Quick-Post #3: Gehenna or Gan-Eden?

Derek Ouellette —  April 14, 2011

The opposite of Gehenna is Gan-Eden

There has been a bucking, as of late, against the Christian conception of Hell and a reminder that the word in the Bible often translated as “Hell” is Gehenna. Gehenna comes from the Greek word “Geenna” and the Hebrew “Gei-Hinnom” meaning “the valley of Hinnom”, which is an actual place outside of Jerusalem.

So the question people ask is, what did Jesus mean when he referred to this actually place, this garbage, dump just out side of Jerusalem?

A gloss of terms at the back of a new Messianic New Testament tells us that:

“In Jewish sources, the term [Gehenna] is used as the opposite of Gan-Eden, the Garden of Eden or Paradise.” (Tree of Life Bible, p.190)

Gehenna, a garbage dumb. Gen-Eden, a garden. If eternity in Revelation is conceived as everlasting life, if that is the idea behind “Gen-Eden”, then what does that say of it’s opposite, of Gehenna?

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • http://www.rethinkingfaith.com Dave Leigh

    Derek, Not looking for a debate but I thought you might find it helpful to know that biblical scholar Scot McKnight recently refuted the idea of Gehenna being a garbage dump. See: http://www.patheos.com/community/jesuscreed/2011/04/11/exploring-love-wins-5/

    Notably, he says:

    “Finally, and we’ve perhaps all made this mistake. Gehenna was not a dump outside Jerusalem. No matter how many times people say this — and it has become street truth — there is no evidence that there was a town dump outside Jerusalem in the first century. As Dale Allison puts it, ‘without ancient support.’ That place, the Valley of Hinnom where there was an idolatrous high place called Topheth, was the notorious place of death and idolatry and fire and judgment, but it was not the town dump of Jerusalem. To use Gehenna for Jesus was to use a metaphor for divine judgment and destruction. See the OT uses in Jer 7:31-32; 19:2-9; 32:35; Isa 30:33. It is not only flippant but inaccurate to say Gehenna is the town dump — it is a metaphor for divine judgment.”

    For more on Gehenna, see also: http://blog.bibleplaces.com/2011/04/myth-of-burning-garbage-dump-of-gehenna.html

    That said, it still would indeed be the antithesis of Eden.

    Your thoughts?

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      Hey Dave, thanks. I retract “garbage, dump”. I knew that when I studied for this post, but jotted it down out of habit (it’s what we’ve all been told!)

      As far as the location itself connecting to the sons of Hinnom and their practice of idol worshipping and human sacrifices… we’ll, you took the wind out of my sales. :)

      That was planned for an upcoming post. LOL

  • http://www.drewchapados.net Drew Chapados

    Good post–good question to think about–
    is there more support for the ‘gen-eden’ aspect?

  • Aaron

    Scot McKnight, in his responses to Bells book, states that there is no evidence that there was an actual garbage dump outside of Jeruselem called gehenna.

  • Kyle Pitts

    On David Leighs blog.bibleplaces.com link there is a link to another article on the supposed rope tied around the High Priests ankle prior entering the Holy of Holies. Thank you David for linking the article and inadvertently leading me to the HoHDBR myth (Holy of Holies Dead Body Remover). I have heard both these myths taught so many times, I thought they were valid.