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Is There Any Reference to Reincarnation in the Bible?
Of course there is… though not under the term ‘reincarnation’. But since ancient times, in all cultures of the world, men have had the intuition of the existence of that concept. And the biblical writers were not the exception.
Could Jesus Lie?
Obviously, in order to have an informed opinion upon reincarnation from a biblical stand point, is indispensable to take the Bible… and start to re-reading it, without prejudice or pre-established notions, in search of the truth.
The main problem arised from the denial of Christians to accept the concept of reincarnation is that, inadvertently, without realizing the full extent of its consequences, GOOD FAITH CHRISTIANS DENY THE POSSIBILITY OF JESUS BEING THE PROMISED MESIAH OF ISRAEL
Because the most relevant and important event that signaled the arrival of the Messiah, was delivered in the prophecy that announced that before He came, Elijah was to be sent..
And the proof that Jesus’ disciples definitely knew this, is in Mark’s Gospel:
And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?
And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought.
But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.
And as if this wasn’t enough, Matthew narrates this same passage, but he goes even further: He describes what was it that the apostles understood from the words of the Divine Master.
Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.
Thus, the question for those who deny the possibiity of reincarnation is:
Did Jesus lie to His disciples?
Because if we believe that Jesus was the Messiah, then it must be a true fact that Elijah did came again to the world, and he did it in John the Baptist.
In short: He reincarnated.
Are Christians, just as Jews still do, continue to refuse to accept that Elijah did came back, thus fulfilling the prophecy that he was to came first before the Christ?
And you, as a Christian, will you still keep on setting him at nought?
In the third part of “By The Emperor’s Command” we will show you the documented and irrefutable scientic evidences that reincarnation is a verifiable and proven fact, beyond false supositions and fanatism fueled by a Roman emperor’s political decisions.
Q: Why is not the word “reincarnation” mentioned in the Bible?
Q: Is it reincarnation the same as transmigration of the soul (metempsychosis)?
Q: Is there a proof of the existence of reincarnation?
Q: They told me in Sunday school that the belief in reincarnation is heresy!
Q: Paul said in Hebrews 9:27 that “it is appointed unto men once to die”
Q: Jesus did not spoke of reincarnation, did He?
Q: Why can’t we recall memories of past lives?
Q: Where is the logic on the need for reincarnation?
The word “reincarnation” comes from the mixture of two Latin words: the prefix “re=to repeat, again” and the femenine sustantive “caro, carnis=flesh”. And although it does not appear as such in the Scriptures, the meaning is there, in many verses; in John 3 for example, the notion to return, to be again in the flesh, in a body, is mentioned by Jesus Christ, and to further clarify this, He states there that in order to do this, man should be born again. The liberal interpretation of this passage assuming that He was referring to a “spiritual” birth, is denied by the very words of the Lord, right there: “”
The misreading of the original texts leads many to believe that “soul” and “spirit” are the same, and they are not. The problem came since the very first translation of the Hebrew texts into Greek; at that time in history, the Greek language lacked of different terms to describe “nephesh” (the Hebrew word for soul) and “rowah” [spirit in Hebrew], therefore the translators of the Septuagint used the same word “psyche” to describe both different terms.
Yes, and increbidly enough, both in the spiritual and in the science fields. In the New Testament read about the reincarnation of the spirit of Elijah into John the Baptist. And that this is not a metaphor is proven by the very words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 14:14. And from a scientific point of view look at Reincarnation and Human Science to see what advanced science has found regarding past lives and reincarnation.
The characterization of the law of reincarnation as heresy was decided not by the early fathers of the church or by the disciples, let alone the Lord Himself. It was decided by the Roman emperor Justinian as late as the 5th century, who had strong political reasons to do so. It has nothing to do with doctrinal issues; the amazing thing is that up until this day, Western religions still treat reincarnation as something heretic. Truth is that there is not a single denial or rebuttal of this concept in the Bible.
This misreading comes from a mistake, made while translating the original text in Greek to Latin and from there passed to all versions that took the Latin Vulgate as source. The problem starts with the Greek syntax which has the word “once” before the subject “men” so instead of translated in the way that you read in your Vulgata’s inspired Bible (yes, your KJV use it as it main source), it should read: It is appointed once men die”… Otherwise, we must believe then that the son of the Ebionite woman, Lazarus and the young girl that Jesus resucitated should be alive today…since they already died -therefore the need to be resucitated- and considering that there is not other possible death, they stood arose to live forever… ???
