A History of Heaven: The Singing Silence

A History of Heaven: The Singing Silence

by Jeffrey Burton Russell
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691006849

ISBN-13: 9780691006840

Pub. Date: 12/14/1998

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Well-known for his historical accounts of Satan and hell, Jeffrey Burton Russell here explores the brighter side of eternity: heaven. Dispensing with the cliché images of goodness that can make even heaven seem unbearable, the author stimulates our imagination with a history of how the joy of paradise has been conceived by writers, philosophers, and

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Overview

Well-known for his historical accounts of Satan and hell, Jeffrey Burton Russell here explores the brighter side of eternity: heaven. Dispensing with the cliché images of goodness that can make even heaven seem unbearable, the author stimulates our imagination with a history of how the joy of paradise has been conceived by writers, philosophers, and artists for whom heaven was an imminent reality. Russell not only explores concepts found among the ancient Jews, Greeks, and Romans as well as early and medieval Christians, but also addresses the intellectual problems heaven poses: how does time "pass" in eternity? is heaven a place or a state? who is in and who is not? what happens to the body and soul between death and Judgment Day? Russell stresses that the best way to approach the logic-defying concept of a place occupying neither space nor time is through poetry and paradox, and through the visions of such mystics as Bernard, Julian of Norwich, and Eckhart.

After the Revelation of Saint John the Divine, the most sublime and encompassing portrait of heaven to date has come not from a theologian but from a poet—Dante Alighieri in his Divine Comedy. Russell's history of heaven culminates in a lively analysis of how Dante described the glories of the indescribable. The unsurpassed images of light, movement, and community that Dante uses so skillfully to convey the presence of God are rooted in the Jewish picture of heaven as a garden or court and in the Greek picture of the Elysian Fields.

Using current scholarly insights together with a vast store of knowledge gathered from the past, Russell takes the idea of heaven as valid and important in itself—something to be understood from the point of view of those believing in it. His very use of language immerses us in the thoughts of those who have sought heaven and provides rich material for contemplation.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691006840
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
12/14/1998
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
488,700
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
Ch. 1. Understanding Heaven
Ch. 2. Elysium, Jerusalem, and Paradise
Ch. 3. The Heaven of the Early Christians
Ch. 4. Returning to God
Ch. 5. Heaven, East and West
Ch. 6. Visions of Heaven
Ch. 7. Journeys to Heaven
Ch. 8. Wooing the Bridegroom
Ch. 9. The Desire of the Intellect
Ch. 10. The Fire of Love
Ch. 11. Approaching Paradise
Ch. 12. The Heavenly Paradise
Ch. 13. Hearing the Silence
Bibliography
Index

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