What is eternity? Is it anything other than a purely abstract concept, totally unrelated to our lives? A mere hope? A frightfully uncertain horizon? Or is it a certainty, shared by priest and scientist alike, and an essential element in all human relations? In A Very Brief History of Eternity, Carlos Eire, the historian and National Book Award-winning author of Waiting for Snow in Havana, has written a brilliant history of eternity in Western culture. Tracing the idea from ancient times to the present, Eire examines the rise and fall of five different conceptions of eternity, exploring how they developed and how they have helped shape individual and collective self-understanding. A book about lived beliefs and their relationship to social and political realities, A Very Brief History of Eternity is also about unbelief, and the tangled and often rancorous relation between faith and reason. Its subject is the largest subject of all, one that has taxed minds great and small for centuries, and will forever be of human interest, intellectually, spiritually, and viscerally.
Carlos Eire is the author of the memoirs "Waiting for Snow in Havana", which won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 2003, and "Learning to Die in Miami". His other books include "War Against the Idols" and "From Madrid to Purgatory". He is the Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale University.
List of Illustrations ix Acknowledgments xi Chapter I: Big Bang, Big Sleep, Big Problem 1 Chapter II: Eternity Conceived 28 Chapter III: Eternity Overflowing 67 Chapter IV: Eternity Reformed 100 Chapter V: From Eternity to Five-Year Plans 157 Chapter VI: Not Here, Not Now, Not Ever 220 Appendix: Common Conceptions of Eternity 229 Notes 233 Eternity: A Basic Bibliography 255 Index 259