Yes, he did. Read please all the verses in which the Lord refers to John the Baptist as been Elijah. And if after reading this you still do not admit that John was in fact, Elijah reincarnated…well, you just joined the group of persons that are still waiting for the arrival of Israel’s Messiah which was to be foreran by the return of Elijah. If John was not Elijah, then the Messiah hasn’t come yet.
Because the one that reincarnates is the spirit, the essence in the human being, not the brain or the soul. Here is where the wrong assumption that the soul reincarnates misleads many. And the fact that the flesh does not remember details or things pertaining a past existence of the spirit is due that was this the one that lived thru that other life, not the former.
If there is no reincarnation, then God’s love and forgiveness are not unlimited, it has a limit, our sins. But if, as Jesus stated and John confirmed, God’s love is endless and limitless, there should be a way in which the spirit can erase all his wrongdoings and errors. And that way is reincarnation.
John the Baptist: Elijah Reincarnated.
In spite of numerous attempts by the great established Christian religions and the various sects that deny the evidence concerning the reincarnation of Elijah the prophet as John the Baptist, the evidence is of such magnitude that it cannot be hidden or easily ignored.
The Book of Malachi
This book, the last in the canon of the Old Testament, is extremely important because it contains the prophecy of Elijah’s return that will be fulfilled, as we shall see shortly, with the reincarnation of the greatest prophet of Israel as John the Baptist. Notice that the words of the last paragraph are also mentioned in Matthew 3 and in Luke 1:17 as well, when the angel announces to Zacharias that his son John (the Baptist) would embody the spirit of Elijah the prophet.
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to the fathers... xMalachi 4:5,6
Next by transcribing the descriptions in the 2nd Book of Kings and that of Mathew’s Gospel and comparing the personalities of Elijah the Tishbite and John the Baptist respectively we have:
And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair and a leathern girdle about his loins and his meat was locust and wild honey. Matthew 3:4 And they answered him, He was an hairy man and girt with a girdle of leather around his loins- And he said, it is Elijah the Tishbite II Kings 1:8
Simple coincidence? Let’s see. When the messenger of God appears before Zacharias to announce that his wife shall bear a son who will be the embodiment of a prophet, he announces with total clarity that the spirit that will be manifest in that prophet to be born is no one less than Elijah, and he even quotes Malachi.
And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the desobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Luke 1:17
The reader should be aware that in the former verse, the word in the original Greek text that translates as “with” was changed in the King James Translation to “into”, obscuring the meaning of the whole paragraph, apparently to make it fit in accordance to Jerome’s opinion regarding reincarnation.
Let’s mention now the verse (the only one) wrongfully quoted by western religions that cannot accept the law of reincarnation because, naturally, they would see a diminishing of their moral and material power over the consciences of men. The curious thing is that, while denying that John the Baptist was in fact the reincarnation of Elijah’s spirit, they end up also denying the assertions of the Divine Teacher Himself, as will be clearly seen later on.
And they asked him, What then? Are thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Are thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who are thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. John 1:21,23
And certainly, when the priests and Levites ask John the Baptist if he is Elijah, he answers that indeed, he is not: he is John, son of Zacharias and Elizabeth.
But what would happen if the question was formulated properly?
“Do you have within you Elijah’s spirit?” The answer, of course, would had been different, confirming what was announced by the angel to Zacharias.
And still, there is the other explanation: that the knowledge of past lives was concealed even to John as stated in Ecclesiastes 1:7,9, but Jesus, the Son of Man and the Christ, certainly knew all things occult pertaining to men.
Had Elijah’s spirit not reincarnated in the life and body of John the Baptist, the prophecies of Malachi 4 and Luke 1 would never have been fulfilled and the Messiah, with Elijah yet to come, could not possibly have arrived! Therefore Christian theologians are inadvertently agreeing with the orthodox Jewish theologians who are still to this day denying that Jesus was the Messiah and continue to await the return of Elijah.
This is so wrong! That the prophecies were truly fulfilled is evident when John himself clarifies the prophecy by confirming to be that voice crying in the wilderness preparing the way of the Lord. If John the Baptist had not within himself the spirit of Elijah the prophet, why then did Jesus of Nazareth, the long awaited Messiah of Israel, whom we recognize as the Christ, make this affirmation in such a concise and definite manner?
