On Death and the Afterlife: Resurrecting the Christian Doctrine of Last Things
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Christianity is very much a product of a mixing of cultures. Christ lived at a time of great mobility and social stability under the Roman Empire, and thus Christianity was born into a collision of Greco-Roman culture and Israelite culture. Naturally, there are some conflicts. One such area that saw great disparity of ideas was eschatology. Greek eschatology is centered around the idea of escape from the physical world, which is seen as inherently evil and corrupt. The eschatology of the Israelites was just the opposite - God created the world and it was good. Though mankind had broken God’s creation through sin, God’s people longed for the redemption of the world and a physical resurrection to restore God’s perfect order. Unfortunately, Christian eschatology is partially the product of these two incompatible worldviews. In this thesis, I will argue that many of the church fathers unknowingly and unwittingly brought into Christianity more of this Greek duality of the physical and spiritual worlds than is actually true. I argue that this crisis is further exaggerated by the Septuagint’s misuse of Hebrew eschatological terms without proper context. Finally, in this thesis I hope to direct modern Christianity back to its Hebrew roots, and instead of placing its deep longing in meeting God in heaven, praying fervently for the redemption, recreation, and resurrection of the physical world as a part of God’s ultimate victory over Death.