From Library Journal
Wright (Near Eastern studies, Univ. of Arizona) here delves into the origin and early development of Jewish and Christian thought about heaven and whether humans can go there. Examining ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman cultural contexts, biblical and extrabiblical texts, and archaeological findings, he explores a diversity of Jewish and Christian views about the cosmos and the afterlife. He accords the beliefs reflected in the Old and New Testament minority status and portrays them as a tool used by the religious elite (responsible for the final form of the canon) to control the masses and guard their own power and privilege. A number of Wright's statements regarding the wielding of heaven (and hell) as implements of compliance are polemical, making his work seem unbalanced, and since many of his sources are not in English, most general readers will be unable to evaluate his case. But he provides a more in-depth look at this period than Colleen McDannell and Bernhard Lang (Heaven: A History) or Jeffrey Burton Russell (A History of Heaven: The Singing Silence). Recommended for academic libraries only.-Craig W. Beard, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham Lib.
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