And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. Matthew 11:14 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Matthew 17:12 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him. Mark 9:13
It is here that theologians are silent. They are caught in the dilemma due to their incorrect interpretation by imputing that either John the Baptist or the very Christ Himself was lying!
The fact that among the Jews contemporary to Jesus there already existed the notion and accepted knowledge of the law of reincarnation of the spirit, is demonstrated in the following verse, completely unnecessary if the contrary had been true:
Others said, That it is Elias and others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. Mark 6:15
By assuming the possibility that Jesus could be one of the prophets of Israel from ancient times, they implicitly acknowledged the possibility of reincarnation.
Furthermore, reading the following verse throws even more light on the knowledge that Jesus’ disciples already had of reincarnation.
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth And his disciples asked him, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? John 9:1,2
What’s the point of Jesus’ disciples formulating this question if they didn’t already know that it is possible to sin before being born, that is to say, in a previous existence? Can someone be “punished” by God at the moment of their birth – before having the chance to sin? This was one of the fundamental arguments of Origen about pre-existence of the spirit prior to its arrival in this world.
The resurrection of the flesh is the reincarnation of the spirit.
One way of denying the law of reincarnation of the spirit, is by concealing the interpretation of numerous passages of the Bible that deal with this notion by making them appear as if they refer to the materialistic concept of the resurrection of the bodies of the dead.
Jesus refutes this materialistic interpretation, and explains that the resurrection of matter is really that of the spirit (the angels in the sky) referring implicitly to the same metaphor as in Jacob’s ladder (Gen. 28:12).
Jesus refutes this materialistic interpretation, and explains that the resurrection of matter is really that of the spirit (the angels in the sky) referring implicitly to the same metaphor as in Jacob’s ladder (Gen. 28:12).
Jesus and the reincarnation.
The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethen: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother; Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection whose wife shall se be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, ye do err, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. Matthew 22:23-30
Here, Jesus is taking on the literal interpretation of Ezekiel’s vision, which was the one presented by the Sadducees trying to get Jesus into trouble.
But in the following verse -if there was still doubt – Jesus underrates the rude interpretation of the resurrection of cadavers completely when he affirms: God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And here, as given by Jesus the Christ, is the clue to this whole concept: true resurrection is of the spirit (the living) not of the corpse (the dead) as many have believed for so long.
But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Matthew 22:31,32
In the following passage in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus explains the reason why the spirit does not “re-use” a body. Using the metaphor of vestures and vessels of clay represented by cloth and bottles.
No man putheth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up tajeth from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved Matthew 9: 16,17
In John’s Gospel, the Divine Teacher speaks of the resurrection not as the body of a man returning to life -in the flesh – but through birth, the reincarnation of the spirit (represented by the metaphor of the wind) in a new body.
Jesus answered and said unto him, verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? John 3:3,4
Of course, there are those who interpret this last verse as referring to repentance, the inner transformation of man, which of course could also be inferred, but when repeating these same words in Matthew 3:7 He proceeds to explain it further in the subsequent verse, extending the concept even more.
The verse transcribed below has been interpreted by Christian theologians improperly, as referring to the material baptism. We should clarify that Christianity, by not accepting the spiritual intent of Jesus’ teachings, continues to baptize its children ritually with John’s baptism, and not with the subtle and spiritual baptism of the Messiah; after all, it is easier to be literal with the baptism of water; than with the literal application of baptism with fire resulting in severe damage to the unfortunate candidate.
When Jesus answers Nicodemus questions, he tells him not to confuse material things with spiritual things which is exactly what modern theologians do, following Nicodemus’ steps. The clue for the correct interpretation is found in a verse in Luke’s gospel where John the Baptist (Elijah) analyzes for us the different meanings of water and fire: repentance and spirit, respectively.
Therefore we know that God grants new life to those spirits that, due to their repentance, recognize and see in each new life a new opportunity to change, because for certainty those who will not change cannot enter the Kingdom. And spirits that regret not their errors, remain in the spiritual valley of darkness without reincarnating ( see I Peter 3:18 to 20).
see I Peter 3:18 to 20).
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:5,6 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Matthew 3:11
Note: Modern scholars agree that the use of the word “ghost” referring to the Holy Spirit, is an obvious mistake. The Hebrew word “rowah” (“rouhka” in Aramaic) translates as spirit. No one knows for certain how the word “ghost” found its way into the Gospels.
