Afterlife & the Messiah 101

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Life After Death

The resurrection of the dead is briefly mentioned in the biblical books of Daniel and Isaiah. While the rabbis of the Talmud creatively interpreted references to resurrection in the Torah itself, these two are the only direct biblical references to life after death, and they date from late in the biblical period. Some scholars identify some notion of individual survival beyond death in the Bible, but the specific idea that the soul lives on after the death of the body entered Judaism later.

The World to Come, a concept often discussed in talmudic literature, can refer either to the world of the resurrected in the End of Days, or to the abode of the righteous souls following death, i.e. Gan Eden. (In response to the accusation that he denied physical resurrection, Maimonides uniquely depicted this heavenly abode as a spiritual world that will exist after the resurrected dead die for a second time.) More often than not, the precise referent of the World to Come is ambiguous

Judaism is often thought of as a this-worldly religion, one unconcerned with the afterlife, particularly heaven and hell. Though this would be an overstatement, it is noteworthy that despite the multitude of sources about the afterlife, remarkably few Jewish thinkers have been concerned with elaborating precise eschatological schemes.

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