This book begins by arguing that early Greek reflection on the afterlife and immortality insisted on the importance of the physical body whereas a wealth of Jewish texts from the Hebrew Bible, Second Temple Judaism and early (Pauline) Christianity understood post-mortem existence to be that of the soul alone. Changes begin to appear in the later New Testament where the importance of the afterlife of the physical body became essential, and such thoughts continued into the period of the early Church where the significance of the physical body in post-mortem existence became a point of theological orthodoxy. This book will assert that the influx of Greco-Romans into the early Church changed the direction of Christian thought towards one which included the body. At the same time, the ideological and polemical thrust of an eternal tortuous afterlife for the wicked became essential.
"F. has certainly given us much to think about. His assertion that Paul’s afterlife is consistent with his exposition of Second Temple literature in chapter 3, as well as the opposition he sees between Paul’s resurrected Christ as a ‘glorified spiritual entity’ and the resurrected fleshly body of Christ in the Gospels of Luke and John, is well argued."
– Seth Cole, SOTS Book List 2017
"Finney’s work uses reception history to trace the major movements in the history of an idea and provides an interesting window into a concept that has been at the centre of theological reflection for millennia. His thoughtful conclusions inspire the reader to think seriously about the way that we employ the afterlife in our own world, seeing an old idea from new angles."
- Meghan Henning, University of Dayton, OH, USA in Theology journal, issue 120.4 (July/August).
"Overall, Finney’s work is to be praised for its scope and ambition. It is refreshing to encounter a biblical studies monograph that attempts to do so much with such brevity and accessibility to non-specialists."
- Reed Carlson, Harvard University, Reading Religion, Sep. 2018
Introduction 1. Afterlife in Antiquity: Post-mortem Existence in its Greco-Roman Context 2. Biblical Beginnings: Death and Afterlife in the Hebrew Bible 3. The Priority of the Soul: Constructions of Afterlife in Second Temple Judaism 4. Life after Death in Additional Jewish Literature: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Later Rabbinic Thought 5. New Testament Beginnings: Afterlife in the Thought of the Apostle Paul 6. The Priority of the Body: Post-mortem Existence in the Later New Testament 7. The Rise of Gehenna:Afterlife in Early Christianity 8. What the…? Developments of Hell in its Jewish and Christian Contexts 9. Conclusion