Does Judaism believe in Life after Death?


#1

During an RCIA class someone asked why is it that there are prayers in the Psalms which ask God to take revenge on their enemies, etc.

A reply given was that in the OT times, there was no belief in Life after Death (eternal punishment and reward). So any punishment was for the “here and now” on earth. Longevity and health were signs of God’s love and the converse in true.

Is this argument correct?
Is this the teaching of Judaism?

:confused:


#2

My understanding from Jewish friends is that while very Orthodox Jewry holds with a life after death, describing it, or how we interact in it or with it is “a mystery” - many Reform Jews do not believe in a life after death - the Jewish faith overall concerns itself with this life and leaves the rest to God basically.


#3

Another point to remember is that Judaism was very much a “work in progress”, building up to the Church we have today. At different times in ancient Judaism there were different understandings. Even in the NT we here that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the body, while other Jews did.

I think it’s very helpful to view ancient Judaism not as a seperate religion, but rather as the early and developing Church that was still in the process of receiving public Revelation. The true completing of Judaism didn’t occur until after the writing of the NT Scriptures, and even now we’re still learning how to understand God’s Word.


#4

[quote=bob]During an RCIA class someone asked why is it that there are prayers in the Psalms which ask God to take revenge on their enemies, etc.

A reply given was that in the OT times, there was no belief in Life after Death (eternal punishment and reward). So any punishment was for the “here and now” on earth. Longevity and health were signs of God’s love and the converse in true.

Is this argument correct?
Is this the teaching of Judaism?

:confused:
[/quote]

Actually, Jewish belief in Old Testament times tended to emphasize the here and now, the life here on earth, rather than the afterlife. This is because in the Jewish scriptures, God simply promises the Jewish people peace and abundance if they faithfully keep the Covenant, while on the other hand, punishment **in this life ** is the consequence of disloyalty to God. Thus, you would often read in the Old Testament about the Israelites being delivered by the Lord to the power of the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Philistines because they have **done evil in the sight of the Lord **, which after repenting of their sin, God sends a deliverer to them. Almost nothing is mentioned of punishment in an afterlife, or even the existence of an afterlife and as a result of this silence, it paved the way to later speculations and even debate among Jewish rabbis about the nature of the afterlife.

Gerry :slight_smile:


#5

Remember the Sadducees of Jesus’ day didn’t believe in the resurrection of the flesh and tried to trap our Lord with the trick question about the woman who was married to 7 brothers in succession “last of all the woman also died”—no wonder---- ANYHOW, the Sadducees only accepted the 5 Books of Moses, the Torah, and did not consider the Writings [the Psalms etc] and prophets inspired. They were the “Temple” or “Priestly” party and were in cahoots with the Roman occupiers. Basically they disappeared after the destruction of the 3rd Temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD. Judaism as we know it today is a descendant of Pharisaical Judaism. They accepted the Writings and Prophets as well as the Torah and they did believe in the resurrection. St. Paul had been a Pharisee, so he knew all about the resurrection of the dead in theory and then the Risen Christ confronted him. WOW


#6

Thanks everyone for replying to my query. Just wanted to make sure that we were giving the right information to the catechumens at RCIA.

Much appreciated your inputs.

God Bess
:thumbsup:


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