The Fayoum Portraits The portraits were attached to burial mummies at the face, from which almost all have now been detached. It is thought that they were painted in life and displayed in the home until needed in death. Most of the portraits depict the deceased at a relatively young age, and many show children. According to Walker (2000), "CAT scans of all the complete mummies represented reveal a correspondence of age and, in suitable cases, sex between mummy and image." Walker concludes that the age distribution reflects the low life expectancy at the time.
Death was a daily occurrence “Irene to Taonnophris and Philon, greeting. I was as much grieved and shed as many tears over Eumoiros as I shed for Didymus. I did everything that was fitting and so did my whole family. But still there is nothing one can do in the face of such trouble. So I leave you to comfort yourselves. Farewell.” 2nd Century papyrus
The Example of Victorian Britain Early death was the norm in society In Wales in the 1870’s 14 out of every 100 newborn babies did not survive their first year In Manchester in the 1850’s life expectancy at birth was only 32 years In London in the 1840’s one third of all children died before their fifth birthday It was not unusual for children to lose one or both parents through death, and many Victorian children grew up in single-parent families, or were looked after by relatives. This contributed to strong beliefs in an afterlife.
Ancient Materialists “Suns may set and rise again; but we, when once our brief light goes down, there is one unending night to be slept through” (Catullus, a Roman poet). “No-one awakes and arises who has once been overtaken by the chilling end of life” (Lucretius, a Roman poet). “Hopes are among the living; the dead are without hope” (Theocritus, a Greek poet). “Alas! Alas!... these (plants in the garden) live and spring again in another year; but we…when we die, deaf to all sound in the hollow earth, sleep a long, long, endless sleep that knows no waking.” (Moschus, a Greek poet).
Contrasting World Views I WAS NOT; I BECAME; I AM NOT; I CARE NOT. (pagan Roman tomb inscription, 2C AD) I will both lie down in peace and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8 – common early Christian funerary inscription)
Christianity Spirit – invisible part of man Soul – breath, natural life Body – the organism Death –separation of soul from body –separation of soul from God Death is never extinguishment of being Therefore, the soul is not ‘immortal’ Plato & Rene Descartes
Christianity What happens after death? –The body is buried –The spirit returns to God –The soul goes to the intermediate state For Christians –The soul goes to be with Christ –The body sleeps in the earth to await the resurrection For non Christians –The soul goes to Hades –The body sleeps in the earth to await the resurrection
Christianity The Resurrection –This is a once for all event for all humanity –Some will be resurrected to eternal life; some to eternal punishment –Christ’s resurrection guarantees the Christian’s resurrection –Therefore, resurrection is based on the truth of the resurrection of Christ – he appeared to various reliable witnesses –The soul will be reunited with a transformed body that is eternal in character
Christianity Hell –The day of judgement –Sheol – (Heb) - the intermediate state –Hades – (Gk) - the intermediate state In Jewish theology Hades was two tier (Luke 16) The righteous went to Paradise The unrighteous went to a place of torments –Tartarus - (Gk) the place for the very wicked –Gehenna – (Heb) - Hell proper The biblical “lake of fire” Named after the valley of Hinnom
Christianity Can a God of love send people to an eternal Hell? The traditional concept of Hell is questioned for Its crude imagery Its literal existence (“hell is other people” – Jean Paul Sartre) Its deficient justice –How can a God of Love justify torturing men & women? –How can God justify an eternal punishment for finite sins? –How can God consign those who have never heard the gospel to an eternity of suffering? –How can God disregard the many good things Non- Christian people have done?
Christianity Various solutions Hell is a metaphor – for separation from God Hell is mythical – hell is what we make of our lives in the here & now All bad people are annihilated at death - Annihilationism The unrepentant are destroyed at the final judgement - Conditional Immortality All bad people are given a second chance -- once they see what hell is like, they will repent All bad people pay a limited price and then are promoted to heaven - Purgatory Everyone will be saved – NT says that Jesus is the saviour of all (1 Tim 4:10) – Universalism
Christianity A gentler, kinder damnation – God will somehow find a way to save everyone –Idea is based on the love of God, but What about God’s justice? Separation of God’s attributes Makes light of God’s wrath Devalues heinousness of sin What value in the death of Christ?
Hinduism Circular concept of time Reincarnation – ‘in flesh again’ - sansara Resurrection New Birth Release from sansara by moksha – enlightenment Karma – balance of good and evil acts Dharma – what is right
Differences between Hinduism and Christianity –No personal God – Brahman is ultimate reality –No concept of sin and punishment – what about karma? –No redemption, no immediate hope of betterment –No heaven, no hell –Aim is nihilism rather than communion with deity
Hinduism Hinduism’s resonance with post modern society –Many ways to ultimate reality –No absolute standards of behaviour – dharma differs between individuals But, Hinduism’s less appealing side –The caste system –Fatalism –Callousness to the poor
Is it possible to know? Does believing something make it true (postmodernism), or is the truth worth believing in (modernism)? Are there personal ‘truths’ which can’t be proven, or substantiated? If there are, is David Icke right when he declares that a reptile conspiracy rules the world? If there aren’t, what would constitute proof?
Evidences for the afterlife Atheism – no possibility of proof Christianity – the resurrection of Jesus Hinduism – the nature of the cosmos Ghosts Past life remembrances Near Death Experiences Spiritualism – mediums