Bart’s Latest Attack on Christianity by Randy Alcorn

As you know, books on controversial topics get reviewed by all sorts of readers; some reviews are glowing and others are, well, nasty.  About a month or so ago several reader sent me an online review of my book Heaven and Hell on patheos.com (check it out: it’s a website dealing with issues connected with religious faith) by Randy Alcorn, a prominent evangelical author with a high public profile, who has written a number of books about Heaven ...

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Is There Any Point To Life? More on Ecclesiastes

I have been talking about the distinctive views of the book of Ecclesiastes, one of the real gems of the Hebrew Bible, a book that refuses to accept easy answers or blithe truisms about life, but faces reality head on.   No matter what we do or how we try to explain it away, life is short.  Very very short.  The author of course had no conception of what we know now about time in relation to lifespan.  What would he ...

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Q&A on Heaven and Hell

The following is a Q&A that I have done with my publisher Simon & Schuster for the History in Five page.  You should check it out.  You will get a free ebook!   Here’s the site:  https://www.simonandschuster.com/p/historyinfive    You’ll see, its an impressive array of authors with intriguing answers to questions about their books.

Here’s what mine looks like.

    1. Why write about the afterlife? What drew you toward the subject of heaven and hell?

I was raised as in a Christian household ...

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Fresh Air Interview for Heaven and Hell: Airing Tuesday!

As most of you know, my new book Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife, is due to come out in two days, on Tuesday March 31.  I am very lucky to say that I have done an interview with Terry Gross for Fresh Air that will be playing  that day.  If you’re not familiar with the show, it is probably the premier interview radio program in the country, with millions of listeners; it will be playing on your ...

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How To Begin with Heaven and Hell: An Excerpt

My new book is coming out next week – March 31.   Very exciting, even if it is coming out at the absolute worst time in modern history to publish a book that is not about either Donald or Disease.   But still, I’m excited.  And very oddly (I just checked) (OK, really, I don’t check every day; it’s been some weeks), it is now the top new release on Amazon on the topic of “reincarnation”!  HA!!  What a scream.

OK, there’s not ...

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Guided Tours of Heaven and Hell in a Christian Mode

I’ve started a short thread describing the academic monograph I’ve started writing, Guided Tours of Heaven and Hell: Otherworldly Journeys in the Early Christian Tradition..  In my last post I describe  two o the most important forerunners of the tradition, the Greek Homer (Odyssey 11) and Roman Virgil (Aeneid 6) — flat out fascinating texts that I’ve become obsessed with.  The Christian versions are similar in ways but also profoundly different.   Here is what I say about them ...

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Guided Tours of Heaven and Hell: My Scholarly Book

I mentioned that I have started writing my academic book on the early Christian versions of the guided tours of heaven and hell.  This will be very different from the trade book coming out in March — an full eight-chapter scholarly analysis of material that I cover in a very brief overview fashion in one chapter of the trade book.

As I’ve mentioned on the blog before, when I get to certain points of my work on a book, I like ...

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Does Your Soul Go To Heaven?

In my previous post I discussed the beginnings of the Jewish idea of the “resurrection of the dead.”  This view is a pretty much commonplace today: in every Christian church that recites a creed today, and in many conservative churches that do not use creeds, it is believed that at the end of time there will be some kind of judgment and people will be raised from the dead.

At the same time, I have to be frank and say that ...

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An Alternative View of Suffering and the Idea of Resurrection

In yesterday’s post I was explaining why I do not think we need to point to Zoroastrianism as the source or reason for the views of “the resurrection from the dead” emerged within Judaism.   This view could have arisen within Judaism itself, because of some internal dynamics.  Here in this post I explain how it may have happened.

I begin where I ended yesterday: in ancient Israel, as up to today, there have been people who think that the reason they ...

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