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Heaven: A Guide to the Undiscovered Country Hardcover – February, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-1403963604 ISBN-10: 1403963606 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 1st edition (February 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403963606
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403963604
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,453,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of The Devil: A Biography and Catholics and Sex explores the idea of the afterworld, considering in this thoroughly researched book how the search for life after death is connected with the desire to fully live. Drawing upon a plethora of literary and historical sources, Stanford engagingly explores how a variety of religions-including Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism-have imagined and described heaven. And he considers the viewpoints of a bevy of artists, writers, psychologists and philosophers as well-among them Signorelli, Dante, Poe, Freud, Jung, Plato and Kant. He takes readers through the gates of heaven at the Orvieto Cathedral in Tuscany to view the Renaissance's "radical new take on heaven" as revealed in Signorelli's masterful fresco in the Cappella di San Brizio. He also describes visiting Chartres, where he reminds readers that the gorgeous stained glass windows depicting Christ's life had a purpose beyond beauty-they educated a largely illiterate population. These historical tours open up the subject of heaven with delightful detail and imagery, making an otherworldly topic (Pope John Paul II called heaven "a blessed community" that was "neither abstraction nor physical space") tangible and accessible. Standford's inclusion of five short "Traveler's Tales," which recount the near-death experiences of living and historical figures, may be another method for making the ethereal more concrete. Rich in history and testimony, this thoughtful tome is a worthy study for anyone who has a curiosity in life beyond death.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Heaven cannot wait for one British broadcaster and Catholic gadfly. Rather, the afterlife looms as an immediate challenge for Stanford, who warns that a modern society that cannot think seriously about immortality in the next world is fast losing its ability to think soberly about death in this one. To renew a metaphysical inquiry that he fears is disappearing even in the churches, Stanford weaves intensely personal reflections on the great human riddle into wide-ranging scholarly research into the otherworldly visions of prophets, poets, and philosophers. The Buddhist doctrines of reincarnation receive attention, as do Muslim teachings about djanna, but Stanford focuses chiefly on Christian conceptions of the afterlife and their Jewish antecedents. Surprisingly fluid, these conceptions have shifted over the centuries: Christians who have listened to mystics rhapsodizing over the soul's unspeakably celestial union with God have often listened just as attentively to visionaries promising the eternal preservation of this world's delights and social ties. Probing the theological tensions separating these conceptions and the psychological impulses of their evangelists, Stanford delves deep into the writings of intrepid travelers--including St. Paul, Dante, and William Blake--reporting ecstatic journeys to the very boundaries of the divine realm. At a time when clerics have lapsed into silence on a topic still charged with intense interest, this book will attract a large and appreciative readership. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Everyone thinks about what happens after death, sooner or later.
This book chronicles the myriad ideas about heaven that have
been imagined by poets, philosphers, theologians, Buddhists,
Jews,Greeks, artists, and interestingly...himself. Although the book
is scholarly, it is written in a light and readable hand. One could almost use it as an introduction to comparative religious thought...although from a particular perspective, the view on the afterlife. I cannot recommend any other book on the subject that is
as diverse and interesting. Don't miss it.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. S. Bornus on February 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for a book to tell you about what to expect when you die, you will not find it here. This book is a scholarly study of the history of man's idea of the afterlife, from ancient times to modern-day near-death experiences. Heaven is only a reflection of what we wish it to be, and what we wish it to be reflects only our own character, which changes with the times.

His thesis: "In the manner of most seekers after heaven, I am creating it in the image of my own reaction to the world around me. The history of heaven, touching so directly on a universal experience (death), tells us the history of humankind...It reveals how we have coped with the lot we have been dealt in life, and how we have dreamed of making it better or achieving some form of redress for injustices suffered...My post-mortem fate will remain a mystery. It all remains patently unsatisfying. There have been moments during this journey when the act of retracing the stepping stones in heaven's development has inevitably left me cold and cynical...We can only play and replay over again the different forms of the myth, acknowledging them with all their shortcomings for what they are, and drawing whatever sustenance we can."

This book presents the "idea" of God and Heaven as something that is "developed" by the mind of man over history, like children at bedtime theorizing about monsters under the bed. Insofar as they are held to be merely developments of man's imagination, God and Heaven necessarily have no real existence.

If Heaven and God truly exist, it is not because they were created by man's imagination. An imagined God is nothing, and we can only know of God as He reveals Himself to us, whether in the Bible or some other method.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Gerlach on August 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For a book on Heaven, it's perfect. Prompt delivery, a work and a product from a distant shore, written in English by an English writer, in mint condition. What more could I ask?
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