Next, the Divine Teacher uses the metaphor of the wind -the Greek word that means spirit as well as wind as written in the original texts- to teach, once again, that the spirit ends up settling in the womb of mothers, and that these are ignorant from where the spirit came.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence iit cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? John 3:7-10
Not knowing from where the spirit comes that enlivens each human being at birth is also found in this statement the Master makes to His disciples:
Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. Luke 9:55
Note: In the original text the words “manner of” are not part of the verse, nor so in the Vulgate version. It seems that while translating the text into English, a pious scribe thought that the inclusion of these words would make the sense of the verse clearer, at least to his personal point of view, but we repeat, they are not part of Jesus’ words. In modern translations this has been corrected.
Paul and the reincarnation of the spirit
In his Letters or Epistles, Paul of Tarsus, the apostle to the gentiles, refers to the concept of the renewal of man through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and to the resurrection of the body. This belief is an idea belonging to the doxology of the Pharisees and was introduced to Christianity by Paul, and not by the teachings of Jesus (Paul refers to man’s corrupt nature as the “old man” in Romans 6:6). There is an extremely mysterious passage that Paul describes and explains as a mystery-and which he refers to as something different: reincarnation.
In the first Epistle to the Corinthians, after speaking of the resurrection of the flesh in the literal sense, that is to say, the resuscitation of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:12-29), Paul suddenly ventures into unsuspected territory starting from verse 35. He starts by discarding in verse 37 the idea of incarnating in the same previous body ( “that which thou sowest -the cadaver – not the body that shall be (the new body)”) but in a different body, according to the will of God.
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 1 Corinthians 15: 35-38
And if that wasn’t enough, Paul continues and clarifies that, contrary to what some oriental religions believe, the spirit that inhabited previously in a man cannot be embodied in another creature different than human and he exposes the reasons for this, reaffirming what Jesus said regarding this. See the reference to the old garments and bottles.
All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 1 Corinthians 15: 39,40
Now this I say, brethen, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 1 Corinthians 15:50
The next transcription is the previous passage of Paul’s explanations regarding the resurrection of the flesh understood as the reincarnation of the spirit. Note the difference that Paul puts between those that sleep, those that die and those that are changed (transformed). There are theologians that seek to interpret sleeping as mentioned by Paul as death, but if this is so, why then does Paul state that some won’t sleep, including him? (Paul was beheaded circa the year 70 AD)
Behold, I shew you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 1 Corinthians 15: 51, 52
And Paul finishes his explanation by paraphrasing Hosea, who also denied the inexorability of death.
O death, where is the thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 1 Corinthians 15: 55
Peter the Apostle and the imprisoned spirits.
Peter (Cephas), the apostle that witnessed the transfiguration on Mount Tabor, writes about the imprisoned spirits that were retained after the Flood. This alone raises many questions. Were only the spirits of big sinners those imprisoned? Where or what was that “jail “? And what of the spirits of men that were not that sinful -Jacob, David, Solomon, the prophets, etc. – where were they? We know, for example, of a metaphoric ” place ” which Jesus calls Abraham’s bosom and in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:20-25) you can infer that at least two ” places ” or situations exist which spirits inhabit, once out of the flesh.
Because Christ also suffered a single time for our sins, the fair one for the unjust ones, to take us to God, He was put to death in the flesh but vivified in spirit; in which also He went and preached to the imprisoned spirits, those that had disobeyed in another time, When God waited patiently in the days of Noah during the building of the Ark in which a few, that is, eight persons were saved through water. 1 Peter 3: 18-20
So here in view of the previous analysis, the great question stands: Won’t reincarnation-the return to this world in human form, be the other option proposed by the infinite love of God, to correct previous errors? It is the same option that Paul describes as a mystery and which also the Spirit of Truth came to proclaim to humanity in this Third Era. See
The Divine Gift of Reincarnation.
The concept of reincarnation in the Bible
Genesis 28:12 Jacob’s Ladder.
In the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, that covers the time of the patriarches, comes the concept of reincarnation, of the continued come and go of the spirits (angels of God) between the spiritual realm and earth. Jacob, son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, had a dream in which is delivered to man this revelation. Some believe that this passage refers simply to the divine privilege of sending messengers to communicate with man, but if this was so, the order would be the other way around: first they would descend and then they would ascend. When specifiyng that the spirits first ascend and then they descend again, it implies something much deeper; the death (to ascend) and the reincarnation (to descend). The clue is in the phrase “set up on the earth” which means that the ladder is based on earth, the body. Messengers such as the angel Gabriel that appeared before Mary (Luke 1:26) never took body, they manifested only through spiritual visions.
