, 4 Macc. 9.9; 13.15), which proves conclusively that the term is consistent with the notion of unending torment and does not necessarily entail annihilation. 2 Thess. 1:9-10 does not enable conclusive inferences about Paul's understanding of final punishment, but this intriguing text suggests that there may be more to his eschatological outlook than what we have described as the positive tradition.43

Fudge discusses Hebrews, James, and Acts within a single chapter. Hebrews should probably be assigned to the positive tradition (though Bernstein's book does not discuss it), in view of ambiguous language such as "how shall we escape?" (Heb. 2:3), "they shall not enter into my rest" (4:4), and "eternal judgment" that takes place after death (6:2; 9:27). Heb. 10:27-31 refers to "a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries," and intimates that this punishment is "much worse" than death. The punishment is described as perishing (apōleia, 10:39). While references to consuming fire (10:27; 12:29) appear to favour an annihilating function of the fire, we should note that the roughly contemporaneous 4 Ezra speaks of the wicked being "consumed" in a context that clearly anticipates ongoing torment (4 Ezra 7.86).44 Fudge avers that "James is one of the strongest New Testament witnesses against the traditional view of conscious unending torment" (though he does not really say why this is). He adds, "It is no surprise that traditionalists prefer to say as little as possible about the Epistle of James" (p. 328), but Fudge himself spends only a couple of pages on the letter, and does not even discuss Jas 3:6, the only New Testament text outside the Synoptic Gospels where Gehenna is mentioned. However, we can heartily endorse Fudge's comments on Jas 4:12, where he emphasises that we are not in a position to make pronouncements about the eternal fate of our peers. Fudge interacts here with a traditionalist, John Gerstner, who makes statements implying that he knows that most Christians are on their way to hell and even knew that a particular individual whose death he witnessed had gone to hell. Gerstner's statements have nothing to do with a traditionalist understanding of hell but seem only to reflect a misguided belief that he has divine insight into the eternal destiny of other people.

Fudge discusses only one passage from Acts: Peter's warning in 3:23 (paraphrasing from Deut. 18) that "Everyone who does not listen to that prophet [i.e. Jesus] will be cut off from his people." The expression "cut off from the people" is a phrase that the LXX uses to translate a common idiom in the Hebrew Bible (e.g., Gen. 17:14; Ex. 30:33; Lev. 17:9; 23:29; etc.). And, as biblical scholar Richard C. Steiner has argued (as discussed in my comments on chapter 5 in the first part of this review), this idiom in the Hebrew Bible may denote a negative postmortem fate in contrast to being gathered to one's people (an opposite biblical idiom). Thus Fudge's claim that this verse supports annihilationism may be premature. Fudge claims that Acts "specifically references final punishment only once" (p. 330), but this is not strictly accurate. The account of Paul's speech before Felix in Acts 24 alludes to final punishment in that Paul speaks of "a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous" and later of "the coming judgment," causing Felix to become frightened. However, a more direct reference to final punishment is in Acts 1:24-25, where the disciples prayed, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place" (NABRE). There is a wordplay on the word topos ("place") here: in its first occurrence, "place" refers to the apostolic office vacated by Judas, but in its second occurrence, it is a spatial "place" to which Judas has gone. In the view of numerous scholars, "his own place" is a euphemism for the postmortem place of punishment.45

