The Intermediate State,
With Special Attention Given to the View of George Eldon Ladd
George Eldon Ladd (1911-1982), Professor of New Testament Exegesis and Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary (1950-1980), specialized in eschatology. Although his primary focus was on general eschatology — the kingdom of God, the rapture, and the millennium1 — he also wrote about the eschatology of the individual. There was little unusual about his understanding of this subject, and he did not argue it with as much detail as he discussed the kingdom, rapture, and millennium. He wrote about it most extensively in a chapter in The Last Things, comments about the nature of the resurrection in I Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus, some comments in The Pattern of New Testament Truth, and two sections in Theology of the New Testament.2 This paper will examine his view about the intermediate state to see how he dealt with the relevant texts.
The Old Testament evidence
In The Last Things, Ladd began chapter 3, "The Intermediate State," by commenting that the popular notion of going to heaven "is more an expression of Greek thought than of biblical theology."3 He criticized in dualistic concepts of body and soul. "The biblical idea of the world and man4 is very different.... The Old Testament view of man is not dualistic."5 The Hebrew word usually translated "soul" does not fit into the dualistic stereotype:
Man is not, as the Greeks thought, a dualism of body and soul.... When God breathed into man the breath of life, man because a living being (literally, "soul," Gen. 2:7). Animals, as well as man, are sustained by the breath of life (Gen. 7:15). Therefore, the basic meaning of "soul" (nephesh) in the Old Testament is the principle of life which animates both men...and animals.6
Not only is the soul of humans essentially the same as the life principle of animals, it is not perceived as a metaphysical entity that escapes the body upon death to permit continuing existence.
The soul or spirit does not escape the physical world to flee to the world of God. Rather, man descends to Sheol.... What is seen in Sheol is not man's soul or spirit but the rephaim, translated "shades" in the Revised Standard Version, the "dead" in the King James.... For the shades in Sheol, conscious fellowship with God has been lost; therefore descent to Sheol does not mean life.7
What happens to the soul upon death? Hebrew thought had no role for the nephesh after death — it was neither in sheol nor in heaven, neither with God nor in limbo. Nephesh, the animating principle, the breath of life, simply ceases. The person no longer breathes, is no longer animated. The nephesh is dead (verses such as Num. 6:6 and Ezek. 18:4 refer to dead souls).
However, existence continues in some form — as semiconscious rephaim in sheol. "The shades are not to be identified with man's departed soul or spirit. It seems to be some kind of pale replica of man himself."8 "The rephaim are `weak shadowy continuations of the living who have now lost their vitality and strength' (cf. Ps. 88:11; Prov. 2:18; 19:18; 21:16; Job 26:5; Isa. 14:9). The are `not extinct souls but their life has little substance.'"9
But is this not dualism with different terminology? Ladd is correct in noting that the Hebrew word nephesh is not involved in a dualistic view of humanity. The Hebrew "soul" is vastly different than the Platonic "soul." The Hebrews did not talk of the nephesh in the way that the Greeks talked of the psyche. There is no talk of the nephesh escaping the body to enjoy a better existence in a spirit realm. Nevertheless, something human survives death, and the result is not too far removed from Greek thought: a continued consciousness apart from the body. The Hebrews did not speculate on the metaphysics of how this might be so, but it was still so. The rephaim continue to be conscious of who they are, of who others are. This existence may not be caused by a soul, but it is caused by something. The Hebrews' lack of philosophy and terminology concerning this does not mean that they were not dualistic — it just means that their attention was focused differently.
The Hebrews had a high view of the body and earthly existence. They knew that God created the body and had declared physical things "good." They treated dead bodies with respect, even though they knew that the flesh decomposed and the bones remained in the tombs and existence in sheol did not depend on the body. They viewed death as an enemy, not as an escape from a substandard physical existence. They viewed the shadowy existence in sheol as only partially conscious (cf. Isa. 14:9-10; 38:18; Ps. 6:5) and less desirable than life on earth.10 The Greeks differed in that they had an ambivalent view of the body,11 a higher view of the spirit/soul, a clear distinction even in this life between the physical and nonphysical aspects of human existence. They sound more dualistic largely because they had speculated in more detail on what it is that provides continuity between this world of the living and the underworld of the dead. The Hebrews also believed in some continuity, although it was not well defined.
