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The Angel Shows John the Heavenly Jerusalem, from the Apocalypse of St. John, —Courtesy of the Staatsbibliothek Bamberg, Germany
Dwelling place of God or the gods and the abode of the blessed dead. The term also refers to the celestial sphere, the place of the sun, moon, planets, and stars and the source of light, which symbolizes good. For later Judaism and Christianity, heaven is the destination of the faithful after a general resurrection of the dead, in contrast to hell, the place of punishment for the wicked. Islam has a similar belief. In Chinese religion, heaven is equated with the divine will, which guides the operation of all physical and moral laws. In some Mahayana Buddhist sects, heaven is a paradise for those who have received the saving grace of Amitabha.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on heaven, visit Britannica.com.