In 1 Peter, as Fudge notes, "little is said about the end of the wicked" (p. 334). 1 Peter 4:17-18 poses the question of what their end will be, but does not answer it. Another text that Fudge might have discussed is 1 Pet. 3:19, which speaks of Christ having gone "to preach to the spirits in prison." Although this is a famously difficult text, the most prevalent view among scholars since Dalton's influential study has been that these "spirits in prison" are the fallen angels of Gen. 6:1-4 and the Enochic tradition; the "prison" is thus their place of confinement pending the final judgment.46 In any case, there is no doubt that 2 Peter speaks of fallen angels confined in a transcendent prison ("gloomy chains in Tartarus") to await the final judgment (2 Pet. 2:4). Fudge thinks this allusion "adds nothing to our understanding of the final doom of human sinners" (p. 337). However, combining the story of God condemning the fallen angels with the story of the Flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, 2 Peter infers that "the Lord knows how...to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment" (2 Pet. 2:9 NABRE). It is unlikely that "the unrighteous" refers only to the fallen angels; this generic term undoubtedly includes the "godless" humans of Noah's day and of Sodom and Gomorrah. The implication is therefore that not only the fallen angels but also unrighteous humans of the past are currently being "kept (or, guarded) under punishment for the day of judgment."47 The writer of 2 Peter evidently assumes the existence of a prison-like intermediate state for ungodly humans, like that observed in 1 Enoch (on which this writer also depends for his details of the angels' punishment). This observation vitiates Fudge's claim (p. 336) that 2 Peter cites the Flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as instances of annihilation. Fudge draws attention to other terms from 2 Peter for the end of the wicked, such as "destruction" (2:12) and "the gloom of darkness" (2:17). Fudge thinks this language "suggests and harmonizes with the idea of final, total extinction" (p. 337), but the statement, "for them the gloom (zophos) of darkness has been reserved" is clearly intended to recall the punishment of the fallen angels described in 2:4, which uses the same rare word zophos. Since the angels' punishment was not annihilation but confinement in a gloomy place, it follows that this is what 2 Peter envisions for unjust humans as well.

This brings us to Jude, which has a close literary relationship with 2 Peter and uses much of the same imagery. Paralleling 2 Pet. 2:4, Jude describes the apostate angels as being "kept in eternal chains, in gloom, for the judgment of the great day" (Jude 6). Paralleling 2 Pet. 2:17, Jude states that for the apostate humans "the gloom of darkness has been reserved forever" (Jude 13). He also explicitly quotes from 1 Enoch 1 about the final judgment (Jude 14-15), showing the dependence of his eschatological outlook on the Enochic tradition. Jude 7 makes an intriguing statement about Sodom and Gomorrah that Fudge renders, following the RSV, "[they] serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire" (p. 341). He criticises the NIV for translating, "serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire," noting that the words "of those who" are not in the Greek text. However, the word "by" in the RSV translation is also interpolated. A woodenly literal translation would be, "are exhibited [as] an example of eternal fire undergoing penalty." One syntactic question is whether the genitive phrase puros aiōniou ("of eternal fire") modifies deigma ("example") or dikē ("penalty"). The first option seems more likely to me.48 In either case, though, what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah is held out as an example, a specimen, of eternal fire. How could Jude have conceived of the fire that rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24) as eternal? Fudge thinks the word "eternal" indicates that it is "a fire from God which destroys sinners totally and forever" (p. 342). However, while we cannot be sure for Jude, other New Testament writers clearly did not think that the people of Sodom had already been destroyed totally and forever.49 A more likely explanation is provided by Fudge's own discussion: he notes that scholars have pointed out how some Jewish writings of the period (e.g., Wisdom of Solomon 10:7) express a belief that the region once occupied by Sodom and Gomorrah was still smoldering up to the present day. If Jude accepted this tradition (with the help of texts like Isa. 34:10), he likely regarded the fire of Sodom and Gomorrah as literally "eternal," unending. Support for this explanation can be seen in Jude 6, where the punishment of the apostate angels is described as "eternal chains." The idea is not that the angels were chained briefly with unending consequences, but that the angels have been kept in chains unceasingly. It is likely, then, that in Jude's view there was already an unending fire in the world, which served as an example of the unending fire still to be revealed at the final judgment.