Did the Hebrews view sheol as a final state, or an intermediate state? Some texts suggests that there is no hope beyond sheol (Job 14:12; Ps. 49:19; 8:5; Isa. 38:18); others hint that God might provide something better for the righteous. "In only a few places does the revelation given in the Old Testament transcend the expectation of existence in Sheol."12 Ladd cites Pss. 16:10-11; 49:15; and 73:24,13 and writes:
There are a few intimations in the Old Testament that death will not be able to destroy the fellowship that God's people have enjoyed with him.... He will enable them in some undefined way to enjoy continued communion with him.... These passages do not have a clear teaching of a blessed intermediate state, but they embody the germ of such a teaching.... In Judaism there emerges [in the intertestamental period] a distinct doctrine of Sheol as a place of blessedness for the righteous but a place of suffering for the unrighteous (En. 22-23; 2 Ez. 7:75-98).14
In Pattern, after quoting these Pss. 16:10-11; 49:15; and 73:24, Ladd writes,
While such sayings hardly provide us with material for a doctrine of the intermediate state, they do express the undying conviction of the `imperishable blessedness of the man who lives in God.' They cannot conceive of this fellowship being broken, even by death.15
Ladd further claims that "in the Old Testament life is bodily existence. This is why the doctrine of bodily resurrection is essential to life."16 This conclusion is, in my opinion, further than the evidence warrants. The Old Testament gives few details about existence in sheol and even less evidence that there is life beyond sheol and none about what that life is like. The OT is not dogmatic that post-sheol life must be bodily. Not even Dan. 12:2 puts any stress on the body. Ladd's insistence on bodily resurrection is probably based more on 1 Cor. 15 than it is on the OT text.
Evidence from the Gospels
The Septuagint translates sheol as hades, the Greek word for the underworld of Greek mythology. But the NT has little to say about hades per se. When Matt. 11:23//Luke 10:15 says that Capernaum will "go down to hades," the language parallels OT texts that speak of death with the idiom "going down to sheol" (e.g. Gen. 37:35). Matt. 16:18 refers to the gates of hades, just as Isa. 38:10 had referred to the gates of sheol. These texts do not endorse the concept of a literal underworld with literal gates, but they use that mythology as a metaphorical way of referring to death. Nor do they endorse any beliefs about what existence in hades might be like — although life after death is presupposed.17
Revelation uses the phrase "death and hades" four times. It is allusive and says nothing directly about an intermediate state. Acts 2:27, 31, quoting Ps. 16:8-11, says that God did not leave Jesus in hades. This simply means that God did not leave Jesus dead. The passage tells us nothing about hades itself or what Jesus might have experienced between death and resurrection.
The only NT passage that might tell us about hades is Luke 16:19-31, the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. But it is a parable, and it is likely that Jesus was merely using well-known imagery of his day to make a point without necessarily implying any validity to the imagery itself. Ladd argues against taking it literally:
It teaches something contrary to the rest of Jesus' teaching, namely, that wealth merits Hades and poverty itself is rewarded in Paradise. This parable is no commentary on contemporary social life, nor does it intent to give teaching about the afterlife. It is really not a parable about the rich man and Lazarus, but about the five brothers. Jesus used contemporary folk-material to set forth the single truth that if people to not hear the word of God, a miracle such as a resurrection would not convince them.18
Jesus did not intend to describe actual conversations between hell and paradise, nor that rich men would ask only for drops of water when agonized by fire. Such details merely provide the setting for Jesus' primary point.
