Places of punishment in the Synoptic Gospels
This thesis examines places of punishment in the Synoptic traditions. Four are identified and discussed: Geherma, Hades, the Abyss and the place (εkεi) where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. In addition, an excursus on Tartarus is included as Tartarus relates closely to the Abyss. The Gehenna language derives primarily from oracles of judgement in Jeremiah 7:29-34, 19:1-15 and Isaiah 66:24. In the Synoptics it refers consistently to the punishment of the final judgment. It is a fiery place of destruction reserved for the wicked, who will be thrown there and consumed in bodily form. By contrast, Hades is not a place of punishment but a reference to death. It receives all people, righteous and wicked alike and they remain there until the final judgement. The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 appears to depart from this line as it depicts fiery torments in Hades. However, a closer look at its language and structure and a comparison with similar near-contemporary tales, suggest it functions to reject what it appears to endorse. The Abyss is the place where fallen angels exist in anticipation of the final judgement. In contrast to Hades and Gehenna, there appears to be movement in and out of the Abyss. In the Abyss the power of fallen angels over humanity is severely restricted; when they come out, they cause much suffering. Tartarus is also a prison for fallen angels. The language of the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth occurs primarily in parables, often in the context of a banquet. The banquet represents the kingdom of God. The phrase depicts punishment primarily as exclusion from the banquet/kingdom. Weeping and gnashing of teeth denote the sorrow and anger respectively of those excluded.