Judaism and Christianity
The Hebrew Torah and the Bible contain a few references to ghosts, associating spiritism with forbidden occult activities. The most notable reference is in the First Book of Samuel, in which a disguised King Saul has the Witch of Endor summon the spirit or ghost of Samuel. In the New Testament, Jesus has to persuade the Disciples that he is not a ghost following the resurrection, Luke 24:37–39 (some versions of the Bible, such as the KJV and NKJV, use the term “spirit”). Similarly, Jesus’ followers at first believe he is a ghost (spirit) when they see him walking on water.
Some Christian denominations consider ghosts as beings who while tied to earth, no longer live on the material plane and linger in an intermediate state before continuing their journey to heaven. On occasion, God would allow the souls in this state to return to earth to warn the living of the need for repentance. Christians are taught that it is sinful to attempt to conjure or control spirits in accordance with Deuteronomy XVIII: 9–12.
Some ghosts are actually said to be demons in disguise, who the Church teaches, in accordance with I Timothy 4:1, that they “come to deceive people and draw them away from God and into bondage.” As a result, attempts to contact the dead may lead to unwanted contact with a demon or an unclean spirit, as was said to occur in the case of Robbie Mannheim, a fourteen-year-old Maryland youth. The Seventh-Day Adventist view is that a “soul” is not equivalent to “spirit” or “ghost” (depending on the Bible version), and that save for the Holy Spirit, all spirits or ghosts are demons in disguise. Furthermore, they teach that in accordance with (Genesis 2:7, Ecclesiastes 12:7), there are only two components to a “soul”, neither of which survives death, with each returning to its respective source.
Christadelphians and Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the view of a living, conscious soul after death.
The Talmud tells of a being called a shade שד that is similar to other creatures in that it lives and dies but consists only of a form but lacks matter that forms mass, thus rendering it invisible. Since it has no physical mass it is capable of transporting itself from one end of the world to the other.
While the Islamic view is that the spirits of the dead are unable to either return to or make any contact with the world of the living, reports of ghost sightings are believed to be the work of the jinn, particularly the shayātīn (“devils”) (both terms appearing in the Quran) who have powers to shape-shift and usually take the form and appearance of dead people (such as family members) to deceive and mislead. However one certain jinn-type, known as ifrit, is believed to be the result of a restless soul of someone who died a violent death.
In Buddhism, there are a number of planes of existence into which a person can be reborn, one of which is the realm of hungry ghosts.