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Differentiated Fates In Jewish Sources

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Chapter Summary

When we turn to the Jewish sources of the Hellenistic and Roman periods, a similar kind of diversity emerges. There was no single “Jewish” view of the afterlife but the sources attest a plurality of beliefs that coexisted side by side. The ideas concerning life and death are tied closely with the belief in God’s justice. Many of the testaments are written in the form of a farewell speech. Thus, it is only natural that the dying patriarch reveals something of the fate of the dead. This is evident in the most extensive testamentary writing, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Even though the different testaments are firmly rooted in the Deuteronomistic tradition, they also contain eschatological speculations concerning the evil spirits and the Devil, the Messiah, and the resurrection of the dead. The differentiated fate of the sinners and the righteous is a salient feature in many of them.

Keywords: afterlife; death; Deuteronomistic tradition; differentiated fate; God’s justice; Hellenistic period; Jewish sources; Roman period; sinners; testaments



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