A question about a scripture passage in Isaiah

I decided to re-post this thread to the sacred scripture section of the forums (by the way, does anyone know how to close a thread? :o). Anyways…

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.”~Isaiah 65:17

What does this mean? That we will forget about our lives on the old earth? Or is this talking about negative things, or that God will abandon the “old order” of things?

I hope we don’t forget about our past lives, because I’d want to know how God was acting in different points in my life and glorify Him for that when I see Him face to face, you know?

Thanks in advance

There are times I wish I could have closed a thread too… You might just ask a moderator to either close or delete it – they might ignore you, but it’s the only way I think it can be done.

"Come to mind"or “remembrance” can be either a simple mental remembering, or a re-enactment type of remembering (anamnesis). For example, in the Eucharistic meal we not only remember Christ’s passover, but we re-enact it.

In Jewish history, and in the world as a whole; there have been times and places where sinful actions became ingrained in the society itself. Scripture says as a final comment on one particularly dark period in Jewish history “each man did as he thought best” (Judges 21:25).

It’s a good question that you bring up.
I think the passage you are quoting is talking about things which are dead and destroyed, and ought not be brought up anymore because they do more harm than good. But, I also wonder about what ‘memory’ is, in terms of the resurrected body; which might operate outside of time, on an eternal plane.

I’m not entirely sure that memory will be like what we have now, a reconstruction of something we can call ‘the past’, for if the past is removed – then how can it be remembered in a re-enact-able sense ?

I’m not sure this helps, but St. Paul does tell us something about heaven by saying something to the effect that ‘eye has not seen, ear not heard, nor has it ever been conceived what God has ready for those who love him.’ 1Corinthians 2:9, and I can’t help but notice that he is paraphrasing or interpreting Isaiah 64:4 ; the chapter just before the one you are looking at.

Whatever God has planned for us in heaven, it’s not what we expect based on our experience here on earth.

Personally, I sort of hope that certain memories I suffer from over and over (OCD, but just the obsession part) – are in fact wiped out and never come to mind anymore. I can’t see that dwelling on these painful memories/thoughts, even though they are unintentional, is of any good other than giving me something to pray about.

Given that the memory is believed to be part of our human soul, which is eternal; I don’t believe there is much reason to hold that our human memories would be lost.


I think the simplest interpretation here is the best. We’ll be living a new eternal life in our renewed resurrection bodies, and we’ll be thinking about that new life, not about the old sorrows and imperfections of the old world. That doesn’t mean that we’ll forget the good things or not be grateful to God; but we’ll be busy with the wonderful life of bliss that God has planned for us.

Even now, we forget things. So – if the memories are part of something ‘eternal’, then it is strange that we can forget anything at all, and it’s strange that animals who have no immortal soul display the ability to remember.

The intellect is what I think the human soul has which is eternal; the intellect of man is what grasps the meaning of events and memories. But In man, I’m not sure that memory is anything more than a chalkboard for the intellect and a very mortal storage vessel for temporary data.

It’s two different things to know or grasp the meaning of a series of events, and to remember all the sequences of events themselves which made up our lives.
Human memory is not a movie camera – but psychology has shown that human memory operates in part by attempting to reconstruct the events based on our understanding of them. (Our ability to understand events differs from that of animals, so our memories are more complicated than mere animals because we can reconstruct chains of reasoning, whereas animals can not. But reasoning is different from mere rote memorization or association.)

I’m more inclined toward mitaka’s view. Perhaps the simplest answer is best in this situation…

I remembered that I actually posted a forum thread a while back on a similar topic. Basically, I was wondering what would happen to all the things we offered to God (sorrows, joys, and works) and whether or not they were destined to be forgotten after the former world has passed away…forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=648992

One person suggested that, I quote:

“Omniscient. Omnipresent, Omnipotent. Where are the sufferings of Your people Oh Lord? Here before Me. Every leaf on every tree, ever. When and where it fell. Effortless as it is present to Him. Your tears will be turned to joy, not forgotten. Be at peace.”

What do you think about this?

Then there’s the matter of time being non-existent in Heaven. As I understand it, all time basically becomes “now” in Heaven. Doesn’t forgetting something require time progressing away from a certain event (which, in theory, wouldn’t work because past, as well as future, is “now” in Heaven)?

I know from studying psychology, and medicine; that the human brain works by reconstructing memories from partial clues which are stored. It’s not surprising, that if a person’s reason is clouded that they will not have enough time to ‘think through’ a memory and bring it back; so that lack of sufficient time can prevent someone from reconstructing a memory properly or that distraction would cause them to forget again something they knew before; I often temporarily forget things, like where I left my keys, and then suddenly ‘figure out’ where I left them. But that’s quite different from being able to remember every event that ever happened in my life.

