Dry Bones And Heavenly Bliss: Tombs, Post-mortal Existence And Life-after-death In Ancient Judaism (prof. Jürgen Zangenberg, Leiden University)

I would like to bring to your attention an excellent article by one of the best Biblical scholars of today who specializes in New Testament studies. Prof. Dr. Jürgen K. Zangenberg is an archeologist and professor of New Testament Interpretation at Leiden University (Holland), one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious institutions. His outstanding article “Dry Bones and Heavenly Bliss: Tombs, Post-Mortal Existence and Life-After-Death in Ancient Judaism”, though slightly cumbersome to pronounce, is a must read for any serious eTeacherBiblical student.

The author shows how the archeological discoveries, especially, those connected with the burial customs of the ancient Jews, shed the light on all kinds of questions that continued to puzzle New Testament scholars for centuries. So grab a hot cup of coffee, sit in a comfortable chair and click here to read it. More of excellent articles are being picked for your attention and benefit.

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© By Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, Ph.D.

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  1. […] addressed in other commentaries, there are few other things  worth mentioning. John is once again paying attention to details when he states that the place where the people gathered had a lot of grass. He was either […]

  2. Lois Eaton

    An excellent article!!!

    I find no evidence of belief that we go to Heaven or Hell in the bible. Blessings and curses from God related clearly to life here on earth. In the prophets we start to read of the Kingdom – but only after Messiah comes and sets it up, and it is here on Earth, not in Heaven. Even at the end of the millenium, we are given a new Heaven AND A NEW EARTH. There is nothing to suggest we go to Heaven even at the end of the millenium. So many pagan (mainly Greek)ideas have crept into Jewish and Christian – especially Christian – beliefs. I would include here the concept of a ‘god-man’.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      In Christian tradition “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven…” will one day be fully answered (Rev.21). Heaven will come done to Earth and form one eternal entity (New Heavens and the New Earth).

      Keep thinking Jewishly. Jesus is coming back to clean up the mess.


  3. Nury

    Professor Emiratus Tobias philip than in peace be in heaven suggested every museum may have the writing of prophet Ezekiel concerning the dry bones. I am in thailand and wonder why the tribes of israel exiled in china and indian all they look mongols???? Perhaps our patriarch israel was mongol?? In a movie of a chinese saint i.saw the same story of dry bones arised to life by the command of the saint…perhaps ezekiel in chinese version?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Not sure that you are talking about.

  4. Melani

    I found this article extremely interesting regarding the manner in which ancient Jewish communities viewed death, and especially I found of interest the notations about when ideas of resurrection of the body and post-death reward or punishment first begin appearing. I want to know more.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      There is a lot of wonderful scholarly literature that is not making to “regular” people. It must be found and delivered :-). This is a very good article by a very good scholar.

  5. Des Currie

    Dearest Professor,
    Thirty five years of religious study in monotheistic religions have left me with some indelible conclusions which only the passage of time render invisible to the eye and the mind. Only then can I contemplate an alternative.
    For instance, in deciding who the false prophet was scribed in the Book of Revelation I considered it to be without doubt the Prophet of Islam, Mohamed. For thirty plus years I laboured under this delusion. Imagine my surprise on thinking about it for the n’th time when it occurred to me that by by definition the false prophet had to be of the same religion it was espousing, in other words Christian, leaving with doubt about my own indelibles.
    I am hoping to enter into a discourse with
    yourself concentrating on the Hebraic, Christianity and Islam.
    Yours Faithfully,
    Des Currie

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Whether or not you were wrong once or twice 🙂 may be irrelevant to this blog’s discussion. Please, help me to see how what you are saying is connecting with this article. I fail to see the connection.

  6. Juan Carlos Cárdenas Toro

    Dr. Eli, I have just joined your blog. Thank you for inviting me. I am sure I am going to enjoy all the topics available here. God bless you.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Glad to have you with us!

