Patricia Hofer

The 1st and 21st century meaning of “heaven.”

This is from the 4th century Augustine: “It seems that we are right, then, in understanding the first heaven in general as this whole corporeal heaven (to use a general term), namely all that is above the waters and the earth, and the second heaven as the object of spiritual vision seen in bodily likenesses (as, for instance, the vision see by Peter in ecstasy when he saw the dish let down from above full of living creatures), and the third heaven as the objects seen by the mind after it has been so separated and removed and completely carried out of the senses and purified that it is able through the love of the Holy Spirit in a mysterious way to see and hear the objects in that heaven, even the essence of God and the Divine Word through whom all things have been made.
35. “If all this is true, then I believe that Paul was carried off to that third heaven and that there is a paradise which is more excellent than all others and is, if we may use the term, the paradise of paradises. For if a good soul finds joy in the good that is in every creature, what is more excellent than that joy which is found in the Word of God through whom all things have been made.” (Augustine of Hippo, “The Literal Meaning of Genesis,” Book 12)

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