Notes for Religious Studies 369:
Introduction to Judaism
- Bible says almost nothing about afterlife-- Prospects of paradise or eternal torment are not invoked as motivations.
Possibly, the editors wanted to discourage fixation on death (as was prevalent in Egypt).
"she'ol" probably only means "grave" and does not refer to the abode of the deceased spirits.
- Resurrection emerges as distinctive doctrine--first with Pharisees, later with Rabbis.
- Implications for treatment of dead: Insistence on preservation of the body-burial, not cremation.
- Rabbinic concepts:
- World to Come: Used inconsistently, primarily to refer to Messianic era after resurrection of dead.
- Gan Eden ["Garden of Eden", Paradise]: abode of righteous souls, immediately after death and / or after judgment.
- Gehinom [Gehenna]: Place of torment for the wicked. Usually depicted as temporary state (similar to Catholic Purgatory), after which most people will be admitted to Paradise.
- Rationalists often preferred model of spiritual or intellectual survival. Maimonides: Those who are resurrected will live out their new lives and die.
- Kabbalah teaches doctrine of gilgul: Souls are reincarnated into different bodies (not necessarily human) until they are worthy of admission to paradise.
- Modern theologians tend to minimize the importance of afterlife concerns, especially the belief in physical resurrection.