Quit Mocking The King!

This is something that I found incredibly cool and enlightening. Another pente-blooper preached badly for too long. This excerpt is taken from Planet Preterist’s ‘Otherworld Journey: The Origins of Hell in Christian Thought’.


Equally divergent from biblical Sheol is the epic of the mythical king of Uruk, Gilgamesh. The version presented here, compiled around one-thousand B.C., was discovered in the library of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh; although fragments dating back to the second millennium B.C. are extant.

This tale gives a detailed account of the world beyond. Gilgamesh‘s companion Enkidu relates his vision of the underworld and its inhabitants, a premonition of his own death:

There is a house whose peoples sit in darkness; dust is their food and clay their meat. They are clothed like birds with wings for covering, they see no light, they sit in darkness. I entered the house of dust and I saw the kings of the earth, their crowns put away for ever; rulers and princes, all those who once wore kingly crowns and ruled the world in days of old. They who had stood in the place of the gods like Anu and Enlil, stood now like servants to fetch baked meats in the house of dust, to carry cooked meat and cold water from the water-skin.

Enkidu eventually met this fate. But Gilgamesh refused to bury his companion and instead lamented over his body for seven days and seven nights hoping that Enkidu would rise again. “Finally, after watching his body with pious devotion, he notices a worm on the corpse and realizes that death takes its victims beyond recall. The awful reality of death fills Gilgamesh with fear for, since he is not completely divine, he too must die. Hence he becomes obsessed with the drive to obtain immortality.”

The Hebrews rejected such otherworld notions—or at least did not record them as their own. In light of that statement, there is one biblical text that should be mentioned at this point.

Isaiah 14 contains the most explicit details of Sheol in the Old Testament—but is it really Sheol? Yahweh’s prophet Isaiah was told to “taunt the king of Babylon” (Is 14.4), and, it would seem, he did so using Babylonian otherworld concepts.

Sheol below is stirred up about you, ready to meet you when you arrive. It rouses the spirits of the dead for you, all the former leaders of the earth; it makes all the former kings of the nations rise from their thrones. All of them respond to you, saying: ‘You too have become weak like us! You have become just like us! Your splendor has been brought down to Sheol, as well as the sound of your stringed instruments. You lie on a bed of maggots, with a blanket of worms over you. (Net, Is. 14.9-11)

As in Gilgamesh, the kings of the earth have been made low; it is a reversal of fortunes. The Babylonian king was no more immortal than Gilgamesh, and he too would be food for worms. It would be a mistake to read the above as Isaiah’s view of underworld. Isaiah’s taunt no more reflects his infernology than the subsequent section reflects his ouranology. Read the former in light of the latter; these verses are contrasting Babylonian otherworld motifs:

Look how you have fallen from the sky, O shining one, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the ground, O conqueror of the nations! You said to yourself, “I will climb up to the sky. Above the stars of El I will set up my throne. I will rule on the mountain of assembly on the remote slopes of Zaphon. I will climb up to the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High!” But you were brought down to Sheol, to the remote slopes of the pit. (NET, Is. 14.12-15)

A little mythology is helpful here. In Ugaritic texts, Mount Zaphon is the equivalent of the Greek Mount Olympus; it was home of the gods. What is Isaiah saying? The would be god-king of Babylon desired to set himself on the sacred mountain, above the astral deities—on par with the “Most High,” which in this context refers to the god El. Yet Isaiah insists that the arrogant king would be brought low, like his predecessors of old. Even Turner, whose work betrays an affinity for parallelomania, makes an insightful observation with reference to Isaiah 14: “Its message is exactly the same as the one Enkidu reported to Gilgamesh, that great kings are brought low in Ereshkigal’s [underworld] domain. Indeed, in sending the Babylonian king to a Babylonian Hell, the prophet appears to be making a grim joke.” We are inclined to agree. After all, the prophet was instructed to “taunt the king of Babylon.” “This song uses the metric pattern of a dirge but parodies the genre by mocking rather than eulogizing the dead.” It is unwise to build an “underworld” doctrine around parody. Isaiah, like Elijah among the prophets of Baal, was being cheeky.


The entire article is an insightful read. I encourage you to read it. To find out what we’ve previously discussed on sheol on these forums click the link to ‘Should Hell be dropped from the Bible?

21 thoughts on “Quit Mocking The King!

  1. I love seeing how even Gilgamesh saw many kings even far more ancient than himself, and this text is extremely ancient!

    Wonderful work; funny how we habitually construct ‘alternate realities’ as a human race, eh?-one of my preoccupations at the moment….then, we wish to inflict these ‘fantasies’ upon one another disguised as ‘facts’–and get led into a tedium of slavery.

