How many heavens are there?
Generally speaking, most Christian denominations admit that there is only one heaven and one hell, although interpretations will vary according to various Christian traditions.
The problem with the Book of Enoch is that it is only recognized only by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as being inspired. No other Christian denomination recognizes it as being inspired Scriptures.
The Second Book of Enoch, also written in the first century AD, describes the mystical ascent of the patriarch Enoch through a hierarchy of Ten Heavens. Enoch passes through the Garden of Eden in the Third Heaven on his way to meet the Lord face-to-face in the Tenth (chapter 22). Along the way he encounters vividly described populations of angels who torment wrongdoers; he sees homes, olive oil, and flowers.
The book's depiction of ten heavens represented an expansion of the ancient seven-heaven model. This expanded cosmology was developed further in medieval Christianity.
Although most will think of heaven or hell as a single unity, some Christian authors have written on the subject of various levels within heaven.
We must remember that no one alive has seen heaven and St. Paul himself reaffirmed this (1 Corinthians 2:9).
9 But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
For example, we can see that Dante Alighieri in his Divine Comedy
Paradiso is the third and final part of Dante's Divine Comedy, following the Inferno and the Purgatorio. It is an allegory telling of Dante's journey through Heaven, guided by Beatrice, who symbolises theology. In the poem, Paradise is depicted as a series of concentric spheres surrounding the Earth, consisting of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Fixed Stars, the Primum Mobile and finally, the Empyrean. It was written in the early 14th century. Allegorically, the poem represents the soul's ascent to God.
After ascending through the sphere of fire believed to exist in the earth's upper atmosphere (Canto I), Beatrice guides Dante through the nine celestial spheres of Heaven, to the Empyrean, which is the abode of God. The nine spheres are concentric, as in the standard medieval geocentric model of cosmology, which was derived from Ptolemy. The Empyrean is non-material. As with his Purgatory, the structure of Dante's Heaven is therefore of the form 9+1=10, with one of the ten regions different in nature from the other nine.
The Spheres of Heaven
Dante's nine spheres of Heaven are the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Fixed Stars, and the Primum Mobile. These are associated by Dante with the nine levels of the angelic hierarchy. Dante also relies on traditional associations, such as the one between Venus and romantic love. The first three spheres (which fall within the shadow of the Earth) are associated with deficient forms of Fortitude, Justice, and Temperance. The next four are associated with positive examples of Prudence, Fortitude, Justice, and Temperance; while Faith, Hope, and Love appear together in the eighth sphere.
Inferno is the first part of Italian writer Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy. It is followed by Purgatorio and Paradiso. The Inferno tells the journey of Dante through Hell, guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil. In the poem, Hell is depicted as nine concentric circles of torment located within the Earth; it is the "realm ... of those who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellowmen". As an allegory, the Divine Comedy represents the journey of the soul toward God, with the Inferno describing the recognition and rejection of sin.
Dante's Hell is structurally based on the ideas of Aristotle, but with "certain Christian symbolisms, exceptions, and misconstructions of Aristotle's text". Dante's three major categories of sin, as symbolized by the three beasts that Dante encounters in Canto I, are Incontinence, Violence and Bestiality, and Fraud and Malice[clarification needed]. Sinners punished for incontinence (also known as wantonness) – the lustful, the gluttonous, the hoarders and wasters, and the wrathful and sullen – all demonstrated weakness in controlling their appetites, desires, and natural urges; according to Aristotle's Ethics, incontinence is less condemnable than malice or bestiality, and therefore these sinners are located in four circles of Upper Hell (Circles 2–5). These sinners endure lesser torments than do those consigned to Lower Hell, located within the walls of the City of Dis, for committing acts of violence and fraud – the latter of which involves, as Dorothy L. Sayers writes, "abuse of the specifically human faculty of reason". The deeper levels are organized into one circle for violence (Circle 7) and two circles for fraud (Circles 8 and 9). As a Christian, Dante adds Circle 1 (Limbo) to Upper Hell and Circle 6 (Heresy) to Lower Hell, making 9 Circles in total; incorporating the Vestibule of the Futile, this leads to Hell containing 10 main divisions. This "9+1=10" structure is also found within the Purgatorio and Paradiso. Lower Hell is further subdivided: Circle 7 (Violence) is divided into three rings, Circle 8 (Fraud) is divided into ten bolge, and Circle 9 (Treachery) is divided into four regions. Thus, Hell contains, in total, 24 divisions.
St. Paul the Apostle speaks of a third heaven and again Catholic interpretations will vary. Nevertheless I will give the one which traditional Catholics believe to be the most valid.
