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Friday, February 19, 2010

Why is the word "Hell" an unsatisfactory translation of the original Hebrew and Greek Bible words "She´ohl" and "Hai´des"?

Concerning the use of “hell” to translate the original words (Hebrew she´ohl´ and the Greek hai´des) from the Hebrew and Greek, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (1981, Vol. 2, p. 187) says:

“HADES . . . It corresponds to ‘Sheol’ in the O.T. [Old Testament]. In the A.V. of the O.T. [Old Testament] and N.T. [New Testament], it has been UNHAPPILY RENDERED ‘Hell.’”

Collier’s Encyclopedia (1986, Vol. 12, p. 28) says concerning “Hell”:

“First it stands for the Hebrew Sheol of the Old Testament and the Greek Hades of the Septuagint and New Testament. Since Sheol in Old Testament times referred SIMPLY TO THE ABODE OF THE DEAD and suggested no moral distinctions, the word ‘hell,’ as understood today, IS NOT A HAPPY TRANSLATION.”

Why it is an unsatisfactory translation of these original Bible words is because of the way that the word “hell” is understood today. It is not a fiery place of torment. Rather, as Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, unabridged, under “Hell” says:

“fr[om] . . . helan to conceal.”

The word “hell” originally conveyed no thought of heat or torment but simply of a ‘covered over or concealed place.’ In the old English dialect the expression “helling potatoes” meant, not to roast them, but simply to place the potatoes in the ground or in a cellar.

A good scriptural example is found at Acts 2:27 in the KJV where it mentions Jesus as having been in "hell":

"Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption."

Clearly, Jesus was not in a fiery place of torment. Rather, this word means, as the KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon describes, "the realm of the dead; later use of this word: the grave, death."

For more, see:
What is Hell as mentioned in the Bible?

What is the definition of Hell?

Why is there confusion as to what the Bible says about hell?

Do wicked and upright people go to hell?

Would a loving God really punish humans with a fiery Hell?

Does anyone ever get out of the Bible hell?

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