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Ecclesiastes 9:5 (NASB):

5 For the living know that they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor do they have a reward any longer, for their memory is forgotten.

Mark 12:26-27 (NASB):

26 But regarding the fact that the dead rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken.”

Ecclesiastes 9:5 says that those who have passed away know nothing (as if they were asleep/unconscious). However, Jesus' statements in Mark 12:26-27 give the impression that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are not truly dead, but alive (somewhere else? in a temporal paradise? in Heaven?). But if they are living, then the first sentence of Ecclesiastes 9:5 would apply instead (for the living know they will die), which would make no sense either. In other words, it's not very clear to me what is meant by "living" and "dead" in these contexts, and I would appreciate some help in making sense of and harmonizing these two passages.

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They are two different perspectives.

Ecclesiastes 9:5 expresses the horizontal perspective from a human's point of view:

For the living know that they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor do they have a reward any longer, for their memory is forgotten.

Mark 12:26-27 expresses the verticle perspective from God's point of view. There is a parallel description in Luke 20:

37But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

Both perspectives are true depending on the point of view.

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The answer to this is actually in the same verse as Jesus is discussing the reality of the resurrection of the dead. See the earlier phrase in Mark 12:26 -

But regarding the fact that the dead rise

Thus, Jesus here makes no comment at all about whether the dead are in heaven or elsewhere. Jesus is ONLY commenting on the time when the dead are raised to life as described in 1 Cor 15, etc.

Peter makes a further comment on this same topic in Acts 2:29, 34 -

Brothers, I can tell you with confidence that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. ...For David did not ascend into heaven, but he himself says:

Thus, none of these contradict what Eccl 9:5 clearly says. See also Ps 6:5, Isa 38:18, Ps 88:10 and the NT consistent designation of death as a "sleep", Matt 9:24, Mark 5:39, Luke 8:52, John 11:11, 12, Acts 7:60, 13:36, 1 Cor 7:39, 11:30, 15:6, 18, 20, 51, 1 Thess 4:13-15, 5:10, 2 Peter 3:4.

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