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Old 16th September 2009, 12:49 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 12,607
Default Hell in the Bible

this article
makes a good point about modern Bible translations. They have
removed the word Hell from the Bible. This occurs because most
modern translations do not translate the OT in the light of the NT,
nor do they translate both Testaments in the light of Catholic teaching.

Even the RSV CE2 has this problem, translating Hell as Hades (a Greek god in charge of the abode of the dead; later the place itself) in Acts 2:27. Now the Greek text does say 'hades' but in Greek the word is derived from a word meaning 'unseen' (i.e. an unseen place). And the context is Peter the first Pope giving a sermon in the New Testament. So the use of Greek mythology is neither required by the context, nor by Catholic doctrine, nor by the literal reading of the word.

Another example: Proverbs 1:12
The Challoner version has hell; the Hebrew is sheol (which can refer to hell or to death). The NAB has the nether world (nether means lower or under). The word sheol means unseen, or the unseen place. The RSVCE2 has Sheol.

Modern Bible translators translate the OT as a Jew in ancient times would understand it, not in the light of the NT, nor in the light of Catholic teaching.

Now there is a certain hypocrisy when translators use a very literal rendering, such as hades or sheol, in one place, and then in another place they use a very loose rendering, based on their interpretation of the word. So some translations will use 'brothers and sisters' to translate a single word meaning 'brothers' on the basis of a broad interpretation of the word. But when there is a choice between translating in the light of Catholic teaching, or using a much narrower term, they use the latter. They avoid translating in the light of Catholic teaching, perhaps because this is not considered 'scholarly.'

A literal rendering (overly literal) of sheol or hades would be something like: the unseen place. But instead the choice is one that minimizes the doctrine of Hell, and undermines that doctrines foundation in Scripture, even preferring a term from pagan mythology over the word Hell.
Ron Conte
Roman Catholic theologian
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Old 15th May 2012, 09:54 AM
myLivingBread myLivingBread is offline
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 382


I read a translation like this:

Darby Bible Translation
Psalms 6:5
For in death there is no remembrance of You; In Sheol who can give thanks to You?

Douay-Rheims Bible
For there is no one in death, that is mindful of thee: and who shall confess to thee in hell?

What does this verse means is sheol sometimes refer as hell?

and this Jacob - Joseph Gen 37:35

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
Then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, "Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son." So his father wept for him.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And alibis children being gathered together to comfort their father in his sorrow, he would not receive comfort, but said: I will go down to my son into hell, mourning. And whilst he continued weeping.

{37:35} Then, when all of his sons gathered together to ease their father’s sorrow, he was not willing to accept consolation, but he said: “I will descend in mourning to my son in the underworld.” And while he persevered in weeping.
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Old 15th May 2012, 11:42 AM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 12,607

Sheol in Hebrew is a more general word than Hell is in English. Sheol can mean Hell, or the afterlife in general (the underworld, so called because the body is in the grave), or death (particularly used if someone dies in unhappy circumstances).

In the Psalm: And who will confess to you in Hell? The word Sheol does not mean the afterlife in general, since those in Heaven will confess to the Lord. And the ancient Jews did not have a clear understanding of Purgatory, so it must mean Hell.

On the other hand, the verse from Genesis means the afterlife or death more generally, since the Patriarch Israel is not going to Hell.
Ron Conte
Roman Catholic theologian
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