Conceptions of Afterlife in Jewish Inscriptions
With Special Reference to Pauline Literature
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Publisher: JCB Mohr (Paul Siebeck)
Number of Pages: 238
Width: 23.2 cm
Height: 15.4 cm
Joseph S. Park examines the various indications of belief in or denial of afterlife in the Jewish funerary inscriptions found throughout the Mediterranean world, mostly during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. He reveals a wide variety of conceptions of and attitudes toward death and afterlife. Besides such well-known ideas as resurrection and the peaceful state of the deceased prior to it, there also seem to be indications of a denial of meaningful afterlife, often associated with a generally Sadducean alignment on the part of the deceased.These findings are then compared with corresponding indications in the Pauline epistles. The comparison shows, after taking into account the basic difference in purpose between the two types of evidence, a substantial agreement, and moreover seems to shed light on some aspects of the interpretation of Paul. For example, the indications of a denial of afterlife in the inscriptions points to the possibility of a similar background for those who are said in 1 Corinthians 15 to deny the resurrection. In addition to providing new insights in both areas in reference to afterlife beliefs, this comparison also sheds some light on the larger methodological issues affecting both bodies of evidence.In addition to specific implications such as this, Joseph S. Park demonstrates that both the Jewish inscriptions and Paul are best interpreted in reference to a background of ideas which is neither strictly Jewish nor pagan, but the result of free interaction between the two. This conclusion has obvious implications for the wider questions of Judaism and hellenization.