Why Didn't The Hebrews Believe In An Afterlife
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09-09-2013, 11:07 PM
RE: Why Didn't The Hebrews Believe In An Afterlife
Boom! Now that's a proper BB response! Thanks for all the info, you.

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09-09-2013, 11:33 PM
RE: Why Didn't The Hebrews Believe In An Afterlife
(09-09-2013 11:05 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  They had a concept of "shades" which inhabited Sheol. It was not really an "afterlife". But it was where they thought what happened to humans goes on. Shades were "shadows of their former selves". There are multiple example of these in the Bible, both OT and NT. Some scholars think a case can be made that a resurrected Jebus was seen as a "shade", (as they were afraid of it, and didn't recognize it).

From my Resurrection thread. Sorry. It's not short.
http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...other-look

The Egyptians believed in an after life. They had for thousands of years. The concept of a "soul" as distinct from the body, and surviving the body, was called the "ka". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egy...f_the_soul
They speculated about what it would be in the Book of the Dead.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_the_Dead

The Sumerians talked about it in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
While there are obvious things appropriated from Sumerian texts, in the Bible, they did not import content about an after -life.

Almost all the surrounding cultures of ancient Israel DID believe in some sort of afterlife. Israel was an odd exception to this. It has perplexed scholars. Why Not ? I will propose my personal explanation for this later. There is both a positive, and negative case for this. It is important. Israel was not concerned with a personal afterlife. Genesis 3:19 says, "For dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return". God breathed life into the man, not a soul. While there are examples of exceptions to this where in 1 Samuel 28:15, Saul calls the Witch of Endor, and she conjures up the shade of Samuel, who is angry to be disturbed. He was in a "dormant" state". not a "blissful" state. Conjuring was forbidden. Apart from the magic, there was just no cultural content of the idea of an individual ("happy", or "sad") state of immortality. That does not mean immortality was not present. We'll look at that later.

Psalm 39 :
"Turn your gaze away from me, that I may smile again,
before I depart, and am no more"

Psalm 115 :
The dead do not praise the Lord,
nor do any that go down into silence".

However ALL the dead, both good and bad, were thought to go to an underground region called "Sheol". And Sheol is referenced in mostly the Wisdom texts. It's certainly NOT where God lives.
Psalm 6 : "For in death there is no remembrance of you, in Sheol, who can give you praise ?"

However, ....
The Biblical texts were written, by the upper-class priests. In Canaan , ancestors remained powerful, after death, and had to be fed, and placated. Because of it's threat to monotheism, shamanism and witchcraft had to be suppressed. The fact it had to be suppressed, means it was widespread, and perceived as a threat. Saul expelled the mediums and the wizards. When the Witch of Endor conjures Samuel's "shade", Saul asks the witch, "What do you see". She answers, "I see a DIVINE being, (the word is "elohim"), coming up out of the ground. (Only the witch could *see* or perceive the shade). Saul asks "What does he look like ?". She describes him. And the text then says, (just as the text in the New Testament does about the "Road to Emmaus" incident), "So Saul knew it was Samuel...etc" because of the description. The DEAD SHADE HAD TO BE INFERRED. In Hebrew culture, the dead did not have recognizable human shapes. or appearances. !!!. Read that again, please. The identity of dead shades was not apparent. The "shade" of Jesus also was not recognized, when they said they saw it. Next, if a shade is a "divine being", it speaks volumes about what that means to them. If a dead human's shade is of the SAME essential nature as other divine beings, (and there were many, in the polytheistic Hebrew culture), then it calls into question our notion of "supernatural". In our culture a "god" is perceived as "up there", watching from above, powerful from on high, riding the clouds of heaven. Obviously from the Samuel's shade remark we see that was not true of the Hebrews. Instead of saying "super-natural", it would be more correct to say "other than natural", as it denoted an equal, or equivalency of power and status. There is no hierarchical paradigm implied.

Historically there is a long, very interesting historical set of occurrences, in which the Greek, and Roman, and Seleucid empire's forces are battling for ascendancy in the Near East) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiochus_IV_Epiphanes .
Suffice it to say the Greeks purchased the High Priesthood in Israel, and Jason, (Greek equivalent name of Jesus), imported Hellenistic ideas, even more than they had been already, as recounted in 2 Maccabees, which drove some changes in the Hebrew culture, and it's assumptions. The famous "abomination of desolation" resulted from the interaction of the forces from these days, when the desolate temple, was associated, with not allowing Jews to perform their practices arose. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abomination...solationry involved Unfortunately it would lead us too far afield here, to do all the history involved here, but as a result of persecution in the Maccabeean period, there arose the idea of Martyrdom,

In the Book of Daniel, in chapter 12, for the first time the idea of rising from the dead appears in the Old Testament. Interestingly enough, it also involves a redemptive aspect.
Thus we know that before that date, there was NO concept of general, or individual immortality, in Hebrew culture. The author of Daniel had to try to make sense of the horrific experience of the Exile and the trying times they were experiencing. Thus he had the "trial in lions den", etc, which symbolized the horrible time in Babylon, and the invasion of the Maccabean period. How would he make sense of the awful experience. Daniel 12:3 "Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars, for ever and ever." They get rewarded for suffering. And immortality is born.

A few years post Exile, we have Isaiah saying:
Isaiah 26:19
Your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise.
O dweller in the dust, awake and sing for joy !
For your dew is a radiant dew, and the Earth will give birth to those long dead.

The first text in the Bible to be written was the Book or Torah of Job, was also an attempt to ask why, and make sense of the experience of "exile".

