(RNS) — With the novel coronavirus sweeping the nation, death is on everyone’s mind. Bart Ehrman’s new book, written before the pandemic, may offer the perfect antidote for settling the question of what comes after.

But whether “Heaven and Hell: The History of the Afterlife” is a balm or an irritant depends on the willingness of readers to challenge long-held beliefs.

In it, Ehrman, the celebrated New Testament scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, offers a comprehensive account of how Christianity adopted the view that saints and sinners will part ways at death and enter the everlasting hereafter in separate realms.

Best known for his popular books debunking the central assumptions of Christian Scriptures, Ehrman continues this quest in his latest

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