Lloyd Graham deposited A life in the balance: Divine judgement by weighing in the group Ancient Near East on Humanities Commons 5 months, 1 week ago
This paper compares psychostasia and/or kerostasia concepts from Indo-European, Semitic and adjacent cultures, and relates them to Cognitive Metaphor Theory. In the context of metaphysical weighing, the religions of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome all associated lightness with goodness and/or a favourable outcome; Hinduism does likewise. The situation is reversed in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism, where spiritual heaviness is associated with virtue and/or good deeds must outweigh bad ones. Although these four religions favour downward movement of the balance pan, they situate their positive afterlife realms on high and their negative ones in the underworld. Curiously, Egyptian and Christian psychostasias may feature a similar “tipping of the balance” by its custodian in favour of the deceased, and both Hinduism and Christianity harbour instances of physical weighing being used to decide the fate of living persons.