Re: [GTh] Reincarnation in the NT?
- Hi Tim,First off, I need to caution that we have to avoid statements of personalreligious belief. Second, a minor correction: it was the disciples, not thePharisees, who were given to speak in Jn9.2. Of course, a Pharisaical ideamight have been put into their mouths, but that's uncertain. Third, two relatedthoughts: (1) that a person's soul might have existed prior to his/her being borndoesn't logically imply reincarnation, whether it makes sense that it do so or not,(2) the Thomasines do seem to have believed that souls were eternal, but it isn'tat all clear that orthodox Christians did or do. That is to say, they of coursebelieve that saved souls will live forever after, but they also believe that somesouls will perish, and it isn't clear whether they believe that souls have alwaysexisted. I've looked at statements of Catholic thought on the soul, for example,but it's a bit murky. They don't directly address the pre-existence issue, butwhat they do say seems to imply that a person's soul (what Thomas Aquinascalled 'the rational soul') is created at the point of conception. My guess is thatthe orthodox position would thus be at odds with Thomas, which seems tofavor pre-existence but has no apparent implication of reincarnation.Cheers,Mike
Understood. I actually do not personally believe in reincarnation, but I respect those who do. I'll also refrain from using personal anecdotes like the one from the hospital.
I agree that the Gospel of Thomas affirms pre-existence of the soul but does not speak of multiple incarnations.
In the original discussion on Amazon.com the post there comments on GThom L1 "And he said, "Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death." saying that this meant a liberation from cyclical rebirths. I think this is a case of eisegesis.
As for other texts in the Nag Hammadi collection, there has been an assertion that reincarnation has been found there. But I think a lot depends on how the texts are translated. For example, in the Book of Thomas the Contender 9:5 one translation I found reads:
"Watch and pray that you may not be born in the flesh, but that you may leave the bitter bondage of this life." (Bk Thom Contend 9:5).
This sounds like reincarnation. However, Nag Hammadi scholar John D. Turner translates "born in the flesh" as "come to be in the flesh" which might just mean coming into temptation rather than being reborn.
Then in the Apocryphon of John 14:20 is another text that sounds like it refers to reincarnation:
"This soul needs to follow another soul in whom the Spirit of life dwells, because she is saved through the Spirit. Then she will never be thrust into flesh again" (Apocryph Jn 14:20, SBL).
Waldstein and Wisse translated the end of this saying as "not cast into another flesh" (NHL II,1) and as "does not enter another flesh" (NHL III,1), Does this mean reincarnation or entering into "another" physical temptation?
It would seem that much of this is in the eye of the interpreter.
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Mike Grondin" <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
> But isn't it also possible that the thinking was that a pre-existingMike,
> soul never incarnated could sin? (I believe that angels were
> considered capable of sinning, so why not disembodied souls?)
Could a pre-existing soul sin? The Book of Wisdom suggests that it could:
"I was given a sound body to live in because I was already good" (Wis 8:19).
That is, if there is no previous incarnation, then it would have to be
the pre-incarnated body that could be good or could sin.
- Hi Tim,The RSV translation of Wis 8:19-20 gives a slightly different slant:"As a child I was by nature well endowed,and a good soul fell to my lot,or rather, being good, I entered into an undefiled body."Mike