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Meeting in Heaven

Modernising the Christian Afterlife, 1600 -2000

Bernhard Lang

In heaven, we will meet our friends: this was one of the most conspicuous expectations Christians had, and continue to have, of life after death. While the theme as such is almost as old as Christianity, it came to flourish only in early-modern times, peaking in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This book explores how the rediscovery and development of the ‘meeting again’ theme by authors such as John Bunyan and Emanuel Swedenborg and by the artist William Blake created a specifically modern heaven. Giving priority to an eternity of continuing earthly passions and family ties, the modern notion of heaven contrasts with earlier, God-centred notions of an eternal saintly solitude spent contemplating God in ‘beatific vision’.
Contents: From stasis to movement, from loneliness to love: Heaven: A History (1988) in retrospect – The modernisation of heaven in early modern Europe, 1644-1791 – The English heaven: an exploration of The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678/84) – The Spanish heaven: opposition to modernity – A Swedish heaven: Swedenborg on Heaven and Hell (1758) – American heavens: an exploration of American cemeteries, 1740-1850.