The Immortality of the Soul: A Hellenistic Viewpoint

In an article entitled: “Immortality of the Soul” (at Jewish Encylopedia Dot Com) Kaufmann Kohler states:

“The belief in the immortality of the soul came to the Jews from contact with Greek thought and chiefly through the philosophy of Plato, its principal exponent, who was led to it through Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries in which Babylonian and Egyptian views were strangely blended, as the Semitic name “Minos” (comp. “Minotaurus”), and the Egyptian “Rhadamanthys” (“Ra of Ament,” “Ruler of Hades”; Naville, “La Litanie du Soleil,” 1875, p. 13) with others, sufficiently prove. Consult especially E. Rhode, “Psyche: Seelencult und Unsterblichkeitsglaube der Griechen,” 1894, pp. 555 et seq. A blessed immortality awaiting the spirit while the bones rest in the earth is mentioned in Jubilees xxiii. 31 and Enoch iii. 4. Immortality, the “dwelling near God’s throne” “free from the load of the body,” is “the fruit of righteousness,” says the Book of Wisdom (i. 15; iii. 4; iv. 1; viii. 13, 17; xv. 3). In IV Maccabees, also (ix. 8, 22; x. 15; xiv. 5; xv. 2; xvi. 13; xvii. 5, 18), immortality of the soul is represented as life with God in heaven, and declared to be the reward for righteousness and martyrdom. The souls of the righteous are transplanted into heaven and transformed into holy souls (ib. xiii. 17, xviii. 23). According to Philo, the soul exists before it enters the body, a prison-house from which death liberates it; to return to God and live in constant contemplation of Him is man’s highest destiny (Philo, “De Opificio Mundi,” §§ 46, 47; idem, “De Allegoriis Legum,” i., §§ 33, 65; iii., §§ 14, 37; idem, “Quis Rerum Divinarum Hæres Sit,” §§ 38, 57).

It is not quite clear whether the Sadducees, in denying resurrection (Josephus, “Ant.” xviii. 1, § 4; idem, “B. J.” ii. 12; Mark xii. 18; Acts xxiii. 8; comp. Sanh. 90b), denied also the immortality of the soul (see Ab. R. N., recension B. x. [ed. Schechter, 26]). Certain it is that the Pharisaic belief in resurrection had not even a name for the immortality of the soul. [emphasis added -ed.] For them, man was made for two worlds, the world that now is, and the world to come, where life does not end in death (Gen. R. viii.; Yer. Meg. ii. 73b; M. ?. iii. 83b, where the words , Ps. xlviii. 15, are translated by Aquilas as if they read: , “no death,” ????????).

This entry was posted in Body/Soul, Heaven/Hell, Resurrection. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Immortality of the Soul: A Hellenistic Viewpoint

  1. Kenneth C Conrad says:

    I wrote and self published a book through authorhouse publishing titled “What the Church Does Not Want You to Know” sold a few. This explains the conditionalidt view for the lay men who have not been exposed to our position. You may want to read it and offer it on your website. I am now working on “The sermons of Jesus” which my Greek translation is a more accurate translated from the original Greek. I am a BD, ThM, PhD Kicked out of many churches etc. You probably have experienced all of this.

    Just type in my name Kenneth C Conrad in book store search online. All major book stores carry it.


  2. admin says:

    I purchased your book. It covered a number of topics including conditional immortality. Unfortunately, I think you need to have it edited. Let me explain. I thought your content was good, and you used excellent stories/parables to illustrate your points but unfortunately some of the grammar was poor. There were a number of typos and this detracted significantly from the book.

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