Jesus and the Talmud - The Soul and the Afterlife.
September 29 & October 7th, 2006
Santa Cruz, California
Received by FAB.
I am here, Jesus.
The atmosphere in which I lived was saturated with the concept of the soul, and how it is that part of humanity that comes from God. It is because of the soul that we must be careful in the things we do and say. This latter concept was deeply embedded in my culture. I felt that it was because of this idea that I felt it was important not to antagonize our Roman occupiers.
Now, there were many who were not educated in the Torah, who felt that violence was appropriate. But those who were wise in our tradition felt as I did, that violence would only produce more violence. So you see, I saw myself as upholding a tradition that was already in place.
I know this clashes with the widespread view that my insights originated directly from God. Well, yes, some of my insights, such as the New Birth, did. But generally, I was a “mainline” Jew, in that I simply expanded on the prevalent notion that the soul must be nurtured, and that we are responsible to God for our behavior.
I now want to discuss the afterlife, and how the Talmudic thinkers influenced my way of thinking.
My study of the Torah was amplified by the increased wisdom of the centuries. That is, as time wore on, there was an advance over the more primitive views that prevailed in past centuries.
The concept of the afterlife was refined and amplified. So that when I was ready to go out into the world, my intuitive perception of the cause and effect between righteous living and happiness in the life to come, and conversely, sinful conduct, followed by suffering and darkness in the next life, had become greatly expanded and reinforced by many elements and factors that simply confirmed my belief.
Of course, in my case, these insights amounted to a certainty, whereas in many cases, my contemporaries had knowledge more through reasoning, speculation, and hope. But notwithstanding this, I took from them all I could.
Some things the Talmudic thinkers presented were true and others false, but I simply discarded these false notions, and rejoiced that I was in a culture that supported my views. This caused a happiness in me, and it was also one of the reasons I was so popular.
The New Testament often presents my audience as not comprehending my message, and indeed, this is quite true. My disciples could not understand my idea that my kingdom would not be of this world, but in the Celestial Heavens (since I knew that Celestial soul condition could not prevail on Earth in my times), and Nicodemus could not understand the New Birth. But at least part of my appeal arose because in other ways, I said things that they had heard others saying, only in an amplified way.
By the time of my ministry, Judaism had evolved to a rather sophisticated concept of the afterlife. It was already a given that goodness would be rewarded. I knew that God does not punish. But we all, no matter what our beliefs were, knew, simply knew, that if we did evil that was unrepented, we would suffer in the next life. That is why I, and others like me, out of pure love tried to show our erring fellow Jews a better way.
Judaism teaches Purgatory (Gehinnom) rather than the eternal hell of Orthodox Christianity. The concept is one of purification rather than total condemnation. This is much closer to the truth than the unreasonable teachings of the Orthodox Christians.
The rabbis also taught that the pain of Gehinnom was more mental than physical. This is also closer to the truth, since the suffering of spirits is the direct result of the workings of conscience, and not the physical torment that would be impossible without the physical body, left behind at death.
It will be a surprise to many that the Talmud actually endorses a form of reincarnation, which does not exist.
And it will be a bigger surprise to many devout Jews that a principal tenet of Judaism, the resurrection of the body, will never occur.
But even with all these untrue teachings considered, the Talmudic rabbis had a remarkable grasp of these matters.
Humanity now awaits the blossoming of spiritualism, which has spirits communicating directly to the Earth. And crowning everything else will be the New Birth of the soul, wherein Immortality is assured.