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‘Heavenly book’ ponders mysteries of afterlife

Professor explores books that determine who passes the pearly gates
Monday, February 25, 2013

Is there life after death? Who gets past the pearly gates? These are questions that many ponder, whether they are affiliated with a particular religion or not. Dr. Leslie Baynes, associate professor of religious studies at Missouri State University, recently published a book entitled “The Heavenly Book Motif in Judeo-Christian Apocalypses 200 BCE-200 CE.” In it, she explores the idea of the “heavenly book,” particularly in apocalyptic writings.

“The heavenly book is an ancient literary motif that could be compared to Santa Claus’ list of who is naughty and who is nice,” explained Baynes. “It is kept as a record in heaven for God and the angels to access when it comes time for judgment.”

Apocalypse, noted Baynes, is synonymous with a revelation or a lifting of the veil. In religious texts, apocalypses often entail visions of God’s plans or the end of days.

Approximately 92 percent of Americans believe in God, according to a 2011 Gallup poll, and 74 percent of Americans believe in heaven, according to a 2007 Pew Research study.

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College of Humanities and Public Affairs
The College of Humanities and Public Affairs offers 16 undergraduate, eight graduate and six certificate programs. Departments in the college include criminology and criminal justice, defense and strategic studies, economics, history, military science, philosophy, political science, religious studies, sociology and anthropology. The department of defense and strategic studies is housed in the Washington, D.C. area. The college helps students understand social, political and legal structures, ethical principles, religious systems, and economic institutions and practices within a global, historical, and contemporary context.

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