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Featured Mortalism and Soul Sleep

Discussion in 'Scriptural Debates' started by Vouthon, Dec 9, 2017.

  1. Clear

    Clear Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Apr 20, 2008


    As I mentioned in the prior post #20, I am impressed that you were so keyed into early Judeo-Christian doctrines and worldviews on this point of the state of spirits between death and resurrection. I thought I would give you some examples of early Judeo-Christian Literature that demonstrates early Judeo-Christian Orthodox on this specific point.



    Some confusion is caused by translation since, in describing the “intermediate” world between mortality and Final Judgment Both writers and translators of various early texts use many words somewhat arbitrarily in their translations, to refer to this place such as SHEOL - HADES - SPIRIT WORLD, PARADISE, PURGATORY, etc. (…sometimes "HELL" is used). The TERM “Purgatory” may be a later term, but the doctrine itself existed among the earliest Judao-christians.

    Because translators use so many different terms for the same place, Occassionally, it is only the context that saves us from confusion.

    Perhaps I can apply this point to as it relates to the ancient usage of the word “paradise”
    For example the early Judeo-Christian textual description that “paradise is in between the corruptible and the incorruptible.” ( 2 Enoch 8:5) indicates the ancient meaning for Paradise which moderns often forget.

    This ancient usage of the word “Paradise” changes the meaning of Jesus promise to Dymas (the thief crucified beside Jesus) that “thou shalt be with me in paradise” (lk 23:43). It was not “heaven” Dymas was promised, but it was “paradise”, the place between corruptible mortality and incorruptible heaven. The greek term "παραδιζο" referred to the place of gardens just outside of the castle of the king.

    Of mortals it was said, “ Either he will be in this world or in the resurrection or in the places in the middle.” (The gospel of Phillip)


    In the earliest version of this doctrine, All who leave mortality through death enter the place in the middle, i.e. Sheol, hades, spirit world, paradise, etc.

    The “complainerEzra complains regarding the end of his life : “Bewail me, all holy and just ones, because I have entered the bowl of Hades.” (Apoc of Ezra7:1) The glorified Jesus reminds Ezra that he had been there as well : “Hear, Ezra, my beloved one. I, being immortal, received a cross, I tasted vinegar and gall, I was set down in a grave. And I raised up my elect ones and I summoned up Adam from Hades (The Greek Apocalypse of Ezra 6:26 & 7:1-4). But more on this later.

    In this ancient theology, all souls, including the Patriarchs, upon dying, have their spirits placed into this spirit world. Quote: “do you not know that all those who (spring) from Adam and Eve die? And not one of the prophets escaped death and not one of those who reign has been immortal. Not one of the forefathers has escaped the mystery of death. All have died, all have departed into Hades, all have been gathered by the sickle of Death.” (TESTAMENT OF ABRAHAM (recension A) 8:9; 7)

    And Death said, “Hear, righteous Abraham, for seven ages I ravage the world and I lead everyone down into Hades – kings and rulers, rich and poor, slaves and free I send into the depth of Hades (T of Abr (rec A) 19:7) .

    For Death deceived Abraham. And he kissed his hand and immediately his soul cleaved to the hand of Death....13...the undefiled voice of the God and Father came speaking thus : “Take, then my friend Abraham into Paradise, where there are the tents of my righteous ones and (where) the mansions of my old ones, Isaac and jacob, are in his bosom... (TESTAMENT OF ABRAHAM (recension A) 20:9,13-15)

    None of these references refer to the "Hell" that individuals may be sent to after the Judgment, but Hades was also a name for this "spirit world"; the "place in the middle". Another point of confusion regarding Hades is that the experience there is NOT the same for all individuals since individuals are divided according to their degree of righteousness. Thus the ancient texts describe it differently according to who is sent there (i.e the righteous vs the unrighteous).

    I think that the catholic version of this early doctrine took on a bit different character partly because in some contexts, this spirit world was a sort of bondage; a "prison" of sorts.


    For example, In describing Sheol, Enoch is shown that it has separate “areas” for individuals to be “assigned to”. In his vision, Enoch asks the angel :
    .”For what reason is one separated from the other? And he replied and said unto me, “These three have been made in order that the spirits of the dead might be separated. And in the manner in which the souls of the righteous are separated (by) this spring of water with light upon it, in like manner the sinners are set apart when they die and are buried in the earth and judgment has not been executed upon them in their lifetime,... until the great day of judgment...They will bind them there forever–even from the beginning of the world. ....Such has been made for the souls of the people who are not righteous, but sinners and perfect criminals; they shall be together with (other) criminals who are like them. (1Enoch 22:9-13)


    Since the righteous are with the righteous, they seem to adapt to a calm existence, the unrighteous, being grouped with others of their type and having increased awareness of the result of their moral choices become unhappy in their regrets and distress. And, Sheol itself also had a “middle place” according to this ancient model.

    In Abraham’s description of Hades, he asks the angel : “Is one who is unable to enter through the strait gate unable to enter into life?...4 And Michael answered...you will enter through it unhindered, as will all those who are like you.”...And when they went, they found an angel holding in his hand one soul of a woman from among the six myriads, because he found (her) sins evenly balanced with all her works, and they were neither in distress nor at rest, but in an intermediate place.. ( TESTAMENT OF ABRAHAM (recension B) 9:1-10)

    In this early doctrine, Hades was not simply a place where souls “sleep”, but they are cognizant and communicate and still have free will. Those spirits who had no idea nor concept of God’s plan for them are still allowed to learn and make moral choices just as those who had the gospel given to them while in mortality. They may make the same moral progress as any other individuals. For example : Enoch, describes his vision of Hades/Sheol, teaching that there are those there who teach moral law :

    Come and I will show you where the souls of the wicked stand, and where the souls of the intermediate stand;... He said to me: The souls of the wicked are brought down to sheol....Samki’el is in charge of the souls of the intermediate,to support them and purify them from sin, through the abundant mercies of the Omnipresent One. “ (3en 44:1-3)

    It is not merely Samki’el who teaches, but the spirit of men communicate and teach one another as I’ll point out later in the discussion of Christian texts of Christ’s descension into Sheol (hades, hell, paradise, etc, etc). However, the early Christian Saints also understood, that the spirits of individuals in Sheol (hades, paradise, etc) still possessed intelligent free will and could also accept the blessings of the Gospel as far as they were able. Being “bodiless”, these individuals could NOT be baptized, though they could make the change of heart associated with faith, humility, repentance, etc. From the testimony of the two sons of Symeon, we know that individual believers in the spirit world WERE teachers of others, just as those with bodies teach and testify of the gospel to others.