I’m sure, from experience, that some memories are totally lost; where even when I watch a video of what I did, I absolutely can not remember parts of the event having happened.

No one has ever demonstrated that a person can truly remember everything that happened in their life; but many demonstrations have been done that memories are stored in neurons in the brain, and that those neurons can die destroying parts of a person’s memory. Remove a person’s hippocampus on both sides of the brain – and no childhood memories ever come back. (This has in fact been done. ) Memory is mortal, or at very least – our ability to access memory is mortal.

Think carefully:
Animals don’t have spiritual souls, yet they can remember events; so there is no reason to believe that memory itself is a property of the spiritual soul for even animals have rote memory but without an immortal soul.

The question ends up being about the resurrected body; and how the new spiritual body will be like (or unlike) the mortal body which stored the memories in the first place – and whether or not God is pleased to restore every memory a person ever had in this life.


Yes. I agree.
God sees all time and places at once; so he sees the past as though looking through a window, or as if actually being in the past at that very moment; For he does not see the past as a dark image or copy of an imprint stored mechanically as a representation in a mortal mind; but rather, since God is outside of time, he ‘sees’ the past in it’s totality, and even holds the past in existence.

Seing as time is not an issue in heaven, wouldn’t the case be similar for human souls to an extent, at least?

Also, back to the subject of “forgetting your past life” and what-not, wouldn’t it not make complete sense to say that human souls forget their life’s journey completely? Heck, the saints are often dedicated as the patron saints of so-and-so (doctors, throat-related illness, anxiety, and whatever else). I doubt the saints would be like, “Wait, what does so-and-so have to do with me?” because they forgot what made them the patron saint of that particular thing in the first place. Right?

Well… if time didn’t exist in heaven, I would answer yes.
But the issue is that Heaven has two aspects as a “state” and a “place”.
Places, which are creations, and are subject to change or bringing into existence are not completely outside of time – for context see eg: Revelation 21:1

So: I will answer that God, himself, is outside of time – BUT the incarnate Son, who is a creature in hypostatic union with the divine Son (God); that person was and is not entirely outside of time but able to move freely within time, and outside of it.

For example, Jesus as a boy who was & is in perfect union with the Divine Son, could “learn”, he grew in wisdom while on earth ( Luke 2:52 ) even though the Son was already omniscient whenever decided to access that omniscience.

Something else which I am not going to explain, but just mention is that where & when heaven is concerned; Jesus says something very peculiar: Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32, etc.

Also, back to the subject of “forgetting your past life” and what-not, wouldn’t it not make complete sense to say that human souls forget their life’s journey completely? Heck, the saints are often dedicated as the patron saints of so-and-so (doctors, throat-related illness, anxiety, and whatever else). I doubt the saints would be like, “Wait, what does so-and-so have to do with me?” because they forgot what made them the patron saint of that particular thing in the first place. Right?

Well, I’ll admit we’re in a bit of difficulty.

The resurrection hasn’t happened yet, temporally. So, there is the issue you seem to be commenting on, vis: that the saints do not have a body with a hipocampus in it yet… and St. Thomas Aquinas theorizes that such a separation between body and spirit is a temporary punishment brought about by original sin. However, I need to say I’m not a Thomist, though I do respect his opinions and consider them. St. Thomas’ explanation has always bothered me, because no one (except Mary and Jesus) has a body in heaven, yet; even if they are declared saints, immediately in heaven, by the church.

So, it would appear – that given the Dogma of the bodily resurrection at ‘the end of time’ – that all saints must suffer the temporary loss of their body.

I’m not sure what to tell you – although we could explore the scriptural roots of the question; I’m not well prepared for it at the moment.

However, there is at least a partial answer in the fact that all these saints are in communion with someone who does have a body (Jesus), and therefore, through the actions of the Holy Spirit (The sap, between the vine and the branches), anything Jesus has can be communicated to the saints you are speaking of. eg: His memory, or his views of time, can be selectively presented to their intellect / spiritual souls.

We have examples of the divine ability to bring things to mind – either that which could be remembered of the past – or which could not of the future.

eg: John 14:26, “So much converse I have held with you, still at your side. He who is to befriend you, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send on my account, will in his turn make everything plain, and recall to your minds everything I have said to you.” or again, regarding future knowledge, even:
John 16:12-15; “I have many things to say to you, but you can not bear them now.”

It’s important to notice that we have been talking about episodic memory. The memory of one’s past events as a sequence of events (There are other kinds of memory). So, I’d like to point out regarding saints knowing who they were, that intellect is capable of recognizing one’s self in a movie, even if the actual memory of those events does not exist. eg: I have seen myself as a child in films from my parents which I don’t recall the events – but I DO recognize myself in those movies. I am able to figure out who represents ‘me’ in that movie.

Just so, I don’t see that its a problem for a saint to know who they were if God supplies them sufficient clues to replace their lost memory.

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