There is one teaching in this passage which contradicts the total biblical teaching about the intermediate state, namely, that judgment and reward take place immediately after death. Elsewhere judgment always occurs at the Second Coming of Christ. Since this passage reflects ideas about Hades that were current in Judaism, we conclude that this is not meant to be a true story but is a parable based on contemporary ideas.... The parable is about the hardness and obduracy of the Jews who refuse to accept the witness of Scripture to the person of Jesus.19
One other verse in the Gospels suggests something about the afterlife without using the word hades. Jesus told the thief on the cross, "Today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). Ladd calls this "the clearest word in the Gospels about the intermediate state — at least of the righteous."20 Ladd concludes from this that the thief would "enjoy fellowship with him in the presence of God `today,' that is, immediately after death."21 This interpretation is possible, but I do not think it is the only viable interpretation. Ladd himself notes that paradise designated "the blessed abode of the righteous between death and resurrection"22 — an abode that in Jewish thought would have been in sheol, not with God. When Paul used the word paradise, he meant in the presence of God (2 Cor. 12:3), but this is no proof that the word meant this in Luke 23:43. Ladd notes that the word can refer a messianic age23 — which in Jewish thought would be earthly. Since the term can refer to heaven, earth, or sheol, we cannot assume it refers to being in the presence of God. Luke 23:43 may mean no more than this: both Jesus and the thief would die that day, and that they would both be in the abode of the righteous dead. The verse says nothing about where that is, nor how conscious they would be. We must also remember that Jesus spoke this from the cross, where speech was difficult. He was not expounding on the nature of the afterlife — he was simply assuring the man that as of that very day, he would be counted among the righteous.
Evidence from Paul
Paul wrote an entire chapter specifically on the resurrection, but he said little about an intermediate state. He does not talk about sheol or hades — he transforms the discussion entirely by saying that his desire is to "be with Christ"24 upon his death (Phil. 1:23). Paul further notes that this would be "better by far," but Paul was in prison, and many things would be better than that. Nevertheless, Paul says, "to live is Christ and to die is gain" (verse 21). Paul perceived death as an improvement, as even better than being with Christ in this life. This is a strikingly positive view of death.
Paul comments further in 2 Cor. 5:1-10. Despite his insistence that people will have bodies in the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:42), he could speak of himself as being "away from the body and at home with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8). What does this mean? The traditional interpretation is that Paul is speaking of an intermediate state. Let us examine the passage in more detail.
Verse 1 reads: "Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands." Some interpreters, stressing the words "we have," conclude that we are given our heavenly dwelling immediately upon death.25 This is not an intermediate body, since Paul specifically calls it our eternal house. Elsewhere, Paul says we receive resurrection bodies at the return of Christ (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16).26 But if we receive our eternal houses at death, there is no need for a later resurrection. This makes Paul contradict himself, and it is not good hermeneutics to insist that an author has contradicted him/herself if noncontradictory interpretations are possible. So in fairness to the author we should examine 2 Cor. 5:1 to see if another interpretation is plausible.
The traditional interpretation is that "we have" simply stresses "the complete certainty that we are to have it."27 Actually, it is difficult to take the tense literally, since in either interpretation, the present tense is used for something in the future. Either way, it means that we have waiting for us an eternal house, and it is not clear from verse 1 how long we wait for it. If Paul wanted to say that we would receive eternal dwellings right after we die, he would have communicated that idea more easily by writing, "If our earthly tent is destroyed, we will then be given an eternal house made by God." We should not use a present-tense verb to argue that a fulfillment is in the near future rather than the distant future. It just doesn't prove the point.
Verses 2-4: "Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life." Paul says that we are groaning, suffering, in our mortal, temporary bodies. We eagerly desire our permanent dwellings, because they are much better. Ladd writes, "We have a body awaiting us — a resurrection body — an eternal body, a heavenly body28.... Paul looks forward to the resurrection because in our earthly existence we groan from weakness, sickness, and suffering."29
Paul brings up the concept of being "naked...unclothed." He does not directly say that we will be naked, but this is apparently a genuine possibility, since verses 8-9 indicate that it is possible to be "away from the body."
