Maimonides and the Resurrection of the Dead
Originally Maimonides had promulgated the idea that the resurrection was not something material and corporeal, but a matter of the intellect alone. It really will occur, he argued, but will entail disembodied existence with God. Great controversy erupted in response to the idea, based on Talmudic Judaism's clear presentation of a bodily resurrection, and Maimonides was forced to write a response to his critics in which he admitted there would be a bodily resurrection. He did not give in all the way, however. He wrote that the physical resurrection would be a transient thing, after which people will again die and then be able to enjoy an ethereal existence in the World to Come! Levenson's evaluation of all this is extremely well stated: "This is not only a drastic departure from the traditional rabbinic doctrine, as Maimonides' critics incessantly noted. It is also a contrived and uneconomical scenario that gives the appearance of being devised simply to free its inventor of the suspicion of heresy" (pp. 19-20).