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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-K033-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

In Christian theology, heaven is both the dwelling place of God and the angels, and the place where all who are saved ultimately go after death and judgment to receive their eternal reward. The doctrine of the resurrection of the body requires that heaven be a place because it must contain the glorified bodies of the redeemed, but heaven is more theologically important as a state than as a place. This state is traditionally described as involving the most intimate union with God without the elimination of the individual human personality (the beatific vision); it is a state of perfect bliss beyond anything possible on earth. In high medieval theology, the happiness of heaven is understood to be so great that it is even beyond the capability of human nature to enjoy without divine aid. There are varying views on the nature of heavenly society, however, with some theologians (Augustine, Aquinas, Bonaventure) arguing that perfect happiness will be derived from the love of God alone, while others (for example, Giles of Rome) stress the joy that will be derived from the company of the elect. More recently, interest in the nature of heaven has declined, and Christian theology has tended to play down its importance.

Citing this article:
Zagzebski, Linda. Heaven, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-K033-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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