Paul’s Vision and His Thorn
12 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. - 2 Corinthians 12:1-7
In 2 Corinthians Paul the Apostle writes, "I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows—was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat."6 According to E. W. Bullinger, the Greek says "caught away", not "caught up" possibly reflecting Jewish beliefs that Paradise was somewhere other than the uppermost heaven. However Catholicism thinks otherwise.
There is a Catholic author who compared St Paul's vision of the third heaven to the third or final stage or way of perfection. This is the Catholic traditional view of St. Paul’s vision.
This concept is not easy for many to understand. Many authors have written about the Ways of Perfection, But I am looking for the one who used St Paul's vision of 2 Corinthians 12:1-7 as a comparison to the unitive state of prayer.
This link I hope, can get the idea of where I am coming from: On the Purgative, Illuminative and Unitive Stages of Spiritual Life, as seen in a Cartoon.
Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., in his Three Ages of the Interior Life (part III, ch. XIII, B. "The Union of Humility and Christian Dignity") states the following:
In his commentary on this chapter of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, St. Thomas speaks admirably of the union of humility and magnanimity in St. Paul. He writes as follows: “As charity is the root of the virtues, pride is the beginning of every sin. It is the inordinate desire of our own excellence: we desire it then without subordinating it to God. Thus we turn away from Him, which is the beginning of every sin; for this reason God resists the proud. As there is in good people the good of which they may become proud, God sometimes permits some infirmity in His elect, some defect, and occasionally a mortal sin, which prevents them from becoming proud, which truly humiliates them, and makes them recognize that they cannot hold out or persevere by their own strength. The apostle St. Paul in particular might have grown proud of many things: he was a vessel of election to carry the faith to the Gentiles; (27) he had been ravished to the third heaven and heard secret words, which it is not granted to man to utter; (28 [Cf. II Cor. 12:4.]) he had suffered greatly for Christ, several times he had been cast into prison, and scourged; he was a virgin (having obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful); (29) he had labored more than all, as he says; (30) and in particular he had a lofty knowledge of divine things which may be the source of pride. For this reason the Lord gave him a remedy for pride. That the excellence of the revelations made to him might not make him proud, he received a sting in the flesh, a humiliating infirmity which crucified his body in order to heal his soul… . As he says, an angel of Satan came and buffeted him. How the sinner should tremble if the great Apostle, the instrument of election, is not sure of himself! Three times he ardently begged the Lord to deliver him from this sting; three times, that is, often and urgently. He then heard these words: ‘My grace is sufficient for thee,’ it will preserve thee from sin. Divine power is shown in weakness, which is an occasion for the exercise of the virtues of humility, patience, and abnegation. The man who knows his weakness is more attentive to resisting it and, because he struggles, he grows in strength. ‘Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities,’ says St. Paul, since I am thus more humble, and I must fight that the power of Christ may dwell in me and bear all its fruits of grace.”
Which Catholic writer(s) has compared St Paul's “third heaven” to the third stage of interior prayer?
All said and done, there is only one heaven and one hell, even though many have and continue to erroneously refer to the Earthly Paradise (Eden) of Adam and Eve as heaven! Many also refer to the sky and the visible universe as heaven!
The Catholic Encyclopedia clearly states that there is only one heaven. Where heaven is actually is still an open question!
The location of Heaven
Where is heaven, the dwelling of God and the blessed?
Some are of opinion that heaven is everywhere, as God is everywhere. According to this view the blessed can move about freely in every part of the universe, and still remain with God and see everywhere. Everywhere, too, they remain with Christ (in His sacred Humanity) and with the saints and the angels. For, according to the advocates of this opinion, the spatial distances of this world must no longer impede the mutual intercourse of blessed.
In general, however, theologians deem more appropriate that there should be a special and glorious abode, in which the blessed have their peculiar home and where they usually abide, even though they be free to go about in this world. For the surroundings in the midst of which the blessed have their dwelling must be in accordance with their happy state; and the internal union of charity which joins them in affection must find its outward expression in community of habitation. At the end of the world, the earth together with the celestial bodies will be gloriously transformed into a part of the dwelling-place of the blessed (Revelation 21). Hence there seems to be no sufficient reason for attributing a metaphorical sense to those numerous utterances of the Bible which suggest a definite dwelling-place of the blessed. Theologians, therefore, generally hold that the heaven of the blessed is a special place with definite limits. Naturally, this place is held to exist, not within the earth, but, in accordance with the expressions of Scripture, without and beyond its limits. All further details regarding its locality are quite uncertain. The Church has decided nothing on this subject. - Name and place of heaven