 Fiery Torment without Relief

The last part of the New Testament discussed by Fudge is the Apocalypse of John. Like the Synoptic Gospels, this book is assigned by Bernstein to the symmetrical tradition,50 and Fudge concedes that it contains "the strongest biblical statements that seemingly favor unending conscious torment" (p. 367). However, he nonetheless argues that Revelation teaches "that not only wicked humans, but also wicked angels and (most probably) even the devil himself, will finally be wiped out and be no more" (p. 367). Although there is much judgment language in this highly symbolic book, let us go directly to the most debated texts. In Rev. 14:9-11, an angel says in a loud voice,
Anyone who worships the beast or its image, or accepts its mark on forehead or hand, 10 will also drink the wine of God’s fury, poured full strength into the cup of his wrath, and will be tormented in burning sulfur before the holy angels and before the Lamb. 11 The smoke of the fire that torments them will rise forever and ever, and there will be no relief day or night for those who worship the beast or its image or accept the mark of its name. (NABRE)
The language of fiery "torment" (basanismos) without relief closely parallels the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, as well as certain Jewish apocalyptic texts such as 1 Enoch and 4 Ezra. That the torment "in burning sulfur" happens "before the holy angels and before the Lamb" makes the image concrete. The language of v. 11 draws on Isa. 34:9-10,51 but the writer of Revelation goes further than his source: not only does the smoke rise forever, unquenched day and night, but this is the smoke of a fire that tortures people, and they have no relief day or night. There is no doubt that a plain reading of the text points to unending conscious torment, or that the nearest literary parallels support this interpretation. Fudge holds that "the destructive process encompassed such conscious suffering as God saw fit to require" (p. 357), but denies that the torment goes on forever. To reach this interpretation, Fudge posits a sharp distinction between the smoke, which ascends forever, and the torment, which continues "day and night" but only for an unspecified, finite period. However, "day and night" and "forever and ever" are complementary expressions for the same process, the one indicating that it is uninterrupted (cf. Rev. 7:15; 12:10) and the other that it is unending. A similar statement in Rev. 20:10 combines them ("There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever") and so there is no warrant for separating them here.52 

 The Lake of Fire

Other key texts about final punishment in Revelation speak of "the lake of fire" (hē limnē tou puros), an expression derived from the "river of fire" of Dan. 7:10-11 that surges forth from the throne of the Ancient of Days and into which the body of the beast is thrown. Fudge notes that "Conditionalists and traditionalists agree that the lake of fire stands for the same ultimate destiny called Gehenna in the Gospels" (p. 361). Once again, Revelation goes beyond its source: in Dan. 7:11 the beast is killed and then its body is thrown into the river of fire, but in Rev. 19:20 the beast and the false prophet are "thrown alive into the lake of fire burning with sulfur." They are not thrown in alive in order to be killed but, as Rev. 20:10 makes clear, to be tormented perpetually: "The Devil who had led them astray was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (NABRE). Fudge maintains that this is "clearly symbolic language," since the beast and false prophet are not literal persons but represent human institutions (tyrannical political authorities and idolatrous religious authorities). However, Rev. 20:10 clearly depicts the same event as Rev. 14:9-11, where the burning sulfur imagery is concretised by the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb, and those tormented are clearly human worshipers of the beast. We can thus infer that Rev. 20:10 uses the beast and the false prophet as synecdoche, including their human adherents. Rev. 20:10 thus aligns with Matt. 25:41 in having wicked humans consigned to the same fiery fate as the devil. As a last-ditch exegetical effort, Fudge suggests, "It is possible that even the picture of unending torment can symbolize everlasting extinction" (p. 362).

 The Second Death: No Mere Repeat of the First

Rev. 20:11-15 describes the general resurrection and final judgment. After "Death and Hades gave up their dead," they were "thrown into the lake of fire." Fudge states that "it is uncontroverted that Death and Hades are abstractions and not persons, and that the lake of fire here represents annihilation" (p. 363). However, the throwing of "Death and Hades" into the lake of fire does not represent the annihilation of punishment, but the obsolescence of these lesser fates and their subsumption into the ultimate fate, the lake of fire. Rev. 20:14 states that the lake of fire "is the second death." Fudge states that "second death" is the "clearer meaning" of "lake of fire" (p. 364), but he seems to think that the second death is ontologically identical to the first death (i.e. the Death that was cast into the lake of fire), differing only in chronology. This cannot be so; "Death" cannot have been destroyed if an identical, second "Death" remains. Here is the paradox: the picture of the new Jerusalem features "no more death" (Rev. 21:4) and yet still includes "the second death" (21:8). Evidently, "second death" does not simply mean "death again";53 it denotes a punishment of a different order than the ordinary death that will be no more.54 Revelation unmistakably associates the lake of fire/second death with "torment" that lasts "day and night forever and ever." It is a punishment for human beings (Rev. 14:9-11; 20:15; 21:8) and for the devil (20:10).