    Whether moral progress occurs to the spirit before mortality, or during mortality or after mortality, still, changes may occur as long as God allows the individual to chose.

    The doctrine of the descensus is foreign to many protestant churches, but anciently, the Judao-Christians spoke of the descent of Christ into “the place in between” (sheol, hades, hell, etc.) after his death The descent of Christ into this spirit world after his death is described in multiple ancient accounts.

    One is The Gospel of Bartholomew. In this account, the Apostle Bartholomew asks the risen Jesus : “Lord, when you went to be hanged on the cross, I followed you at a distance and saw how you were hanged on the cross and how the angels descended from heaven and worshiped you. And when darkness came, I looked and saw that you had vanished from the cross; only I heard your voice in the underworld,.....Tell me, Lord, where you went from the cross.

    In this christian account, Jesus summarizes his descent into Hades saying : Quote: "I went to the underworld to bring up Adam and all the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.... When I descended with my angels to the underworld ,in order to dash in pieces the iron bars and shatter the portals of the underworld”... “ I shattered the iron bars....And I brought out all the patriarchs and came again to the cross.... “I was hanged upon the cross for your sake and for the sake of your children.” (The Gospel of Bartholomew chapt one)

    The early Christian Gospel of Nicodemus, text contains multiple testimonies of the living Jesus after his resurrection AND descriptions of Jesus actions in Hades when he visited the “spirits imprisoned” there. Joseph (of Arimathea) observes to those discussing Jesus resurrection :

    Why then do you marvel at the resurrection of Jesus? It is not this that is marvelous, but rather that he was not raised alone, but raised up many other dead men who appeared to many in Jerusalem. And if you do not know the others, yet Symeon, who took Jesus in his arms, [Luke 2:34] and his two sons, whom he raised up, you do know. For we buried them a little while ago. And now their sepulchers are to be seen opened and empty, but they themselves are alive and dwelling in Arimathaea”...Joseph said: “Let us go to Arimathaea and find them.” Then arose the chief priests Annas and Caiaphas, and Joseph and Nicodemus and Gamaliel and others with them, and went to Arimathaea and found the men of whom Joseph spoke.” (Gospel of Nicodemus Ch one)

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  2. Clear

    Clear Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Apr 20, 2008

    These men then speak with the resurrected sons of Symeon (who were NOT Christians and were NOT baptized while they were alive). These two had died, and gone to the world of Spirits, converted to Christianity while in the spirit world, and had then been resurrected with many others at the resurrection of Christ and who were walking among and teaching others regarding Jesus. The brothers described what happened in this Spirit world (sheol, hades, etc).

    We, then were in Hades with all who have died since the beginning of the world. And at the hour of midnight there rose upon the darkness there something like the light of the sun and shone, and light fell upon us all, and we saw one another, and immediately our father, Abraham, along with the patriarchs and the prophets, was filled the joy, and they said to one another: “This shining comes from a great light.” The prophetIsaiah, who was present there, said : “This shining comes from the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. This I prophesied when I was still living: The land of Zabulon and the land of Nephthalim, the people that sit in darkness saw a great light.” Then there came into the midst another, an anchorite from the wilderness. The patriarchs asked him: “Who are you?” He replied: “I am John, the last of the prophets, who made straight the ways of the Son of God, and preached repentance to the people for the forgiveness of sins.....And for this reason he sent me to you, to preach that the only begotten Son of God comes here, in order that whoever believes in him should be saved,....Therefore I say to you all: When you see him, all of you worship him. For now only have you opportunity for repentance because you worshiped idols in the vain world above and sinned. At another time it is impossible” (Gospel of Nicodemus Ch two)

    I might make the point here that it is not only John the Baptist’s spirit who is teaching the gospel, but the spirits of the other Patriarchs among the spirits of men are teaching the gospel to individuals such as the sons of Rabi Simeon, and many testified of gospel truths to the others in the spirit world.

    The story continues : “Now when John was thus teaching those who were in Hades, the first-created, the first father Adam heard, and said to his son Seth: My son, I wish you to tell the forefathers of the race of men and the prophets where I sent you when I fell into mortal sickness.


    then teaches the others regarding the "oil of mercy" that Adam requested and that Seth was told “go and tell your father than after the completion of fifty-five hundred years from the creation of the world, the only-begotten son of God shall become man and shall descend below the earth. And he shall anoint him with that oil. And he shall arise and wash him and his descendants with water and the Holy spirit. And then he shall be healed of every disease....When the patriarchs and prophets heard this, they rejoiced greatly.” This same message was NOT merely for Patriarchs and Prophets, but for all souls there who would listen.

    In chapter four, Satan adjure Hades to prevent Jesus from coming if it is possible, “For I believe that he comes here to raise all the dead”....” and while Satan and Hades were speaking thus to one another, a loud voice like thunder sounded: “Lift up your gates, O rulers, and be lifted up, O everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in”...David said: “Do you not know, blind one, that when I lived in the world, I prophesied that word: ‘Lift up your gates, O rulers?’” (Ps 23:7). Isaiah said: “I foresaw this by the Holy Spirit and wrote: ‘The dead shall arise, and those who are in the tombs shall be raised up, and those who are under the earth shall rejoice (ps 26:19) O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory.’” .....the gates of brass were broken in pieces and the bars of iron were crushed and all the dead who were bound were loosed from their chains, and we with them. And the King of glory entered in like a man, and all the dark places of Hades were illumined.”.

