Master of the Horse
“In the religious culture of the ancient Near East, Israel was the odd one out. Belief in life after death was well established among Israel’s neighbors, but for the longest time Israel remained adamant in its denial of life after death. Alan Segal in his masterful study Life after Death summarizes the issues well:
‘That the Bible lacks a concrete narrative of the afterlife, as we have seen so often manifested in the pagan cultures around it, must, we suspect, no be just accidental or deficient; it must be part of the biblical polemic against its environment. Practically every scholar who systematically surveys the oldest sections of the Biblical text is impressed with the lack of a beatific notion of the hereafter for anyone.’ (P. 121)
The most likely reason for this denial of an afterlife in ancient Israel is the threat such a belief poses to monotheism. The dead were viewed as powerful, almost as gods. [This] posed a threat to monotheism and so Israel denied such beliefs.
A number of the Psalms make this point so clearly that little commentary is necessary.
‘...turn your gaze away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more.’ (Ps 39:13)
Earth is the place for humans, and when they die and depart, they are no more, as the psalmist notes.”
(Scott, Bernard Brandon: The Trouble with Resurrection: From Paul to the Fourth Gospel; 2010, Polebridge Press; Pp 26-27)
I don't know any academics that deny that by the Second Temple Period the notion of resurrection/afterlife was well established within Jewry. The Book of Daniel is typically cited as one clear example:
-"Many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, others to reproaches, to everlasting abhorrence. And the knowledgeable will be radiant like the bright expanse of sky, and those who lead the many to righteousness will be like the stars forever and ever." (Dan. 12:2–3)
The standard Rabbnic claim is that resurrection and an afterlife have always existed within the Torah. If one asserts there was no concept of an afterlife prior to the Second Temple Period, it immediately runs into the logical issue of trying to prove a negative. It also would need to explain how the change within Judaism to have an afterlife model emerged without simply making bald assertions (it came from Zoroastrianism, for example), and also needs to contend with academic voices that reject the view an ancient Jewish afterlife concept didn't exist. Per the latter, a couple simples examples:
James L. Kugel of Bar Ilan's Bible Department in Israel authored "The Great Poems of the Bible: A Reader’s Companion with New Translations" (New York: Free Press in 1999. He states:
"Some decades ago, the cliché about the Hebrew Bible was that it really has no notion of an afterlife or the return of the soul to God or a last judgment or a world to come. But such a claim will not withstand careful scrutiny." (PP 209-210)
Jon D Levenson of Harvard's Jewish Studies Dept. is the author of "Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of Life" with Yale Press in 2006. His base thesis is that large swaths of scholarship on ancient Jewry is anachronistic. It draws conclusions based on notions of individuality that developed in the West. Ancient Judaism had a larger concept of identity. This applied to ideas of life, death, and salvation. Levenson puts forward ancestry, descendants, and affinity with the House of Israel all inform conceptions of resurrection and afterlife. Moreover, he argues the concept of resurrection is fundamental to the redemption of the House of Israel narrative, and therefore the very notion of salvation. It is impossible to remove afterlife conceptualization from the core of the faith tradition. All through the Tanakh there is an underlying assumption of an afterlife. He is basically agreeing that the Rabbinic Tradition is right. Levenson presents verses throughout the Tanakh to illustrate the point. Some examples:
-"And Abraham breathed his last, dying at a good ripe age, old and contented; and he was gathered to his kin". (Gen. 25:8) Gather to his kin is the clan/family relations in the afterlife.
-"God took Enoch (Gen. 5:24)
- Elijah was taken to heaven in a fiery chariot (II Kings 2:11).
- Malachi prophesies that Elijah will return in the future as the harbinger of the messianic era (Mal. 3:23–24).
- A witch conjured up Samuel’s spirit (I Sam. 28:11–14)
- Both Elijah and Elisha revived dead children (I Kings 17:19–23; II Kings 4:32–36).
For a Rabbinic approach, Rabbi Umberto Cassuto is a good example. His two volumes "Biblical and Oriental Studies" speaks directly to why the Tanakh is not more explicit in afterlife discussion in his analysis of the Garden of Eden story. He notes how in nearly all Middle Eastern Myth Traditions there is a tree, plant or some other representation of the life motif. In the Eden story by contrast, the Tree of Life is downplayed against the Tree of Knowledge and only becomes significant after the Tree of Knowledge has been eaten from. The Jews, as contradistinct to all surrounding peoples, placed the emphasis on the moral question and the relationship with the Divine, rather than a singular pursuit of physical immortality. Thus, immortality concerns are subverted to the more primary moral question.
Note: your citation of Bernard Brandon's "The Trouble with Resurrection: From Paul to the Fourth Gospel" is a product of the Westar Institute. The Westar Institute is most famous for the Jesus Seminar. Their approach is to reject at the outset any and all supernatural or metaphysical elements. This is problematic when dealing with a revealed religion as a topic. They are often criticized for a disciplinary myopia as they must then torture the prima facie textual data into saying something other than what is written. It can easily fall into circular reasoning.