    Wise friends, take note;

    Recently, I was talking with a Hebraic worldview scholar who did not believe in an afterlife until the Resurrection, understanding that to not have taken place yet…however, recently, I recalled the scripture;

    Mt22:31″…But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32’I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'[a]? He is not the God of the dead but of the living 33When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching..”

    Which leads me to wonder still, whether this resurrection happens immediately at death, or whether it is reserved for a time in the future-that Christ was referring to a FUTURE time in his own mind as if it were a PRESENT reality.

    Anyhow, food for thought!-so much for what we think we know,



  2. When Christian’s die apparently we are ‘asleep in Christ’. I believe the resurrections are reserved for the future. If anyone liked this mythbuster, I’ve got another one I can post up that is commonly mis-interpreted- Lazarus and the Rich Man.

  3. s&p, in checking out the sites you’re quoting from, I can see that this one is from a Preterist group, which believes that all prophecies have been fulfilled within the first centuries of Christ’s ascension. So, again, in attempting to divert people from what you claim is Pentecostal error, you send them headfirst into more threatening error, and even worse than the stuff you’re claiming you need to refute. Don’t you check these people out before you quote them?

    Of course they are researching anti-hell stuff, just as the Universalists you quote on other posts, because they need to find ‘evidence’ against what Christ, and Paul, and the other epistle writers said about eternal separation from God for those who refuse to accept Christ – in other words, evidence that Christ and the Apostles are wrong!

    Which is stupidity wrapped up in foolishness if you think about it. Why would we have to try to refute the very words of Christ and his apostles? The Church is built on the Chief Cornerstone – Christ, and on the Apostles and Prophets. You can’t take away from what they have written. You adjust your thinking and doctrine according to the Word, not some non-believer’s words. You don’t bend the Word to fit your theory or doctrine. that makes a mockery of what Christ says.

    Jesus talked about Hades, gehenna, torment, outer darkness, gnashing of teeth, and other terrifying things which teach us about potential separation from the Father, and he does it often, and it is consistent and contextual with the rest of scripture, Old and New Testament. He wasn’t lying. He was warning!

  4. Geesh. FaceLift!
    Anyone can learn from a fool.
    Anyone can learn from someone in error.

    Some of the greatest things I have learnt are from things that are false. Me actually having the balls to do the research and make up my own views on the matter is where I develop the views of my own. Take what’s there FaceLift. Then chew on it a bit and then do your own research on the matter.

    With this article I read the epic of Gilgamesh, talkd to a few uni professors on the epics of Gilgamesh in light of the ‘King of Babylon’, and now I genuinely believe that Isaiah himself was indeed taunting the current King of Babylon by relating him to the legendary King Gilgamesh of Babylon.

    I do not see how this article disputes the power of the gospel, but add’s richness and value to the Ancient World and the Old Testament scriptures.

    If anything, your ramblings make you look twice as bad as these people who are trying to understand scriptures that don’t make the bible easy to understand. These alternate views are interesting and make much more sense rather then having the pentecostal brush paint over everything.

    The reason why this view on Isaiah 14 seems to be ringing true to their views was because the King’s of Babylon did have this issue. We see this with God warning King Nebuchadnezzar about his boastings.

    Are the reason why you’re so hassly with me is because you don’t know where I stand with a lot of doctrine?

  5. If anything, I have found pentecostal teaching in greater error then other denominations or theological groups. These two articles in particular I have found interesting. I wished to there them because I think they are right. It doesn’t mean I think like a preterist or universalist.

    “I can see that this one is from a Preterist group, which believes that all prophecies have been fulfilled within the first centuries of Christ’s ascension.”
    Well I don’t believe all prophecies have been fulfilled within the first few centuries since Christ’s ascension. Many more are to be fulfilled. But this doesn’t make me reject this article. I don’t see how this article affects my beliefs or proves theirs in light of the ‘preterist’ view. Care to enlighten me?

  6. s&p, you’re clearly using these doctrinal stances to refute what you consider Pentecotal error on eternal separation from God and the doctrine surrounding it.

    If you were merely researching historic thought I’d agree with some of your methodology, but since you are promoting, perhaps unwittingly, Universalism and Preterism as viable, and preferable alternatives to Pentecostal teaching on hell, judgement, as well as on how we interpret scripture on these important subjects, then I think it is correct to challenge your motives.

    Universalists and Preterists both dispute the doctrine of eternal damnation, so their world view an approach to scripture is completely different to Christ’s for a start, as well a Christian orthodoxy. In promoting their works and teachings you direct people who read this blog into error. In questioning this, I hope I encourage people, including you, to think about what is being taught. The response of your group to the Universalist teaching on the other post is disturbing, since they failed to see the error, and you rejoiced in finding a writer who was able to refute what is actually sound doctrine based on the works of Christ.

