Original Research - Special Collection: Septuagint

Ancient Israelite conceptual system for heaven in the Hebrew Bible

Adriaan Lamprecht
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 1 | a7740 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i1.7740 | © 2022 Adriaan Lamprecht | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 May 2022 | Published: 07 September 2022

About the author(s)

Adriaan Lamprecht, Department of Ancient Languages and Text Studies, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


The traditional view reflected in biblical Hebrew dictionaries and textbooks that heaven is construed as a mere cultural experience became problematic in at least two ways: firstly, the extension of the grammatical expression found in the biblical Hebrew exemplars becomes conventionalised in such a way that the original construal no longer constrains how the biblical Hebrew speakers think about the experience; and secondly, this released consequence influences recent publications on heaven. Consequently, most modern publications on heaven construed heaven as a relative design. This study argues that such inhibited way of expressing heaven reduces the structural schematisation as construed in the Hebrew Bible. Methodologically, this study proposes an experientialist-embodied approach towards the conceptualisation of heaven. The result, in theory, is a more effective schematisation in which different semantic structures were employed to express the experience. This is then applied towards understanding the spatial image schema of up versus down in the Hebrew Bible and offers a vantage point from which to investigate the whole network of the biblical Hebrew spatial cognition.

Contribution: This article contributes to the understanding of the ancient Israelite conceptual system for ‘heaven’ in the Hebrew Bible.


ancient Israelite; heaven; conceptual system; spatial cognition; biblical Hebrew


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