Verse 6: "We are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord." The contrast Paul describes here is mortal life, in the body, and being with the Lord, after death. In verses 8-9 he says, "We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it." Here he echoes Phil. 1:23: Death improves our situation, even if it means being away from the body. In 2 Cor. 5:8-9, Paul does not say, "having a new body" — he just calls it as being away from the current body.
I believe that Ladd overstates the case when he refers to "Paul's natural abhorrence of being disembodied... the idea of being unclothed, i.e., a disembodied spirit, is repugnant."30 Paul is simply comparing three states: mortal life, life away from the body but with the Lord, and the eternal, heavenly dwelling. Yes, he would rather not be unclothed, but it is also true that he would rather not have a mortal body. He views his next state with desire, not with abhorrence. He simply wants the last state the most. Philip Hughes puts it this way:
Paul preferred...to be still alive at the time of Christ's return.... The Apostle would have preferred not to undergo this experience of `nakedness' which extends from death to resurrection.... For the Christian the intermediate state is more desirable than this present existence.... To be united in the true integrity of our being with Christ is the glorified state is better still than our intermediate condition.... There is a progressive intensity in the believer's experience of closeness to his Lord.31
We might speculate briefly on how Paul came to his understanding. For the most part, the Old Testament had a dismal view of life after death — it was a dismal existence in the underworld. There were a few hints that the righteous would fare better than the wicked, but the ideas were sketchy at best and could perhaps be dismissed as poetic figures of speech. Intertestamental Judaism developed the concept of resurrection, and saw sheol as an intermediate condition before the resurrection at the end of the age. "Judaism developed the idea of Sheol as a place of both punishment and blessing, which is later reflected in Jesus' parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16:19-31).32 Even Jesus' words to the thief on the cross fit easily into this framework.
So where did Paul get his conviction that death meant being immediately with Christ? Perhaps it was his conviction that Jesus Christ had triumphed over death, and death could not separate Christ from the people he loved (Rom. 8:38-39). Paul knew that he was "in Christ," and nothing could remove him from Christ. Perhaps he knew the tradition found in Matt. 28:20: "Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Or the thought expressed in Heb. 13:5: "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Paul also had the conviction that there would be a resurrection of the body (presumably Paul had been told that the resurrected Jesus had a body – Phil. 3:21) and that this would take place at the return of Christ and the end of the age. These convictions necessitated an intermediate state, in which a person is with the Lord but not having a body. But Paul had no details about this situation. Ladd concludes, "Paul has no light on the mode of existence in the intermediate state. He has the conviction...that `death could not bring the believer into any situation which meant separation from the Lord.'"33
Other New Testament evidence
Heb. 12:22-24 gives further evidence about an intermediate state:
You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Ladd comments: "This is probably not a general statement but a specific one, referring to the Old Testament saints."34 Although little is said about the type of existence these righteous people have, they are called "spirits," and they are with God and Jesus.
1 Pet. 3:19-20 is sometimes used as evidence of an intermediate state for Jesus Christ. Ladd lists three views without clearly identifying himself with any of them.
The older patristic interpretation is that in the intermediate state Christ in the spirit went and preached the gospel to the spirits of dead men imprisoned in Hades.... A second view, held by Augustine and many Reformers, is that Christ in his preexistent state of being preached the gospel through Noah to Noah's living contemporaries. The third view, most widely accepted today, is that in the intermediate state Christ proclaimed the victory of the gospel to fallen angels imprisoned in Hades.35
Ladd dismisses the evidence of Rev. 6:9, which refers to souls under the heavenly altar. "It is a metaphorical way to describe the death of the martyrs and has nothing to say about their dwelling place after death.... The souls of the martyrs are seen under the altar in heaven because their lives had been poured out as a sacrificial offering."36 Because of the metaphorical nature of the vision, it would not be wise to press its details. Ladd concludes:
The New Testament has very little to say about the intermediate state. In fact, it sheds no light on the state of the unrighteous dead. The one fact that is taught by both the Gospels and Paul is that the righteous dead — believers — are with Christ in the presence of God, awaiting the resurrection. While this is a state of blessedness, the entire Bible witnesses to the fact that the final redemption must include the resurrection and transformation of the body."37
We may also consider the terminology of the afterlife. Is it the soul that lives on, or is it the spirit? Murray Harris notes that both terms are used in the NT, but that neither term attempts to isolate one "part" of a human to the exclusion of other "parts."38 The NT makes no attempt to isolate the proper terms — it just indicates that the person continues.
