The heavenly Jerusalem and the earthly Jerusalem

Authored by: Oliver Larry Yarbrough

Routledge Handbook on Jerusalem

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  October  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138936935
eBook ISBN: 9781315676517
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



Jerusalem is an important city for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This is evident not only from their political and religious histories but also from the transcendent language they use to describe it. “The heavenly Jerusalem” belongs to that language of transcendence. Although the term does not appear until the early Christian period, the idea is much older, for descriptions of Jerusalem in the Hebrew Bible frequently allude to Ancient Near Eastern myths linking royal cities to primordial times and transcendent sacred spaces. It also refers to God’s dwelling “in the heavens,” especially in prayers of entreaty brought to the throne of God. Drawing on these and other sources, Jewish apocalyptic writers of the late second temple period (ca. 250 bce–70 ce) envision a heavenly model for the earthly city and to a New Jerusalem in the age to come. As belief in personal resurrection makes its way into Hellenistic Jewish life during this period, descriptions of Jerusalem as a place for the resurrected also begin to take shape. Some early Christian writers make this theme a prominent part of their discussion of the heavenly Jerusalem. Thus, as a city on earth and in heaven, Jerusalem factors into stories of both the creation of the world and of its end. As a corollary, “the heavenly Jerusalem” also appears in accounts of the world as it is and as it should be.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.