    The sons of Symeon continue to relate that : Ch VIII ...the King of glory stretched out his right hand, and took hold of our forefather Adam and raised him up. Then he turned also to the rest and said: “Come with me, all you who have suffered death through the tree which this man touched. For behold, I raise you all up again through the tree of the cross. With that he put them all out.


    Importantly, the sons of Symeon testify
    : "All this we saw and heard, we two brothers who also were sent by Michael the archangel and were appointed to preach the resurrection of the Lord, but first to go to the Jordan and be baptized. There also we went and were baptized with other dead who had risen again. Then we went to Jerusalem also and celebrated the passover of the resurrection. But now we depart, since we cannot remain here. And the love of God the Father and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all [2 Cor. 13;14].” (The Gospel of Nicodemus- Christ’s descent into hell ch XI)

    Even Symeons sons were authorized by Michael and sent to teach of the resurrection of Jesus. However FIRST, they were appointed by Michael to “first to go to the Jordan and be baptized.” “There also we went and were baptized with other dead who had risen again.


    There are other ancient Christian texts that also describe the ancient Christian faith in relation to their dead in this spirit world.
    For example, the ancient text from the diary of a Christian woman Perpetua (The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity) is the story of a new convert to Christianity. The specific doctrines that this new convert was taught and believed in are quite poignant AND, descriptive terms.

    First, Perpetua relates : “my father, furious at the word ‘Christian,’ threw himself upon me as though to pluck out my eyes but he was satisfied with annoying me;...Then I thanked the Lord for being parted for a few days from my father, and was refreshed by his absence. During those few days we were baptized, and the Holy Spirit bade me make no other petition after the holy water save for bodily endurance. A few days after we were lodged in prison; and I was in great fear, because I had never known such darkness. What a day of horror! Terrible heat, thanks to the crowds! Rough handling by the soldiers! To crown all I was tormented there by anxiety for my baby. (The Passion of Perpetual and Felicity ch three)

    Perpetua, who understood the ancient doctrine that all saints were to receive revelation for themselves is asked by her brother to ask God whether they might expect deliverance or ultimately be martyred.

    Then my brother said to me: ‘Lady sister, you are now in great honor, so great indeed that you may well pray for a vision and may well be shown whether suffering or release be in store for you.’ And I who new myself to have speech of the Lord, for whose sake I had gone through so much, gave confident promise in return, saying : ‘Tomorrow I will bring you word.

    Perpetua understands that she may ask God for revelation in a prayer and has every confidence that her prayer will be answered. She then made her request of God, and received a vision that confirmed they would be martyred and “...at once I told my brother, and we understood that we must suffer, and henceforward began to have no hope in this world.

    Perpetua understood also that she could make specific and limited requests for those who were dead in the same way that she could ask for specific and limited requests for the living. Perpetua had another Brother Dinocrates who had died as a child, untaught and unbaptized and, who, she understood to be in the spirit world with all others who had died. Perpetua relates : “After a few days, while we were all praying, suddenly in the middle of the prayer I spoke, and uttered the name of Dinocrates...And I saw at once that I was entitled, and ought, to make request for him. And I began to pray much for him...At once on this very night this was shown me. I saw Dinocrates coming forth from a dark place, where there were many other dark places...and the wound which he had when he died was in his face still.... “For him then I had prayed; and there was a great gulf between me and him, so that neither of us could approach the other. There was besides in the very place where dinocrates was a font full of water, the rim of which was above the head of the child; and Dinocrates stood on tiptoe to drink. I grieved that the font should have water in it and that nevertheless he could not drink because of the height of the rim. And I woke and recognized that my brother was in trouble. But I trusted that I could relieve his trouble, and I prayed for him every day until we were transferred to the garrison prison, for we were to fight with the beasts at the garrison games on the Caesar Geta’s birthday.

    It is obvious that Perpetua could see both that Dinocrates’ ability to access salvific principles was limited, she “saw at once that I (she) was entitled, and ought to make request for him.”. He was thirsty, but could not drink of the living water.

    After making a completely appropriate request for Dinocrates to receive the Gospel she relates in Ch VIII that Quote:

    During the daytime, while we stayed in the stocks, this was shown me. I was that same place which I had seen before, and Dinocrates clean in body, well-clothes and refreshed; and where there had been a wound, I saw a scar; and the font which I had seen before had its rim lowered to the child’s waist; and there poured water from it unceasingly; and on the rim a golden bowl full of water. And Dinocrates came forward and began to drink from it, and the bowl failed not. And when he had drunk enough of the water, be came forward being glad to play as children will. And I awoke. Then I knew that he had been released from punishment.”

    Dinocrates was given the chance to drink of living water of gospel knowledge to the extent he desired. Though Dinocrates never fully accessed the font of water, he did access the part of this living water he could access by virtue of the golden bowl of water. The story of Dinocrates is lost to history at this point.

    my point in offering such descriptions is to offer support to the specific historical point that the doctrine of a world between death and resurrection/judgment itself was believed by the early Judao-Christians, it was orthodox, and that the early christians who believed in such traditions would have interpreted scriptures inside this context of belief.

    In any case, I am impressed that you were able to create a historically correct model of this point and realized that there is a great deal of early Judeo-Christian literature written by the early Judeo-Christians which described their own beliefs in their own words.

    Good journey to you @Vouthon.

    #22 Clear, Dec 10, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
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  3. Clear

    Clear Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    @Vouthon :

    Obviously one cannot really describe with accuracy the amount and type of vast early Judeo-Christian literature dealing with the world of spirits into which the spirits of mankind go after they die and their spirits are separated from their bodies. However, some examples can be given that demonstrate the early doctrines regarding this place.

