Lesson 24

Moses is believed to have written the first five books of the Bible during the late bronze age somewhere between 1550 – 1200 B.C. To say he was the author though might be a bit of an overstatement, as he probably just made good use of his Egyptian schooling by writing down exactly what God told him. After all, Moses had no first hand knowledge of the storyline until Exodus 3. For those who believe the Bible is the authoritative word of God, this should come as no surprise. They would agree the Bible, through the Holy Spirit, or divine revelation, came directly from the mouth of God to the pen and paper of those who wrote or dictated it. Collected over the centuries, these books have been kept as the sacred words of God. Steeped in ceremony and tradition, the Jewish scribes took great care not to add or miss a single pen stroke of the Hebrew Bible. It was not their job, it was their life’s calling. Being studied and debated by the priesthood, the slightest details remained constant. The Israelite nation’s remaining two tribes of Judah and Levi lost their homeland and temple and became an enslaved people when they were taken into captivity by the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar. Keeping their sacred scrolls intact and unpolluted was a primary religious goal. Maintaining their beliefs true to what those scrolls taught wasn’t as high in priority. Openly acknowledging the lack of scriptural support for the immortal soul doctrine, Jews have replaced it with teachings from revered scholars and rabies. Not found before or during the first temple period, these beliefs have evolved and developed over the centuries since the Babylonian captivity. Many Christians share similar beliefs in an immortal soul but not the candor about the lack of Biblical support for them. Most Christians claim to find Old Testament support for their beliefs of an immortal soul where the Jews of old found none. Jews from the second temple period until today freely admit there is none. The Old Testament of the KJV Bible comes from the Jewish Hebrew Bible. The Jews lived, preserved, and studied those scriptures exhaustively. They know the meaning, intent and context for each verse. It is their collective family history. Why do most Christians disagree with the Jews about biblical support for the immortal soul doctrine? Was the immortal soul belief established in the New Testament? What balance do you strike between your beliefs and what the Bible teaches? How important is it to believe biblical teachings? Do Bible beliefs contradict themselves? How can you know if any of your beliefs are contradictory?

2 Peter 1:20-21 International Standard Version
20 First of all, you must understand this: No prophecy in Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever originated through a human decision. Instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 40:8 English Standard Version
8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

Lesson 23

Some people correctly point out that most Jews during the time of Jesus and today, believed they will live on as a spirit after their bodies have died. Although this belief does exist, Bereans and Christians might ask how, and when did that belief come to enter Judaism and where did it come from. The Hebrew Bible does not contain this belief so it must have come after God inspired it to be written. Wikipedia asserts that it entered during the second temple period, approximately 500 B.C. – 70 A.D. Along with other prophets, Daniel was inspired by God to write about an afterlife but did not supply a lot of detail. Daniel’s account dates around the second century B.C. Between then and the time of Jesus, the immortal soul belief became common amongst Jewish scholars. Jewish mystics of the middle ages expanded the belief’s scope by teaching soul transmigration and reincarnation. The Jews were exposed to the pagan ideas while captive in Babylon and the other conquering nations of Greece and Rome. This text from the First Edition of Immanuel ben Solomon’s “Meḥabberot,” Brescia, 1491.(In the Columbia University Library, New York.) explains where the ideas came from and how those beliefs became accepted during the second temple period. “The belief in the immortality of the soul came to the Jews from contact with Greek thought and chiefly through the philosophy of Plato, its principal exponent, who was led to it through Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries in which Babylonian and Egyptian views were strangely blended,”  Despite what many Christians and Jews believe to be true, the immortal soul belief does not derive its origins in the Hebrew Bible of the Old Testament. Man was created mortal when Adam became a living nephesh. The original Jewish scholars explain how God barred Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden so they would not eat from the tree of life and gain immortality. God himself has told us that man is mortal, Plato did not teach him anything. God’s words are unchanging. God loves us and gave Jesus as our saviour, only those who believe in Jesus will not die. If humans already possessed an immortal soul, we would have no need for Jesus to give us life. When accepting doctrines we need to choose wisely. What belief products are you choosing to buy into?

Hebrews 13:7-9 The Message
7-8 Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself. 9 Don’t be lured away from him by the latest speculations about him. The grace of Christ is the only good ground for life. Products named after Christ don’t seem to do much for those who buy them.

Genesis 6:3 International Standard Version
3 So the Lord said, “My Spirit won’t remain with human beings forever, because they’re truly mortal. Their lifespan will be 120 years.”