In the due course of my historical studies at my university, I have heard from some professors that the concept of a Resurrection and eternal life with God is a post-ancient concept, found only in the New Testament and other works of that age. This, however, is an outright fabrication. From the beginning, the Most High has told us of His plan to raise us from the dead, to be judged, and thereafter to spend eternity either with Him, or separated forever from Him.
What by ignorance or by design these “learned” professors fail to distinguish the distinct difference between the truth of God’s Resurrection and the gnostic philosophies created by Greeks in the later B.C. and early first centuries. In Greco-Roman thought generally, the body was thought to be the prison of the soul. Evil matter is temporal and the spirit is eternal. In Gnostic religious systems, moreover, the believer required special revelation knowledge to ascend through the dangerous celestial spheres to escape the material universe. The god of spirits – sought by Gnostics – was not interested in the revival of dead bodies. According to their religious system, the material universe was composed of evil matter, which is contrasted to the spiritual realm. Greeks longed to be free from the confines of the body. While they did believe in the survival of the human soul after death, the notion that the body would be reunited with the soul in a physical resuscitation was foreign to their conceptual world.
The Jewish people, however, believed that God created our world. Our physical world is God’s creation, and it is good. The Pharisees, in contrast to the Greco-Roman religious beliefs, vigorously affirmed the doctrine of the resurrection of the physical body, which would be reunited with the spirit of an individual. Their worldview embraced a future restoration of God’s original design for His world. The Pharisees envisioned a time of redemption in which God would realign the physical creation with the ethereal realm.
Contrary to what some teach, the concept of bodily resurrection is not one that is mentioned only in the New Testament. God has been revealing this truth to us from the beginning. The Pharisees (Jewish experts on the Old Testament, or Torah) had been teaching and proclaiming this truth since before the time of Christ.
Rabbi Gamaliel, the Apostle Paul’s mentor, had this to say when confronted by people claiming there was no resurrection. (You’ll remember Gamaliel’s wise words to the Sanhedrin in Acts 5:34-39.)
~The heretics asked Rabban Gamaliel, “How do you prove that the Holy One, blessed be He, will resurrect the dead?”
He answered, “From the Torah, from the Prophets, and from the Writings. From the Torah: it is written, ‘And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold you are about to sleep with your fathers; but then you will rise again”‘ (Deut. 31:16).”
“But perhaps,” they argued, “the text reads, ‘and they shall rise up.'”
[But Rabban Gamaliel countered], “Also from the Prophets: as it is written, “Thy dead shall live, their bodies shall rise. O dwellers of the dust, awake and sing for joy! For thy dew is a dew of light, and on the land of the shades thou wilt let it fall'” (Isa. 26:19)
[The Saducees retorted,] “Perhaps this is referring to the dead who were resurrected to Ezekiel?”
[Rabban Gamaliel, however, argued, “The resurrection is] also taught in the Writings, as it is written: ‘and your palate like the best wine that goes down smoothly, making the lips of the sleepers to speak [in Pharisaic interpretation, “sleepers” may be understood as “the dead”]’ (Songs of Solomon 7:9).”~
This entire argument was made from the Old Testament (Torah, Prophets, and Writings) alone, with no New Testament references. There are more such scriptures, such as Daniel 12:2,
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
This proves the doctrine of Resurrection is not one introduced only by Christ and the New Testament, but one that has, from the beginning, been revealed to men by God as His plan for the last day.
[Some excerpts here are from Paul, the Jewish Theologian]