The Quest For Paradise: Visions of Heaven and Eternity in the World's Myths and Religions

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9780062517357: The Quest For Paradise: Visions of Heaven and Eternity in the World's Myths and Religions

In every culture, in every epoch, human beings have yearned for heaven -- the dwelling place of the gods, mirror of our hopes and desires. Now, in The Quest for Paradise, renowned scholar John Ashton and his colleague Tom Whyte offer an intriguing look at how we have thought of and envisioned heaven and the afterlife, from the ancient cultures of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, to the Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims, as well as the indigenous peoples of the Americas, Australia, and Africa.

Lavishly illustrated with extensive depictions of heaven in art from around the world, and drawing on scriptures, myths, epics, poems, novels, philosophy, and other writings from many cultures, The Quest for Paradise illuminates the vast spectrum of beliefs about the world beyond. The book also explores the concept of utopia, or paradise on earth, from the perspective of such diverse thinkers as H.G. Wells, D.H. Lawrence, Margaret Mead, and Aldous Huxley.

Ashton and Whyte present a fascinating array of ancient and modern views of heaven. Included are extraordinary inhabitants and geographical features, representing scenes from works such as The Odyssey, the Bible, the Quran, and the Sukhavativyuha Sutras, and from the works of writers such as Hesiod, Ovid, Virgil, Dante, Milton, and Yeats, highlighting both the diversity and the universality of reflection on heaven.

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Review:

Almost all the major religions have a version of the Garden of Eden story, which is studied and illustrated extensively in The Quest for Paradise. The idea of paradise has inspired the human imagination for millennia, and the full-color artistic renditions of life in the hereafter enhance the ambitious narrative. Biblical scholar John Ashton and comparative religionist Tom Whyte span a multitude of religions and myths while remaining completely accessible to a general audience. While readers will discover many intriguing similarities, there is also a satisfying diversity of stories and beliefs. The Aztecs thought warriors spent eternity on Earth as brightly colored birds. In Islam, an "Angel of Death" named Izrail has enormous wings that "embrace the faithful but crush the wicked." Rastafarians believe that paradise can be re-created on Earth if humans learn to commune with nature. Readers can ponder the many possibilities while savoring these beautifully illustrated pages. --Gail Hudson

About the Author:

John Ashton D.Litt., Fellow of Wolfson College and former lecturer in theology at Oxford University, is one of the foremost biblical scholars of his generation. He has also taught in the universities of London, St. Andrews, and Edinburgh and is the author of numerous books on religion and theology, including the highly acclaimed Understanding the Fourth Gospel.

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John Ashton; Tom Whyte
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