Round Trips to Heaven
Otherworldly Travelers in Early Judaism & Christianity

By Leif Carlsson
December 2004
Almqvist & Wiksell
ISBN: 912202106X
398 pages, 5 " x 8 "
$99.50 Paper Original


In the beginning of the Common Era, a number of religious texts were written recounting heavenly journey adventures. These narratives have come to constitute a recurring theme in research regarding ancient religions. This book features several early Jewish and Christian heavenly journey texts. Most of them are included in the apocalyptic literature. During the earlier research, the heavenly journey motif was understood to be one of many elements in this literature. It was not until the latter part of the 20th century that the stories of the heavenly journeys were treated as a type of their own among these texts.

The approach of this study serves to illuminate the function of the texts and the circumstances and settings in which they were composed and later passed on, something which scholars have only recently begun to acknowledge. Of vital importance is the status of the heavenly travelers as well as their relationships with other members of the Tradition Group considered to have authored the texts. Two main types of heavenly journeys appear in the accounts. One type has the function of providing an identity for the heavenly traveler, and the other constitutes a paradigm for the events awaiting mankind after death. The concluding section of the book is a relatively long exposition of 3 Baruch.

This text, which in its entirety portrays a heavenly journey, informs the reader about death. In common with a number of other heavenly texts, 3 Baruch has both Jewish and Christian elements. Moreover, it clearly reflects a universal perspective. A similar perspective is also found in several of the other heavenly journey narratives which provides a reasonable explanation for how they could be used in both Jewish and Christian contexts.

Lund Studies in History of Religions, Vol. 19

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