Heaven and Hell

Pages: 352
Subject: Religion
Imprint: Oneworld

Heaven and Hell

A History of the Afterlife

Bart D. Ehrman

The bestselling historian of early Christianity takes on two of the most gripping questions of human existence - where did the ideas of heaven and hell come from, and why do they endure?
9781786077202 (2 Apr 2020)
RRP £20.00
9780861541201 (7 Oct 2021)
RRP £10.99

The Book

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.

Additional Information

Subject Religion
Pages 352
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the New York Times bestselling author of Misquoting Jesus and How Jesus Became God. He has contributed to such major publications and media outlets as Time, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, NBC, CNN and the BBC.


‘[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.'


Table of Contents




Chapter One: Guided Tours of Heaven and Hell

Chapter Two: The Fear of Death

Chapter Three: Life After Death Before There Was Life After Death

Chapter Four: Will Justice Be Done? The Rise of Postmortem Rewards and Punishments

Chapter Five: Death After Death in the Hebrew Bible

Chapter Six: Dead Bodies That Return to Life: The Resurrection in Ancient Israel

Chapter Seven: Why Wait for the Resurrection? Life After Death Right After Death

Chapter Eight: Jesus and the Afterlife

Chapter Nine: The Afterlife After Jesus's Life: Paul the Apostle

Chapter Ten: Altering the Views of Jesus: The Later Gospels

Chapter Eleven: The Afterlife Mysteries of the Book of Revelation

Chapter Twelve: Eternal Life in the Flesh

Chapter Thirteen: Tactile Ecstasy and Torment in the Christian Hereafter

Chapter Fourteen: Who Will Inherit the Blessings? Purgatory, Reincarnation, and Salvation for All





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