    Because of your interest and study in this area, I thought you would appreciate a couple of examples from the Jewish Talmud regarding the early Jewish Doctrine of this world of spirits. Even the early Talmudic literature confirms your model of a cognizant and communicative world of spirits after death.

    Some of the examples are quaint anecdotes that reflect the underling assumptions and doctrines of a cognizant world of spirits. For example :

    Mo’ed Qatan 25b, refers to a story about deaths and burials of Rabbah b. R. Huna and R. Hamnuna. Both were having their bodies being “brought up to there” (presumably to Israel) during their funerals at the same time. Their coffins and seperate lines of funeral processions came to a narrow bridge simultaneously and the spirits of the Dead Rabbis proceeded to argue with one another over who should cross the bridge first. After the matter was resolved. (R. Huna crossed first) A child nearby “opened [his mouth] in praise of the deceased”. The Talmud relates the words of the child since the eulogy had it’s own importance to the story. The separation of the soul from the world is described in violent language ("Robbed”). Though the soul is described as righteous, and God joyous at the arrival of this soul in the world beyond still, there was something about death that was lamentable. This sets the stage for further stories about trying to comfort the dead and not frustrate ("mock") them for no longer being alive.

    In Talmudic discussions regarding Death and Burial (Berakhot 17b-19b) it is made clear that the deceased were believed to know and to feel. In fact many of the religious obligations the jews felt, were because the dead were sentient.

    For example : Mishna Berakhot 3:1 announces a general exemption from religious obligations for the person whose dead relative lies unburied before him.

    The many mitzvahs that surround the taking care of dead bodies and what is and is not allowed, often, have more to do with the opinion and feelings of the dead, than any effect they have on the living. For example, various acts normally considered religious obligations are prohibited in the cemetery because of their potential effect on the spirits of the dead. (e.g. making them more sad, or more frustrated, etc.)

    For example : A person should not walk in the cemetery with tefillin on his head And a Torah scroll on his arm, and read therefrom. And if he does so, He transgresses [the scripture which says], “He who mocks the Poor affronts his Maker(Prov. 17:5)

    David Kraemer, Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics explains that “Certain acts normally considered religious obligations are prohibited in the cemetery not because of an alternative obligation (as in the cases above) and not because of ritual impurity (as we might expect), but because the one who wears the tefillin in the presence of the buried dead as though “mocks the poor and affronts his Maker.” “The poor” is obviously understood to refer to the deceased. Performing religious obligations in his immediate presence is by extension called “mocking.” How are we to make sense of this fanciful interpretation – of the application of this verse to the deceased? There is only one reasonable answer: The deceased must know what is done in his presence and so, if he sees you doing what he can no longer do, you are unwittingly mocking him. Because this is true, we must be sensitive to how the deceased may feel. Our actions in the presence of the deceased should be directed by this sensitivity. “ “…the motivation is concern for the deceased. If we eat in his presence, bless in his presence, enjoy the pleasures of life of the living in his presence, we are being insensitive and foul, mocking him and affronting his maker.

    The same principle exists in many other examples in the Talmud and some of the discussion exists to explain what Ecclesiates 9:5 must have meant when it said “the dead know nothing”. The doctrine was orthodox that the dead obviously did know things and are cognizant and communicative. Thus the discussion regarding how the scripture was to be interpreted given the accepted doctrine of cognisant spirits. For example :

    R. Hiyya and R. Yonatan were out walking in a cemetery. The blue Fringe [=the ritual fringers, called zizt] of R. Yonatan was dragging. R. Hiyya said to him: Lift it, so that they [the dead] don’t say “Tomorrow they Are coming to be with us and now they mock us! He said to him: “And to they know this much? But is it not written, ‘And the dead Know nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5)?” He said to him: “If you have read, You have not repeated; if you repeated, you did not read a third time; If you read a third time, they did not explain it to you. ‘For the living’ Know that they will die’ – this refers to the righteous who are called Living even in their death…’And the dead know nothing’ – this Refers to the wicked who, even in their lives, are called dead…

    Since, the Talmud has previously expounded the Jewish position that the dead are cognizant, the current issue is how much the dead know about what is going on in the world of the living. The first point is that the dead can know of our actions and, thus through the reminder that they can no longer do what we are able to do, we feel regret and angst and frustration. Naturally R. Hayya refers to the scripture : “the dead know nothing” (often quoted by J. Witness theologians who offer their modern interpretation of this scripture which differs from the ancient interpretation ).

    In this talmudic story, one must not “drag our fringes over their heads,” and thus remind the dead of the religious acts we can do but that they cannot. Then, to demonstrate what it is that the dead do know and what they do not know, other stories follow.

    For example : The sons of R. Hiyya went out into the city. Their learning became too “heavy” for them and they took pains to recall it. One said to his fellow: “Does our father know of this pain?” The other said to him, “From where would he know? And isn’t it written, ‘His sons will become heavy and he does not know’ [Job 14:21]? The other responded to him: “And does he not know? And isn’t it written, ‘when his flesh is upon him [even after death] it will hurt and his soul will mourn for him’ (ibid., v.22)! And R. Isaac said, “The worm is difficult [painful] for the dead as a needle in the Flesh of the living.” [Thus, the logic follows that the dead do have knowledge] They say [in response, trying to defend the view of R. Yonatan], “they do know of their own pain; of the pain of others they do not Know.

    The stories leave us with some clarity and some confusion (which further stories must clear up). Thus far we are shown that the dead know certain things. Things of their own experience they may have awareness of, but of the experience of others, they may not have. (The restorationists and historians will here realize that the Talmud has not yet drawn on the concept of Sheol / Hades having different areas for different individuals who may have different knowledge levels…)

    Another story that tries to demonstrate the types of knowledge that the dead may have and the type of knowledge of which they “know nothing”.

