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Exhaustive Coverage of Jewish, Christian, Islamic Views,
This review is from: Life After Death: A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion (Hardcover)
Humans are, so far as we know, the only animal that concerns itself with what happens to us after we die. We don't even like to use the word die, we say passed away, crossed the river Jordan, or other terms. ==A major aspect of western religion is defining life after death. And in this monumental work, the origin and evolution of afterlife thoughts are traced. He begins with the Egyptions, where a life after death theology began to be developed. He thoroughly examines other early cultures such as Mesopotamia, Canaan, Greece, etc.
Finally he gets into the big three of western religions, first he covers Jewish views (Dr. Segal is a professor of Jewish studies at Columbia). Christian views come largely from Paul (Dr. Segal wrote a definitive book on Paul.) and the Gospels. For Islam, of course the Qur'an and some of the more modern writings are used.
In spite of the books large size (about 730 pages of text plus 150 pages of notes) it is fascinating enough and well written enough that it is relatively easy reading.