Paradise in the New Testament

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There are only three occurrences of the word “paradise” in the New Testament: Luke 23.43, 2 Corinthians 12.4, and Revelation 2.7. Of these, only the last is elaborated by any kind of description of the place (as it is developed in Revelation 22.1–5). Given the relative prominence of paradise in later Christian writings, the brevity of this list of texts is surprising and forces us to consider how the New Testament may have functioned in the development of Christian paradise traditions. Did the Church ignore or fail to understand the seemingly marginal nature of paradise expectation in the New Testament, or did it recognize wider theological themes lying behind these few texts that gave them a greater significance?

The eventual canonical location of the description in Revelation 22.1–5, of course, accords its hope for paradise a certain prominence. Alongside this, though, is the fact that while paradise itself is seldom mentioned in the New Testament, its first occupants – Adam and Eve – are found more widely. In one case, these figures are mentioned purely for paraenetic purposes, and the idea of paradise is present only insofar as it is the assumed location of the temptation story. In other texts, however, the person and work of Christ are understood in relation to the story of Adam's fall – a story that, of course, involved the cursing of the earth and the expulsion of the first couple from paradise.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationParadise in Antiquity
Subtitle of host publicationJewish and Christian Views
EditorsGuy Stroumsa
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780511760648
ISBN (Print)9780521117869, 9781107693128
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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