By Alister E. McGrath
Эта книга одного из самых известных современных христианских авторов исследует историю небес, от их происхождения в библейских письменах к самым новым представлениям о них.
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Yet the debate over the physical location of Eden perhaps misses the point at issue. The Christian tradition has never seen the precise geography of paradise as being of primary importance; rather, the central question has to do with the identity and nature of humanity, and supremely its ﬁnal destiny. To speak of paradise is not to hanker after a return to a speciﬁc physical place, but to yearn for the restoration of a speciﬁc spiritual state. We must therefore 42 The Garden: Heaven as Paradise turn to explore the biblical witness to the idea of paradise in a little more detail.
The history of human culture demonstrates a “repeated attempt to re-establish the paradisical situation lost at the dawn of time” (Eliade). This is often expressed in terms of the interplay of two eras – the paradise that was lost in the early mists of time, and to which 40 The Garden: Heaven as Paradise we shall one day be restored. This may take the form of a Marxist analysis of the rise and ultimate demise of capitalism, or the Christian belief in the ﬁnal restoration of all things to God’s intended patterning.
For Henry David Thoreau, nature was “nobody’s garden” – a way of looking at the natural order that stressed its beauty, independent of human fabrication or engineering. Yet for others, the idea of a walled garden, enclosing a carefully cultivated area of exquisite plants and animals, was the most powerful symbol of paradise available to the human imagination, mingling the images of the beauty of nature with the orderliness of human construction. The writings of the blind poet John Milton are probably the best-known English literary accounts of paradise.
A Brief History of Heaven by Alister E. McGrath