Wall Street Journal Online
Review by Mark Archer
Thanks to Stan Parchin for sending the link.
British scholar John Casey's wide-ranging study shows the many ways in which mankind has tried to make sense of life after death.
Exploring beliefs about postmortem existence from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Israel, Greece and Rome—as well as from the theologies of Christianity and Islam—Mr. Casey discovers no broad pattern or shared assumption. According to anthropologists, the earliest cultures appear to have feared the dead more than death, burying corpses bound by rope and hemmed in with heavy stones for fear they might return and terrorize the living. For the Homeric Greeks death itself was the cause of dread, even as it might bestow honor. "Throughout the Iliad we have warriors who are reduced to nothing as their soul flees to Hades," Mr. Casey writes. "It is as though human greatness must include a sense of the nothingness that awaits us, and that the hero have a clear sense of this nothingness."