Ideas about the Afterlife in Judaism, Christianity and Islam Ideas about the afterlife play an importantrole in various religions including the world ones: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Afterlife is seen as something that has a direct relationship with the earthly life of a person. Regardless of their features, various religions admit the interdependence between the afterlife and the earthly life. The acts committed by a person during his/her earthly life affect his/her existence within the afterlife. Afterlife is regarded as a continuation of life on earth and its quality depends on the characteristics of human behavior within the framework of earthly life.
In turn, the differences between the three religions are determined by the historical development of their theological ideas, making their concepts of the afterlife specific. These differences are manifested primarily in understanding the meaning of life after death and its connection with the earthly life. Analyzing the doctrine of the afterlife in Judaism, one should understand that in modern Judaism, the concept of the afterlife is not so important in comparison with similar concepts in Christianity and Islam.
In fact, “in modern times Judaism focuses more in the present world, where the relationship with God exists based on the commitment to humanity” (Houben). Perhaps this has led to the fact that the various streams of Judaism provide rather conflicting interpretations of the afterlife. As a result, the task of obtaining a common Jewish concept of the afterlife is rather difficult (Houben). Nevertheless, one can identify the main three versions of the doctrine of the afterlife, which followed one after another (Leff and Raphael). The first version existed before the creation of the first books of the Talmud.
At that time, the Jews believed that after the death, the souls of all people - both the righteous and the sinners – go into the same country, which they called the “Sheol. ” Sheol is a place where there is no bliss or torment. Being in Sheol, the souls of all the dead people were expecting the arrival of the Messiah and the decision of their fate. After the arrival of the Messiah, the righteous expected a reward in the form of a happy life in a renewed earth.
The second variant of the doctrine of the afterlife existed from the time of the Talmud until the second half of the twentieth century. According to this version, the souls should wait for the Messiah to receive a reward since after parting with the body the souls of the righteous immediately enter the heavenly paradise called “Gan Eden. ” In turn, the sinners were sent to hell, a place of torment.
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