The Passive Qal and Other Issues

The Passive Qal and Other Issues

A few days ago Chris Date asked me to read and evaluate an article written by Dr. Glenn Peoples. I read the article and concluded that his argument was valid. I stand by my evaluation of Glenn’s article.

His article drew a stern response from Adam Blauser, a blogger at Old Testament Studies Blog. The issues involved in this exchange between Glenn and Adam deal with the proper interpretation of Isaiah 66:24 and whether the Hebrew word כָּבַה carries a passive meaning.

In this post I will not deal with the interpretation of Isaiah 66:24. That would require another post and a different approach from the one I plan to take in this post. Rather, my purpose today is to address the issue of the passive Qal and comment on other issues raised by Adam as he responded to Glenn’s article. Read more about The Passive Qal and Other Issues

No Need to Waver in View of Evidence

No Need to Waver in View of Evidence

I recently received an email in which the writer said his reading had led him to believe that “the clear preponderance of scriptural evidence is easier read as annihilationist,” such that in his thinking “the annihilationist case is the stronger in all of scripture, but fails in the Apocalypse,” particularly Revelation 20:10. This is “the only real weakness” he can see in the case for annihilationism, but he considers it fatal to that view nevertheless. “Where am I going wrong?” he asks.

I suggest that the answer is clear and simple, and it is as follows. One should not base a doctrine on the book of Revelation, much less on two or three passages in it, when the preponderance of scriptural evidence throughout the rest of the Bible supports a different point of view. Indeed, I know of no doctrine beside this one about which any responsible scholar does such a thing. Read more about No Need to Waver in View of Evidence

Episode 29: Conditionalism and Reformed Theology, with Stan and Adam Murrell (Part 2)

Episode 29: Conditionalism and Reformed Theology, with Stan and Adam Murrell (Part 2)

Dr. Stanford E. Murrell and his son Adam Murrell, Reformed theologians and authors from Redeeming Grace Ministries, join Rethinking Hell contributor Chris Date to discuss conditionalism and its compatibility with Reformed theology. This episode contains the second half of the discussion; listen to the previous episode of the Rethinking Hell podcast for part one. Read more about Episode 29: Conditionalism and Reformed Theology, with Stan and Adam Murrell (Part 2)

Episode 28: Conditionalism and Reformed Theology, with Stan and Adam Murrell

Episode 28: Conditionalism and Reformed Theology, with Stan and Adam Murrell

Dr. Stanford E. Murrell and his son Adam Murrell, Reformed theologians and authors from Redeeming Grace Ministries, join Rethinking Hell contributor Chris Date to discuss conditionalism and its compatibility with Reformed theology. This episode contains the first half of the discussion; stay tuned for the next episode of the Rethinking Hell podcast, which will contain the second half. Read more about Episode 28: Conditionalism and Reformed Theology, with Stan and Adam Murrell

What the Qal? Revisiting the Unquenched Fire

What the Qal? Revisiting the Unquenched Fire

Does “their fire shall not be quenched” in Isaiah 66:24 really allow for a fire that consumes and then goes out? Or is there a serious challenge to this claim that we have not seen before?

Adam Blauser, a blogger over at Old Testament Studies Blog has been giving us some free rent in his mind of late and has invested a bit of time responding to blog entries here at Rethinking Hell. In his first response Blauser takes issue with my article about the meaning of apollumi in the synoptic gospels. He grants the fact that the term means literally kill and destroy in the examples I discuss but insists that this does not literally inform the word’s meaning when it is used to describe final punishment, for it is wrong to assume that the word there carries the meaning that it universally carries in grammatically similar instances. This is because hell is an eternal matter and we can’t assume that words carry their normal meaning, the meaning they have in normal speech discussing natural matters, when we are speaking about the affairs of the age to come. I responded in the comments section over there and while the argument isn’t substantial enough to warrant lengthy comment here I shall describe it very briefly: Scripture speaks literally about eternal matters with the same language that we use in normal speech about natural affairs all the time. When it comes to apollumi—which, as I showed, in grammatically similar contexts always carries the strong meaning of literally kill or destroy—and the subject is final punishment, the only reason we would have for resisting a natural meaning for that word is if we began by assuming that there is something about final punishment that is not compatible with literal destruction. But how else are we to know what scripture teaches about final punishment if not by learning from the terms that it uses to do so?

