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A History of Death in the Hebrew Bible$
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Matthew Suriano

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190844738

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190844738.001.0001

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The Afterlife Embodied

(p.1) Prolegomenon
A History of Death in the Hebrew Bible

Matthew Suriano

Oxford University Press

The complicated imagery of death in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament has defied scholars because it does not involve an afterlife dichotomy of heaven and hell. The individual is not vetted after death, to be sent to punishment or paradise; instead postmortem experience is collective. This ideal afterlife is centered upon the tomb where the dead join their ancestors. Therefore, it is necessary to examine the afterlife in the Hebrew Bible according to its own terms. This can be done through the analysis of mortuary practices from Judah during the Iron Age. A review of the archaeology of mortuary practices, along with theoretical discussions of the body, will establish the framework for studying death in the Hebrew Bible. In biblical literature and ancient Judah postmortem existence was predicated upon the treatment of the body.

Keywords:   death, burial, afterlife (biblical), Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, kingdom of Judah, archaeology of Israel, mortuary practices, embodiment

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