Paradise Mislaid: How We Lost Heaven and How We Can Regain It

Jeffrey Burton Russell, Author . Oxford $26 (210p) ISBN 978-0-19-516006-2

Russell, who has already written histories of hell and its minions (The Prince of Darkness ; Mephistopheles ; Satan ), takes up where he left off in his 1997 book A History of Heaven . In his previous work, he offered a splendid survey of the idea of heaven up through the Middle Ages. Here, he traces the history of heaven from the 16th century through the late 20th, providing a marvelous overview of the many philosophical, literary, social, and even religious forces that have challenged the concept of heaven. Russell focuses on the Christian notion of heaven and its attendant beliefs in resurrection of the body, immortality of the soul, and angels, as well as the view of heaven as a specific place where believers will reside after death. Although in the Middle Ages, belief in such a paradise seemed secure, by the 18th century, philosophers such as Voltaire, Locke and Hume questioned the idea of a cosmos ruled by a benevolent deity as well as the existence of miracles, heaven and God. Romantic writers such as Wordsworth, Blake, Emerson and Goethe recovered heaven in the 19th century, but, as Russell points out, the Romantics' heaven was an internal one. Russell's elegant survey of heaven offers a first-rate history of a much debated subject. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
Paperback - 210 pages - 978-0-19-533458-6
Open Ebook - 223 pages - 978-0-19-534779-1
Open Ebook - 223 pages - 978-1-4294-3861-2
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