And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. Genesis 28:12
The Book of Job
The wisdom and prophetic books of the Bible are written in an allegorical language, with the abundant use of metaphors (
metaphor=use of a word with a sense different to its own and that identifies two different objects that keep a relationship of likeness
). Thus, in the Book of Job we see the allegory of the cut (dead) tree that is renewed, metaphor that the biblical writer uses to question himself if the same won’t happen to man. Please take note that when he mentions “boughs like a plant”, the allegory is much nearer to the reincarnation concept (a new body) than to resurrection as many understand it (the same body). In addition to this and for a better understanding of the phrase “till my change come”, please see the reference to the same concept in Psalm 102.
For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in earth in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. Job 14:7-9 If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee; thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands. Job 14:14,15
The Book of Psalms
This book assumed to be written by David, king from Israel, contains certain passages that refer to life after death and to the hope that this is defeated. The texts, as explained above, are taken from the Commonly Known as the Authorized (King James) Version but the reader must be aware that the word “Sheol” which first was translated into the Greek “hades” and then to “hell”, was in many verses translated into English as “grave”, changing therefore the true meaning of the author’s original idea.
The numeration of the psalms corresponds to the biblical version of King James; the Catholic Bibles differ in its numbering although the texts are similar.
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:10,11
Of course, some would say that the first verse of above refers only to JesusChrist’s resurrection from the dead. After all it is quoted as this in Acts 13:35; but if this would to be true, why then the reference to “hell” (sheol)?
What profit there is there in my "blood" (death in the original text) when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? Shall it declare thy truth? Psalm 30:9 ...upon those that hope in their mercy, to deliver their souls from death... Psalm 33:18s,19s But God will redeem my soul from the power of the "grave" (sheol), for he shall receive me Psalm 49:15
But in the following passage, the king-prophet goes beyond the hope in a life after death. When referring to a renewal of the spirit, it agrees with Job 14:7-9 and with Job 14:14,15 and clearly speaks of the reincarnation of the spirit.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and uphold me with thy free spirit. Psalm 51:10,12
Later on, the psalmist asks God if He will be able to give life again.
Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? Psalm 85:6
...yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; As a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed; Psalm 102:26
In the following verse, the reference to the spiritual valley in darkness is very clear and here it would be necessary to compare it with 1 Peter 3:18-20, where the same idea is stated, although David speaks in this verse of reincarnation in the past.
Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being abound in affliction and iron; He brougth them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder Psalm 107:10,14
The Book of Ecclesiastes
In the following allegory that it is found through diverse verses of the Book of Ecclesiastes, also called The Preacher and whose writing is attributed to King Solomon, son of David, by the use of the figure of the flow of the rivers to the sea back and forth to describe the incessant come and go of human life, it’s a clear reference to the continuous reincarnation and disembody of the spirits. He even refers to the veil that causes us not to remember previous lives. And once again, he refers to reincarnation calling it restoration in the original text (requireth in KJV).
All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. The thing that hath been it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done; and there is no new thing under the sun. Is any thing whereof it may be said; See, this is new? It hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that should come after. Ecclesiastes 1:7,9,10,11 That which hath been is now: and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past. Ecclesiastes 3:15
The Book of Isaiah
This book, which for some scholars is in reality the work of two or maybe three different writers writing in different times, contains very deep concepts about life, death …and reincarnation. The first reference speaks about death being avoidable.
He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall be taken away from all of the earth; for the Lord hath spoken it. Isaiah 25:8 Thy dead shall live (together with) my dead body shall they arise Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Isaiah 26:19
The verse that follows states that, undoubtedly, death and hell are not divine creation but human instead; the interesting thing is that it denies the relentlessness and inexorability of death.
And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with "hell" (sheol) shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it. Isaiah 28:18
Then, the biblical writer clarifies that “resurrection ” will be through birth, concept that Jesus affirms in John 3.
