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I'm specifically referring to this article: https://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8092-immortality-of-the-soul

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Some quotes

IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL (late Hebrew, "hasharat ha-nefesh"; "ḥayye 'olam"):
By: Kaufmann Kohler

The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body is a matter of philosophical or theological speculation rather than of simple faith, and is accordingly nowhere expressly taught in Holy Scripture. As long as the soul was conceived to be merely a breath ("nefesh"; "neshamah"; comp. "anima"), and inseparably connected, if not identified, with the life-blood (Gen. ix. 4, comp. iv. 11; Lev. xvii. 11; see Soul), no real substance could be ascribed to it. As soon as the spirit or breath of God ("nishmat" or "ruaḥ ḥayyim"), which was believed to keep body and soul together, both in man and in beast (Gen. ii. 7, vi. 17, vii. 22; Job xxvii. 3), is taken away (Ps. cxlvi. 4) or returns to God (Eccl. xii. 7; Job xxxiv. 14), the soul goes down to Sheol or Hades, there to lead a shadowy existence without life and consciousness (Job xiv. 21; Ps. vi. 6 [A. V. 5], cxv. 17; Isa. xxxviii. 18; Eccl. ix. 5, 10). The belief in a continuous life of the soul, which underlies primitive Ancestor Worship and the rites of necromancy, practised also in ancient Israel (I Sam. xxviii. 13 et seq.; Isa. viii. 19; see Necromancy), was discouraged and suppressed by prophet and lawgiver as antagonistic to the belief in Yhwh, the God of life, the Ruler of heaven and earth, whose reign was not extended over Sheol until post-exilic times (Ps. xvi. 10, xlix. 16, cxxxix. 8).

As a matter of fact, eternal life was ascribed exclusively to God and to celestial beings who "eat of the tree of life and live forever" (Gen. iii. 22, Hebr.), whereas man by being driven out of the Garden of Eden was deprived of the opportunity of eating the food of immortality (see Roscher, "Lexikon der Griechischen und Römischen Mythologie," s.v. "Ambrosia"). It is the Psalmist's implicit faith in God's omnipotence and omnipresence that leads him to the hope of immortality (Ps. xvi. 11, xvii. 15, xlix. 16, lxxiii. 24 et seq., cxvi. 6-9); whereas Job (xiv. 13 et seq., xix. 26) betrays only a desire for, not a real faith in, a life after death. Ben Sira (xiv. 12, xvii. 27 et seq., xxi. 10, xxviii. 21) still clings to the belief in Sheol as the destination of man. It was only in connection with the Messianic hope that, under the influence of Persian ideas, the belief in resurrection lent to the disembodied soul a continuous existence (Isa. xxv. 6-8; Dan. xii. 2; see Eschatology; Resurrection).

Hellenistic View.
Page from the First Edition of Immanuel ben Solomon's "Meḥabberot," Brescia, 1491.(In the Columbia University Library, New York.)
The belief in the immortality of the soul came to the Jews from contact with Greek thought and chiefly through the philosophy of Plato, its principal exponent, who was led to it through Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries in which Babylonian and Egyptian views were strangely blended, as the Semitic name "Minos" (comp. "Minotaurus"), and the Egyptian "Rhadamanthys" ("Ra of Ament," "Ruler of Hades"; Naville, "La Litanie du Soleil," 1875, p. 13) with others, sufficiently prove.

It is not quite clear whether the Sadducees, in denying resurrection (Josephus, "Ant." xviii. 1, § 4; idem, "B. J." ii. 12; Mark xii. 18; Acts xxiii. 8; comp. Sanh. 90b), denied also the immortality of the soul (see Ab. R. N., recension B. x. [ed. Schechter, 26]). Certain it is that the Pharisaic belief in resurrection had not even a name for the immortality of the soul. For them, man was made for two worlds, the world that now is, and the world to come, where life does not end in death (Gen. R. viii.; Yer. Meg. ii. 73b; M. Ḳ. iii. 83b, where the words , Ps. xlviii. 15, are translated by Aquilas as if they read: , "no death," ἀθανασία).

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Question

How do believers in post-mortal consciousness respond to this article?

Is it true that post-mortal consciousness is nowhere expressly taught in Holy Scripture?

Is it true that the belief in post-mortal consciousness came to the Jews from contact with Greek thought and chiefly through the philosophy of Plato?

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1 Answer 1

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How do believers in post-mortal consciousness respond to this article?

First, by comparing it to this article from JewishEncyclopedia, which disagrees. We'll call the article cited in the OP "article A", and the article in my link "article B". Article B is clear that there is communion among the dead.

  • Article A was written by Kaufmann Kohler, a scholar who was sufficiently radical that he was banned from preaching in Germany (source)
  • Article B was written by his brother-in-law, Emil G. Hirsch (I wonder what dinner table conversations were like for them)

Second, by pointing out several of the presuppositions upon which Article A's case rests:

  • Article A requires that Psalm 16 was not written by David, but was many years later falsely attributed/forged
  • Article A requires that the book of Isaiah was not written by Isaiah the son of Amoz (as Isaiah 1:1 suggests), and must therefore appeal to arguments for Deutero & Trito Isaiah (note that the most common argument for Isaiah being a compilation of multiple authors over multiple centuries is the question-begging assumption that nobody could have made predictions about King Cyrus by name in advance). For arguments against forgery/pseudepigraphy in Isaiah, see Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet by Victor Ludlow, Isaiah: A Logion Press Commentary by Stanley Horton, and a brief Occam's razor argument I wrote here.

Article A essentially assumes all Old Testament evidence dis-favorable to its preferred conclusion is forgery/pseudepigraphy. The article's position crumbles quickly if these premises are discarded.

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Is it true that post-mortal consciousness is nowhere expressly taught in Holy Scripture?

When Kohler says "Holy Scripture" he means what ancient Jews called the Tanakh, and what Christians call the Old Testament.

I dispute the claim that post-mortal consciousness is absent from the Old Testament (e.g. Isaiah 9:2, Isaiah 14:9-11, Isaiah 24:22), but I do acknowledge that the concept is more clearly taught in the New Testament (e.g. Luke 16, 1 Peter 3 & 4) than in the Old.

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Is it true that the belief in post-mortal consciousness came to the Jews from contact with Greek thought and chiefly through the philosophy of Plato?

This is a third cause fallacy. That both Greek & Jewish writers expressed opinions in favor of post-mortal consciousness does not mean the Jews got the idea from the Greeks any more than it means the Greeks got the idea from the Jews, or that they both got it from another, earlier source.

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    Good answer. I didn't really see the point to SpiritRealmInvestigator's question, which is why I didn't upvote it(you'd think I would, since I, being a Christian mortalist, should like it when post-mortal consciousness adherents on put on trial... I certainly do! But I don't think this question did that at all). +1 :)
    – Rajesh
    Mar 15 at 3:29

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