How did the Jewish view of an afterlife inform the Christo-Islamic view of an afterlife?

According to some of my reading, Many Jews either don't believe in Hell at all and rather prefer to believe in a state of non-existence for the wicked, believe in Hell as a place of punishment called Gehenna (mentioned in the Mishnah in Kiddushin 4.14, Avot 1.5; 5.19, 20, Tosefta t.Bereshith 6.15, and Babylonian Talmud b.Rosh Hashanah 16b:7a; b.Bereshith 28b), or believe that there is a state known as Sheol in which the unrepentant dead dwell forever in a non-rewarding gloom, but in which they are not punished per se. (Only unrewarded.) Most Jews believe in Olam Haba ("The World to Come") as a heavenly state for both good Jews and righteous gentiles (non-Jews). Still others, particularly the Hasidim, believe in a concept similar to reincarnation called "gilgul", or the transmigration of souls which features in some interpretations of the Kaballah.

So with all these varying beliefs, and the fact that >> most << Jews don't believe in Hell and do believe that both people of their faith and others can enter paradise, how did the Christian and Islamic dichotomies of Heaven and Hell come about? (Although there are a handfull of Christians who don't believe in Hell.)

Judaism and the other two Abrahamic faiths seem worlds apart in this regard.


That is, the Christo-Islamic view being that only their respective religions/followers can lead to salvation and for the rest it is eternal torment.

Update 2:

@LightGuardian (first answer down):

You didn't answer my question. You simply repeated what I already stated. I want to know how the Jewish view gave rise to the Christo-Islamic view.

Update 3:

Sources please. Sources everybody. Please explain in detail,

4 Answers

  • Jerry
    Lv 4
    8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    your facts are mostly correct but your premise is not. Judaism did not "inform" the Christian view of Hell as much as you suppose.

    Most of the concept of Hell that Christians have comes from Greco-Roman ideas mixed with Zorastrianism. Zorastrianism has the two powerful supernatural forces of good and evil doing battle and each having their "territory." this has become the Christian "Devil" who is opposed to G-d and doing battle over our souls etc. Greco-Romans had the concept of eternal suffering and misery.

    Judaism has little to do with any of the above. The closest idea of a "devil" is an angel who is an absolute servant of G-d; there is no concept of eternal suffering etc. The only way the jewish bible informed the Christian concept is the Jewish concept that evil receives some form of punishment and goodness some form of reward, at least in this life. you can scour the Jewish Bible and you will find little to no support for the Christian concept, and what CHristians point to is quite a stretch. That is why you ahve all these varying views among Jews -- because there is no support in the Bible.

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  • 8 years ago

    Judaism does not have set dogma as to what happens when we die, at most, it has loose theories. There is no heaven or hell. Sheol refers to the physical grave. Gehenna is the period of soul cleansing, it is not a "place of punishment".

    These theories are:

    * When we die, our souls are cleansed of any wrongdoings. This is done by our accounting of every action done in life. It's believed that this process takes no longer than 12 months but most people don't do enough bad in life to warrant it taking a full 12 months.

    * Our souls return to HaShem to wait for the world to come.

    * Our souls may be reincarnated into different people so that we have additional chances to work to become closer to HaShem.

    * Those souls that choose to be truly evil in life, cannot survive the process of cleansing and cease to exist.

    Olam Haba is NOT a "heavenly state", it is literally what the title says, The World to Come. We're talking about the physical world that we live in and how it will be after hamoshiach.

    Christianity and Islam do not get their dogma as to what happens when people die from Judaism at all. Rather, the basis for these two religions' dogma were mainly the pre-existing Greek, Roman, Egyptian religions.

    Source(s): I'm an educated Jew.
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  • 8 years ago

    Most Christians derived their beliefs of the afterlife from the Greeks and Romans religions. These were passed down to them from Babylon.

    The Bible (both the NT and the OT) on the other hand, provide us with a very clear understanding that death is like being asleep. The righteous sleep till the second coming of Christ (even the Jewish OT agrees with this....Jews in the NT branch away from this) and the wicked sleep until they are annihilated (not burn forever and ever) at the end of the millennial period.

    For more information on all of this, please check out the websites on the source area below.

    God bless and good luck in your studies!

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  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    Christian + Islam = Hellbound.

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