Are the dead asleep?
In Theology, Ladd deals briefly with the question of whether people in the intermediate state are asleep or awake. Seventh-day Adventists and others teach that the "soul," although with God, is asleep and unconscious. This thesis has
received the weighty support of [Oscar] Cullmann. Cullmann is of course right that Paul, and all other biblical writers, look upon the final destiny of humanity in terms of resurrection of the body and not immortality of the soul.... Paul often describes the state of death in terms of sleep (1 Thess. 4:13; 1 Cor. 15:16, etc.). However, sleep was a common term for death both in Greek [where it certainly did not mean soul-sleep] and Hebrew literature and need not carry any theological significance.39
Would Paul really call unconsciousness much better than being alive (Phil. 1:23)? Would he call unconsciousness with Christ better than being conscious with Christ in this life (2 Cor. 5:8)?40 Although I have been in the soul-sleep theological tradition for many years, I find it difficult to believe that Paul would write such positive things about unconsciousness.
Cullmann's controversial lecture series was titled Immortality of the Soul or Resurrection of the Dead?41 He showed that the biblical view differed from the Greek view of immortality. Scripture teaches a resurrection of the body — but this does not automatically prove that the soul sleeps between death and resurrection. Cullmann argues that Jesus, unlike Socrates, had a fear of death and viewed death as an enemy.42 (Cullmann does not deal with the evidence that Paul viewed death far more favorably.) He admits that the inner person can "somehow lead a shady existence without the body, like the dead in Sheol according to the Old Testament, but that is not a genuine life." I agree that such life is not full, but neither is mortal life in this age. The question is whether the person is conscious, not whether the person meets Cullmann's criteria for "genuine" life. And the OT picture of sheol is that the rephaim have some sort of consciousness (e.g. Isa. 14:9-10; Ezek. 32:21).
In his last chapter, Cullmann argues against Barth's view that the dead are no longer in time. He says that the souls under the altar are sleeping (though that word is not in the text!), but ironically, he also argues that they are conscious of the passage of time: "How long, O Lord" (Rev. 6:10).43 He says that "the dead in Christ share in the tension [which supposes some consciousness] of the interim time."44 He notes that "the rhythm of time may be different for them than for the living."45 He finds an intermediate state in 2 Cor. 5:1-10, but calls it a "sleeping" state46 — based not on exegesis of this text, but primarily on the fact that dead people are sometimes said to be sleeping. Nevertheless, he says at one point, "Nothing is said in the New Testament about the details of the interim conditions,"47 so I am puzzled as to why he can so dogmatically turn a figure of speech into a doctrine of intermediate sleep. I do not think he has done justice to Paul's favorable comments regarding dying and being with Christ.
