Genesis 28:14, Old Testament Eternal Life
And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
//An odd verse to introduce the topic of eternal life, don’t you think? Yet this is precisely the way the majority of Old Testament writers imagined living on after death: through one’s descendants. Being remembered and spoken well of was of primary importance. I uncovered this helpful discussion in Candida Moss’s excellent book, The Myth of Persecution:
A persistent and pressing anxiety in the ancient world was the fear of being forgotten, that when you died no one would remember that you had ever lived. In a world of Google searches, Social Security numbers, and embarrassingly permanent Facebook photos, it’s difficult for us to wrap our minds around how strong this fear would have been, but this was a world in which only 5 percent of people were literate. Immortality meant being kept alive in the memories of others …
Hence, we find in our earliest scriptures a curious emphasis on procreation and reputation … and a seeming lack of interest in the afterlife.