An Extract out of Josephus's Discourse to the Greeks Concerning Hades
Discourse to the Greeks Concerning Hades is a brief essay thought to be written by Hippolytusof Rome. This work is likewise known as Josephus’s Discourse to the Greeks Concerning Hades because it was incorrectly credited to the Jewish writer in the 9th century.
Although this addendum is still reprinted in versions of Whiston’s Josephus, modern academia’s believe crediting this work to Josephus is erroneous. Current scholars now credit this concise treatise to the church minister Hippolytus. The attribution to Josephus, chronicled by Photius in his Bibliotheca, did not go unquestioned even during his time, and the “Discourse” was likewise credited to Caius, Presbyter of Rome, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus.
The Writer asserts that: “Hades is a place in the world not regularly finished; a subterraneous region, wherein the light of this world does not shine; from which circumstance, that in this region the light does not shine, it cannot be but there must be in its perpetual darkness. This region is allotted as a place of custody for souls, in which angels are appointed as guardians to them, who distribute to them temporary punishments, agreeable to everyone’s behavior and manners.”
The writer depicts Hades as having “a lake of unquenchable fire” formed by God for an impending day of judgment. The unjust and the dead are constrained in different regions of Hades. Everyone in Hades must go through a gate secured by “an archangel with his multitude”, with the just being led to the right hand towards a zone of light called the Bosom of Abraham. The unjust are forcibly driven toward the left hand by angels, to a region marked by a fire that radiates “hot vapor”, from where the just may be seen but they cannot cross over because of the “chaos deep and large” that functions as a barricade.”
The writer reassures the Greeks he’s speaking to that God will resurrect the dead by raising their bodies, not by putting their souls into another body. The writer asserts that their resurrected bodies will no longer be susceptible to sickness or suffering. In contradiction, an unjust person’s body will be unchanged upon resurrection, including retaining their defects. Every person must be taken before the Judge, Jesus Christ. The writer clearly dismisses Minos and Rhadamanthus, whom the Greeks accepted as judges of Hades, as the mediators of humanity’s destiny.
As an alternative, Christ will employ “the righteous judgment of the Father towards all men”, with unending suffering for the evil and everlasting joy for the righteous. The writer calls upon his readers to accept God so they might receive the reward of the just. The book’s last paragraph cites a biblical saying of Christ, “In whatsoever ways I shall find you, in them shall I judge you entirely”, which the writer interprets to mean that if someone who is living a righteous way of life falls into sin, his righteousness will not save him from the punishment of the unjust, while a wicked individual who atones for his sins may yet be restored “as from a whitewash”.
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