Ladd did not attempt to respond to Cullmann's arguments in detail; he simply footnoted, "For a strong refutation of this view, see D.E.H. Whiteley, The Theology of St. Paul (1964), 262-69."48 Whiteley has this to say:
Cullmann really offers very little to support his contention. He takes it for granted that koimaomai means both `die' and `be unconscious' at the same time.... We maintain on the other hand that...in some contemporary Jewish writings those who are said to `sleep' in the sense of being `dead' appear also to be conscious and active.... In non-Pauline N.T. passages the dead appear at times to be conscious, and there is no passage where the meaning `unconscious' is certain.49
Whiteley further notes that if Jesus' reply to the thief meant, "today you shall be unconscious with me in Paradise" it would have been "a lame and evasive reply."50
It is not impossible that St. Paul may have regarded `being unconscious in the presence of Christ' as preferable to being conscious in the world, above all in captivity. Such an understanding would be possible if there were any strong ground for accepting it. But in point of fact there is no reason at all to accept it apart from the assumption that when koimaomai is employed in the metaphorical sense of death, it must also carry with it the meaning of being unconscious, and for this assumption there is no warrant.51
Cullmann specifically restricted his discussion to the New Testament, but much of the theological roots of soul-sleep doctrines is in the Old Testament. But the evidence is inadequate. Seventh-day Adventists cite texts such as Eccl. 9:5-6, 10; Ps. 115:17; and 146:4,52 but the context of these verses warns us that the perspective is limited in some way. We do not believe, for example, that the "dead have no further reward" (Eccl. 9:5), or that they will "never again...have a part in anything that happens under the sun" (v. 6). Nor do we believe that the only meaning of life is to be found in this life (v. 9). When we look at Ps. 115:17, we should also look at v. 18, which says we "extol the Lord...forevermore." And other verses describe conscious rephaim in sheol.53 The saints in John's vision of heaven are not just moaning about the long wait — they are worshipping God, serving him night and day (Rev. 7:10, 14-17).54
I also find it persuasive that the OT was written in a cultural context in which all the surrounding peoples believed in a conscious afterlife. Belief in unconsciousness would be unprecedented. Robert Morey writes,
While God clearly condemned polytheism in the Old Testament, at no time did He ever condemn belief in a conscious afterlife.... The universality of belief in a conscious afterlife is irrefutable, and there is no evidence that Israel deviated from this belief.55
He also cites Israel's problem with people who claimed to communicate with the dead:
The continuing problem of necromancy in Israel's history has been noted by many scholars as clear evidence that the Jews did not believe in soul sleep.... Saul believed Samuel was still consciously alive in Sheol. That the King of Israel would believe in an afterlife while the rest of the nation did not is totally unreasonable. While the Old Testament prophets condemned necromancy as something which was `forbidden,' they never stated that it was impossible because the dead were unconscious.56
Harris, after surveying the biblical evidence, provided some remarks about the intermediate state which provide a fitting conclusion to this paper:
Why is the New Testament relatively silent about this subject? Undoubtedly because the writers were more concerned with the...ultimate, not the penultimate, stage of the divine plan. Irrespective of the question of the precise anthropological state of the believer in the interim period after death, he or she has one fundamental assurance that makes all other matters pale into insignificance: "Whether we live or whether we die, we belong to the Lord" (Ro 14:8).57
1Ladd's choice of subjects seems to have been shaped not so much by an objective or systematic approach to eschatological topics, but more by a reaction against dispensationalism, which was perhaps unavoidable because of the dominance of dispensationalist views among evangelicals in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
2G.E. Ladd, The Last Things (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978).
G.E. Ladd, I Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975).
G.E. Ladd, The Pattern of New Testament Truth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968).
G.E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974; page numbers in this paper refer to the second edition, Eerdmans, 1993).
3Last Things, p. 29. He illustrated the problem with an old evangelistic song: "There's a land beyond the river/ That they call the sweet forever,/ And we only reach that shore by faith's decree;/ One by one we reach the portals,/ There to dwell with the immortals,/ When they ring those golden bells for you and me."
The song, however, does not use the word "heaven," and it says nothing about "disembodied blessedness," which Ladd associates with the song. I do not know the song — perhaps other verses include the errors Ladd argues against — but I think Ladd's introduction was poorly chosen, since the song does not illustrate the problem Ladd is arguing against. Regardless of the song, Ladd's point is correct: popular conceptions of "going to heaven after you die" do include the concept of disembodiment and blessing.