Shall I bring to the birth and not cause to bring forth? saith the Lord; shall I cause to bring forth and shut the womb? saith thy God. And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb. Isaiah 66:9,14
This book which some believe written by Baruc the scribe and others by Jeremiah himself -of whom the book is about- contains the basic concept, the fundamental reason of the law of spiritual reincarnation: the improvement toward perfection of the spirit. Through the use of the metaphor of the potter’s vessel that represents human life, we are told that these will be as many as they are necessary to achieve their objective: to contain the spirit in its journey to perfection.
The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: O house of israel, cannot I do with you as the potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. Jeremiah 18:1,6
And the following verse is overwhelming for those that doubt of the divine power, able to endow the spirit with multiple vestures.
Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27
The Book of Lamentations
In this continuation of the previous ideas, the biblical writer destroys the notion of eternal damnation, obstacle, according to some starting from Jerome, to make reincarnation feasible.
For the Lord will not cast off for ever; Lamentations 3:31
And the same as in Ecclesiastes, the idea of the renewal seems to be continuos and recurrent.
Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord; and we shall be turned; renew our days as old. Lamentations 5:21
The Book of Ezekiel
This prophetic book which has been object of detailed studies and analysis for many reasons, contains in detail those elements that are necessary for the reincarnation of the spirit. It is important to point that, until Aristotle, the ancient believed that mental functions take place in the heart; the knowledge that these are carried out in the brain is relatively modern. Because of it, whenever the prophet refers to the heart, what he is really refering to is to the mind.
Thus, we see that when man is given a new life, not only comes with it a renewed spirit but also a new mind. This will be of capital importance when studying the passage of Elijah’s reincarnation in John the Baptist that comes described in the New Testament.
And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and I will give them an heart of flesh. Ezekiel 11:19 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed: and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Ezekiel 18:31
And once again, we are told that death of man it is not a divine creation.
For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; wherefore turn yourselves and live ye. Ezekiel 18:32
Next, it comes the passage of the valley of the dry bones, the one that has been taken by Christian theologians in its most literal sense. The clue is in the expression “they were very dry”, which is repeatead in “dry bones” in order to not leave doubt of what was wanted to mean with it: the dust of the ground, as understood in Genesis 2:7 and 3:19. When the prophet, following the orders of God, speaks to the dry bones, he is in fact telling them that from there it will sprout flesh again in order to be finally endowed with spirit; the ancient ignored what we know now as “the chain of the life”, modern expression that describes the cycle of recovery of the organic matter to give new material life. Nothing is wasted and everything, finally, returns to life; the matter to the matter, and the spirit to reincarnate in new bodies.
The hand of the Lord was upon me and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord. Ezekiel 37:1,14
The Book of Daniel
This book, uncomplete in the non Catholic versions – the Catholic canon includes Daniel’s Book II – contains the prophecy of Daniel’s return at the end of times.
But go thou thy way till the end (be); for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days. Daniel 12:13
The Book of Hosea
In Hosea it comes, again, the concept of God as enemy of death and more important, of hell and therefore, of eternal damnation. This is taken later by Paul.
I will ransom them from the power of the "grave" (sheol): I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O "grave" (seol), I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes. Hosea 13:14
The Book of Amos
In this prophecy, it is found the overwhelming statement that the confused spirits -those of below, in the Seol, the Hebrew ” hell ” – as well as the spirits of the obedient ones -those that ascended to the spiritual valley – all are subjected to the law of the reincarnation of the spirit.
Though they dig into "hell" (seol), thence mine hand take them; though they climpb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down Amos 9:2
The Book of Jonah
Once again we find in this book the concept of the return to life. Notice how the symbolic meaning of “forever”, when refuted in its literal form in the following line, tears down many interpretations that base the belief on an eternal punishment in incorrect readings of the biblical texts.
And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of "hell" (seol) cried I, and thou heardest my voice. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever; yet, hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord. Jonah 2:2,6
With the condemnation of Origen, so much that is implied in reincarnation was officially stigmatized as heresy that the possiblity of a direct confrontation with this belief was effectively removed from the church. In dismissing Origen from its midst, the church only indirectly addressed itself to the issue of reincarnation. The encounter with
Origenism did, however, draw decisive lines in the matter of preexistence, the resurrection of the dead, and the relationship between body and soul. What an examination of Origen and the church does achieve, however, is to show where the reincarnationist will come into collision with the posture of orthodoxy. The extent to which he may wish to retreat from such a collision is of course a matter of personal conscience.
