After Lives: A Guide to Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory

Paperback | March 12, 2013

byJohn Casey

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One of the most profound, deeply affecting questions we face as human beings is the matter of our mortality - and its connection to immortality. Ancient animist ghost cultures, Egyptian mummification, late Jewish hopes of resurrection, Christian eternal salvation, Muslim belief in hell andparadise all spring from a remarkably consistent impulse to tether a triumph over death to our conduct in life.In After Lives, British scholar John Casey provides a rich historical and philosophical exploration of the world beyond, from the ancient Egyptians to St. Thomas Aquinas, from Martin Luther to modern Mormons. In a lively, wide-ranging discussion, he examines such topics as predestination, purgatory,Spiritualism, the Rapture, Armageddon and current Muslim apocalyptics, as well as the impact of such influences as the New Testament, St. Augustine, Dante, and the Second Vatican Council. Ideas of heaven and hell, Casey argues, illuminate how we understand the ultimate nature of sin, justice,punishment, and our moral sense itself. The concepts of eternal bliss and eternal punishment express - and test - our ideas of good and evil. For example, the ancient Egyptians saw the afterlife as flowing from ma'at, a sense of being in harmony with life, a concept that includes truth, order, justice, and the fundamental law of theuniverse. "It is an optimistic view of life," he writes. "It is an ethic that connects wisdom with moral goodness." Perhaps just as revealing, Casey finds, are modern secular interpretations of heaven and hell, as he probes the place of goodness, virtue, and happiness in the age of psychology andscientific investigation.With elegant prose, a magisterial grasp of a vast literary and religious history, and moments of humor and irony, After Lives sheds new light on the question of life, death, and morality in human culture.

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One of the most profound, deeply affecting questions we face as human beings is the matter of our mortality - and its connection to immortality. Ancient animist ghost cultures, Egyptian mummification, late Jewish hopes of resurrection, Christian eternal salvation, Muslim belief in hell andparadise all spring from a remarkably consisten...

John Casey is a Fellow of Caius College, Cambridge University. He is the author of Pagan Virtue, Morality and Moral Reasoning and The Language of Criticism.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:480 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:March 12, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199975035

ISBN - 13:9780199975037

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Table of Contents

Part 1: DARK FUTURESPrologue: Stephen Dedalus's Hell1. After Lives2. Egypt3. Mesopotamia and Israel4. Greece and Rome5. The Christian Beginnings6. Dante: Inferno7. Predestination: Augustine to Calvin and Beyond8. The Decline of HellPart II: PURGATORY9. Rome's Happiest Inspitation? Heaven10. Heaven, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Israel11. Bodies Fleshly and Spiritual12. Dante: Paradiso13. Celestial Pleasures: Renaissance and Reformation Heavens14. Heavenly Speculations15. Heaven Seen and Heard: Swedenborg16. With Easy Intercourse Pass To and Fro17. Scoring in HeavenIndex

Editorial Reviews

"John Casey's After Lives, steeped in classics, philosophy, literature, and religion, discusses a vast variety of ideas about what happens after death. It ranges over heaven, hell, and what may lie between, covering ideas from ancient Egypt to twentieth-century spiritualism. It is vivid,ironic, deep, and accessible." --Jeffrey Burton Russell, author of A History of Heaven