• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Dying is a social as well as physiological phenomenon. Each society characterizes and, consequently, treats death and dying in its own individual ways—ways that differ markedly. These particular patterns of death and dying engender modal cultural responses, and such institutionalized behavior has familiar, economical, educational, religious, and political implications. The Handbook of Death and Dying takes stock of the vast literature in the field.

Christian Beliefs Concerning Death and Life after Death
Christian beliefs concerning death and life after death

The Apostles' Creed concludes with affirmations of belief in “the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” In various ways, Christian communities during two millennia have reaffirmed those two clauses, but beyond this, as McDannell and Lang say in their bookHeaven: A History(1988), “There is no basic Christian teaching, but an unlimited amount of speculation” (p. xi). In this chapter surveying Christian beliefs, then, I must necessarily be highly selective, but I must begin at the most creative moment.

Surprising new ideas concerning death and life after death appeared in Judaism during the last two centuriesB.C.E. They became the basis for almost everything the early church said on the subject, ...

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