Read the first five books of the Old Testament and try to find a clear, unambiguous reference to an afterlife. I don’t think you can do it. The stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, etc., never involve believers in Yahweh talking about an afterlife in the presence of God or a belief that they will see their deceased loved ones again after death. And there is definitely no mention of a “resurrection”. Yet, if one reads the OT books written at the end of the Old Testament period, one CAN find unambiguous references to an afterlife and even a resurrection. Why is that?? I wrote a post on this topic several years ago. I will repost it below:
I cannot believe what I am reading…and from the premier orthodox/evangelical Bible scholar and apologist of our time! Listen to NT Wright’s statements below from the fourth chapter of his monumental work, The Resurrection of the Son of God, regarding the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, written in Egypt in the third century B.C.:
NT Wright: As the Bible (Old Testament) was translated into Greek the notion of resurrection became, it seems, much clearer, so that many passages which might have been at most ambiguous became clear, and some which seemed to have nothing to do with resurrection might suddenly give a hint, or more than a hint, in that direction.
The passages (found only in OT books written at the end of the Old Testament era) which already speak unambiguously of bodily resurrection come through loud and clear; there is no attempt to soften them. Daniel 12.2-3, 13, and the relevant passages in 2 Maccabees (e.g. 7.9, 14; 12.44) all use what became the standard ‘resurrection’ language, namely the Greek verbs anistemi and egeiro and their cognates.
We find the same with Isaiah 26, both in the verse that denies resurrection (14) and the verse that affirms it (19). They both emerge clearly in the Greek: 26.14 declares that the dead will not see life, and that ‘the doctors’ will not rise. In its turn, 26:19 insists that the dead will be raised, and that those in the tombs will be aroused. Similarly, the passage in Hosea (6.2) that some think (whatever its original meaning) provided a key influence for both Isaiah and Daniel, is also explicit in the Greek: on the third day we shall be raised and live in this presence. No second-Temple reader would have doubted that this referred to bodily resurrection.
Cavallin lists other passages where, despite the lack of actual reference in the original, the translators may have intended to refer to resurrection: . These include Deuteronomy 32.39, Psalms 1.5 and 21.30 (22.29). In addition, he notes the striking way in which the LXX (Septuagint) has reversed the sense of Job 14.14; instead of blank denial of a future life (‘if a man die, shall he live again?’), the LXX declares boldly, ‘If a man dies, he shall live’ . In the same way, the deeply obscure passage Job 19.26a (‘after my skin has been thus destroyed’) has been turned around: God ‘will resurrect my skin’. Finally, the LXX adds a postscript to the book. After 42.17, where Job dies, an old man and full of days, it adds (42.17a LXX): ‘It is written of him that he will rise again with those whom the Lord will raise’. Clearly, whoever drafted the translation of LXX Job had no doubt both of the bodily resurrection and of the propriety of making sure the biblical text affirmed it.
Gary: “God”, the original author in the Hebrew, obviously did not explain himself well enough. The translator had to help God out.
NT Wright: A similar point emerges from the LXX of Hosea 13.14. The Hebrew text asks, ‘Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death?’ and expects the answer ‘No’. The LXX, however, has turned this into a positive statement: I shall rescue them from the hand of Hades, and I shall redeem them from Death. Someone who read the text in this way might well then hear overtones of resurrection in the next chapter as well: ‘I will be like the dew to Israel…they shall blossom as the vine…’
In light of this, we may cautiously suggest some other passages in which similar influence might be present….
Gary: What is NT Wright clearly inferring here? Answer: Jewish translators in third century B.C Egypt, translating the Hebrew Bible into Greek to form the Septuagint, purposely altered the original text (of God’s holy, inerrant Word) to support the emerging/evolving Hellenistic concept, which was at that moment in time permeating Jewish culture and even its religious beliefs during the Greek Empire’s occupation, of a life after death, a belief not found anywhere in the Pentateuch nor in the subsequent other pre-exilic books of the Hebrew Bible!
How on earth can Rev. Wright and other knowledgeable conservative Christian scholars and apologists see this blatant “doctoring” of the Holy Bible, and still believe in its inerrancy??? (Or any concept of divine inspiration??)
And most damning of all is this: Jesus did not use the Hebrew Bible in his teachings. He used the Septuagint, a text which modern research clearly shows was ‘doctored’ to conform to a Hellenistic (pagan) world view of an after-life. This means that Jesus, whom Christians believe to be God the Creator, and author of the Hebrew Bible, preached his sermons from a foreign translation that he knew, being God, taught a pagan concept of life after death.
End of post.