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Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of Life Paperback – April 17, 2008
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As most scholars admit, the doctrine of what is commonly understood these days about the resurrection is something that came about relatively late in history, around the second temple era. The author looks back into earlier scripture in order to glean issues related to the doctrine, and paints a picture of resurrection that is so alien to the modern thought; but that is why I chose a book like this anyway.
"...the Israelite conception of death [is] different from others, especially ours. Whereas we think of a person who is gravely ill, under lethal assault, or sentenced to capital punishment as still alive, the Israelites were quite capable of seeing such an individual as dead." (pg 38)
The Jewish ideas of death, life and resurrection were drastically different from our modern "empty graves" modern doctrine, and that is the meat of this book. What did they believe about life and death, and what was resurrection to them?
"Deriving from the question of where we go after we die, the question is, in fact, misconceived when posed to the Hebrew Bible. For the Hebrew Bible displays very little interest in that question. It is much more likely to focus on the question of whether God's blessing (especially the blessing of children) was or was not realized in the decedent's life.Read more ›
The book had, in my mind, three great strengths. First and most important was Levenson's overall success in regards to his thesis. He does an excellent job of identifying a thread that runs throughout ancient Israel's faith, from its Canaanite origins to the Second Temple period, that testifies to the power of God over death and God's commitment to deliver the covenant people from this power--to given them life. In the first half of the book, this discussion is unfolded slowly, in the detail work (e.g., meticulous discussions of Sheol in the Hebrew Bible, or the Temple as a source of protection against death, an 'intimation of immortality'). The second half seemed to focus more on larger themes such as exile and return or "The Fact of Death and the Promise of Life", or on the use of resurrection-language in the Hebrew Bible prior to the emergence of belief in an eschatological resurrection (e.g. in Isaiah and Ezekiel). This is where the study really picked up for me. He often concludes chapters with a helpful review of the path we've followed so far, always eager to keep in view the points of contact throughout the scriptures leading towards Daniel 12.Read more ›