"For in death there is no remembrance of you," said the psalmist, but what did the ancient Israelites actually believe about the Shades of Sheol? Exploring death and the afterlife in the Old Testament, Oxford researcher Philip Johnston offers fresh evidence that the Hebrews weren't overly preoccupied with the underworld---as some scholars allege. Discover how worshiping Yahweh as God of the living led to positive views on the resurrection. 288 pages, softcover, InterVarsity.
"For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who can give you praise?" (Psalm 6:5)
- Death is a profound and complex subject. How did the Israelites respond to it?
- The dead apparently went to Sheol. Where and what was it?
- The inhabitants of Sheol are sometimes called "shades." What does this indicate?
- Many ancient peoples venerated their ancestors. Did Israelites do this?
- Did anyone hope for a positive afterlife? If so, in what form?
- What about resurrection? How and when did this belief emerge?
Philip S. Johnston explores these and other issues. He examines Israelite views on death and afterlife as reflected in the Hebrew Bible and in material remains, and sets them in their cultural, literary and theological contexts. Johnston argues in detail that the Israelites were not as preoccupied with the underworld or the dead as some scholars have recently alleged. Instead, their faith that Yahweh was the God of the living, and that Sheol was cut off from him, led eventually to the hope of a positive afterlife. This important study sheds fresh light on Israelite beliefs in an area central to the later development of the Christian faith.
Philip S. Johnston is director of studies in theology and religious studies and senior tutor at Hughes Hall, Cambridge. He has taught at Belfast, St. Andrews and Oxford. He has published studies of Israelite afterlife beliefs, and has an interest in Israel past and present--along with a commitment to reconciliation. His other books include (coeditor with David Firth), and (coeditor with Peter Walker).
"This is a competent, comprehensive and accessible study, which makes a valuable contribution to an important topic."
"Fresh data and new interpretations ensure that death and the afterlife remain a lively center of debate within Old Testament study. Philip Johnston has analyzed the arguments in masterly fashion, and his study will be a must-read for anyone interested in knowing what the biblical writers actually say on the subject."
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