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Jewish Views of the Afterlife Paperback – June 15, 2009
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Can we imagine a Jewish Dante? Jewish Views of the Afterlife challenged prevailing contemporary assumptions about Judaism as a religion focused on life, not death, a religion opposed to all 'otherworldly' speculations. Now, with a second edition of this landmark book, readers can ponder and wonder afresh what it means to accept an 'afterlife,' and how such a worldview might influence the daily lives and experiences of those who hold it. This book is a model of how to present the richness and strangeness of a religious tradition's teachings, to a wide audience, in a thoroughly readable style. (Lucy Bregman, Temple University)
Simcha Raphael's book presents an array of images on life after death which convincingly dispel the misconception that Judaism lacks beliefs about the hereafter. In this second edition, a new chapter on death rituals deepens the contribution this book makes to contemporary Jewish life. From life review and ethical wills, to the work of chevra kaddisha, the Jewish burial society, this book provides a path for those of us seeking to connect ritual traditions around end of life to the full spirituality of the death process. Those working with Jewish death traditions, personally or professionally, should include this book in their reference library. (David Zinner, Kavod v'Nichum, North American Chevra Kaddisha Conference)
Praise for the first edition:[Raphael] traces, in a synoptic style, 4,000 years of Jewish thought on the afterlife by investigating pertinent sacred texts produced in each era. From the Bible, Apocrypha, rabbinic literature, medieval philosophy, medieval Midrash, Kabbalah, and Hasidism, the reader learns how Judaism conceived of the fate of the individual after death throughout Jewish history. (Journal Of Nietzsche Studies)
Praise for the first editon:Simcha Paull Raphael has performed an act of resurrection. He has restored the rich heritage of Jewish thought about life after death that has been repressed, disdained, or ignored for so long and he has made the heritage accessible for the first time to a new generation of Jews. (Rabbi Jack Riemer, editor of The World of the High Holy Days and So That Your Values Live On)
Since its first publication in 1994, I have recommended this book to many students and congregants…. Wide-ranging, passionate, clearly written, and thoroughly researched…. For many readers, then, this important work of scholarship may also be a spiritual resource. For all readers, it is an outstanding example of Jewish religious creativity today as well as a window into a neglected and surprisingly rich theme in Jewish religious texts. (Studies In Religion/Sciences Religieuses)
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Top Customer Reviews
The book contains sections on "Biblical Roots," "Apocryphal Literature," "The World to Come in Rabbinic Judaism," "Medieval Midrash," "Medieval Philosophy," "Kabbalah," "Hasidic Tales," and "A Contemporary Psychological Model of the Afterlife."
Here are some quotations from the book:
"...in the modern era Judaism does not have an extensive tradition on the afterlife." (Pg. 6)
"...Christian notions of life after death have permeated Jewish awareness, at a very deep, unconscious level." (Pg. 27)
"A Gallup poll in 1952 asked the question 'Do you think that your soul will live on after death?' ... only 35 percent of Jews responded affirmatively. In 1965 the numbers were even lower... only 17 percent of Jewish respondents believed that their souls would live on after death. The remaining 83 percent of the Jews polled said either 'no' or 'don't know.'" (Pg. 29)
"Absolutely nowhere in the Bible do we find a unified view about life after death that reflects postmortem beliefs of the entire biblical era, or even of any one period." (Pg. 42)
"At this stage in biblical history, the notion of a personal immortality does not yet exist." (Pg.Read more ›
I found the sections on the importance of land in relation to family for the Israelites especially interesting. The verse in the Old Testament permitting stoning children sounds abominable until you understand the greater context.1) Israelites as a tribal people found land of great importance; sheol (their afterlife realm) existed in parallel with present world and there were certain burial rites requires to ensure a proper transition. If a child was disobedient to their parents, then there is no assurance the child would be socially compliant enough to bury his parents correctly, thus preventing their continued existence in sheol; much better to kill the child, bury him properly (he would still continue his existence in sheol) , and then have another child to ensure the family's benefit.
I hopped around in the book so I can't review it in it's entirety, nor can I offer many details as amongst all my research, I have forgotten a particulars on specifics books, but I do offer praise for the book in general. It is great supplemental information for research, but also written where a general reader would receive benefit. Once the "Jewish culture" receptors in my brain are no longer burnt out, I will likely return to this book due it's vast insight.
In researching other books on Jewish Afterlife beliefs, another reviewer suggest Kin, Cult, Land, and Afterlife by Herbert Brichto which I read. As an article it is much shorter and offers comparative cultural info on the four topics in its title.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
excellent. Learned a lot. Easy to read, research and historical perspective was really helpful.Published 8 months ago by Anon
so when all is said and done....who knows about the afterlife. don/t think I finished the book.Published 10 months ago by Shaaron Fisher
\Jewish Views of the Afterlife is one of the most esteemed books in the field. Exhaustive coverage. Nobody should presume to talk about this topic without having Raphael's book.Published 18 months ago by Donald J. Weinshank
In-depth resource, scrupulously supported. I used this to prepare for a course I was teaching to an adult group.Published 21 months ago by Charlottemagne
Good book on basics of Jewish views of afterlife. But!
This author's premise is a more general view of spirituality and he does not focus on just Jewish positions on... Read more
"Jewish Views of the Afterlife" is the most thorough and concise literary work I have read regarding the Jewish view of the afterlife. Dr. Read morePublished 23 months ago by K
The book contains a lot of interesting and useful iformation. Every Bible-reader who is pondering about the after-life will find help reading this book.Published on March 10, 2014 by Ragnhild Gilbrant