The After Life

According to Josephus, the Pharisees taught a resurrection:

"that every soul is imperishable, but that only those of the righteous pass into another body, while those of the wicked are, on the contrary, punished with eternal torment" -Josephus Wars 2.8.14

"they hold the belief that an immortal strength belongs to souls, and that there are beneath the earth punishments and rewards for those who in life devoted themselves to virtue or vileness, and that eternal imprisonment is appointed for the latter, but the possibility of returning to life for the former" -Josephus Ant. 18.1.3

This is actually the Jewish doctrine of retribution and resurrection (Dan 12:2), testified to by all Jewish literature, and also by the New Testament, as the common possession of any devoted follower of Judaism.

The Pharisaic views of the afterlife were in marked contrast with the views of the Sadducees. In the Psalms of Solomon, the eschatological expectations of a Messiah who would restore the fortunes of Israel are prominent. The Pharisees looked for that day when the present evil age (esp. the wickedness of the Sadducees) would be dissolved and the glorious kingdom of righteousness for a righteous Israel would come. They believed that their own righteousness and zeal would herald the coming of the Messiah.

The Pharisees differed from the Sadducees with respect to the future, for the Pharisees and taught the resurrection of the dead. According to Josephus, the Pharisees believed in the immortality of the soul and in reward and retribution after death (Jos. Antiq. XVIII. i. 3; War II. viii. 14). In the same passage he speaks of the soul moving into "another body."

These teachings were rejected by the Sadducees (who believed in Sheol; see Matt 22:23) mainly because such teachings were not found in the written Torah, and therefore were foreign imports.

The subject of the resurrection was such a hot issue with the Pharisees and Sadducees that even Paul cleverly refers to the question of the resurrection of the dead in his trial before the Sanhedrin (Acts 23 : 6ff.).

The ultimate triumph of the Pharisaic view of the resurrection is very apparent in the Mishnah where it gives a strong assertion that:

"he that says there is no resurrection of the dead prescribed in the Law.. has no share in the world to come" -Sanhedrin 10:1