However, in a second article on annihilationism, Blauser maintains that he has discovered and provided solid linguistic proof that we have made a mistake when interpreting Isaiah 66. As this is a more falsifiable claim, I was curious to have a look at the evidence. In short, although Blauser invests some time and space reproducing what he takes to be good evidence in fairly technical detail, his claim turns out to crucially depend on assumptions about Hebrew verbs that are simply incorrect, namely, that the form of the verb used in Isaiah 66:24 cannot have a passive meaning due to its stem. In fact, once we review the evidence we find that it only offers further support for our conclusion.

Read more about What the Qal? Revisiting the Unquenched Fire

No Retreat on Nouns of Action: TurretinFan’s Premature Celebration

No Retreat on Nouns of Action: TurretinFan’s Premature Celebration

Shortly after participating in my second formal debate on final punishment, ((“Episode 88: Death Eternal,” Theopologetics [podcast], hosted by Chris Date, June 16, 2012, http://www.theopologetics.com/2012/06/16/episode-88-death-eternal/ (accessed May 27, 2013). This episode contains part one of the debate, including my opening presentation. Parts two and three are available here and here, respectively.)) I wrote an article correcting pseudonymous blogger TurretinFan’s misunderstanding of what I had said in my opening presentation concerning the nature of the word punishment. ((Chris Date, “‘Punishment’ and the Polysemy of Deverbal Nouns,” Rethinking Hell [blog] (posted June 19, 2012), http://rethinkinghell.com/2012/06/eternal-punishment-and-the-polysemy-of-deverbal-nouns/ (accessed May 27, 2013).)) Nearly a year later TurretinFan responded, contending that my article exhibited a retreat from what I had argued in my debate. “Over at ‘Rethinking Hell,'” he writes, “Mr. Chris Date has retreated a few steps in his discussion of the meaning of the term ‘punishment.’ Recall that the argument that ‘punishment’ in this case was a ‘result’ noun was one of Mr. Date’s first supposedly ‘positive’ arguments for his position. Now, Mr. Date tries to argue for ambiguity.” ((TurretinFan, “Pressing Chris Date’s Retreat,” Thoughts of Francis Turretin [blog] (posted April 9, 2013), http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2013/04/pressing-chris-dates-retreat.html (accessed May 27, 2013).))

In fact, I had argued for ambiguity in my opening statement. It is true that I said, “My position, therefore, is that ‘punishment’ in this text is likewise a deverbal result noun referring to the effect or outcome of the transitive verb ‘punish.'” ((Date, 00:16:54.)) But I was not, as TurretinFan suggests, arguing positively for my position. Rather, I was merely stating my position, and in order to underscore the ambiguity of the phrase “eternal punishment” I had asked the questions, “What is the nature of eternal punishment? Is it everlasting conscious suffering in a body and soul which never die? Or is it the permanent end to the conscious existence of the entire person?” ((Date, 00:17:55.)) In order to argue positively for the position I had just stated, I did not allege that “punishment” always, or even normally, carries a result reading. Rather, I argued from context, saying, “And the answer is clear from Jesus’ reference to the ‘eternal fire,’ a phrase found in two other places in the New Testament,” ((Date, 00:18:05.)) at which point I went on to argue for my understanding from the other uses of that phrase.

Putting aside TurretinFan’s mistaken assessment of my article as a retreat, he does try taking me to task on both my treatment of the word punishment as a polysemous deverbal noun as well as my argument in favor thereof from the phrase “eternal fire.” Let us see if his attempt was successful. Read more about No Retreat on Nouns of Action: TurretinFan’s Premature Celebration