  7. Barry Paterson

    Dear Professor,
    What a wonderful surprise to tap into your blog! I am an Australian Episcopal priest who is just completing Unit D of Biblical Hebrew. I was wondering whether to enrol for Unit E. Your Blog is strengthening my resolve to do so. I teach the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament to adult Indigenous Australians at Wontulp-Bi-Buya College in Cairns. These people are being prepared to work in the church and community in remote communities in our state of Queensland.
    I watched David Suchet’s BBC program on St Paul which featured some of your colleagues from the Hebrew University. Their remarks were very stimulating indeed.
    I guess I have tended to avoid “Jewish” New Testaments because of their connection as a tool for fundamentalist Christians to convert Jews. I oppose this practice.
    As I start to reflect on some of the material you have presented I begin to see the very real value for me in a Jewish perspective on the New Testament. For many years I have been saying that studying classical Greek, as I did in the seminary, was to lose the point about the New Testament. It is a book written for the most part by people who have koine Greek as a second language (this excludes Luke and Paul’s work from a linguistic point of view). For most of those first century members of the Jesus Movement their language was Aramaic. There is evidence that the LXX was used in preference to the Hebrew Scriptures, because Greek was more easily accessible than Hebrew. Your commentary on a possible Samaritan origin for John really opened my eyes. I look forward to reading more of it as it unfolds. I have been uncomfortable about a Patmos origin for some time.
    Thank you for recommending Professor Shaye Cohen’s online Harvard lectures. Every lecture presents material with which I am generally familiar but often from an entirely different scholarly perspective. I am up to the second lecture on Circumcision where he compares and contrasts the Jewish and the Christian perspectives on Circumcision. He challenges me to amplify the material I use for teaching my students particularly by showing them what the 1st Century Jewish community saw as normative about central issues such as circumcision.
    I hope to move to Schafer soon.
    Once again, thank you for opening my perspective on this exciting study.
    Finally, the Leiden paper.
    Professor Zangenberg seems to be moving the focus of exegesis not so much away from the texts but towards the context in which they were written. Much of my earlier biblical study focused quite clearly on the meaning of individual words with comparatively brief notes on the historical context of the pericope. It was a strange experience to go from a Jesuit lecturer who was a biblical archaeologist and who talked about the significance of a person’s name in the Hebrew Bible to a lecture given by a prominent New Testament scholar where he dismissed Jesus giving Simon the name Peter as nothing more than a nickname. Even at that stage I began to identify the need to see Jesus and his disciples as devout Jews in a Jewish community that used Greek as a market language under Roman occupation. Geza Vermes’ book “Jesus the Jew” helped my understanding. Zangenberg’s paper was very interesting. I am thinking about a trajectory of texts that talk about death in the light of the cultures in which they were generated.
    I am sorry to take up so much of your time. Please keep up the very stimulating input.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I am glad to hear your feedback, Father Barry. In the future it would be best to post your shorter comments so that , but I want a lot of them. They are very good!!! 🙂

  8. Max Debono-De-laurentis

    This is an excellent article, it clearly articulates the ordinariness of Jewish life and death. Giving a well needed perspective on how life was no different 2000 years ago in relation to how it is now. The customs around burial may vary from culture to culture but people are the same everywhere. The loss of loved ones, despite the difference in era’s, is the same for all.

    I found it most interesting being made aware of the different Judaic perspectives around death and the afterlife.

    Keep these important articles coming.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Yes, I found most helpful comments regarding Gospel of John. Perhaps, this is so, because I am most interested in that Gospel :-).

  9. Christian

    I liked the approach of the importance of knowing the culture which thought is inserted, in addition of course, philological studies.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      culture – yes, but in the case of this article its importance of studying “material” culture of the past.

  10. Margaret Comstock

    I just read the article on burial customs, etc. and found it most interesting. I am curious to know if there are any Sadducees among present day Jews or if, as I have read, that they became defunct as a group after the destruction of the temple.
    I am a Catholic of the Latin Rite, loyal to the magisterium. As such my ideas of the Bible are quite different than those of most non-Catholic Christians that I live among. For example, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, the permanence of the natural law, the value of the Old Testament, etc. I hope that your blog will enable all of us to better understand each other and find common areas of belief and I look forward to being able to participate.
    Margaret Comstock

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Margaret, we very much welcome you to our study group! One of the goals of this group through serious study of history to bring not only Jews and Christians together, but also Jews and Jews, and Christians and Christians!

      About Sadducees – they do not exist any more. The leadership in Jewish community was in time taking over by Rabbinical Jews, and while there are non-rabbinic Jews still present today like Koraites, majority of Jews today (practicing) are Rabbinic in orientation.