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Do modern Jews believe in purgatory, as 2 Maccabees 12:45 speaks of prayers for the dead?

Full Question

Do modern Jews believe in purgatory, as 2 Maccabees 12:45 speaks of prayers for the dead?


Although the theology of the afterlife is not highly developed in Judaism (which is due, in part, to Judaism’s emphasis on the importance of this life), traditional modern Jews offer prayers and memorials on behalf of their deceased loved ones. They do not recognize the Catholic doctrine of purgatory per se, but their actions are in line with Catholic concern for the souls of the deceased. In any event, the books of Maccabees are usually not included in the modern Jewish canons of Hebrew Scripture and are considered by most modern Jews to be apocryphal.


  1. Judy Elkie Reply

    If our Christian brothers and sister of other faiths don’t believe in purgatory what happens to them when they die and still need to be cleansed to enter heaven?

    1. Jim Reply

      They go through purgatory. Just because they don’t believe in it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It probably is a shock to them, however.

  2. Becky Jo Elster Reply

    The finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the late 1940s, has uncovered parchments of manuscripts said to have prob been buried by Jews when they were sent into exiie inBabylon. Books like Maccabees, and five other books were included in the Catholic OT Canon, but removed in the 16th century, by reformers.

    It is my understanding, the Jewish leaders late in the 1st century determined a criteria for the selection of sacred writings. Among this criteria was that the OT manuscripts had to be written in Hebrew. Several books were left out of the Jewish Biblical table of contents, that are included in Catholic Bibles.

    Should Jewish leadership determine Maccabees etal will be added/included to the Jewish table of contents of OT, would Protestant Christians also include them, in theirs?

    Its my understanding that these writings not accepted by Jewish leadership, in the 1st century found anything spurious/false, only that manuscript couldn’t be found in Hebrew.

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