Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife

A History of the Afterlife

Cover Art for 9781501136740, Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife by Bart D. Ehrman
ISBN: 9781501136740
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: 23 March, 2021
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Editions:
9 other editions of this product
Saving: Saving: $26.67 or 46%

A New York Times bestselling historian of early Christianity takes on two of the most gripping questions of human existence: where did the ideas of heaven and hell come from and why do they endure? What happens when we die? A recent Pew Research poll showed that 72 Percent of Americans believe in a literal heaven and 58 Percent believe in a literal hell. Most people who hold these beliefs are Christian and assume they are the age-old teachings of the Bible. But eternal rewards and punishments are found nowhere in the Old Testament and are not what Jesus or his disciples taught. So where did these ideas come from? In this "eloquent understanding of how death is viewed through many spiritual traditions" ( Publishers Weekly , starred review), Bart Ehrman recounts the long history of the afterlife, ranging from The Epic of Gilgamesh up to the writings of Augustine, focusing especially on the teachings of Jesus and his early followers. He discusses ancient guided tours of heaven and hell, in which a living person observes the sublime blessings of heaven for those who are saved and the horrifying torments of hell for those who are damned. Some of these accounts take the form of near death experiences, the oldest on record, with intriguing similarities to those reported today. One of Ehrman's startling conclusions is that there never was a single Greek, Jewish, or Christian understanding of the afterlife, but numerous competing views. Moreover, these views did not come from nowhere; they were intimately connected with the social, cultural, and historical worlds out of which they emerged. Only later, in the early Christian centuries, did they develop into notions of eternal bliss or damnation widely accepted today. In this "elegant history" ( The New Yorker ), Ehrman helps us reflect on where our ideas of the afterlife come from. With his "richly layered-narrative" ( The Boston Globe ) he assures us that even if there may be something to hope for when we die, there certainly is nothing to fear.

Booko is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Shop Preferences

Customize which shops to display. You can include the following shops by logging in to change your settings.

Booko is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Historical Prices

Loading...
This graph is for informational purposes only. Occasionally pricing data is captured incorrectly, through bugs in Booko or the stores supplying data, which may distort the graph, providing undue hope that even lower prices sometimes appear.

Recently Updated