immortality

immortality

Immunity to death, endless existence. Two Greek words express the idea of immortality. One (athanasia) is translated literally as deathlessness (1Cor 15:53), the other (aphtharsia) as imperishability (Rom 2:7). It is significant that the only passages in the LXX that contain these words are in books of the Apocrypha (writings composed in Greek during the intertestamental period): the Wisdom of Solomon and 4 Maccabees. The notion of immortality is a Hellenistic idea. The Hebrews accepted death as a limit ordained by God (Gen 3:19). Blessedness consisted in a peaceful death at an old age and in having posterity to carry on in one’s place (Gen 15). Within the OT, the idea of individual resurrection appears first in Dan 12:2-3, written about 167 BCE. According to Daniel, many, but not all, people will rise from the dead. The wise will rise not to bodily existence on earth, but to a new form of life, “like the stars.” In the Gospels, Jesus is pictured as sharing the Hebrew notion of resurrection, rather than the notion of an immortal soul (John 11:23-25; Mark 12:18-27). For Paul, immortality is not the continuing existence of the soul apart from the body, but rather the new heavenly existence of those who, clothed in “spiritual bodies,” share in Jesus’s resurrection in the new age (1Cor 15:42-50; 1Cor 15:53-54).

1Cor 15:53

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Rom 2:7

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Gen 3:19

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Gen 15

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Dan 12:2-3

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John 11:23-25

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Mark 12:18-27

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1Cor 15:42-50

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1Cor 15:53-54

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