The Idea of Ascension

Did ancient Jews believe that Heaven was somewhere physically in the sky, and if so, is that where the idea of people including Jesus ascending into Heaven came from? If not, why and how would someone “ascend” into a place that is nowhere in our physical universe?

Jesus is probably ascending into the glory cloud or the shekinah of God, like what guided the Hebrews and showed His presence.

The Holy authors likely got the idea of Jesus ascending to Heaven because they saw Jesus ascending to Heaven.


I guess what I mean is that it just seems to me plausible that the ascension is an idea formed from a faulty understanding of the physical location of heaven, and I’m bothered by that. I’m trying not to doubt but sometimes I can’t help it.

I get it, but even if it was to represent Jesus ascending to God’s abode to a people who thought Heaven was “in the sky”, so what? It still would get the point across.

But here is where I’d like to point out St Paul referring to the 3rd Heaven. I believe it is the case that this refers to the first “heaven” being the sky, the second “heaven” being space (keep in mind that we say, “the heavens” when referring to space or “heavenly bodies” when referring to planets and the like). The third Heaven being the abode of the saints/angels. So, if it just meant the sky, how does Jesus going up the sky prove He went through to the 3rd Heaven?

But here’s where we remember the Jews and how Jesus fulfilled the Old Law. The shekinah cloud of glory. It seems He was ascending into the cloud of God’s glory!

“Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”


In Hebrew, there is only one word, shamayim, for both “heaven” and “sky.” In fact it’s one of those Hebrew nouns that exist only in the plural form. It doesn’t have a singular form. So the one word can be translated in four ways, “heaven,” “heavens,” “sky,” and “skies.”


Well, Jesus himself told the Apostles that he was going to the Father, that he was to prepare a place for them, but they cannot come now and then the cloud came and took him from them so the right conclusion is He ascended to the kingdom of Heaven.

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How do people come and go from Heaven to Earth is a great mystery for us mortals. Maybe those of us who end up in heaven will come to know the answer to this great mystery.

But we know that we get visitors who live in Heaven, be it angels like Gabriel or Rafael, or be it our Blessed Mother when she has shown her presence on Earth as Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Lourdes or Our Lady of Fatima. So if our Lord decided to ascend into Heaven by ascending into the sky until He could no longer been seen. So be it. That’s how He chose to do it.

He’s God, so one shouldn’t doubt He wouldn’t be able to do so as how it was recorded in the Bible.

Jews never had a proper understanding of God or of transcendent being

Do we ourselves have a definite and correct “understanding of the physical location of Heaven” and how God might transport someone there? I don’t think we do. It seems like the Jewish understanding is just as good as anyone else’s.

It’s also my understanding that other peoples in Jesus’ time had a belief that leaders were exalted after death by being taken up into the sky. For example, the Romans thought Augustus and Romulus were taken up in this manner.

Once while praying the second Glorious Mystery I found myself picturing Our Lord ascending and ascending and ascending until he left space and time altogether.

I think that’s both scientifically and theologically sound, would anyone care to correct me?

And we do?

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Yes, thanks to the Greeks. Catholic metaphysics is purely Greek.

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In the West maybe. Not in the East.

So because we use Greek thought to supplement what we have in the Holy Scriptures, they have a better understanding than those who were inspired by Him?

The best (and perhaps only) description of the ascension in scripture is a beautiful verse in Ephesians 4:9-10

“Ascended far above all the heavens” and “he might fill all things” Scripture is not talking about Jesus flying through the air. They are talking about something far far deeper than that.

As a side note part of Jesuit spirituality very likely comes from this verse. They find God in all things. It is a very scriptural concept.

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Sounds good to me! :smile:

I think we can, at times, get hung up on details and confuse ourselves.

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