Does Your Soul Go To Heaven?

In my previous post I discussed the beginnings of the Jewish idea of the “resurrection of the dead.”  This view is a pretty much commonplace today: in every Christian church that recites a creed today, and in many conservative churches that do not use creeds, it is believed that at the end of time there will be some kind of judgment and people will be raised from the dead.

At the same time, I have to be frank and say that ...

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An Alternative View of Suffering and the Idea of Resurrection

In yesterday’s post I was explaining why I do not think we need to point to Zoroastrianism as the source or reason for the views of “the resurrection from the dead” emerged within Judaism.   This view could have arisen within Judaism itself, because of some internal dynamics.  Here in this post I explain how it may have happened.

I begin where I ended yesterday: in ancient Israel, as up to today, there have been people who think that the reason they ...

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Resurrection from the Dead: Were Jews Influenced by Zoroastrianism?

I often get asked if ancient Judaism was influenced by Zoroastrianism or other kinds of Persian thought – especially when it comes to the specific doctrine of the “resurrection of the dead” and, more generally, the whole category of “apocalyptic thought.”  I used to think so!  Now I’m not so sure.  At all.

I’ve talked about apocalypticism and resurrection on the blog before.  Here I’ll discuss where these ideas came from, before, explaining more fully what they ended up looking like.  ...

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When Christians Went on the Attack Against Jews

I return now, for a couple of posts, to my thoughts on the rise of anti-Judaism in the early Christian tradition, and my thesis that it was largely driven by a different way of reading the Bible, that the Christians insisted the Jewish scriptures were looking forward to Jesus as a suffering messiah who would die for sins, and in doing so fulfilled all sorts of prophecies, and most Jews thought this entire view was nonsense, if not blasphemous.

Here is ...

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Why Was the World Created in 4004 BC?

We appear to be living in an age where science no longer matters.  As you may know, the English word “science” comes from the Latin term “scientia,” which means “knowledge.:  People who reject “science,” well, what is it they’re rejecting?   We live in dangerous times.

Apart from the more obvious examples of this rejection that you can find in the newspaper every day (involving a human-induced apocalypse of biblical proportions), there are still, of course, a large number of “creationists” out ...

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Why Christians Needed an Old Testament: Pagan Attacks on the Faith

In my discussion why Christians claimed the Jewish Bible for themselves (and argued it no longer belonged to Jews), I’ve been focusing strictly on the relationship of Jews and Christians, for obvious reasons.  But as it turns out, there is more to it than that.   Here is an issue that is hardly ever talked about in the scholarship on the rise of anti-Judaism in early Christianity, let alone among lay people wondering about why mainstream Christianity became opposed to Jews ...

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The Jewish Bible in the Gentile Churches

I continue here with my thoughts about how Christians came to claim the Jewish Bible for themselves, and to argue that it no longer belonged to Jews.   I’ve already pointed out that the Jewish followers of Jesus (Many? Most? All?)  (I suspect the answer is “Most”), within a short time after his death (months?  a year?) began wonder why other Jews did not accept Jesus as the messiah.  After all, they themselves “knew” he had been raised from the dead.  ...

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How “Jews” Became “Children of the Devil” in the New Testament

I have just started getting into the meat of the book proposal I have written for myself about The Battle for the Bible, on how it is that Christians claimed that the Hebrew Scriptures belonged to them rather than the Jews, and how this is what ultimately led to Christian opposition to Judaism and the Jews who practiced it.    As the argument unfolds, I hope it will make increasing sense!  Here’s the next bit, dealing with how the process began.

 

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Should the Old Testament Even Be in the Bible?

A week or so ago I started to describe how I’m thinking of one of my future books, that I’m tentatively calling The Battle for the Bible.  The book (if I write it) will be about how Christians got the Old Testament and saw the Old Testament as *their* book rather than the Jews’, who had misinterpreted it and given up (without their knowledge) any claim to it.  My argument is that this dispute is what ultimately led to the ...

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Is the Old Testament a Christian Book?

Yesterday I started describing a trade book that I’m thinking about writing, tentatively called (in my head) “The Battle for the Bible.”    Here is the next part of my self-reflections:

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A major part of my book will deal with one of the great puzzles in the history of religion:  Why does the Christian Bible even have an Old Testament?   And how did the early Christians, most of them gentiles, manage – in their own minds — to wrest it ...

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