05 junio, 2011

THE EARLY BIBLE WAS NEVER CONCERNED ABOUT A WORLD BEYOND

Most people don’t know that the early books in the Bible are never concerned with the world beyond or the spiritual world. The Torah or the historical books assumed that once we died we go to a shadowy place called Sheol where the dead remain in a state of deep slumber. Some people like Elijah went straight to heaven for reasons only God knows. A prominent prophet like Samuel, however, had to stay in the Sheol like everybody else. Nonetheless, Saul felt the need to consult a medium in order to summon Samuel from the dead and ask him questions concerning his future as a king of Israel. Samuel complained about being disturbed from his slumber, but nonetheless he’s there talking to Saul thanks to the witch’s mediumship powers. Otherwise, the Bible is only concerned about this real world and our acting in it. The Law is given so Israel can prosper and lived in peace. They are not laws thought for individuals dealing with their own consciousness and moral dilemmas; they are laws for the community, for the nation of Israel as a whole. The rewards and punishments are grounded in visible and tangible human actions, and the consequences don’t have anything to do with the world beyond: they get materialized in a time historical dimension. The same thing happens to the promises or prophecies; they are aimed at a future in a time lineal sequence, not a Platonic-like realm of spiritual realities. Messianic ideals are also grounded in a historical-material God’s kingdom here on Earth, not in an intangible reality not suited for human beings.

The Bible later on starts developing the concept o resurrection and life after death, but it seems those new concepts are taken by the exiled Jews in Babylon who weren’t fully shielded against Zoroastrian influence. This is important to have in mind in order to understand later Bible developments and theological evolution.   

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