The Book of Heaven

The Book of Heaven : An Anthology of Writings from Ancient to Modern Times

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In every culture, in every epoch, human beings have yearned for heaven-the kingdom of God, abode of the elect, fount of enlightenment, mirror of hopes and desires. Now, in The Book of Heaven, Carol and Philip Zaleski provide the first wide-ranging anthology of writings about heaven, drawing from scriptures, myths, epics, poems, prayers, sermons, novels, hymns and spells, to illuminate a vast spectrum of beliefs about the world beyond. The Zaleskis present a fascinating array of ancient and modern, solemn and comic meditations, as they explore such topics as the often treacherous journey to heaven, heaven's colorful inhabitants, its topographic features, and its moral architecture. The emphasis is on great literature, with substantial excerpts taken from classic works such as The Iliad, St.
Augustine's Confessions, The Prose Edda, The Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, and The Pilgrim's Progress; from sacred texts such as the Bible, the Upanishads, the Qu'ran, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and the Bhagavata Purana; and from diverse writers such as Plato, Cicero, Thomas Traherne, Henry Fielding, Emanuel Swedenborg, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Henry Cardinal Newman, Hans Christian Andersen, William James, G. K. Chesterton, C. G. Jung, Rupert Brooke, and Arthur Conan Doyle. Selections highlight both the diversity and the universality of reflection on heaven: the sacred chants of the Buddhist Pure Land sutras reverberate alongside John Donne's holy sonnets, and Shaker songs complement Jewish mystical hymns. From the words of Sioux holy man Black Elk, to a sermon by Jonathan Edwards, to humorous musings by Mark Twain and fantastical passages from The Chronicles of Narnia, this rich anthology will deepen our understanding of the myriad ways in which human beings have envisioned heaven.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 448 pages
  • 166.9 x 231.9 x 28.2mm | 657.72g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New
  • 7 line illustrations
  • 0195119339
  • 9780195119336

Table of contents

Part I: The Journey. With readings from Alighieri, St Bede the Venerable, John Bunyan, Henry Fielding, P B Shelley, CG Jung, The Greek Magical Papyri, The Second Book of Jeu, Sir Walter Raleigh ; Part II: Lands of Bliss. With readings from Rupert Brooke, Louis Ginzberg, Marcus Tullius Cicero, Howard Schwartz, John G Neihardt, Robert Hare, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps ; Part III: The Vision of God. With readings from St Augustine, As-Suyuti, The Sukhavativyuha Sutra, Dante Alighiere, Jonathan Edwards, Marie Corelli, the Bible, Edmund Spenser, John Henry, Cardinal Newman ; Part IV: The Celestial Court. With readings from Homer, Pseudo-Dionysius, Bhagavat Purana, John Milton, Robert Southey, Lord Byron, Pope Pius XII, G K Chesterton ; Part V: Heavenly Society. With readings from Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle, Julain Barnes, St Hildegard of Bingen, Jalal ad-Din ar Rumi ; Part VI: Heaven on Earth. With readings from Plato, Milton, Bhagavata Purana, Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Fourier, William James, Mikhail Lermontov, Shaker songs. ; Part VII: New Heaven, New Earth. With readings from the Bible, the Qu'ran, George Sword, St Augustine, C S Lewis, John Donne, Henry Vaughan. ; Credits ; Index
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Review quote

"Carol and Phillip Zaleski have invited us to make a journey through the world to come. Even though Jesus says that eyes have not seen, nor ears have heard, nor has it entered into our minds what that world might be like. Still we humans have tried our best to guess what it's like. The Zaleski's have collected the best of those best tries and enlightened and entertained us and perhaps stirred up our hopes and expectiations."-Andrew M. Greeley, Professor of Social
Science, The University of Chicago "The passages contained here-from the pious to the satirical-are rich enough to help us rethink what has to be the most significant question every human being faces: the point of it all."-Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul and Original Self "With the greatest sensitivity and with skillful critical judgment, Carol and Philip Zaleski have collected a variety of texts relating to the nearly universal human hope for an existence of joy unlimited by the pains and pangs of our earthly existence. From the sublime to the sentimental, the heartfelt to the comic, from Judaism and Christianity through depth psychology through Native American, Muslim, and Hindu religions to modern satire, this book offers a
shining selection."-Jeffrey B. Russell, Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara, author of A History of Heaven "Everything Philip and Carol Zaleski touch turns to gold. Scholarly, witty, and wise, they know the field well and have keen eyes for what's interesting."-Annie Dillard, author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and Holy the Firm "fascinating anthology";"This is an engrossing, stimulating and surprisingly funny anthology" * Michael Arditti, The Independent 23/12/2000 *
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About Philip Zaleski

Carol Zaleski is Professor of Religion at Smith College. She is the author of Otherworld Journeys and The Life of the World to Come (both OUP). Philip Zaleski is Lecturer in Religion at Smith College and Senior Editor of Parabola. He is the author of The Recollected Heart and Gifts of the Spirit, and editor of the annual Best Spiritual Writing series. They live in Northampton,
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