The Book of Heaven by Carol Zaleski
An Anthology of Writings from Ancient to Modern Times

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Carol Zaleski

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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, Massachusetts.
 
Published April 27, 2000 by Oxford University Press. 448 pages
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Among the Zaleskis' more unusual finds is an excerpt from the chemist Robert Hare's 1858 book Experimental Investigation of the Spirit Manifestations, Demonstrating the Existence of Spirits and Their Communion with Mortals, in which Hare, assisted by a medium, summoned the spirits of George and M...

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