A Jewish View of the Afterlife in the Hebrew Bible (Jeremiah Unterman)

For Christians accustomed to certain ideas of heaven and hell, other views of the afterlife in Scripture may seem strange. But Jewish views of the afterlife have a storied and fascinating tradition of their own. In this episode, Dru is joined by Dr. Jeremiah Unterman, Senior Fellow at the Center for Hebraic thought. They discuss Jewish views of the afterlife from the ancient to modern times, encountering the concepts of sheol, ruach, gehenna, immortality, and judgment. Dr. Unterman offers perspectives on the story of Saul and the Necromancer, the phrase “gathered to their fathers,” burial practices of the ancient Near East, and the role that theodicy plays in developing Jewish views of the afterlife.

Jerry Unterman is a Resident Scholar at the Herzl Institute, former professor (Yeshiva University, Northwestern University, and others), an author, and Senior Fellow at the Center for Hebraic Thought. In 2017, he released Justice for All: How the Jewish Bible Revolutionized Ethics, a look at the influence of the Hebrew Scriptures on the values and practices of the modern world.

Show notes:

  • 0:00 Sheol and polytheism
  • 1:37 Egyptian versus Hebraic views of the afterlife
  • 4:09 Death in the Torah and Psalms
  • 6:07 The Necromancer of Endor
  • 9:18 Burial and “raising up”
  • 13:20 Hellenistic Judaism
  • 17:13 The idea of the soul and the world to come
  • 21:46 Greek versus Hebrew thought in the Apocrypha
  • 24:30 Medieval and Modern Jewish perspectives on the afterlife
  • 29:08 Looking at the New Testament
  • 33:40 The Talmud on Gehenna

Show notes by Micah Long

Image created by Rubner Durais

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