How do worshippers understand the poetic line "and the life of the world to come" when they pray the creed? Are they thinking of a geographical destination? A celestial community they will ultimately join? A participation in the life of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
Questions like these inspired John Craghan to mine the biblical texts for insight and answers about heaven. His exploration of the Christian understanding of the "afterlife" moves through the understandings of ancient Israel to the synoptic Gospels and ultimately to the nascent beliefs of the early Christians as reflected in the letters of Paul and the book of Revelation. Grounded firmly in Scripture and written in a lively accessible style, And the Life of the World to Come is an intellectual and spiritual journey for readers that are willing to explore their own beliefs and anxieties about the heavenly home promised by Jesus.
John F. Craghan is professor emeritus of religious studies at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin. He is North American editor for "Scripture in Church" (Dominican Publications: Dublin, Ireland) and is the author of numerous books, including Exodus in the Collegeville Bible Commentary series, Psalms for All Seasons, and The Gospels of the Weekday Lectionary (Liturgical Press). Craghan has lectured widely in the United States and Latin America. His chief interest is to make the best of biblical scholarship accessible to a wider audience.
This is a magnificent compendium of biblical perspectives on what lies beyond death. Craghan's succinct and comprehensive summary of the diverse theologies of the afterlife found in the Bible points to a profound invitation to live life in the here and now, abiding with Christ and praying and working for the transformation of this world, while living in hope for what is yet only partially known.
Barbara E. Reid, O.P., Vice President and Academic Dean, Catholic Theological Union
An inspirational and faithful read from John Craghan as he presents an exploration of the ultimate destination of the Christian, exploring what the Bible truly says about heaven.
The Midwest Book Review
John Craghan explores the many textures of our belief in And the Life of the World to Come. Rather than searching out the biblical basis for our doctrinal notions of heaven, he invites readers to imagine the pre-creedal beliefs of Jewish and early Christian communities, as we come to know them through various biblical witnesses. His crisp, clear introductions to each text-whether it be Daniel or 2 Maccabees, John or Paul or the Synoptics-make the question of "the world to come" come alive. He finds no inexorable trajectory of development to a single notion, but rather a multitude of witnesses which often intersect, especially with a sense of the importance of community or family in the new life, and one which somehow includes the entire cosmos, not only human beings. This is a work to be re-read and pondered again
John C. Endres, SJ, Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, Santa Clara Unive rsity
As John Craghan reflects upon biblical notions of heaven, he brings to this task years of scholarship and prayer. This volume helps us to imagine what God has in store for all those who follow God's way. After reading this thought-provoking work, the reader will understand that `heaven is for real.'
+ Robert F. Morneau, Pastor of Resurrection Parish, Auxiliary Bishop of Green Bay