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By Alan F. Segal

A magisterial paintings of social historical past, Life After Death illuminates the numerous other ways historical civilizations grappled with the query of what precisely occurs to us when we die.

In a masterful exploration of the way Western civilizations have outlined the afterlife, Alan F. Segal weaves jointly biblical and literary scholarship, sociology, historical past, and philosophy. A well known pupil, Segal examines the maps of the afterlife present in Western non secular texts and divulges not just what a variety of cultures believed yet how their notions mirrored their societies’ realities and beliefs, and why these ideals replaced over the years. He continues that the afterlife is the replicate during which a society arranges its proposal of the self. The composition procedure for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam begins in grief and leads to the victory of the self over death.

Arguing that during each non secular culture the afterlife represents the last word present for the nice, Segal combines historic and anthropological info with insights gleaned from spiritual and philosophical writings to give an explanation for the next mysteries: why the Egyptians insisted on an afterlife in heaven, whereas the physique used to be embalmed in a tomb in the world; why the Babylonians seen the useless as dwelling in underground prisons; why the Hebrews remained silent approximately existence after loss of life throughout the interval of the 1st Temple, but embraced it in the second one Temple interval (534 B.C.E. –70 C.E.); and why Christianity put the afterlife within the middle of its trust method. He discusses the internal dialogues and arguments inside Judaism and Christianity, exhibiting the underlying dynamic at the back of them, in addition to the tips that mark the diversities among the 2 religions. In a considerate exam of the effect of biblical perspectives of heaven and martyrdom on Islamic ideals, he bargains a desirable point of view at the present troubling upward thrust of Islamic fundamentalism.

In tracing the natural, ancient relationships among sacred texts and groups of trust and evaluating the visions of lifestyles after dying that experience emerged all through background, Segal sheds a shiny, revealing mild at the intimate connections among notions of the afterlife, the societies that produced them, and the individual’s look for the final word which means of lifestyles on earth.

From Publishers Weekly
This huge examine combines historical past, geography, mythology, archaeology and anthropology with biblical textual content research. Segal, a professor of Jewish stories at Barnard collage, spent 10 years in this undertaking, however the erudition he monitors is unquestionably the results of a life of scholarship. In each tradition, humans ask an analogous primary questions about their life, together with "what occurs when we die?" even supposing Segal continues that solutions to that query lie "beyond affirmation or disconfirmation within the medical sense," he deals a finished assessment of the way the afterlife is known within the 3 major Western religions. He completely examines early impacts from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Canaan, Iran and Greece, then analyzes Jewish perspectives as expressed within the first and moment temple sessions, the publication of Daniel, the useless Sea scrolls and writings from and approximately New testomony instances, the early rabbis, mysticism and fundamentalism. For Christianity, systematic awareness is given to Paul, the Gospels, the pseudepigraphic literature and the Church Fathers. Segal additionally scans Muslim ideals as they seem within the Qur'an and the writings of Shi'a mystics and glossy fundamentalists. The introductory and concluding chapters give you the essence of the presentation, enlivened through quotations from Shakespeare. Impatient readers may perhaps start with those chapters as a consultant to picking which different sections of the e-book warrant additional scrutiny. cautious readers, even if, will take the difficulty and the time to pore over this amazing contribution to our figuring out of human trust and behavior.
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Praise for Alan F. Segal’s Paul the Convert

“Bold and imaginative.” —Paula Fredriksen, Books & Religion

“Alan Segal’s new booklet demanding situations Jewish and Christian students alike to take a clean examine this well-educated guy, arguing not just that it's most unlikely to appreciate Paul’s Christian writings with no knowing first-century Judaism yet that early Hellenistic Judaism is itself illuminated via Paul, due to the fact he was once considered one of simply Pharisees to have left any own writings at all.” —The Washington publish e-book World

“This is a considerate, not easy e-book that the intense pupil of Paul will locate definitely worth the effort.” —Bible Today

“Segal’s paintings abounds in clean insights for college students of Paul.” —F. F. Bruce, American old Review

“A brilliantly argued publication. . . . Paul is neither hero nor villain for Segal yet a desirable ancient and spiritual personality, from whom we will research a lot approximately either Judaism and Christianity. . . . i discovered myself completely sympathetic to Segal’s portrayal of Paul. greater than that, i discovered myself convinced.” —J. Christian Wilson, The Christian Century

“Elegantly produced. . . . Segal considers Paul’s Pharisaic schooling and coaching in addition to the Jewish context of his spiritual fight after he turned a Christian. He treats Paul as a Jew, a convert, and an apostle, and locations his conversion from Pharisaism to Christianity within the context of his society and his undertaking to the Gentiles.” —America

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Extra info for Life After Death: A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion

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Even academic research has fallen victim to this temptation, for far less reward, if far less damage. 31 This famous and justly praised book on the grieving process was a passionate defense of giving the dying the opportunity to face their own deaths in a constructive way. The book came out of a clinical setting, the result of a study of persons dying of cancer, and concluded that our medical procedures were designed to protect the feelings of doctors and caregivers rather than to allow the dying the dignity to deal with their impending deaths.

The dead pharaoh is transformed by mortuary ritual into Osiris, where his responsibilities change to the good government of the dead. A stable and intact tomb was a symbol of prosperity and harmony between this world and the next. But the physical intactness of the tomb certainly also provided the launching pad that allowed its inhabitant to ascend to heaven. As Morenz says, Logically, and as a rule, ascent to heaven and existence there are linked with the heliopolitan doctrine and are counterpart to the dominion of Osiris over the dead.

Since Osiris and Isis are the divinities most associated with the mortuary rites, this story is quintessentially a justi cation and legitimation of that science. According to the tale recounted by Plurarch, Isis casts about looking for ways to bring her brother back to life. She visits Byblos in Phoenicia to make the cedar ark in which the body is to be buried, as indeed one of the pharaoh’s sarcophagi was usually made from cedar, a wood whose preservative properties were here given mythical justi cation.

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