Death and Afterlife–How Egypt Profoundly Influenced Ancient Jews and Christians

In this fourth of my series on “Death and Afterlife in the Ancient Western World,” I offer a very brief overview of ancient Egyptian views of death and the underworld. These views go back 5000 years and set the stage for later developments in moving religious concepts from “this world” to the “world to come,” in terms of emphasis and importance. I discuss how these Egyptian ideas had a profound affect on ancient Jews and Christians (not to mention Muslims), just as much as Platonic Hellenistic Dualism did–totally transforming how people began to thinks about death and afterlife–casting off the views of the Hebrew Bible. We still today, on some level, without the magical elements, are living in the shadow of the Egyptians: soul traveling to the world beyond, being judged for its deeds, then ending up with eternal life or death in a lake of fire.

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