Paul, I wasn't aware of this, and the refs. would be appreciated. In the OT,
the descriptions of the messiah are very spare. I suppose if people asked,
"what will he be like?" there'd be ample room for multiple theories.
I'm curious as to when the question was first asked, because I suspect that
for a long time it wasn't. The OT descriptions of "the world to come" are
equally spare, and it's my impression that at least originally one wasn't
supposed to ask for further information. Not because there was any kind of
taboo against asking, but because asking is futile. One can't know (the
knowledge is God's prerogative), although one will learn in due time. It's a
great contrast to the Christian conception of the afterlife, which is filled
with much detail drawn from Rev., other texts, and even all those paintings
of angels with lutes. The Christian approach to the afterlife almost mirrors
the Western approach to science--that one asks questions, develops theories,
seeks answers even to questions that may seem unanswerable. The original
insight--that there are things one simply can't know--recedes farther and
farther into the distance.
I've not studied the Talmud, but I understand it takes up the practice of
asking (and answering) questions about the afterworld. Maybe Richard can fill
in the gaps.
In a message dated 12/21/00 6:36:14 AM Eastern Standard Time, [log in to unmask]
> Pat -
> Please ignore this if you already know, but recent research has revealed
> one, but a number of different types of Messiahs in Jewish thought in the
> two centuries spanning the beginnig of the Christian Era, including the
> Messiah, the Priest Messiah, and even (probably following the failure of
> Kosiba) the Slain Messiah. The system was not watertight. I can dig out
> references for you, if it would help.