EDWARD T. BABINSKI: I agree "under the earth" trades on burial imagery; but such usage does not preclude additional understandings. It's not a matter of being forced to choose between totally metaphorical usage versus all other understandings. The point is that there were other understandings in Paul's day, and Paul's Hellenistic and Jewish readers were familiar with underworlds in which beings lived, i.e., the Greek Hades, the Roman Tartarus (both terms appearing in the Gospels themselves) and the shadowy Sheol of the Hebrew Bible.
That simply pushes the same question back a step. You’re assuming that Hellenistic descriptions of the Netherworld were meant to be taken at face value. Where’s the argument?
i) For instance, the Aeneid has a scene of the Netherworld, but that’s not there because Virgil believed in the Netherworld. (Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t.) Rather, that’s there because the Odyssey has a scene of the Netherworld, and Virgil is writing in self-conscious emulation of the Homeric tradition.
ii) The fact that the NT uses conventional Greek terms for the Netherworld is hardly significant. After all, the NT was written in Greek, to a Greek-speaking audience.
In our own culture, writers frequently use conventional terms for heaven and hell, whether or not they believe in heaven or hell.
iii) ”Tartarus” doesn’t occur in the Gospels. It only occurs in 2 Pet 2:4.
iv) NT writers aren’t borrowing the concept of Hades from Greek mythology. Rather, that’s a Septuagintal loanword for Sheol.
"The departed spirits tremble under the waters and their inhabitants. Naked is Sheol before Him [Yahweh]." Job 26:5-6
Job is chock-full of poetic imagery.
A witch in Endor calls up Samuel from Sheol. (She is not calling him up from his personal burial site because he was not buried in Endor.) 1 Sam. 28:3,12ff
“Where” he was buried is irrelevant. The point is the use of conventional imagery.
The dead are not simply lying dead in the earth but "under the earth" and remaining active in some sense, if only in a shadowy sense in the case of early Greek and Hebrew views of Hades and Sheol. Below are verses from Paul and Revelation that mention beings living under the earth. Consider them from the viewpoint of a first century Hellenistic convert.
Not surprisingly, you've muddled different issues:
i) The afterlife is not the question at issue. The question at issue is biblical cosmography. Try not to get your wires crossed.
ii) I don’t think there’s anything “shadowy” in the OT view of the afterlife. But in any case, that’s a side issue for now.
iii) Quoting Biblical imagery about the Netherworld proves nothing, for the question at issue is not whether Bible writers use certain types of imagery, but what that imagery signifies. You just don’t get it, Ed. You’re begging the question. Quoting Paul or Revelation does nothing to advance your argument, for the question at issue is what they meant by that imagery. Try to clear the cobwebs from your brain long enough to at least understand the question at issue.
You might as well cite Neverwhere’s “London Above” and “London Below” to prove that Neil Gaiman believes in a two-tier cosmography. But the fact that Neverwhere has a two-tier cosmography doesn’t mean that Gaiman believes a two-tier cosmography. That’s a fictitious depiction.
Also consider how a Hellenistic convert might read these verses, starting with talk of a "prince of the power of the air," and also about "descending into the lower parts of the earth"
While you’re at it, you might also consider if Hellenistic converts took that picturesque imagery at face value. I already did a post on Augustine and Basil the Great in which pagan critics lampoon details of a triple-decker cosmography as quite infeasible.
People back then could and did ask common sense questions about the logistics of this or that cosmographical model.
Sheol is typically depicted as a place to which one "goes down" (urd; see Num 16:30;Job 7:9; Isa 57:9; cf. Isa 29:4; Ps 88:3-4).
Which, once again, completely begs the question of how the authors understood that imagery. You’re not making any progress, Ed. Your wheels are stuck in the mud. Kicking up lots of mud is not an argument, Ed.
As already stated, it is not a matter of being forced to choose between totally metaphorical usage versus all other usages or understandings. In early usage Sheol is like a metaphor for the Uber-grave, but even metaphors do not preclude other meanings, depictions, definitions rather than purely "burial imagery." In fact, recognition of ideas shared by biblical and ANE sources makes the likelihood of belief in a three-tier cosmos more likely, not less so. Same goes for NT conceptions, see below.
No it doesn’t. It only pushes the same question back a step. As I already demonstrated in my review of your klutzy chapter (from TCD), ancient people were already in a position to know that a flat-earth/triple-decker cosmography is infeasible. It doesn’t take modern science to figure that out. Try to keep up with the state of the argument, Ed.
Tartarus is described as a prison with gates and sometimes personified (as was Hades, and also Sheol in the OT). The author of 2 Peter 2:4 mentions rebel angels being cast into Tartarus…
Of course, angels are discarnate spirits, so a physical “gates” and “chains” can’t really restrain them, any more than you could keep a ghost behind bars. That’s picture-language, Ed. But thanks for constantly reminding us that there's no correlation between infidelity and high IQ.
See also this new book on the afterlife, L’homme face à la mort au royaume de Juda: Rites, pratiques et représentations by Hélene Nutkowicz. Cook comments: "Nutkowicz suggests that the Hebrew people believed in amortality.
How do you know what she suggests? Have you read the book? Do you read academic French literature?