    It once happened that a certain pious person gave a dinar to a poor person on the eve of the New Year, during years of scarcity, and his wife became angry with him. He went and slept in the cemetery, and he heard two spirits [of the dead] speaking to one another. One said to the other: My friend, come, let us roam the world, and we will hear from behind the curtain [of heaven] what sort of punishment is voming to the world. Her friend said to her: I cannot, for I am buried in a mat of reeds. But you go and tell me what you hear.
    She went and roamed and returned, and her friend said to her: My friend, what did you hear from behind the curtain? She said to her: I heard that anyone who sows seed during the time of the first rain, hail will destroy it. So he [the pious man who had overheard all of this] went and sowed during the time of the second rain. Everyone else’s crop was destroyed, but his was not.
    The following year, this same pious man returned to the same cemetery and again took away good advice. His wife, amazed at his good fortune, asked him how this happened, whereupon he told her the whole story. Shortly thereafter, the wife got into an argument with the mother of the young woman who was buried in the reed mat, insulting her for permitting her daughter to be buried in such a fashion. News of this incident got back to her dead daughter so, the next year, when the pious man returned for information concerning the upcoming crop season, the spirits refused to talk. Aware that they were being overheard, they decided to keep quiet.

    The Talmudic logic as to HOW the spirits found out that the man was listening to them (since they "know nothing" of him listening to them) was through another living person, (who knew of argument between the two women), who had died and, as a dead spirit, then related this information to the two dead spirits.

    In all of these stories, the Bavli Talmud confirms that the dead are cognizant and aware. The issues and questions then, concern what they know and how that knowledge is obtained. This portion of the Talmud does not handle the differentiation between spirits who inhabit “lower Hades” versus those in other areas of Hades/Sheol (since the conditions are different).

    Again, the basic point is, that early Talmudic parallels, early mishnas, early lectionaries, early versions of biblical books not in the “catholic canon” are also helpful in that pseudoepigraphs, Dead Sea scrolls, nag hamadi libraries, oxyrhynchus and other Christian papyri, etc.to teach their doctrines with clarity, and that they parallel your model very, very well.

    Another advantage of familiarity with a larger swath of early Judeo-Christian literature is that they not only reflect early theology but can explain how early Judeo-Christians interpreted conflicting data.

    The historical discovery that Hades/Sheol had different areas, subject to different conditions, different levels of freedom, different responsibilities, etc. explains why some dead are unable to move about in the earth and know very little about what is going on while others in Hades/Sheol are able to move about, with greater freedom and with more knowledge.

    References to these differences in hades exist, but we tend to "read right over them". "You have put me at the bottom of the Pit, in the darkest places, in the depths". (Psalm 88:4-7) 213 12:354

    Good luck with coming up with coherent historical models Vouthon.

    #23 Clear, Dec 11, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
  4. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
    Premium Member

    Jun 20, 2009
    Christian JW
    @Clear....how reliable are the sources used to determine the beliefs outlined in early Judeo-Christian literature? I believe that this is very important, since much of what forms current belief in both Judaism and in Christendom is influenced by them.

    When Jesus came, he did his best to inform his disciples about "the leaven of the Pharisees". (Luke 12:1) Leaven was used to illustrate a corruption of their teachings. All through their history, Israel rebelled against the words of their prophets and ignored their warnings of God's just punishments. As serial covenant breakers, God was not obligated to keep them as his people, but because of his promise to Abraham, he kept them in existence (even though they tried his patience to the limit at times) in order to produce the seed that would deliver humanity from the debt left to them by Adam.

    Jesus' words at Matthew 23:37-39 reveal something significant.....

    "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
    39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."

    or in more modern English....

    “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent to her—how often I wanted to gather your children together the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings! But you did not want it. 38 Look! Your house is abandoned to you. 39 For I say to you, you will by no means see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in Jehovah’s name!’”

    "Jerusalem" was synonymous with the worship of Jehovah. That worship was led and facilitated by the religious leaders of the day. Jesus came, not to start a new religion, but to clean up the old one. The religious leaders did to Jesus what they had done to God's prophets all through history. They silenced the ones sent to correct them. Now that the seed had come and Israel had held to her old habits, instead of embracing their Christ, they rejected him and led the entire nation into unforgivable sin. There was to be no further chances. God had no option but to "abandon" that nation as his people. They have never, and will never "bless" the one who came in Jehovah's name....to this day, they still deny him.

    God chose a new nation, just as John the Baptist had said...they could not rely on being "children of Abraham" any longer.
    "When he caught sight of many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to the baptism, he said to them: “You offspring of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore, produce fruit that befits repentance. 9 Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones. 10 The ax is already lying at the root of the trees. Every tree, then, that does not produce fine fruit is to be cut down and thrown into the fire." (Matthew 3:7-10)

    Acts 15:14....."Symʹe·on has related thoroughly how God for the first time turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name."

    Both Jewish and Gentile Christians would make up a spiritual "Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16; Romans 2:28-29)

    As for writings from early Christianity (second century onward)? We see the same pattern repeated. What Jesus began was protected until all of the Christian scriptures were completed. Then, after the death of the last apostle John, a foretold apostasy (which was already snapping at the heels of the first Christians) gained ascendancy. (2 Thessalonians 2:7) This is the "weeds" of Jesus' other very well known parable. (Matthew 13:24-30)

    Jesus explained that he was “the sower.” “The fine seed” pictured his genuine disciples. His “enemy” was Satan the Devil. “The weeds” were counterfeit Christians who infiltrated the early Christian congregation. He said that he would let “the wheat” and “the weeds” grow together until “the harvest,” which would come at “a conclusion of a system of things.” (Matthew 13:37-43) What did all of this mean?