    If i was merely research material, then it would be interesting, but you’re definitely holding this up as alternative teaching to Pentecostal doctrine.

    You’re the one using terms such as ‘pente-blooper’.

  7. ‘Anyone can learn from a fool.
    Anyone can learn from someone in error.’

    And the blind can lead the blind… to where… into the ditch?

    We can all learn from Russell and Rutherford and become error-riddled like JW’s? We can all learn from Helen J White and become anti-christian ‘christians’ like her followers, or from Joseph Smith, Waco, Rev. Moon, or leap off cliffs like lemmings because some foolish lemming thought it was a good idea?

    ‘Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees”. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump”.

    “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of he world, and not after Christ…”

    “…that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby hey lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him, who is the Head, even Christ…”

  8. Facellift … thats ellen G. White (oft known as “Egg White”) – not Helen J White.

    Just thought I would let you know. 🙂

  9. Again, I must compliment SpecksnPlanks on really sound and enlightening work-well done!

    & Sorry Facelift, it looks like you swallowed the ‘leaven of the Pharisees’ long ago!-again, I must say ‘your thinking truly pongs!’

    Anyhow, theres still hope for you my friend to develop a ‘renewing mind’ instead of a phobic one; (Rom 12:1-3).

    Gods Richest blessings in all respects, my friends,


  10. I take it, Z, that you’re also a Universalist. Are you also a Preterist?

    I don’t know what you fond objectionable about what I write, since it is based on scripture. Perhaps you only refer to favourite verses that tickle your ears, and leave everything potentially offensive alone.

  11. *Facelift sat down at his easel, admiring a painted canvas. “What colour shall I paint this painted canvas today?” He thought.

    Without thinking and with a few simple strokes, he stood back and looked at the work he did. He didn’t really like the artist’s painting before. It wasn’t his taste.

    But now painting over the artist’s work, he thought it looked complete and was now wondering if the original artist might like his interpretation of the work. Facelift’s style looked absolutism. The older painting looked as though it came out of the preterism or the universalism art movement.

    “But this is a work of it’s own!” He thought. “It’s something unique and look’quite right.” He thought. But something in it wasn’t complete. It lacked something.

    “But it looked good enough for any audience to buy from him. And that’s good enough.” He thought to himself. His art teacher had taught him well.*

  12. Last time I looked, there were about 28 variations on a Universalist position.

    We can all read the scripture. Its pretty difficult to say for certain what happens after death in every detail. I’ve read lots of views on this, all very sure of themselves.

    The one thing I currently know is that initially we ‘sleep’. I also know that Jesus saves those who turn to him. Maybe some will turn to him when they die, meet him for the first time, and love him as the one they were searching for all their lives. Others who claimed to know him may find themselves unable to face him, if he is different from what they thought they knew. Now I could be entirely wrong, as lately I’ve not had time check all the scriptures.

    I am not content with the view I was first taught as a Christian, which was that we are all so corrupt and God is so holy, that He can’t even look on us, without Jesus in the middle. I think its the reverse – without Jesus, we feel too ashamed to be worth the love of a good and holy God. But through Him, we are reconciled. Yet God can be in our lives without us even knowing Him, prior finding out about Jesus.

    I am now not sure how restricted we are as to when we meet Jesus, but our hearts matter very much in how we respond when we do, and God knows our hearts. A hard heart, it seems, will continually reject God, and there are some things that we cling to which harden our hearts. ‘Religion’ can be one of these many things, as demonstrated by the Pharisees. Perhaps – and this is me speculating – a soft heart might respond to meeting him, as I said above, even after death. But that person wouldn’t have any experience of salvation in this lifetime, though maybe, maybe its possible still in the next.

    I have not read all of this thread as its soooo long, and I’ve had no time. But I think its a shame that we argue and get personal over something none of us have experienced yet.

    Anyway, one thing for sure is that it is worth doing a scriptural study. I will read this when I ever get a chance.

  13. RP, if you look on the site where the Universalist author is quoted from (which isn’t on his post, but the one on Lazarus and the rich man – this one is written from a Preterist view-point), you will see that they clearly give their position and refute the other 20 odd positions on their site.

    Their Universalist ideas are clearly represented, and I gave their definition of Universalism earlier. It is clear error, claiming ha all human beings from all time will be accepted into God’s heaven, regardless.

    My point is that, because they have an incorrect concept of Jesus’ teaching on separation from God, their writings must be affected, and their doctrine must be accordingly.

    I have also said that there would be little controversy if these were reproduced for interest sake alone. Yes we could discus them and study them as ideas. But he uses them to attack Pentecostal doctrine.

    I am challenging he notion s&p has raised that Pentecostal teaching in this area is error, and that these Universalists and Preterist teachings should be adopted in he place of Pentecostal teaching.

    s&p calls Pentecostal teaching ‘pente-blooper’ errors. But he hasn’t defined what it is that Pentecostals say that is wrong.