Ironically, I find that Ladd believes something that is similar to the view he critiques, since he says that 2 Cor. 5:1-9 describes a disembodied intermediate state that is better than our current life. Ladd's view is not identical to Greek ideas or to popular concepts about going to heaven, but he has not delineated how he differs.
4Ladd frequently used the word "man" to refer to both men and women. Although I would write differently today, I will quote him the way he wrote.
5Last Things, pp. 30-31.
6Ibid, p. 32.
7Ibid, pp. 31-32. Ladd appears to contradict himself on page 32. He says, "Sheol is thought of as a place beneath the earth." Two sentences later, he says, "Sheol is seen as synonymous with death — a state rather than a place." Is Sheol a place, or not? Did the Hebrews merely describe it as an underworld, knowing that it was not a literal place? I do not know what Ladd would say.
8Ibid. A similar thought is in Pattern, p. 38.
9Theology of the New Testament, p. 194, quoting from R. F. Schnell, Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (Nashville: Abingdon, 1962), vol. 4, p. 35.
10Ladd goes so far as to say that "Sheol does not mean life" (Last Things, p. 32) and "It is not nonexistence, but it is not life" (Theology, p. 194).
11I suspect that the modern stereotype of the "Greek" view of body and soul is based more on a minority view (Plato and his school of philosophers) than on the majority view of the common people. Gymnasia, sports, tombs, and a corporeal view of the pantheon give evidence that many Greeks had a high view of the body. There was no epidemic of hemlock drinking by masses anxious for their souls to escape the prison of their bodies.
12Last Things, pp. 32-33.
13Ibid. However, these psalms can be interpreted in their original contexts as a metaphorical way of saying that the Lord will prevent death, not that he will resurrect a person after death. As a clear example of this type of metaphor, see Ps. 30:3, where the phrase "brought me up from sheol" means "I never went to sheol at all." In Theology, p. 194, Ladd included Job 19:25-26 among the texts evidencing post-sheol life.
Walter C. Kaiser Jr., in Toward an Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978), pp. 180-181, 249, 265, argues that Job 14:7-17; 19:23-27 and Isa. 26:19 refer to a resurrection. These have been debated, and are suggestive rather than conclusive. Dan. 12:2 also refers to a resurrection, but not to sheol.
In I Believe, Ladd argues that Hosea 6:1-2, Isa. 25:8 and 26:19 express "confidence in resurrection...but only of God's people" (pp. 47-48). Also, although Ezek. 37 is about national restoration rather than individual resurrection, "the very fact that the vision sees the restoration of dead bones to life suggests that the idea of bodily resurrection was familiar" (p. 48).
14Theology, p. 194, my emphasis. In I Believe, Ladd says the evidence from the book of Enoch is that the wicked will not be raised, but the righteous will be resurrected (p. 55, citing En. 22:13; 90:33; 46:6; 62:13-16).
15Pattern, p. 38, quoting R. Martin-Achard, From Death to Life, p. 165. In I Believe, Ladd quotes the same psalms, saying "such passages give us only glimpses of a hope of a blessed existence after death.... There is merely the confidence that even death cannot destroy the reality of fellowship with the living God" (p. 47).
16Last Things, p. 33.
17"The contrast between gaining the whole world or losing one's psych_ (Mark 8:36) points to something more than physical life; it reflects the idea that the person is more than bodily existence. This is even clearer when Jesus distinguishes between the life of the body and the life of the soul and warns of the danger of a death of the soul in Gehenna (Matt. 10:28). Thus the soul is a separate entity that can exist apart from the body" (Pattern, p. 42).
18Theology, p. 195. I agree that Jesus is making a point about the need to believe the word without miracles, but I find it hard to imagine that Jesus chose to send the rich man to flames and the poor man to Paradise without intending a jab at contemporary social life.
19Last Things, p. 34. But Ladd's own view also contradicts his idea that judgment takes place only at the Second Coming. Ladd teaches that believers, not the wicked, go to be with the Lord upon death. There has already been a separation, which implies a judgment, between believers and nonbelievers. Contrary to what Ladd says, judgment has already begun (John 3:18; 12:31).
