The rabbis of the Talmud also frequently describe heaven through the image of God’s throne, an emblem of His sovereignty over all created things. But, in one particular text, the Talmud presents a picture of heaven quite unlike anything in the Bible, an image that is indeed unthinkable, if not blasphemous, outside of its uniquely rabbinic context. It opens as follows (Bava Metzia 86a):Remember, you can access only three free articles per month from Mosaic. This is the second one I have linked to in September.They were arguing in the Academy of Heaven.Sit with these words for a moment. First, focus on the noun “academy.” In this talmudic passage, heaven is not a place of angels, halos, lyres, pearly gates, or fluffy clouds, or of chariots, smoke, lightning, or thunder. The essence of heaven is an academy—a yeshiva—a place of Torah study.
Cross-file under New Book.
Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.