DEATH AND ETERNAL LIFE by John Hick

DEATH AND ETERNAL LIFE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

John Hick, perhaps the foremost philosopher of religion in the English manner of painstaking logical analysis, offers an encyclopedic treatment of the inescapable (and newly fashionable) question of what happens to us when we die. Tracing belief in an after-life back to its beginnings (then a grim, but indubitable prospect) and up to its current rejection by humanists, he scrutinizes the testimony of the great religious traditions, the philosophical theories, and the findings of science to determine what views make the best sense logically and empirically. The evidence, he finds, points firmly toward the existence of life beyond death. But neither of the principal accounts--the Eastern idea of reincarnation and eventual union with ultimate reality and the Western notion of an immortal ego and its beatific vision of God--proves fully adequate. Hick argues that the best hypothesis is a synthesis of East and West: after death the self goes through a purifying series of disincarnate 'lives,' ultimately transcending the ego and entering a unitive state variously reflected in the doctrines of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Dharma Body of the Buddha, and the universal Atman. The adequacy of Hick's strictly analytical method, focused exclusively on doctrines abstracted from their concrete religious context, is open to question. But as a comprehensive evaluation of the theoretical options, his book is a considerable achievement, a successful experiment in ""global theology,"" and likely the standard philosophical discussion of the subject for some time to come.

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 1976
ISBN: 0664255094
Publisher: Harper & Row