procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Isaiah and annihilationism

well, i was surprised to find Isaiah's view of the afterlife is that Sheol, the place of the dead, will be annihilated.

Isaiah 25:7-9
7 And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the LORD has spoken.
9 It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the LORD; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

my thesis was essentially that Sheol is the place of both the just and the unjust, but the righteous are not 'natural' residents - as death is a curse, and to be dead, to be in the place of the dead, in the company of the wicked (who are rightly there) is not something that will be eternally countenanced there.

as we meet the rightful inhabitants of the underworld in Isaiah 26:12-19 (esp. 14,19), the OT version of ghosts or ghouls, the Rephaim, we see that they, and their dwelling place, the land of the Rephaim will both be destroyed, and the righteous will be freed.

this understanding came as i worked on my structure a little more, coming up with:
12 Yhwh’s great deeds
13     Others try to destroy us – we will remember you
14           The dead will not rise*
      Others will be destroyed by you – they won't be remembered
15 Yhwh's great deeds

16 Yhwh brings man down
17     Pregnant writhing
              That was us
18     Pregnant writhing
 Man is brought down

19 Your dead will rise
        They'll rejoice
        They'll be sustained
  But their dead won’t rise*

*14 this includes the dead and the rephaim
*19 lit, 'you will cause the land of the rephaim to fall'

so the hope is a positive one for Israel. the rescue and restoration of the righteous, but and end to the wicked dead, the underworld and all that is associated with it. i'm not sure to what extent this rules out a new testament understanding of the underworld, but until i get my essay back i'll stick with this reading of Isaiah!

enjoy the pic if you're into hebrew at all:

(i think you're supposed to click to enlarge)

Labels: , ,


Blogger The Ton said...

So is it like this: We all die and go to Sheol. When Jesus returns we'll all be raised out of Sheol to either eternal life or eternal punishment and Sheol will be destroyed?

8:01 am  
Blogger psychodougie said...

perhaps. i'm not sure it talks at all about eternal punishment beyond destruction (v14: pqd/shmd/'vd). it only talks (as far as my reading understands) about the extrication of the faithful, those who aren't rightfully in Sheol. but this is where a NT understanding may broaden the scope. whaddya reckon?

11:06 am  
Blogger Andrew Barry said...

How does Isaiah 66:24 fit in with this reading and the way that Jesus (the best OT scholar ever) takes it? (Mark 9:47-48)

12:48 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

welcome andrew brother of mark

i read i book called 'the fire that consumes' (i think i've posted on it before), by E.W. Fudge
he makes the good point that the metaphor of worms and fire is that there will be nothing left. the worm will not be full, the fire will not give up, but both will complete their task to the nth degree, till there is nothing left of those who have rebelled against God. (the language of Malachi 4 would support this reading)

i think you can see this in Mark 9 also.

i'm not denying that the idea of eternal conscious torment is in the NT, but i don't think Isaiah has this on view.
(this was an OT essay btw.)

do please come back at me tho.

1:06 pm  
Blogger Andrew Barry said...

Thanks for the welcome.

This is not a go at you at all - more a go at OT essays. It really bothers me that we can quote all the finest OT scholars - but the very best one (Jesus) can't come to bear on our understanding of the text. A bit strange don't you think?

1:38 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

hi andrew

yes and no. in the same way as you're forced to leave stuff out of a sermon (there's a blog title along those lines i think!), delimiting an essay to looking only at the OT is a necessary evil. we probably need the next essay to be 'what does the NT make of the OT understanding of the afterlife in light of Isa26:12-19?'

i do think it's a useful skill, especially when you can't find a sermon on the OT that takes Yhwh seriously, constantly saying 'now this sounds harsh, but...' - completely mollifying the seriousness of sin (for example). it's definitely not wrong to go to Jesus, it's very right to go to Jesus, but not at the expense of hearing the whole host of scriptures that God gives us to instruct rebuke etc. and this is the danger of going too soon (read inappropriately soon) to Jesus.

9:48 am  
Blogger Andrew Barry said...

I agree with you about thinking through the OT first - but I think that should be the first half of an OT essay. The 2nd half should be working out how this works out with Christ(if it does). The proposal of the follow-up essay is one that never happens.

I've got radical thoughts about this. I think there should be no OT and NT departments - just a department of Bible. It is one book. Perhaps this department could be broken into Hebrew and Greek subgroups instead.

I was a disappointed in the the Biblical theology taught at Moore College. We got 1/2 a year on it and not much more. If we truly believed in Biblical theology then we would let it shape even our academic methodology. Hence one department. Here endeth the rant. AB

12:11 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

you sound like you've been reading Ursinus' 'A Hortatory Oration to the Study of Divinity' (as Webster talks thru in his 'Holy Scripture')

Whereas we have a four-fold structure (Biblical, Historical, Systematic, Pastoral theologies) (p120), Ursinus sees three: ‘Catecheticall [sic] institution’, ‘an handling of Common places’ (=rhetoric?), ‘reading and diligent meditation of the Scripture, or Holy writ.’ (p121)

a more integrated structure is definitely the aim, the question is does starting with individual units (OT, NT, Pastoral, History, Doctrine) and gradually integrating them make more sense than having an amalgous course, with no clear differentiation? or do we need to segmentalise things that we may better order things in our hears?

i feel like it's about putting the first things first, but moving on to integration. if we never integrate that is obviously not right, but is there a human necessity for such taxonomy in learning? or can integration be done early without being plagued by isogesis (obviously a massive issue in many places)?

cheers for the rant!

1:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you'd read your NT you would have seen that John has the same view as Isaiah - Rev 20:14 - where Hades (ie Greek of Sheol) is thrown into the lake of fire.
If you want to go down an further punishment/hell line (which I think we are compelled to because of what Jesus teaches) - then John calls that "the second death".

5:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ups sorry delete plz [url=].[/url]

11:32 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home