 The Final Picture of the New Jerusalem: Evil not Absent but Outside

Perhaps the most striking statement about final punishment in Revelation is Rev. 22:14-15.55 In this final picture of the eschatological city and its gates, evildoers still exist, outside the city. As Bernstein explains,
[E]vil remains to the very end of the tour of the new Jerusalem. The symmetrical tradition conceives of bliss in contrast to suffering, the city and its garden in contrast to the surrounding plane, the new heaven in contrast to the lake of fire. Evil is not annihilated but contained, and those in its thrall will suffer forever.56
Fudge never discusses this text, and seems to have overlooked it when arguing that the statement "the sea was no more" in Rev. 21:1 indicates "the end of all that stands opposed to life" (p. 366). Revelation envisions the wicked as excluded from the eschatological city and rendered impotent, but not annihilated.

I find myself largely in agreement with Fudge's exegesis of the Pauline and Johannine portions of the New Testament (not counting Revelation as Johannine), and would concur with Bernstein in seeing in these books a "positive tradition" that expresses the fate of the ungodly primarily as a loss of eternal life rather than a specific alternative eternal destiny. However, I find myself in sharp disagreement with Fudge's exegesis of the Synoptic Gospels and Revelation, as well as 2 Peter and Jude. Although some of my differences with Fudge may be down to our respective theological biases, Bernstein's historically oriented study (without an obvious theological axe to grind) has recognised the existence of a "symmetrical tradition" within the New Testament that regards the destiny of the ungodly as equal in duration and intensity but opposite in quality to the destiny of the godly. A theology of hell must incorporate and synthesise both traditions. This necessarily entails affirming the symmetrical tradition's more detailed and vivid pictures of eschatological punishment. On the other hand, since the gospel message is one of love and grace and not of fear and threats, the Church has often found it prudent to emulate the sensitivity of the positive tradition by downplaying the doctrine of hell. For example, the classical Christian creeds that are used liturgically in the Catholic Church and many other Christian communities—the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed and the Apostles' Creed—belong to the positive tradition. When the faithful recite them, they express their belief in the resurrection of the dead and in eternal life, but make no explicit reference to the fate of the lost, stating only that Jesus will "judge the living and the dead."

In the third and final part of this review, I will look at Fudge's treatment of early Christian literature outside the New Testament, and offer some theological reflections.


