1st Century Jewish Philosopher on Heaven and Hell.
Why he might have influenced the New Testament.
Philo of Alexandria was known for blending Judaic beliefs with the ideas of Greek philosophers. Orthodox Jewish contemporaries of the early first century AD often objected.
Greek intellectualism, he said, agreed with Jewish doctrine.
He looked for hidden messages in Greek myths that harmonized with Jewish beliefs.
Philo also rated the Jewish way of life above the pagan way. The merits of Jewish faith, he said, were the "desire of all nations."
While most Jewish doctrine wasn't clear whether heaven and hell existed, Philo asserted that you earned a place in heaven if you followed the merits of Judaism--
Philo, On Rewards and Punishments [De Praemiis et Poenis] 152 The proselyte [the convert to Judaism] raised aloft by his good fortune will be admired on all sides, marveled at and held blessed on two counts on highest excellence, that he voluntarily came over to the camp of God, and that he has won a most appropriate prize, a secure place in heaven, which one may not describe, while the nobly sired who has debased the coinage of his high lineage will be dragged below and carried deep into Tartarus [hell] itself and profound darkness.
Traditional Jewish belief today says there's an afterlife but doesn't say what it's like. Afterlife could be heaven, hell, or something else.
"A traditional Jewish view holds that death is not the end of human existence."
"By heaven and hell, I mean reward and punishment in the afterlife. I am not referring to a hell of eternal fire or a heaven filled with harp-playing angels. Any attempt to describe either heaven or hell is likely to sound silly.
"I remember one of my yeshiva rabbis telling us students that heaven is eternal study of the Torah."
More views on the Jewish concept of the afterlife:
"Jewish theology for the most part contains little on the subject of the after life and leaves a great deal of room for personal interpretation."
"Some Jews believe that we are continually 'reincarnated.' It would be a more 'liberal' or 'secular' Jew who would generally ascribe to this view."
"An orthodox or conservative Jew is more likely to believe that the righteous dead go to a place similar to the Christian view of heaven. This is referred to as Olam Ha-Ba (the world to come) or Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden).
"Those who believe in a heaven also believe in a place similar to a Christian view of hell. The Jewish reference to hell is 'Gehinnom' or 'She'ol.' The Gehinnom view sounds very familiar to the Catholic doctrine of purgatory. According to most Jewish sources, the period of punishment or purification is limited to twelve months, after which the soul ascends to Gan Eden, or is destroyed if that person was utterly wicked. In addition, some Jewish sources are of the opinion that your time in Gehinnom can be shortened if living friends and relatives pray for you and do good works on your behalf."
Dobbie says: Strange that God didn't tell his chosen about heaven and who qualified to go there.
Jewish teaching had always been indefinite about it.
Then Philo came along and asserted that heaven and hell existed.
Later, Jesus came along, and although Jewish, he also declared that heaven and hell existed.
Thus it makes me wonder whether Philo influenced the Gospel message regarding the existence of heaven and hell.