    I believe that we are living in the time of the harvest when the "wheat" have completely separated from the "weeds" and the reapers are poised to do what Jesus will command them to do. The parable of the "sheep" and the "goats" tells the same story. (Matthew 25:31-33)

    IMO, none of what is written by early Judaeo-Christian writers can be trusted to be uncorrupted truth. Only the inspired scriptures will guide us in the right path. There is only "one Lord. one faith, one baptism". (Ephesians 4:4-6) Christendom does not fit that description. (1 Corinthians 1:10)

    Would like your thoughts on this.
  5. Grandliseur

    Grandliseur Well-Known Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Pragmatic Christian
    As a doctor is the entire person that dies when the person dies, so I understand the soul to be from scripture. In the ancient languages, they seemed to use to say, 'my soul is hungry', etc. when hungry. Thus when a person dies, the Biblical teaching is returning to non existence. The promise is re-creation called resurrection.
  6. Clear

    Clear Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    Deeje Asked : "@Clear....how reliable are the sources used to determine the beliefs outlined in early Judeo-Christian literature? I believe that this is very important, since much of what forms current belief in both Judaism and in Christendom is influenced by them. "


    Hi Deeje

    The vast majority of literature Christians debate about are pseudographic in that we do not know and cannot prove who wrote the earliest literature. For example, we do not know and cannot prove who wrote any book in either our old or New Testaments. (It's been long observed that Moses did not write about his own death....). Instead, authorship has been attributed by deep tradition.

    However, regarding doctrines : Historically, the greater the recurrence of specific, clear, parallel and equivalent descriptions occur, and the wider the geographical occurrence of clear equivalent descriptions in the historical literature, and the greater the time period over which these specific equivalent descriptions exist, then the greater the accuracy in determining what the most common orthodox doctrines were. One can also follow the literature and often see how doctrines evolved and changed and the motives underlying such changes.

    Individuals often form their opinions and create meaning and interpretation, sometimes on fairly narrow data and from an inadequate and self-centered context. For example, posters often wrongly assume that because they have a New Testament, the early Judao-Christians had one as well. They often assume their text is the same that has always existed in all ages and in all parts of the world.

    The advantage of using a larger variety of textual sources separated by large amounts of time and geography is that such characteristics demonstrate a higher chance of orthodoxy (as opposed to a small and single group that believed in a doctrine). Also, clear and distinct explanations by early Christians who describe their own interpretations and doctrines in their own words often provide very clear models of early doctrines and practices. This does not mean early Christianity was more correct than your modern Christian movement, simply that their beliefs were different than yours. This is also why I am impressed with @Vouthon s' posts on the cognisance of spirits after death since Vouthons' post are not only historically accurate, but they include some context to early literature.


    Often, when early orthodoxy and early descriptions differ from ones' own pet theories, individuals attempt to find ways to dismiss and discount the value of the early Judeo-christian scriptures and textual witnesses. For example, one Christian who was threatened by the fact this his doctrines were demonstrably different than that of early Christians (which they themselves described in their literature) and he simply labeled all early literature as “heretical”. The difficulty this model causes is that it is not just one or two texts that describe the early doctrines, but hundreds of texts, multiple genres, such as sacred and profane texts, mishnas, psalms, diaries, etc.

    The many historical difficulties that such a theory would cause is daunting. For example, are we to assume that only heretics wrote anything in the first century or two? Where are the witnesses that are friendly to modern Christian interpretationalists? (i.e. their personal modern theoretical "orthodoxy".). Why would "orthodox christians" not have written anything at all for multiple centuries? This specific claims raises more historical problems than it solves for them.

    Thus, such claims that indicate "only heretics wrote such things" is quite inconsistent and contrary to the evidence of an early Christian movement. The data is obvious to historians. The orthodox were quite active in writing. And they described cognizant spirits after death.


    The early textual witnesses by the judeo-christians themselves, explaining what they themselves believed is available to interpretationalists and Jehovahs Witnesses just as they are available to anyone else. No one is preventing them from studying and using these texts. The reason is that the earliest judeo-christian interpretations of christianity are of little use to them because the earliest witnesses do not support their interpretations on this point. But instead, it repudiates it in many ways. The fact that they cannot use the earliest judeo-christian textual witnesses is profoundly meaningful.

    What does this mean then when some modern Christian movements are unable able to use such literature together with their early doctrines and other Christian movements are able to use the early textual witnesses with few doctrinal ripples and with almost no doctrinal discomfort? It simply means that Christian movements that are able to understand and comfortably use such literature are more like the Christianity described in the early literature while those who cannot use early literature are different than these earliest Christians with their early doctrines.


    As I look at the conversations on the forum, the vast majority of them take place, NOT in the world of objective historical data, (though the Christian movement has a historical origin and basis); but rather, debates often take place in an interpretationalist world of endless arguments about what specific scriptures mean to the person who is interpreting them (or who has inherited a meaning from parents or pastors).

    IF we can move from discussions of subjective and endless interpretations of a very limited data stream to the immense amount of historical data, then we will not hear historically irrelevant statements such as “that’s not scripture” when we are looking at the historical claims and interpretations of the earliest judeo-christians as they describe their own beliefs in their own words. This is important since, when debating what “authentic” Christianity is (or should be), we are not talking about a modern movement and its beliefs, but instead we are talking about early HISTORICAL Judao-Christians and THEIR beliefs.

    I have not seen any advantages to the theories of modern Christian movements over the earliest Judeo-Christian religion or their worldviews. For example, I do not see any moral or theological advantage of the modern Jehovahs’ witness interpretation and theory of a non-cognitive “soul sleep” over the earliest Judeo-Christian doctrine of a cognizant and communicative world of spirits after death of the body.

    Why should readers give your personal interpretations of scripture more weight than that of the earliest Christians. For example, Clement was a colleague of the Apostle Peter. He worked with Peter and was taught Christianity by Peter. Why would your opinions and interpretations regarding "authentic" Christianity and its' doctrines be better than Clements opinions and interpretations on "authentic" Christianity and its' doctrines?

