>There's also an intriguing reference in 2Co12:2 to a "third heaven."
>Any experts here in ancient cosmology?
I think you mean 2 Cor 12:2, don't you, Stephen?
I don't know whether Will Wagers is still lurking around somewhere, but he
might have a response to this. I have always assumed that this refers to
the standard ancient astrological assumption that each concentric sphere
within the celestial sphere is a "heaven" governed by its own ARXH or
"principality": Mars, Venus, etc. In some of the mystery religions and some
forms of gnosticism there is a need for the soul to pass through successive
"heavens" with a sort of password or demonstration of a certain degree of
GNWSIS appropriate to that sphere.
I must admit that although this business is fascinating to a point, it has
always seemed to me so complex and involve so many variations which I find
indistinguishable from each other, and all so incredible (although I know
that they were believed in, to some degree or other, by very many in the
ancient world) that I get bored quickly trying to make sense of the various
systems. But I am reasonably sure that this is the idea that is referred to
in Corinthians, and there are allusions, I believe to the same sort of
astrological schemes in Galatians and Ephesians. I think there's a fair
amount of tangential ancient cosmology embedded in the language of the
parts of the NT that one must be rather wary of. I've always believed that
Paul, at the end of Romans 8, was not affirming the existence of any one or
more of the cosmic powers associated with such astrological schemes but
rather was insisting that whether or not they exist, they are powerless to
separate believers from the love of Christ.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com