I just recently learned that “Gehenna”: Jesus’ standard metaphor for hell (Mt 5:22, 29-30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mk 9:43, 45, 47; Lk 12:5), was not a place of constantly burning garbage, as is often thought (and what I formerly understood it as being). Rather, it was a place where children were sacrificed to false gods. That is why Jesus used it to describe hell. Some strains of rabbinical Judaism also did so.
Gehenna is a reference to the Valley of Hinnom, which is directly south of Mt. Zion, near the Old City of Jerusalem. When I was in Israel in October 2014, I walked down a good portion of the Kidron Valley (after walking around the entire Old City), next to the Temple Mount and ancient City of David, down to the Pool of Siloam. This is perpendicular to the Valley of Hinnom. But I didn’t go further into that area, due to the significant unrest in the Arab portions of Jerusalem when we were there. We even got tear gas in our eyes when visiting Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem. It would have been strange indeed to walk the valley that in Jesus’ mind was akin to hell itself, due to the ritual childkilling that so often took place there.
Earlier this week The Guardianran a story about human sacrifice and ancient Roman history. During the third century BC, the chief rival of Rome was the city of Carthage on the North African coast.
Carthage was a Phoenician city, and Roman sources always accused the Carthaginians of sacrificing their own children to their gods. I have always believed the Roman stories of Carthaginian child sacrifice, but many scholars dismissed these stories as mere propaganda. They just couldn’t be true.
But some archeologists have been amassing material evidence that seems to support the Roman sources. It looks like the Carthaginians really did sacrifice their children. One of the archeologist told The Guardian that she is experiencing some pushback from her findings.
Quinn said many of her academic colleagues were appalled by her conclusions.
“The feeling that some ultimate taboo is being broken is very strong. It was striking how often colleagues, when they asked what I was working on, reacted in horror and said, ‘Oh no, that’s simply not possible, you must have got it wrong.’”
“We like to think that we’re quite close to the ancient world, that they were really just like us—the truth is, I’m afraid, that they really weren’t.”
Some things are just so horrible that we do not want to think about them. We do not want to believe they are true. This archeologist correctly notes that we ought to look at the Carthaginians honestly. But I think we need to look at ourselves honestly too.
Early twenty-first century society is exhibiting all the danger signs of a terminal civilization. Tens of millions of unborn babies have died as the result of legally protected abortions. The West is also ravaged by an epidemic of divorce and the universal practice of contraception. These politically protected social practices have accelerated the depopulation of Western nations as well as the unraveling of the traditional family unit. Christopher Ferrara, a renowned Catholic intellectual makes the case that the source of our problems can be traced to the European Enlightenment. Specifically, he points to the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke that created the theory of modern Liberty. Modern Liberty is defined as the unrestricted “pursuit of happiness.”Ferrara correctly states that the moral power and influence of the Catholic Church posed a significant threat to this worldview. To neutralize and marginalize the power of the Church, Hobbes and Locke within a generation of one another created the political concept of the separation of Church and state. Ferrara traces our current social, cultural and political chaos to this political theory when he writes “The fundamental problem with Liberty is its manifestation as the state without a soul and thus without a moral compass.” The class on August 26 will use the political philosophy of Christopher Ferrara to explore the evolution of the modern theory of Liberty. Additionally I will compare and contrast the modern secular model of the “pursuit of happiness” with the traditional political philosophy of the Catholic Church. Richard D. Fitzgerald O.P.
We all know that Paul speaks of Christ as the Last Adam; and "the New Adam" or "the Second Adam" have been used interchageably to indicate the same eternal truth, that in Him in the new foundation for the human race - a human race where mortal man can partake of the sinless divine nature, because the human and divine natures are joined in the Incarnation.
But, in the second century, the term "Second Eve" began to be applied to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Why? Because, just as the First Eve was the Mother of all the physically living, so the Second Eve is the Mother of the spiritually living. A good analogy, but is it biblical to apply the term, one might ask.
Let us examine a few passages
Adam referred to Eve as "Woman" - "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man." (Gen 2:23). Likewise, Jesus referred to Mary as "Woman" (John 2:4)
At the foot of the Cross, we find only one of the Apostles, John. And, to John, representing the whole Church, Christ says, "behold your Mother" (John 19:27)
Mary is present in the Upper Room, praying, awaiting the birth of the Church. St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort wrote, "... the more [The Holy Spirit] finds Mary his dear and inseparable spouse in a soul the more powerful and effective he becomes in producing Jesus Christ in that soul and that soul in Jesus Christ". And more so is this true at the very birth of the Church, the Body of Christ.
Gen 3:15 says (in some translations) - I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; she shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise her heel." Yes, some translations (and most, but not all, Hebrew Masoretic texts) say "he shall bruise", and "his heel". And, ultimately, "He", referring to Christ, is true - our salvation, our triumph flow from Him. Nevertheless, the she/her tradition is attested to, not only by early Christian authors, but also by Jewish writers such as Philo of Alexandria, Josephus, and Moses Maimonides. And it is rightful that it should be a woman who crushes the Serpent's head, since it was a woman whom the Serpent deceived.
Thus, in crushing the Serpent's head - by offering her body to God (Luke 1:38) that God the Word might become flesh and dwell among us (John 1:14), by sharing in His sufferings (Luke 2:35), by being the Mother of the Spiritually alive - Mary, the Theotokos, becomes the Second Eve.