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Where Have All The Ghosts Gone? Evolution Of A Concept In Biblical Literature

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Chapter Summary

Like all ancient religious texts, the Bible is of course suffused with what moderns call the paranormal, the preternatural, the supernatural, the magical, or what some would call the numinous. The majority of references to ghosts in the Hebrew Bible are found in prohibitions and maledictions. The term rěpāʾîm appears twenty-five times in the Hebrew Bible and has two distinct meanings: it might mean spirits or shades of the dead, but it can also refer to a race of giant inhabitants of southern Syria. Ghost, or demon or angel, does indeed function like a collective memory of a tradition that stretches from the Ancient Israel to early Judaism and through Judaism to early Christianity.

Keywords: ancient Israel; ghost; Hebrew Bible; Judaism; rěpāʾîm



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