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

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


A magisterial paintings of social background, Life After Death illuminates the numerous alternative ways old civilizations grappled with the query of what precisely occurs to us once 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 popular student, Segal examines the maps of the afterlife present in Western spiritual texts and divulges not just what quite a few 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 reflect within which a society arranges its inspiration of the self. The composition procedure for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam begins in grief and results in the victory of the self over death.

Arguing that during each non secular culture the afterlife represents the final word gift for the great, Segal combines historic and anthropological information with insights gleaned from non secular and philosophical writings to give an explanation for the subsequent 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 considered the lifeless as residing in underground prisons; why the Hebrews remained silent approximately lifestyles after loss of life in the course of 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 procedure. He discusses the internal dialogues and arguments inside Judaism and Christianity, exhibiting the underlying dynamic at the back of them, in addition to the information that mark the diversities among the 2 religions. In a considerate exam of the impression 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, historic relationships among sacred texts and groups of trust and evaluating the visions of lifestyles after loss of life that experience emerged all through background, Segal sheds a brilliant, 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 that means of lifestyles on the earth.

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