So, just as with everything else in Hebrew culture, the horror of the Exilic period, gives rise to it's MOST important changes, and ideas. Religion had to rationalize how an absent god could allow his chosen people to undergo such a horror. Who cares, if you live forever, and there was another life after this one ?
So something clearly has changed here. This is when and how the Hebrew's prophets and priests, added the notion of an afterlife to a culture which had none, previously. The culture was ready for this new addition, for another reason, as you will see below. However, these men, in no way say everyone rises, or that eternal life is for everyone, or where the resurrection takes place, or how exactly how this is made manifest.

There is a transitional period, as always. In Maccabees 2, there is the famous set of speeches of the seven sons of Hannah.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman_with_seven_sons
Each of the sons gives a speech before they are martyred for refusing to eat pork, ("an" abomination of desolation). In the speeches, they refer to SOME people being given eternal life, not all. Saint Paul STILL had this "some" idea. Only the saved have eternal life, in the Pauline literature.

Thank you! Very informative! Thumbsup

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10-09-2013, 01:26 AM (This post was last modified: 10-09-2013 01:33 AM by Diogenes of Mayberry.)
RE: Why Didn't The Hebrews Believe In An Afterlife
Up until the time of the Maccabean revolt (Hanukkah) during the time of the Seleucid crackdown on Judaism, Jews did not believe in an afterlife as the OP mentioned; they believed that they simply blinked out of existence. Heaven was God's domain, unworthy of humans.

After the exposure of the Jewish exiles to Persian Zoroastrianism, their beliefs slowly started to evolve towards a belief in the afterlife in Sheol, but not heaven.

During the Maccabean revolt, circa 167 BCE, the book of Daniel was written that changed everything and had a huge impact on Western civilization and our collective societal belief in an afterlife. Daniel is the only book of the Hebrew Bible that has an apocalyptic genre, speaks of an afterlife, introduces the idea of resurrection, and angels and demons. All these concepts were radically new in Judaism, and were subsequently picked up by Jesus and Mohammad.

The book of Daniel represented a fundamental shift in Jewish theology, as given what looked like the imminent annihilation of Jewish culture by the Seleucids, their beliefs shifted from one of a messianic kingdom here on Earth, to a messianic afterlife. Once the beliefs evolved that righteous Jews would go to heaven, instead of Sheol, the conundrum of what to do with bad Jews came up. So, they got stuck in Sheol...entered through the portal of Gehenna, the perpetual burning dump outside the walls of Jerusalem (hellfire imagery) and a former site of child sacrifice (the altar of Tophet).

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10-09-2013, 02:16 PM
RE: Why Didn't The Hebrews Believe In An Afterlife
Wow, BB is so good at proof texting, he should be a Sunday preacher! As Jesus pointed out, God told Moses "I am the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob" 400 years after they died, indicating they lived on after death. Exodus 3, where the quotation comes from, is phenomenally important to ancient and modern Judaism alike.
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10-09-2013, 02:22 PM (This post was last modified: 10-09-2013 03:39 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Why Didn't The Hebrews Believe In An Afterlife
(10-09-2013 02:16 PM)PleaseJesus Wrote:  Wow, BB is so good at proof texting, he should be a Sunday preacher! As Jesus pointed out, God told Moses "I am the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob" 400 years after they died, indicating they lived on after death. Exodus 3, where the quotation comes from, is phenomenally important to ancient and modern Judaism alike.

Of course he was MADE to say that. He never actually said that. Those words were "placed in his mouth" as a literary device, (as any scholar would know), and thus they prove absolutely nothing of the sort that PleasyJebus asserts. Too bad Pleasy is so ignorant of the Bible.

It's also "presentism".

I could say, "I live in the land of Lincoln". That doesn't mean he's still alive.

Try harder Pleasy.

BTW, why is it you keep saying you are "a published author", yet you have never presented anything here worth reading ?
Do you write "pamphlets" ?

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10-09-2013, 03:33 PM
RE: Why Didn't The Hebrews Believe In An Afterlife
(10-09-2013 02:16 PM)PleaseJesus Wrote:  Wow, BB is so good at proof texting, he should be a Sunday preacher! As Jesus pointed out, God told Moses "I am the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob" 400 years after they died, indicating they lived on after death. Exodus 3, where the quotation comes from, is phenomenally important to ancient and modern Judaism alike.

So if I say, "I Am the son of my father", that means that my father is still alive with absolute certainty?

That's a stupid argument.

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10-09-2013, 04:40 PM
RE: Why Didn't The Hebrews Believe In An Afterlife
Probably as an incentive to lure in those already satisfied with their current religion.

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10-09-2013, 05:07 PM
RE: Why Didn't The Hebrews Believe In An Afterlife
(09-09-2013 09:38 PM)TheLastEnemy Wrote:  It seems, from many scriptures in the Hebrew Bible, that the Israelites had no concept of an afterlife, and believed, as many do today, that consciousness simply ceased at death.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that almost every people at that point in history believed in an afterlife of some sort, even the Hebrews' immediate neighbors, so why didn't the Jews?, were they just unimaginative?, or simply more down to earth?

I think the Israelites believed the dead slept in Sheoul. A few elect were invited to join God in His presence (Enoch).

Later on in OT books the prophets were claiming versions of an afterlife similar to Christianity (See Ezekiel and Daniel). This went full swing in the Jewish mystic religions and Christianity. The modern day versions of heaven and hell were complete by the times the Book of Jude was written.

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16-09-2013, 02:34 PM
RE: Why Didn't The Hebrews Believe In An Afterlife
From Matthew 22:

23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”

29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 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’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.

*Jesus was a Hebrew who believed in resurrection

*Jesus is expounding on the scriptures to demonstrate that in God's revelation to Moses, a bedrock scripture for the Hebrews, the concept of resurrection is embedded
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16-09-2013, 08:52 PM
RE: Why Didn't The Hebrews Believe In An Afterlife
Please, don't feed the trolls. Tendjewberrymud.

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