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Death be not Proud

The Problem of the Afterlife


Mark Corner

Might people one day live for ever? Would they want to? What sense can be made of ideas commonly referred to in terms of an ‘afterlife’? What about notions of Heaven and Hell, of Purgatory and reincarnation? And in what sort of state are human beings expected to be during this ‘afterlife’ – immortal souls or resurrected bodies (and does either notion make sense)? What about the fact that any ‘afterlife’ concerns not just the fate of individuals but of society (‘communion of saints’) and even the physical universe itself?
This book tries to survey some of the existing arguments about life ‘after’ death, with chapters on material from Christian tradition (particularly the New Testament and the Early Church) and from the philosophy of religion. It then attempts to reach its own conclusions, drawing on Kant and Barth in order to suggest that death is to be overcome rather than survived.


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Preface ix Part One 1 Chapter One The Inevitability of Death 3 Chapter Two More of the Same? 17 Chapter Three The Moral Quality of Life 33 Part Two 47 Chapter Four Where There Is No Death I – Heaven 49 Chapter Five Where There Is No Death II – Hell 67 Chapter Six Eschatology 87 vi Part Three 107 Chapter Seven A Tale of Two Deaths 109 Chapter Eight The New Testament and the ‘Afterlife’ 125 Chapter Nine Paul and the ‘Afterlife’ 141 Chapter Ten The Post-Biblical Period 157 Part Four 177 Chapter Eleven Philosophical Investigations of the ‘Afterlife’ 179 Chapter Twelve The Idea of Reincarnation 191 Chapter Thirteen The Identity Problem 207 Part Five 221 Chapter Fourteen Having the Same Soul and Being the Same Person 223 vii Chapter Fifteen The Unavoidable Self 237 Chapter Sixteen Overcoming Death 249 Chapter Seventeen Summary and Conclusion 261 Bibliography 273 Index 279

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