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Bible Dictionaries
Book of Life

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

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BOOK OF LIFE . The legalistic conception of morality which existed among the Jews involved a record of the deeds of life on the basis of which the final judgment of God would be given. Allied with this was another conception, derived from the custom of enrolling citizens ( Jeremiah 22:30 , Nehemiah 7:5; Nehemiah 7:64; Nehemiah 12:22 f.; cf. Exodus 32:32 ), of a list of those who were to partake of the blessings of the Messianic Age. A second natural step was to conceive of God as keeping two sets of books, a Book of Life ( Daniel 12:1 ff., Malachi 3:16 , Psalms 69:28 ) for the righteous, and a Book of Death for the wicked (Jub xxx 20 22). To have one’s name blotted out from the Book of Life was equivalent to complete condemnation (Eth. Enoch 108:3).

In the Apocalyptic writings of Judaism the Final Judgment was to be based upon the records contained in the books supposedly kept by the archangel Michael. In some cases Rabbinical thought elaborated the figure until each man was to read and sign his record. The judgment of God was thus supposed to be based upon absolute justice, and determined by the balance of recorded good and evil deeds. In the NT are to be found references both to the books of records (Revelation 20:12; Revelation 20:15; cf. Daniel 7:10 , Eth. Enoch 89:61ff.), and to the books containing a list of those who were to enjoy eternal life ( Luke 10:20 , Philippians 4:3 , Hebrews 12:23 , Revelation 3:5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:6; Revelation 21:27 ).

Shailer Mathews.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Book of Life'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdb/​b/book-of-life.html. 1909.
 
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