    In any case Deeje, I hope your own spiritual journey in life brings you happiness and wonderful insights.

    #26 Clear, Dec 13, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2017
  7. Clear

    Clear Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Apr 20, 2008


    It is not just Jewish literature that witnesses to the earliest belief/orthodox but Christian literature as well. The belief in a separate spirit placed into an earthly body was a shared doctrine in a vast genre of sacred early Jewish and Christian literature. Let me give you other examples and you can see how the doctrine exists in Judaic versions and then continues on, uninterrupted into the early Christian literature.

    I have given examples from the Talmud but want to make sure the point is well established that the concept both of spirit/body dualism was standard doctrine, and that this doctrine is simply assumed in the early literature when other points are being made.

    For example, the Talmud (at Shavat 153a) tells another story regarding a man, Rav who directs a colleague to “heat up” his eulogy when he (Rav) dies. That is, the colleague is to express his grief with fervor, encouraging others to feel sorry for Rav at his death, for “I (Rav)will be standing there.(at the eulogy)”. This concept that the dead are cognisant, (given their interpretation of the comment that the dead “know nothing” of what is happening to those who are alive) relates to the Jewish tradition that the spirit stays with the body for a time after death before they are inseparable.

    In this case the Talmud insists the deceased do know what is said about them, at least for a period of time. It is partly this principle that underlies the Jewish insistence that Ritual and casual conduct must be sensitive to the experience of the dead. This is partly what is meant by “honoring the dead”.

    Thus the talmudic rule was that “A dead person who has no comforters, ten people [should] go and sit in his place. “. An example is given that “ A certain person died in the neighborhood of Rab Judah, and he had no comforters. Each day, Rav Judah would take ten people and sit in his place. He [the deceased] appeared to him in his dream and said to him, “may your mind rest [=may you be comforted] for you have put my mind at rest.

    The concept of the dead, being aware that others mourn their death and they are missed was a part of honor bestowed upon the dead.

    While the teaching is clear that the dead know what is being said temporarily (until they “know nothing” of what happens in the social world), the various opinions vary on how long this time period is. Some opinions are that the deceased knows everything that is said in their presence until the sealing stone is placed over the resting-place and another might insist the spirit knows everything that is said until the flesh has completely deteriorated.

    Since the separation of a person by death is both a separation of the living from the dead and a separation of the dead yet cognisant spirit from his family and friends, both the living AND the dead were said to mourn this separation from their loved ones. Thus the Talmud records “A person’s soul mourns for him for all of shiva [=the seven days], as it says ‘and his soul mourns for him’ (job 14:22). The reference to Job is a Talmudic example of a spirit that has sons who are having children but the spirit mourns that it is separated from the life of it’s body which allowed it to witness and celebrate such things.

    However, just as death is a separation of the dead person from living relatives, it was also seen as a reunion of the dead person with other relatives who died before. Thus the early theme regarding the rejoining of one's ancestors. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and other patriarchs are "gathered to their people" after death (see Gen. 25:8, 25:17, 35:29, 49:33; Deut. 42:50; 2 I. 22:20). In contrast, the wicked are "cut off (carry-out) from their people" (Gen. 17:14; Ex. 31:14).

    This concept of reuniting with others underlies and intertwines with other confirmations that they believed the dead are cognisant and converse with one another. The example is given that one rabbi explained to another Rabbi that before he died, Moses was instructed by God that, once Moses died, and once Moses reached the world of the dead, he was to tell the other dead that God had kept his promises to them and Israel (since the others may not have known specifics happening in the world of the living.) :

    "For R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Jonathan: Whence do we know that the dead converse with one another? Because it says: And the Lord said unto him: This is the land which I swore unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying.... The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses: Say to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: The oath which I swore to you I have already carried out for your descendants. Thus Moses was to tell the other dead that God had honored his promises to them. "

    In Midrash Leviticus Rabbah, we read that the spirit is a guest in the body, thus it was important to take care of the body (which God had made in the divine image). This concept extended to the Sages who saw the body and soul as being in a partnership of equal responsibility for actions. In fact, there are polemics in the Talmud created specifically to defend this doctrine to others. For example, one anecdote, (c.f. tractate Sanhedrin) has the Emperor Antoninus trying to convince Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi that the body and soul can each excuse each other for sin by claiming that the transgression is the fault of the other, because one, without the other is lifeless.

    Rabbi Yehudah then offers a parable to explain why Antonius’ is wrong. Yehudah relates that there were “Two guards–one blind and one lame–are in a garden. Together, they are able to steal some fruit from a high tree. When caught, each claims that he is obviously unable to commit the crime due to his disability. In the end, the orchard owner places the lame man on the back of the blind man, and they are judged as one. Similarly, God judges the actions of the body and soul in partnership after returning the soul to the body at resurrection.”

    Thus the Talmud clearly supports the teaching that the spirit not only exists separately from the body, but also exists in a fully conscious state in an ethereal realm (Ketubbot 77b, Berakhot 18b-19a, etc) and that is it cognisant and that it has free will as moral responsibility and the ability to learn. Again, these sorts of assumptions are often simply built into the language. For example, when informing another explaining to a person looking for “Abba the father of Samuel” the person asks “where is he? They replied: He has gone up to the Academy of the Sky.”

    This is important since the early Christian literature describes the education and learning and experiences that continue to go on in the world of spirits.

    I am at work and will stop here and correlate these Jewish teachings with Christian teachings on the same point a bit later....

    #27 Clear, Dec 14, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2017
  8. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
    Premium Member

    Jun 20, 2009
    Christian JW
    Hello again Clear and thank you for your information. I understand your reasoning.

