Paradise (Sans, para-dega, a foreign country; Heb. pardes, park; Arab. firdaus; Gr. ), literally, a garden or pleasure ground planted with trees and flowers, whence the term is used metaphorically to express the abstract idea of perfect felicity and heavenly blessedness. In the Septuagint it is employed to express the Hebrew "garden of Eden." The nature and locality of the Biblical paradise have been discussed under Eden. Metaphorically the word expresses the happiness of the righteous in a future state, an application adopted by the later Jews, and the general idea of which is to be found in the mythologies of various races. The medieval rabbinical literature contains various fanciful descriptions of an earthly and a heavenly paradise, the latter being reserved for the final abode of the souls of the blessed. The celestial para-adise is generally regarded as identical with heaven, or the place of future bliss according to the Christian dispensation; but Biblical critics have differed as to the signification to be given to the term in Luke xxiii. 43, where Christ says to the penitent thief, " Today shalt thou be with me in paradise;" some considering the existence of a distinct abode for the reception of the blessed previous to the last judgment to be indicated, while others have found a stumbling block in the statement elsewhere made in Scripture that between his death and resurrection the Saviour descended into hell.
In the later history of the word it is to be observed that the narthex or atrium in which those who, on account of not being of the faithful in full communion, were assembled, was known as the paradise of the church; and Athanasius, speaking scornfully of Arianism, represents it as creeping into paradise, implying that it was befitting the low and ignorant. The paradise of the Mohammedans, termed in the Koran Gannah, or the happy gardens, is a place of infinite sensual delights conceived with all the warmth of oriental fancy, where devout followers of the prophet are received after death.