1st century Jewish views of the afterlife...


question:
Dear Glenn,

I've done some minor investigation into the similarities and differences between Judaism and Christianity, and one of the most unexpected differences I've encountered so far is in the concept of the afterlife. From what I've read, Jewish doctrine does not support the Christian concept of the afterlife, post-mortem judgment, Heaven and Hell, and so forth. Sheol is literally the grave, a cessation of existence, not a place of eternal torment. All rewards/punishments are meted out by God upon a person during his earthly life, and at death, that person simply becomes an ex-person, and so, it seems that the concept of sin and its consequences is very different from the Christian one. Whereas we Christians are trying to introduce Jesus to people to save them from the eternal consequences their sin, Jews might even >be a little reluctant to introduce someone to the Law because they know that God will then hold that person to a more exacting standard, thus making their life more difficult in many ways. How did this paradigm shift come about? And how then can we use the OT and other Judaic sources/concepts/traditions to understand our Christian faith when it seems we differ so greatly on this very basic subject? And then, how do we interpret Jesus' parables and teachings that refer to the afterlife? Did the Jews in Jesus' time believe differently from the Jews today about the afterlife?


Thanks for your question, XXX...

I am woefully behind in these questions, and cannot give you the detail (since I am on the road and don't have my refs with me), but the data we do have DOES INDICATE an afterlife-doctrine in Judaism, esp. 1st century Jewry...

The talmudic writings indicate that some of the main Rabbinical schools at the time of Jesus had the general belief that:


This is the context in which Jesus' words were given....

When I get back to CA, I will send the references and supporting dox to you...[A quick summary of the position and talmudic refs are given in Cohen's Everyman's Talmud, the chapter on the Hereafter, esp. 377-379.]

This just for starters...glenn



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