  • 1 Alan E. Bernstein, The Formation of Hell: Death and Retribution in the Ancient and Early Christian Worlds (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993).
  • 2 Bernstein, The Formation of Hell, 227.
  • 3 Bernstein, The Formation of Hell, 262. Bernstein explicitly affirms that Paul and John believed in the annihilation of the wicked (The Formation of Hell, 208, 247).
  • 4 Bernstein, The Formation of Hell, 262.
  • 5 Bernstein, The Formation of Hell, 227.
  • 6 Marius Reiser writes that there emerges from the authentic sayings of the historical Jesus "an astonishingly clear and consistent picture of Jesus’ preaching of judgment" using "a variety of images and designations" (Jesus and Judgment: The Eschatological Proclamation in Its Jewish Context [Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997], 304-307).
  • 7 See above on the Fourth Gospel belonging to the positive tradition and the Synoptic Gospels to the symmetrical tradition. Furthermore, Chaim Milikowsky's influential study argues that Matthew envisions the punishment of Gehenna as being dispensed at the last judgment, whereas Luke envisions it as dispensed immediately after death ("Which Gehenna? Retribution and Eschatology in the Synoptic Gospels and in Early Jewish Texts," New Testament Studies 34 [1988]: 238-49).
  • 8 See Lloyd R. Bailey, "Gehenna: The Topography of Hell," Biblical Archaeologist (September 1986): 188. Conditionalist scholar Kim G. Papaioannou is also dismissive of this legend concerning the Valley of Hinnom ("The Development of Gehenna between the Old and New Testaments," in Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism [ed. Christopher M. Date, Gregory G. Stump, and Joshua W. Anderson; Cambridge: Lutterworth, 2014], 254). Fudge makes the odd statement, "Even if it should someday be shown that the Valley of Hinnom was not used as a garbage dump in the first century..." (p. 188). This reverses the burden of proof; the problem is that no one has ever produced evidence that the Valley of Hinnom was used as a garbage dump in the first century.
  • 9 These Enochic texts were discussed in Part 1 of this review. Papaioannou is skeptical of whether the valleys of 1 Enoch 27.2 or 1 Enoch 90.25-27 are the Valley of Hinnom ("The Development of Gehenna," 252-53), but the scholarly consensus seems to be that they are.
  • 10 For example, "The fire of Gehenna was created on the second day and will never be extinguished, as it says, [quotes Isa. 66:24]" (t. Ber. 6.7, trans. Tzvee Zahavy, "Mishnah-Tosefta Berakhot," in The Law of Agriculture in the Mishnah and the Tosefta: Translation, Commentary, Theology [3 vols.; ed. Jacob Neusner; Leiden: Brill, 2005], 1:541). Seder Olam Rabbah 3 states that most sinners are annihilated after spending twelve months in Gehenna, but that for certain heretics, "Gehinnom is locked before them and they are judged there forever...Not only this, but the netherworld will cease to be but they will not cease to be...From His dwelling place He will wear out their form, and their form will wear out the netherworld" (trans. Rabbi Mike Feuer). A similar view is found in the Babylonian Talmud (b. Rosh Hashanah 17a); both of these texts cite Isa. 66:24 in support. The Targum to Isa. 66:24 states, "and the wicked will be judged in Gehinnam until the righteous say of them, we have seen enough" (trans. Bruce D. Chilton, The Glory of Israel: The Theology and Provenience of the Isaiah Targum [Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1982], 83).
  • 11 See Matt. 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15; 23:33.
  • 12 This is also suggested by the parallelism between "eternal life" and "eternal punishment" in Matt. 25:46. Notice that in 4 Maccabees (a Jewish text probably from the first century C.E. that Fudge agrees presupposes unending torment), the word kolasis ("punishment") entails basanos ("torture") (4 Macc. 8.9), and the term "eternal torment" (aionios basanos, 4 Macc. 9.9, 13.15) is synonymous with "endless torment" (akatalutos basanos, 4 Macc. 10.11) and "eternal fire," i.e. "tortures that for all ages will not release you" (4 Macc. 12.12).
  • 13 Nickelsburg notes that a Noachic interpolation in 1 Enoch 67.4-13 identifies this same valley "as the place of punishment for both the rebellious angels and the kings in the mighty" (1 Enoch 2, 51). See also 1 Enoch 10.13-14; 108.3-6.
  • 14 See, e.g., BDAG 115-116; TDNT 1:394-97. Fudge argues that the use of apollumi for "losing" one's life or reward in close proximity to Matt. 10:28 (10:39-42) shows that it entails annihilation in 10:28. However, standard lexical authorities like those just mentioned recognise "lose" as a distinct, literal meaning of apollumi, and this meaning obviously does not apply in Matt. 10:28.
  • 15 See note 40 of Part 1 of this review.