21Ibid, pp. 34-35.
22Ibid, p. 34.
23Theology, p. 195.
24These quotes are from The Holy Bible, New International Version (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984).
25Ladd describes and answers this view in Last Things, pp. 35-36, and Pattern, pp. 103-106. In Theology, pp. 598-599, he associates this view with R.H. Charles, W.L. Knox, and W.D. Davies. In Pattern, p. 104 n. 36, he notes that R.F. Hettlinger and F.F. Bruce also support this view.
26In Pattern, pp. 105-106, Ladd argues that 2 Cor. 4:14 also teaches a future resurrection, but I find that verse too easily capable of other interpretations.
27Theology, p. 598, citing F. V. Filson in Interpreter's Bible. In Last Things, p. 36, he points out that Rom. 8:30 uses past tense to indicate the certainty of a future glorification.
28"Paul says nothing about the substance or material of the body; he only insists that it will be a body...cannot be a body made of psych_, for psych_ is never thought of as a material substance.... Paul nowhere describes or defines what this means; he merely affirms it" (Pattern, p. 98). He goes so far as to state that "human existence by definition is bodily existence (p. 103), but he would probably nuance this view when considering the intermediate state.
29Last Things, pp. 36-37.
30Theology, p. 598. In Pattern, p. 104, he says that Paul "instinctively recoils from the idea of being a disembodied spirit."
31Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, The True Image (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), p. 396-7. His chapter 36, "Between Death and Resurrection" (pp. 393-397), is a concise discussion of the intermediate state.
32Theology, p. 597.
33Theology, p. 598, quoting H.A.A. Kennedy, St. Paul's Conception of the Last Things, p. 269, and also citing Rom. 8:38.
34Last Things, pp. 37-38.
35Ibid, p. 38. Ladd notes on p. 39 that the third view gains some support from Jude 6. He lists the same three views in Theology, pp. 647-648, again without clearly accepting any view.
36Last Things, p. 39.
37Ibid. I agree for the most part. There is an intermediate state between death and resurrection, and the justified will be with the Lord, but the Bible does not say anything further than that. Rom. 8:23 refers to the redemption of our bodies; Paul is convinced that Christ has redeemed all things, and that physical things (declared by God to be good) are included. The state of the unrighteous dead is an area for interesting speculation — perhaps they are still in the quasi-existence of sheol.
38Murray J. Harris, From Grave to Glory (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), pp. 210-211.
39Theology, p. 599.
40"Paul would hardly have viewed unconscious rest with Christ in heaven as `far better' than conscious communion with Christ on earth" (Harris, From Grave to Glory, p. 206).
41Oscar Cullmann, Immortality of the Soul or Resurrection of the Dead? (London: The Epworth Press, 1958).
42Ibid, pp. 19-24.
43Ibid, p. 50.
44Ibid, p. 51.
45Ibid, p. 57.
46Ibid, pp. 52-54.
47Ibid, p. 57.
48Theology, p. 600, n. 18.
49D.E.H. Whiteley, The Theology of St. Paul (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1964), p. 263. Murray Harris also deals with Cullmann and this Greek word in From Grave to Glory, p. 206.
50Ibid., p. 268.
51Ibid., p. 269.
52Seventh-day Adventist Ministerial Association, Seventh-day Adventists Believe... (Hagerstown, Maryland: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1988), p. 352.
53The Adventist book declares that Ezek. 32:21 is figurative (p. 359, n. 6), but does not deal with Isa. 14:9-17. It diminishes the evidence of Phil. 1:23 (p. 360, n. 7f), but does not deal with 2 Cor. 5 at all!
54I found this reference in Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), p. 821.
55Robert A. Morey, Death and the Afterlife (Minneapolis: Bethany, 1984), p. 73-74.
56Ibid, p. 49.
57Harris, From Grave to Glory, pp. 209-210.