In this thread I have started to argue that a new view of the afterlife began to emerge within ancient Israel around the time of the Maccabean revolt. For some Jewish thinkers it was no longer satisfying to imagine that God rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked in this life. That clearly was not happening.
The oppressive policies of the Syrian monarch Antiochus Epiphanes showed that the people of God suffer precisely when they followed the law of God, not when they broke it. So, if God is sovereign over all, and completely just, his justice must not be manifest in this life. For that reason there arose the idea that it would come after this life.
Within the apocalyptic tradition that emerged at this time, there developed the idea of a future resurrection of the dead. The people who died because of their righteousness – or, in a later version of the idea, anyone who happened to be righteous who died – would be raised from the dead and given an eternal reward.
Like so many other apocalyptic ideas, this one …
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