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Heaven and Hell

A History of the Afterlife

Published by Oneworld Publications
Distributed by Simon & Schuster
LIST PRICE £6.99

Where did the ideas of heaven and hell come from?

As strange as it may seem to us now, there was a time when no one thought they would go to heaven or hell after they died. In fact, there is no mention of them in the Old Testament, and Jesus did not believe the souls of the departed were bound for either realm.

In this gripping history of the afterlife, Bart Ehrman reveals how the concepts of heaven and hell developed and took hold, and why they endure to this day. He examines the social, cultural and historical roots of competing views held by Greeks, Jews and Christians, and traces how beliefs changed over time. Ultimately, he shows that many of our ideas about heaven and hell emerged long after Jesus’s time, through the struggle to explain the injustices of the world.

  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (April 2, 2020)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781786077219

‘[Ehrman’s] is a vast learning worn wonderfully lightly and he is an engaging but expert guide around how religious ideas were formed and shaped our world.’

– The Times

‘Many redoubtable volumes have been written about all this, but Ehrman, who already has more than two-dozen books on early Christianity under his belt, merrily blows the dust off the subject.’

– The Economist

‘This elegant history explores the evolution of the concept of the afterlife in Western thought... Well-trod subjects are presented with engaging clarity, and more contentious theories are laid out carefully.’

– The New Yorker

‘Ehrman, as always, writes in a very accessible way, and gives the reader plenty to think about.’

– Irish Independent

‘An impressively readable, clear and wide-ranging study.’

– Spectator

‘A number of religions and philosophies give detailed accounts of post-mortem existence; in this learned and highly readable book, Bart Ehrman offers a tour of the whole field… There are many nuances possible here; Ehrman presents them all with great clarity and massive scholarship.'

– TLS

‘The reader is struck by his nimbleness in drawing the thread of this rich-layered narrative, sprinkling larger thematic arcs with anecdotes that honor the non-lineal and multivalent nature of eschatological thought.’

– Boston Globe

‘As lucid, learned and fascinating as ever, Ehrman has written a brilliant book on a profoundly important topic. Wonderful.’

– Catherine Nixey, author of The Darkening Age

‘Do after-life threats and promises distract from this-world problems and hopes? Could heaven and hell be options in the present here-and-now rather than locations in the future then-and-here? Read this book and think.’

– John Dominic Crossan, author of Resurrecting Easter

‘There’s no one I’d rather read on what Christians believe, and why they believe it, than Bart Ehrman. This is a wise and fascinating book.’

– Tom Bissell, author of Apostle

‘Ehrman’s eloquent understanding of how death is viewed through many spiritual traditions is scintillating, fresh, and will appeal to scholars and lay readers alike.’

– Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

‘Honest discussion about this is long overdue… [‘Heaven and Hell’] is a wide-ranging book.'

– Methodist Recorder

More books from this author: Bart D. Ehrman