You are here:

Bible Studies/Location of Paradise

Advertisement


Question
In interpreting Jesus' statement: "Today you will be with me in paradise", it is a common Christian claim that "paradise" in contemporary Rabbinic thought was believed to be a section of Sheol where the righteous dead awaited resurrection. However, search as I might, I cannot find (on the internet) any references to specific contemporary Rabbis or sources that claim this. The only contemporary Jewish reference I know of to Paradise is from The Apocalypse of Moses, which places Paradise in the "third heaven". This seems to be where the Apostle Paul believes that Paradise is located (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). Can you shed some light?

Answer
I checked with two friend-scholars.
One replied: In the first century B.C., the Jewish belief was much more sophisticated about the nature of the resurrection.  “Sheol” was kind of a miserable place and hardly would merit the designation, “paradise.“  Better to look for what Luke meant by “Paradise” by reading Luke 20:27-40 or the reports of Jesus’ resurrection like Luke 24:36-53.  Also relevant and actually truly important would be 1 Cor 15:35-58.  Jesus was promising something attractive and pleasing to the good thief and so not Sheol.

I would add that to be with Jesus, the merciful Savior [a favored theme of Luke], is to be in His messianic kingdom begun by His death. The repentant thief will share in that kingly condition that very day.  

Concerning the word, paradise:  In the Greek OT, the word is used for "garden" but with time became used for the abode of the righteous after death --  T Levi 18:10-11, PsSol 14:3, 1 Enoch 17-19, 60:8, 61:12.  For further explanation of this opinion of Joseph Fitzmeyer, I refer you to his The Gospel According to Luke X-XXIV [Garden City: Doubleday, 1985], pages 1507-1511.  

Thanks, Fred, for offering the opportunity to delve deeply into the final Lukan emphasis on the innocence of Jesus.

If you wish more from me, please feel free to write again.

Bible Studies

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Edward Bode

Expertise

A scholar of Jewish and Christian scripture (biblical studies), I hold graduate degrees from three universities in Rome [Italy]: Pontifical Gregorian University, Pontifical Biblical Institute, and the University of St. Thomas. I also have a master's degree in English. My special interests are the gospels of the New Testament and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Experience

I have taught at three universities and two colleges. My published works include one book, several articles in scholarly journals, and numerous book reviews.

I hold a doctorate in sacred theology from the University of St. Thomas in Rome, Italy; a license in sacred scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome; a license in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.Additionally, I earned a master's degree in English from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo., and a bachelor of journalism from the same university.

I have been a member of the Catholic Biblical Association of America for 40 years. I am a former member of Society of Biblical Literature.I have spoken on academic topics to local, national, and international groups.

Education/Credentials
I hold graduate degrees from three universities in Rome [Italy]: Pontifical Gregorian University, Pontifical Biblical Institute, and the University of St. Thomas. I also have a master's degree in English.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.