With the Council of 553 one can just about close the book on this entire controversy within the church. There are merely two footnotes to be added to the story, emerging from church councils in 1274 and 1439. In the Council of Lyons in 1274 it was stated that after death the soul goes promptly either to heaven or to hell. On the Day of Judgment all will stand before the tribunal of Christ with their bodies to render account of what they have done. The Council of Florence of 1439 uses almost the same wording to describe the swift passage of the soul either to heaven or to hell. Implicit in both of these councils is the assumption that the soul does not again venture into physical bodies.
There is one episode in particular from the healing miracles of Christ that seems to point to reincarnation: “And as he was passing by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who has sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” Jesus answered, ‘Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents, but the works of God were to be made manifest in him.'” (John 9:1) The disciples ask the Lord if the man himself could have committed the sin that led to his blindness. Given the fact that the man has been blind from birth, we are confronted with a provocative question. When could he have made such transgressions as to make him blind at birth? The only conceivable answer is in some prenatal state. The question as posed by the disciples explicitly presupposes prenatal existence. It will also be noted that Christ says nothing to dispel or correct the presupposition. Here is incontrovertible support for a doctrine of human preexistence.
Also very suggestive of reincarnation is the episode where Jesus identifies John the Baptist as Elijah. “For all the prophets and the law have prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who was to come.” (Matt 11:13-14) “And the disciples asked him, saying, ‘Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ But he answered them and said, ‘Elijah indeed is to come and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also shall the Son of Man suffer at their hand.’ Then the disciples understood that he had spoken of John the Baptist.” (Matt 17:10-13)
Here again is a clear statement of preexistence. Despite the edict of the Emperor Justinian and the counter reaction to Origen, there is firm and explicit testimony for preexistence in both the Old and the New Testament. Indeed, the ban against Origen notwithstanding, contemporary Christian scholarship acknowledges preexistence as one of the elements of Judeo-Christian theology.
As for the John the Baptist-Elijah episode, there can be little question as to its purpose. By identifying the Baptist as Elijah, Jesus is identifying himself as the Messiah. Throughout the gospel narrative there are explicit references to the signs that will precede the Messiah. “Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Mal 4:5) This is one of the many messianic promises of the Old Testament. One of the signs that the true Messiah has come, according to this passage from Malachi, is that he be preceded by a forerunner, by Elijah. Jesus was sometimes taken to be a reincarnation of one of the prophets.
In Mark 8:27, Jesus asks “Whom do men say that I am?” The consensus of opinion seems to have been that He was a reincarnation of either John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the Old Testament prophets. It is hard to see how Jesus could have been a reincarnation of the prophet by whom He was baptized, but that has not deterred these believers in reincarnation around Jesus.
Indeed the reincarnationist can even find scriptural support for personal disincarnate preexistence. Origen took Eph 1:4 as proof for his case: “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish in his sight and love.” Jerome, who is just as uncomfortable as Justinian about preexistence, interprets the passage to mean that we preexisted, not in distinct disincarnate form, but simply in the mind of God (Against Rufinus 1.22), and from this throng of thoughts God chose the elect before the creation of the world.
The distinction is indeed a fine one, for Jerome is asking us to distinguish between that which exists as a soul and that which exists as a thought. What is illuminating for the reincarnationist is that this passage from Ephesians offers very explicit scriptural testimony for individual preexistence.
Looking at the sequence of creation from its inception to its conclusion, one could summarize Origen’s system as follows: Originally all beings existed as pure mind on an ideational or thought level. Humans, angels, and heavenly bodies lacked incarnate existence and had their being only as ideas. This is a very natural view for anyone like Origen who was trained in both Christian and Platonic thought. Since there is no account in the scriptures of what preceded creation, it seemed perfectly natural to Origen to appeal to Plato for his answers.
God for the Platonist is pure intelligence and all things were reconciled with God before creation – an assumption which scripture does not appear to contradict. Then as the process of fall began, individual beings became weary of their union with God and chose to defect or grow cold in their divine ardor. As the mind became cool toward God, it made the first step down in its fall and became soul. The soul, now already once removed from its original state, continued with its defection to the point of taking on a body. This, as we know from Platonism, is indeed a degradation, for the highest type of manifestation is on the mental level and the lowest is on the physical.
Such an account of man’s fall does not mean that Origen rejected Genesis. It only means that he was willing to allow for allegorical interpretation; thus Eden is not necessarily spacially located, but is a cosmic and metaphysical event wherein pure disincarnate idea became fettered to physical matter. What was essential for Christianity, as Origen perceived, is that the fall be voluntary and result in a degree of estrangement from God.
