Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Annihilation; Partially Fulfilled

I have two items for my write-up today on Jonathan Goldstein's commentary on II Maccabees.

1.  On pages 305-306, Goldstein in his comment on II Maccabees 7:9 contends that Jason (the author of II Maccabees) interprets Daniel 12:2 to mean that the wicked will be annihilated, as opposed to tormented eternally.  According to Goldstein, Jason took the word diron in Daniel 12:2 to be from the Aramaic root d-r-y, which relates to scattering in the Targum Onkelos to Exodus 32:20.  For Goldstein, Jason thought that Daniel 12:2 was talking about "eternal dispersal" when it came to the fate of the wicked, and eternal dispersal meant "the dispersal of their elements", which coincides with their annihilation.  Goldstein refers to II Maccabees 7:14, where it is denied that Antiochus will be resurrected unto life.  Goldstein also cites Epicurus' Epistle 1.65.

At the same time, Goldstein says in his comment on II Maccabees 7:17 that Jason thinks Antiochus will learn about the "murders of his heirs", which takes place after Antiochus' own death, on account of an afterlife: Antiochus' soul will learn about it, or he will hear about it at the resurrection.

Goldstein may think that, according to Jason, the bodies of the wicked will be annihilated, but not necessarily their souls, which can still undergo eternal torment.  Or does Goldstein think that?  If everlasting contempt in Daniel 12:2 means annihilation, then where would we get the idea that the souls of the wicked will be tormented after death?  Perhaps Jason thought that Antiochus' soul would live on, but he did not think it would be tormented.

I should note, though, that Greek culture did have an example of everlasting punishment: Sisyphus in Tartarus had to roll a stone forever.  

2.  According to Goldstein, II Maccabees contains a view that certain events fulfilled Scripture.  Goldstein argues that the brothers in II Maccabees 7 get their idea about God resurrecting them and punishing the enemy from verses in Deuteronomy 32 (vv 15-30, 35-36, 39, 41-43).  Divine apparitions assisting the Jews and the Jews' victories were viewed as fulfillments of Isaiah 30-31 and Zechariah 9-10.  Goldstein says in his interpretation of II Maccabees 11:13-38 on page 406: "As a result of the victory, peace comes, allowing the Lord's flock to graze in safety...One may see a fulfillment of Zech 9:16-17."  At the same time, Goldstein states that Jason did not believe that all of the prophecies had been fulfilled, for Judas Maccabeus was not the promised king of Zechariah 9:9-10.  The picture Goldstein provides is one in which Jason believed that some prophecies were fulfilled during the time of the Maccabees, while other prophecies of restoration remained for the future.

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