  • 16 As Fudge states later concerning "destruction" (apoleia) in Matt. 7:13, "The traditionalist must explain why 'destruction' should not mean what the word most naturally brings to mind" (p. 246). The question is, of course, brings to whose mind? And, of course, exegesis does not proceed from English words but from the original Greek.
  • 17 Fudge makes much of the meaning of this phrase, which he argues refers to emotional pain rather than physical pain. For purposes of the traditionalist/annihilationist debate, it really does not matter; the important point is that in order to weep and grind one's teeth, one must conciously exist.
  • 18 "Verse 11 makes both a local and a temporal distinction. ‘Here’ (ὧδε) one experiences ‘this great torment’ (τὴν μεγάλην βάσανον ταύτην), which will last until the great day of judgment. ‘There’ (ἐκεῖ), after the judgment, in the place where they will be bound, those who are cursed forever will have ‘scourges’ and ‘torments’ (μάστιγεσ, βάσανοι) inflicted on them. The identity of the place of this eternal punishment, designated as ‘there,’ is less than certain" (Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 308).
  • 19 Fudge writes, "Weeping indicates sorrow, as the doomed begin to realize that God has thrown them out as worthless and as they begin to recognize the immanence [sic] of their own upcoming permanent demise...Those who are banished into this darkness do weep and gnash their teeth, just as Jesus says, but concerning the duration of that activity, our Lord reveals not even a clue." (p. 241, emphasis added).
  • 20 Note that 4 Ezra 7.36, a Jewish apocalypse roughly contemporaneous with Matthew, uses the term, "the furnace of Gehenna." In Apocalypse of Abraham 15.1-7, Gehenna is shown to Abraham as a furnace in language that draws on both Gen. 15:17 and Gen. 19:28.
  • 21 The order of events (if they are separate events) in Matt. 24:51 (quoted above) is the opposite of what Fudge's reading requires: the evildoer is dismembered (killed) and then put in the place of weeping and grinding of teeth.
  • 22 The imagery of fire and darkness appear together repeatedly in descriptions of the place of punishment in 1 Enoch (e.g., 62.10-11; 103.7-8; 108.3-15; cf. 4 Ezra 7.36, 7.125.
  • 23 These include burning  of unfruitful tree, chaff, or weeds, discarding of worthless salt or bad fish, ruin of house, disowning, loss of life or reward, no forgiveness, condemnation, humiliation, confiscation of goods, cutting down of tree or uprooting of plant, exclusion from the kingdom of God, and locking out/banishment.
  • 24 See Reiser, Jesus and Judgment, 307-308.
  • 25 Reiser remarks, "To the ears of Jesus' hearers, that sum had to sound like something out of a fairy tale; it would immediately carry them into the atmosphere of the level of society in which people played with such fantastic sums. Haman promised to contribute ten thousand talents to the royal treasury following the destruction of all the Jews in the Persian empire and the seizure of their property (Esth. 3:9). Darius tried to purchase peace from Alexander for ten thousand talents. Alexander set aside ten thousand talents for the mausoleum of his beloved Hephaestion. Obviously, the servant can never produce such a sum" (Jesus and Judgment, 273-73).
  • 26 Reiser, Jesus and Judgment, 279. The examples he gives are 1 Enoch 10.13; 22.11; 25.6; Wis. 3:1; 2 Macc. 7:17; 4 Macc. 9.9; 12.12; 13.15; 4 Ezra 7.36; 7.67; 9.12-13.
  • 27 "it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea" (Matt. 18:6||Mark 9:42||Luke 17:2).
  • 28 1 Enoch 38.1-6 reads, "1 When the congregation of the righteous appears, the sinners will be judged for their sins, and from the face of the earth they will be driven; 2 And when the Righteous One appears in the presence of the righteous, whose chosen works depend on the Lord of Spirits, and light appears to the righteous and chosen who dwell on the earth; Where (will be) the resting place of those who have denied the Lord of Spirits? It would have been better for them, if they had not been born. 3 When his hidden things are revealed to the righteous, the sinners will be judged, and the wicked will be driven from the presence of the righteous and chosen. 4 And thereafter, it will not be the mighty and exalted who possess the land, and they will not be able to look at the face of the holy, for the light of the Lord of Spirits will have appeared on the face of the holy, righteous, and chosen. 5 And then the kings and the mighty will perish, and they will be given into the hand of the righteous and holy, 6 and from then on, no one will seek mercy for them from the Lord of Spirits, for their life will be at an end." (trans. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 2, 95). Although this section of the Book of Parables provides little detail about the punishment of "the sinners" and "the kings and the mighty," the statements that the condemned will be driven away and "will not be able to look at the face of the holy" implies that they still exist. Similarly, the statement that, after the kings and the mighty "perish," "no one will seek mercy for them," implies that they still exist. In chapter 63, the kings and the mighty explicitly seek mercy for themselves from the place of torment and are denied.