    "The apologists were educated men from the second and early third centuries. The most famous among them were Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian.*Their writings were principally addressed to pagans and the Roman authorities, with the intention of explaining the Christian faith, and included frequent references to the Bible. Above all, the apologists stood up against the persecutors, denied their accusations, and presented the Christians in a favorable light. . . .

    The philosopher Celsus mockingly described Christians as “labourers, shoemakers, farmers, the most uninformed and clownish of men.” This mockery was too much for the apologists to bear. They determined to win over public opinion by resorting to a new tactic. Once rejected, worldly wisdom was now used in the service of the “Christian” cause. Clement of Alexandria, for example, saw philosophy as “true theology.” Justin Martyr, though claiming to reject pagan philosophy, was the first to use philosophical language and concepts to express “Christian” ideas, considering this type of philosophy “to be safe and profitable. . . .

    From this point on, the strategy was, not to oppose philosophy, but to make supposed Christian thought a philosophy higher than that of the pagans. . . . .This new strategy led to a mixture of Christianity and pagan philosophy. . . .

    Some apologists sensed the danger that philosophy could pose to the Christian faith. Yet, even though they criticized the philosophers, they still loved the intellectual approach of philosophy. . . .

    Although the apologists wanted to defend the Christian faith, they made the wrong choice in adopting the ideas and the approach of worldly philosophy. In so doing, the apologists allowed themselves to be seduced by such philosophies and, in effect, allowed the world to conquer them and their brand of Christianity. So rather than being champions and defenders of true Christian faith, the apologists of the early church, perhaps unwittingly, fell into the trap set by Satan, who “keeps transforming himself into an angel of light.”—2 Corinthians 11:14. "

    Excerpts from The Apologists—Christian Defenders or Would-Be Philosophers? — Watchtower ONLINE LIBRARY

    This is what I believe happened to Christianity, just as Jesus and his apostles foretold. (2 Peter 2:1-3; Acts 20:28-30) A great apostasy overtook them in much the same way as it overtook Judaism. Its instigator blinds people to the truth. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

    Acceptance of truth, spiritually speaking, doesn't really depend on us.....it is an operation of God's spirit. No one can come to the son without an invitation from the Father. (John 6:44) God invites those in whom he sees a love of the truth regardless of any adjustment in thinking that this might require. If we have no love for the truth because it disagrees with what we want to believe, then there is nothing much left to say to people like that. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12) God allows them to keep their delusion. He will not chase after us....Jesus never did either.

    I am of the firm belief that we will all be where we have placed ourselves when the final judgment comes. No one will be able to shake their fist at God and accuse him of not trying to tell them.
    Just like the days of Noah, Jesus said. (Matthew 24:37-39) How many people believed Noah?
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Clear

    Clear Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    Post #26, Clear said :
    "I have not seen any advantages to the theories of modern Christian movements over the earliest Judeo-Christian religion or their worldviews. For example, I do not see any moral or theological advantage of the modern Jehovahs’ witness interpretation and theory of a non-cognitive “soul sleep” over the earliest Judeo-Christian doctrine of a cognizant and communicative world of spirits after death of the body.

    Why should readers give your personal interpretations of scripture more weight than that of the earliest Christians. For example, Clement was a colleague of the Apostle Peter. He worked with Peter and was taught Christianity by Peter.
    Why would your opinions and interpretations regarding "authentic" Christianity and its' doctrines be better than Clements opinions and interpretations on "authentic" Christianity and its' doctrines?"

    Hi Deeje :

    I agree with your point that Christianity of later centuries gradually became contaminated by its social environment and philosophical thought, just as you and I become contaminated by the language and symbols of our social environment. How does this specifically apply to my question?

    Though my quotes don't come from the later Christian apologists you referred to , your response seemed to indicate you think all of these writers with a different interpretation than yours are heretical "contaminations". Is this correct?
    Are you saying the hellenists or the philosophers believed in a world of spirits and converted the Christians to this specific view point on this doctrine?
    Are you saying ALL these early Christian witnesses and writers who agree on this specific doctrine of a world of spirits were heretics?
    If so, "What happened to the orthodox Christian interpretations and their writings?
    Did "real Christians" simply not write and it was ONLY heretics describing Christian interpretations? Are you saying that Clement and all writers before and after him who agree on such early Christian doctrines as a cognizant world of spirits of the dead, suddenly and en-mass apostatized from some obscure, original Christian Doctrine of a unconscious, non-cognisant "soul sleep" that you say was orthodox in Early Christianity but that does not appear in early Christian literature and that the writers all adopted a different religion on this subject of “soul sleep”?

    Dismissing ALL early Judeo-Christian textual witnesses as heretical doesn't work historically. Claiming that ALL early Judeo-Christians who wrote, were converted, suddenly, and en-mas to another religion on the subject of soul sleep doesn't work.
    Where are the writings, diaries and discussions and arguments and written descriptions of their en-mass conversion to this "new" heretical doctrine of a conscious, cognisant world of spirits?


    I used Clement of Rome as an example of one who left a written witness as to what Christian doctrines were in his day. This is the Clement mentioned in the New Testament. He is a convert to Christianity and becomes a colleague and friend of Peter the apostle. Peter the Apostle has enough confidence in Clement and his religious conversion to Peters Christianity that he ordains Clement a Bishop of the Roman Congregation. Clements writing (1st Clement) is concurrent with early New Testament Texts. The apostolic Fathers are a group of texts written by Christian leaders written in the early stages of the Christian movement, at a time when the writer could have known a living Apostle. These are not late writings (though there are a great deal of later writings....)

    It is in this historical context that I remarked that I do not see the advantage of your modern interpretations or religion or texts over the interpretation or religion or texts of the earliest Christians.

    Thus I asked : "Why would your opinions and interpretations regarding "authentic" Christianity and its' doctrines be better than Clements opinions and interpretations on "authentic" Christianity and its' doctrines?

    #29 Clear, Dec 15, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017