Where there is a fall, there must follow the drama of reconciliation. Love is one of God’s qualities, as Origen himself acknowledged, and from this it follows that God will take an interest in the redemption of his creatures. For Origen this means that after the drama of incarnation the soul assumes once again its identity as mind and recovers its ardor for God.
It was to hasten this evolution that in the fullness of time God sent the Christ. The Christ of Origen was the Incarnate Word (he was also the only being that did not grow cold toward God), and he came both as a mediator and as an incarnate image of God’s goodness. By allowing the wisdom and light of God to shine in one’s life through the inspiration of Jesus Christ, the individual soul could swiftly regain its ardor for God, leave behind the burden of the body, and regain complete reconciliation with God. In fact, said Origen, much to the outrage of his critics, the
extent and power of God’s love is so great that eventually all things will be restored to him, even Satan and his legions.
Since the soul’s tenancy of any given body is but one of many episodes in its journey from God and back again, the doctrine of reincarnation is implicit. As for the resurrection of the body, Origen created a tempest of controversy by insisting that the physical body wastes away and returns to dust, while the resurrection takes on a spiritual or
transformed body. This is of course handy for the reincarnationist, for it means that the resurrected body either can be the summation and climax of all the physical bodies that came before or indeed may bear no resemblance at all to the many physical bodies.
There will come a time when the great defection from God that initiated physical creation will come to an end. All things, both heavenly bodies and human souls, will be so pure and ardent in their love for God that physical existence will no longer be necessary. The entire cohesion of creation will come apart, for matter will be superfluous. Then, to cite one of Origen’s favorite passages, all things will be made subject to God and God will be “all in all.” ( 1 Cor 15:28 ) This restoration of all things proposed by Origen gave offense in later centuries. It seemed quite sensible to Origen that anything that defects from God must eventually be brought back to him. As he triumphantly affirmed at the end of his “On First Principles”, men are the “blood brothers” of God himself and cannot stay away forever.
During the period from A.D. 250 to 553 controversy raged, at least intermittently, around the name of Origen, and from this controversy emerged the major objections that orthodox Christianity raises against reincarnation. Origen of Alexandria, one of Christianity’s greatest systematic theologians, was a believer in reincarnation.
Origen was a man devoted to scriptural authority, a scourge to the enemies of the church, and a martyr for the faith. He was the spiritual teacher of a large and grateful posterity and yet his teachings were declared heresy in 553. The debates and controversies that flared up around his teachings are in fact the record of reincarnation in the church.
The case against Origen grew by fits and starts from about A.D. 300 (fifty years after his death) until 553. There were writers of great eminence among his critics as well as some rather obscure ecclesiasts. They included Methodius of Olympus, Eppiphanius of Salamis, Theophilus, Bishop of Jerusalem, Jerome, and the Emperor Justinian. The first of these, Methodius of Olympus, was a bishop in Greece and died a martyr’s death in the year 311. He and Peter of Alexandria, whose works are almost entirely lost, represent the first wave of anti-Origenism. They were concerned chiefly with the preexistence of souls and Origen’s notions about the resurrection of the dead. Another more powerful current against Origenism arose about a century later. The principals were Ephiphanius of Salamis, Theophilus of Alexandria, and Jerome. From about 395 to 403 Origen became the subject of heated debate throughout Christendom. These three ecclesiats applied much energy and thought in search of questionable doctrine in Origen. Again the controversy flared up around 535, and in the wake of this the Emperor Justinian composed a tract against Origen in 543, proposing nine anathemas against “On First Principles”, Origen’s chief theological work. Origen was finally officially condemned in the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, when fifteen anathemas were charged against him.
The critics of Origen attacked him on individual points, and thus did not create a systematic theology to oppose him. Nonetheless, one can glean from their writings five major points that Christianity has raised against reincarnation:
- It seems to minimize Christian salvation.
- It is in conflict with the resurrection of the body.
- It creates an unnatural separation between body and soul.
- It is built on a much too speculative use of Christian scriptures.
- There is no recollection of previous lives.
Any discussion of these points will be greatly clarified by a preliminary look at Origen’s system. Although it is of course impossible to do justice in a few pages to a thinker as subtle and profound as Origen, some of the distinctive aspects of his thought can be summarized.