  14. Yes, I certainly wouldn’t be able to jump to the conclusion that they are correct, and my background has given me quite an orthodox understanding of Jesus teaching re separation from God. I think its reasonable to ask S&P to define what Pente teaching is wrong in this area. In my experience, much Pente teaching re salvation is in alignment with conservative evangelical teaching in that same area. There may be controversy over other things, such as ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’ – but even that is not universal amongst Pente churches. However, mostly their salvation doctrine is pretty conservative.

    Of course, I have both an evangelical and Pente background, and salvation doctrine was one area in which I did not personally perceive any difference between the two. There may be some difference in emphases between churches, however, essentially they seem to believe the same things in this area.

    However, I must say that I am now suspicious of very judicial approaches to doctrine. Much of our evangelical doctrine is very judicial. Its an area which I’m currently seeking in, as I think there may be a mixture of truth and some error.

    One reason I am looking at this, over time, is because God is so much more gracious than we tend to be – as you know, we hid ourselves from God and eachother (clothing) in the garden of Eden once we experienced the shame of sin for the first time. God knew when this happened, yet he still sought out Adam and Eve. They however retreated from Him.

    So I think the approach that I’ve been taught may be flawed, and this was the approach where God was too holy to relate to sinful man. I think it is the reverse – our own sense of shame made us afraid to relate to God. When the sinful prodigal younger son returned to his father, he did not expect to be received with love, yet he was, as his father’s love was so great. The son did not understand his father, and at the time, viewed his father through the lens of shame. I wonder sometimes if we perceive our Father through a lens of shame and cannot perceive his love, because our judicial approach tells us we deserve punishment, and we find it hard to comprehend the depth of His grace. Even when we have head knowledge about Jesus.

    So some teaching which is very judicial, despite the fact that it puts Jesus in the middle as the ‘bridge’ between us and God, still limits our understanding of His love and grace, since He is portrayed more as a Holy Judge than a loving Father. I am not saying that he is not portrayed as a father, just that as this teaching teaches that we are untouchable by God due to His holiness, but for Jesus, and it teaches that our Father is limited by his holiness, and also does not teach that it is our own sense of shame resulting from sin that is the problem, rather than God’s supposed inability to touch us.

    Anyway, you may have been taught differently from me, however, these are the issues I am now seeking out. So I sometimes wonder how much salvation doctrine our judicial approach may have inadvertently distorted, and how much of the nature of our Father it has also limited or underestimated.

    From my current view, Jesus has provided a Way for us to live, and a Way for us to have no more shame/condemnation, so we may now walk freely in God’s presence, knowing God as our friend and Father.

    Its a slightly different take from the judicial approach, but not inconsistent I think.

    So I am not yet convinced by the evangelical approach I was taught, but I am also currently not convinced by the universalist thoughts I have encountered.

    Hope that makes sense.

    I do not know what a Preterist is, by the way.

  15. Thanks RP. I think I would be close to that understanding, too.

    I probably sound harsh in the present exchanges because I have gone to the extreme of emphasising that there is a judgement and there is a consequence to sin, and that it is not desirable.

    I have a strong understanding of grace and faith, so I don’t emphasise doom and gloom when I have the opportunity to witness or preach to the unsaved. I understand that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to convince people of righteousness, sin and judgement, as we tell them the good news, that Jesus has paid the price of their sin, and made the way clear to be reconciled to the Father.

    The sentiment being expressed here is that God doesn’t actually have a judgement, there is no eternal torment, and no separation for sinners who do not repent. there is an attempt to remove the concepts of hell as a terrible place, hell being gehenna rather than sheol the grave.

    I would agree that the writers of the KJV did us a disservice by interpreting three different concepts as ‘hell’, when it would have been better for us to have had the true definitions of sheol, hades, gehenna and tartarus, which perhaps a footnote to explain where and what they are and what they represent.

  16. Well then FaceLift, I can put your spirit to rest by telling you that I don’t believe in the preterist’s view.

    What have I heard as pente-blooper in light of this parable?
    Abraham’s Bosom is heaven. The rich man was in the Lake of Fire.


    If you are a bad boy or girl you’re going to hell. Just look at how the rich man treated Lazarus.

    I’ve heard both views from CCC and early Hillsong.

  17. And other verious pentecostal churches I’ve been to that have had there own similar spin on this.

  18. At lest you’re friendly with your disagreement, s&p, and I appreciate that. I’m interested it hear you’ve heard those views at CCC and early Hillsong. I wouldn’t agree with that assessment, since it clearly talks about Moses and the law, which predates heaven and the Lake of Fire. It could only be discussing Jewish affairs.

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