||When we think of "heaven, " we generally conjure up positive, blissful images. Heaven is, after all, where God is and where good people go after death to receive their reward. But how and why did Western cultures come to imagine the heavenly realm in such terms? Why is heaven usually thought to be "up there, " far beyond the visible sky? And what is the source of the idea that the post mortem abode of the righteous is in this heavenly realm with God? Seeking to discover the roots of these familiar notions this volume traces the backgrounds, origin, and development of early Jewish and Christian speculation about the heavenly realm -- where it is, what it looks like, and who its inhabitants are. Accessible to a wide range of readers, this provocative book will interest anyone who is curious about the origins of this extraordinarily pervasive and influential idea.