Bill Payne wrote:
> On Mon, 04 Feb 2002 08:24:06 -0500 george murphy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > There is absolutely nothing in this text to suggest that Job's
> > "first set of children was still alive in heaven." That whole way of
> > thinking is alien to the Old Testament. The hints of life after death
> > the Old Testament (including the textually difficult passage Job
> > point rather toward resurrection of the body.
> When David's first son by Bathsheba died, he said "Can I bring him back
> again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." (2 Samuel 12:23)
> David implied that his son was alive, but not where David could reach
> him at that time.
First, note the quiet bailout on the Job passage.
David's son would have been buried in the family tomb and eventually
David would go to join him. Eventually the bones of different generations
would be mingled together: When a Hebrew spoke of being gathered to his
ancestors, it had a quite literal sense, whatever else it might mean.
The people of Israel, like many others, thought that the dead
continued to have a shadowy existence in the underworld, in their case Sheol,
"the pit", &c. It's the common grave of humanity.
This existence is not any sort of "life" like that of the dead in Egyptian
mythology or of immortal souls in heaven. In Sheol no one can give YHWH
praise (Ps.6:5). The one who goes down to Sheol will not return (Job
> Other than that minor point, I assume you agree that _animals_ are dead
> when they die?
Yes, & "Man cannot abide in his pomp, he is like the beasts that
Lest it appear that I'm arguing for a sceptical anti-afterlife position,
let me emphasize that the reason for challenging all this stuff about
immortality of the soul &c is that it undermines belief in the resurrection.
Our hope is that the God who, contrary to all creaturely understanding,
"justifies the ungodly" and "calls into existence the things that do not
exist" also "gives life to the dead" (Rom.4:5-17). It isn't that God raises
the half-dead, releases our immortal souls from their prison, or any of that.
One of the worst poems in the English language - that you can find on
some "sympathy" cards - is that one by Helen Steiner Rice that begins, "You
cannot say, you must not say, that she is dead. She is just away." If she
isn't dead, why are we burying her?
We are not by nature immortal: God "alone has immortality." The
resurrection of the dead is God's new act of _creatio ex nihilo_ and we know
about it, not because it's reasonable that we have immortal souls but because
we believe (if we believe!) that God raised Jesus.
George L. Murphy
"The Science-Theology Interface"
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