  • 29 E.g., 4 Ezra 7.65-69: "65 Let the human race lament, but let the beasts of the field be glad; let all who have been born lament, but let the four-footed beasts and the flocks rejoice! 66 For it is much better with them than with us; for they do not look for a judgment, nor do they know of any torment or life promised to them after death. 67 For what does it profit us that we shall be preserved alive but cruelly tormented? 68 For all who have been born are involved in iniquities, and are full of sins and burdened with transgressions. 69 And if we were not to come into judgment after death, perhaps it would have been better for us" (trans. Michael Edward Stone, A Commentary on the Book of Fourth Ezra [Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990], 225-26).
  • 30 See especially Kim G. Papaioannou, Places of Punishment in the Synoptic Gospels (Ph.D. dissertation, Durham University, 2004), 155. Fudge gives credence to this reading, stating, "no one can seriously claim that the details [of the parable] should be understood literally: a drop of water would provide no palliative benefit against hadean fire; the redeemed and unredeemed do not converse face to face across a literal chasm" (p. 232). However, that the rich man requests only a drop of water is likely intended to underscore the severity of punishment: even the smallest request for respite is refused. The redeemed and unredeemed are clearly depicted as at least within sight of each other in Luke 13:28. All of this is not to say that the parable provides a literal description of the details of the afterlife. Any description of transcendent realities is necessarily constrained by the limits of our immanence. The point, however, is that the story does reveal something about the afterlife, and we ought to reflect on what it reveals rather than seeking to explain it away.
  • 31 The Afterlife Imagery in Luke’s Story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 299.
  • 32 Lehtipuu, Afterlife Imagery, 6.
  • 33 Compare Acts 2:27, where the author (presumably Luke) has followed Psalm 15:10 LXX in translating Psalm 16:10 MT's Sheol with Hades.
  • 34 Particularly striking is the parallel between Luke 16:23-24 (the rich man in Hades complains, "I am suffering torment in these flames") and 1 Enoch 63.10 ("Now they will say to themselves, 'Our souls are full of ill-gotten wealth, but it does not prevent us from descending into the flame of the torment of Sheol"). Luke 16:19-31 and 1 Enoch 62-63 also have a shared motif of an unsuccessful request for respite on the part of the sufferer(s).
  • 35 Stone, 4 Ezra, 221. This is a place of "fire and torments." The eschatological punishment that awaits "the multitude of those who perish" in 4 Ezra 7.55-59 consists of "thirst and torment," another close parallel to the description of the rich man's fate in Luke 16:24.
  • 36 Fudge writes that even if the parable's language "teaches something of punishment after death, it occurs before the final judgment while others are still living on earth...There is no clear exegetical basis in Luke 16 for any conclusions concerning the final end of the wicked" (p. 231).
  • 37 So Milikowsky, "Which Gehenna?", 242-44.
  • 38 The demoniac begs, "Do not torment me!" and the demons, in what is evidently a synonymous request, beg Jesus "not to order them to depart to the abyss."
  • 39 On Luke 23:43 see Thomas Farrar, "Today in paradise?: Ambiguous Adverb Attachment and the Meaning of Luke 23:43," Neotestamentica 51 (2017): 185-207.
  • 40 Fudge claims, following Matt. 27:20 KJV, that Jesus "was destroyed," but this verse discusses what the chief priests and elders sought to do to Jesus, not what happened to him or what God did to him.
  • 41 In 1 Enoch 22.1-4, the place of punishment is described as "hollow places" within a "great mountain of hard rock" (1 Enoch 22.1-4). Elsewhere in 1 Enoch, places of punishment are similarly topographical, consisting of jagged stones (1 Enoch 10.4-6), a pit, valley, or abyss in the middle of the earth (1 Enoch 27; 90.25-27), etc. Since we know that Paul read Isa. 2:10-21 in terms of eschatological punishment, it is likely that, influenced by his Jewish background, he read the topographical language of the passage as referring to a place of punishment: the evildoers are removed from God's presence and consigned to the rocky, cavernous place of punishment.
