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Warburg Institute


The Cosmography of Paradise: The Other World from Ancient Mesopotamia to Medieval Europe considers the general theme of paradise from various comparative perspectives. The focus has been on the way the relationship between ‘the other world’ and the structure of the whole cosmos has been viewed in different ages and traditions around the Mediterranean basin, spanning from the ancient Near East to medieval Europe. Scholars coming from different fields discuss in this volume the various ways the relationship between paradise and the general features of the universe has been viewed within their own field of work. The historical formation of the notion of paradise, defined as a perfect state beyond time and space, relied heavily upon a variety of temporally and culturally conditioned concepts of the physical cosmos as a finite and imperfect realm. It is precisely the emphasis on cosmography that allows the discussion of several traditions: Sumerian, ancient Iranian, Greek, Jewish, early Christian, Gnostic, Byzantine, Islamic, Scandinavian, and Latin Western.

Table of contents

Introduction (pp. 1–7)
    Alessandro Scafi

The Birth of Paradise: To Early Christianity, via Greece, Persia and Israel (pp. 9–30)
    Jan N. Bremmer

Sumerian Paradise Lost (pp. 31–37)
    Markham J. Geller

Around, Inside and Beyond the Walls: Names, Ideas and Images of Paradise in Pre-Islamic Iran (pp. 39–66)
    Antonio C. D. Panaino

Enoch, Eden, and the Beginnings of Jewish Cosmography (pp. 67–94)
    Annette Yoshiko Reed

Gnostic Paradises (pp. 95–107)
    Einar Thomassen

Diabolizing the Garden of Eden: Re-Interpretations of Jewish Pseudepigraphy in Medieval Christian Dualism (pp. 109–125)
    Yuri Stoyanov

Seeking Paradise in the Egyptian Desert (pp. 127–135)
    Dimitris J. Kyrtatas

Gazing at the Holy Mountain: Images of Paradise in Syriac Christian Tradition (pp. 137–162)
    Sergey Minov

Food and the Senses, and One Very Special Taste of Paradise (pp. 163–181)
    Danuta Shanzer

‘The Heavens Declare the Glory of God’: Mapping Cosmos and Activating Heaven through Holy Icons (pp. 183–200)
    Veronica Della Dora

Paradise in Western Medieval Tradition (pp. 201–210)
    Rudolf Simek

Paradise in the Islamic Religious Imagination (pp. 211–226)
    Christian Lange

In Medieval Islamic Cosmography, where is Paradise? (pp. 227–243)
    Emilie Savage-Smith

Valhalla and Heaven: Scandinavian Images of Paradise in a Period of Religious Change (pp. 245–266)
    Anders Hultgård

Colour plates (pp. 269–284)

Index of Names (pp. 285–295)