  • 42 BDAG 702.
  • 43 Bernstein writes that "Paul had no desire to describe the condition of those not rewarded with the kingdom." He names 2 Thess. 1:9 and Eph. 2:2-3 as two "marginal texts, where it is only just conceivable that he envisaged something other than annihilation"; he considers 2 Thess. 1:9 "especially anomalous" and "apparently so foreign to his thinking on the matter," but he doubts whether these two letters are attributable to Paul (The Formation of Hell, 224, 261).
  • 44 This passage was quoted in note 39 of the first part of this review.
  • 45 "when combined with the implied curses from Psalms and the reason for his replacement, Judas' 'place' (topos) more likely refers to a transcendent region related to one's final destiny, a sense topos connotes on a number of occasions (e.g., BDAG, 1011). In this case the term most likely refers to a place of punishment after death (cf. Luke 16:28; T. Ab. A13; B10; Tg. [Eccl.] 6.6; Hermas Sim. 9.4.7; Ign. Magn. 5.1). The Lukan audience would probably conclude that Judas died an apostate, and apostates will not be with Christ. Their place is with the wicked" (B. J. Oropeza, "Judas' Death and Final Destiny in the Gospels and Earliest Christian Writings," Neotestamentica 44 [2010]: 352-53). See, similarly, Arie W. Zwiep, Judas and the Choice of Matthias: A Study on Context and Concern of Acts 1:15-26 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2004), 166-68.
  • 46 William J. Dalton, "The Interpretation of 1 Peter 3,19 and 4,6: Light from 2 Peter," Biblica 60 (1979): 547-555; similarly, D. Edmond Hiebert, "The Suffering and Triumphant Christ: An Exposition of 1 Peter 3:18-22," Bibliotheca Sacra 139 (1982): 146-58.
  • 47 The Greek verb tereo can mean "keep" in a general sense but also has the technical meaning "to retain in custody, keep watch over, guard" (BDAG 1002; cf. Matt. 27:36, 54; Acts 16:23; etc.), which seems appropriate in this context. The expression kolazomenous terein thus means something like "keep in custody being punished," and implies imprisonment.
  • 48 2 Pet. 2:6 states that Sodom and Gomorrah are "an example of what is coming" (hupodeigma mellonton), so the word "example" is modified by a genitive construction. This suggests that the author of 2 Peter saw the word "example" in Jude 7 as also modified by a genitive construction (puros aioniou).
  • 49 2 Peter 2:9, as we have seen, assumes that the unrighteous of the past are currently being held under punishment for the day of judgment, while some sayings of Jesus in Matthew and Luke assume that Sodom will be present on the day of judgment (Matt. 10:15; 11:24; Luke 10:12).
  • 50 The Formation of Hell, 260.
  • 51 "9 Edom’s streams shall be changed into pitch, its soil into sulfur, and its land shall become burning pitch; 10 Night and day it shall not be quenched, its smoke shall rise forever." (NABRE)
  • 52 Equally implausible is Fudge's sharp separation of the "burning pitch/sulfur" from the "smoke" in Isa. 34:9-10: he claims that the fire "burned in the daytime and in the nighttime" but eventually "went out; and then its smoke ascended as a memorial to God's thorough destruction" (p. 358). Smoke, of course, does not only begin to ascend after a fire goes out; it serves as evidence of a fire. The text gives no indication that Edom's fire goes out but explicitly calls it "unquenched" day and night. The two clauses in Isa. 34:10 are a synonymous parallelism, not two contrasting statements.
  • 53 Note similarly the two senses of the word "death" in 4 Ezra, as discussed by Stone (see quotation in note 40 of the first part of this review).
  • 54 Fudge criticises the patristic idea that the second death is like a "deathless death," a concept he says "is nowhere found in Scripture." Yet Rev. 9:1-6 speaks of smoke that comes out of "the passage to the abyss...like smoke from a huge furnace," resulting in locusts that torment the ungodly. Verse 6 states the consequence: "During that time these people will seek death but will not find it, and they will long to die but death will escape them." Bernstein regards this passage—which Fudge does not discuss—as a description of the second death."Here then is a new description of death, a death so miserable that those not resurrected from it long to die. Yet this is the second death; so it is not in Sheol. It is the fate of those who suffer the second death" (The Formation of Hell, 255).
  • 55 "Blessed are they who wash their robes so as to have the right to the tree of life and enter the city through its gates. Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the unchaste, the murderers, the idol-worshipers, and all who love and practice deceit" (NABRE).
  • 56 The Formation of Hell, 260.