Reincarnation in the Bible and the Early
PROPONENTS OF REINCARNATION adamantly insist that their doctrine was taught by both Jesus and the early church and that the Bible teaches it as well. If they are right, then C.S. Lewis's contention that Christianity is a foe of pantheism is mistaken, for, as we saw in chapter two, reincarnationist thought depends ultimately on the pantheistic presuppositions of gnosticism.
But the problem goes deeper than that. If reincarnation is (or was) a central part of the original Christian gospel, then historic, orthodox Christianity has veered significantly from its original course. Historic Christian orthodoxy has vigorously denied reincarnation for two principal reasons. First, Christianity has taught a doctrine of resurrection: the human soul does not return to earth after death, but is resurrected as an individual personality to face judgment. Second, it has taught that God forgives and extends mercy in the face of human sin and shortcomings. There is no forgiveness and little, if any, mercy connected with the idea of reincarnation. Each soul pays the inevitable price for its
own failings and misdeeds, in hundreds or thousands of existences.
Reincarnation and the Bible
Many people insist that the Bible teaches reincarnation, citing a number of obscure verses, always out of context and buttressed by explanatory comments which have highly dubious exegetical roots. However, only four of these texts are really significant and deserving of exploration. Three are sayings from Jesus himself, and the fourth is found in the epistle of James.
The first passage, in the third chapter of John's Gospel, the contextual problem of reading reincarnation into the New Testament is well illustrated. In verse three, Jesus addresses Nicodemus saying, "Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Some reincarnationists insist that by the phrase "born again" Jesus was teaching reincarnation. The Greek word anothen, here translated "again," can also be rendered "above," which would make the phrase read "born from above." The context holds the key to the meaning, and it shows that Jesus was speaking of spiritual rebirth in this life as a precondition for eternal life. In fact, Nicodemus asked him further, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" (v.4). The questions indicate that Nicodemus understood Jesus to be speaking of some kind of rebirth in this life, not any form of reincarnation, which would have been a foreign concept in first-century Judaism. "Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God' " (v. 5). Thus the thrust of this statement about being born again is connected with the frequent New Testament proclamation that salvation had to be accomplished through spiritual regeneration, that is, conversion and repentance. This theme is repeated so often by Jesus that it
becomes virtually impossible to construe this text as speaking of reincarnation.
Who was John the Baptist? The next and most complicated passage has to do with John the Baptist and Elijah. The common Jewish belief at the time was that Elijah would return to "restore all things" before the Messiah appeared, a belief that Jesus affirmed. Jesus makes three statements about John the Baptist in the Gospels which could be understood as references to reincarnation. The first is Matthew 11:14: "If you are willing to accept it, he [John] is Elijah who is to come." Later in Matthew 17:12-13, Jesus again said, " 'But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they [the Jews] did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of man will suffer at their hands.' Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist." In Mark 9:13 the same theme is echoed. "But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him."
So it seems that Elijah had indeed come back, according to Jesus: "as it is written of him." The central question then is how did he come back? Jesus' reference to biblical prophecy in Mark 9:13 is found in the book of Malachi: "I send my messenger to prepare the way before me" (3:1) and "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes" (4:5). The angel who appeared to Zechariah announcing John the Baptist's birth elaborated on these statements: "And he [John] will go before him [Jesus] in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke 1:17). The angel did not tell Zechariah that his son was to be Elijah reincarnate.
After John the Baptist began his ministry, the public was confused about his identity. In an attempt to settle the matter, the Jewish religious leaders sent a delegation of priests and Levites from Jerusalem to confront John. They asked him, " 'Who are you? . . . Are you Elijah?' He said, 'I am not. . . .I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, "Make
straight the way of the Lord," as the prophet Isaiah said' " (Jn 1:19-23). John's denial is crucial; we also must note that Jesus did not say "John the Baptist is Elijah," nor did he mention reincarnation in dealing with the issue. Rather, we are looking at a classic example of biblical typology; that is, John the Baptist was a "type" of Elijah. He fulfilled the role of Elijah, as prophesied by Malachi. John the Baptist had the same endowment of power and spiritual characteristics as Elijah. This is stated most explicitly in the quotation from Luke, that John would "go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah."
One other point should be noted: In reincarnation doctrine death must precede rebirth and Elijah never died. According to 2 Kings 2:11, Elijah was taken up "by a whirlwind into heaven." Finally, it is significant that when Elijah reappeared with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17 and Mark 9), there was no confusion among the disciples as to who he was. They immediately recognized both Moses and Elijah, and they did not confuse either of them with John the Baptist.
The "cycle of nature." A third text found in the Bible with marginal reincarnational overtones is the reference in James 3:6 to the "cycle of nature," which can be literally rendered "wheel of genesis," a phrase suggestive of Buddhism. In this passage the apostle James is comparing the human tongue to a fire, a fire that touches the whole body and inflames the whole cycle of life, as rash and thoughtless language embodies the sins and passions of the human condition. Hence he is referring to the sinful state of the human race and the role of the tongue (speech) as the most obvious outworking of our fallen condition. Ronald Ward in The New Bible Commentary: Revised says of the passage:
The tongue inflames the cycle of nature, i.e., "the wheel of genesis" (cf. on 1:23). We can dismiss doctrines of reincarnation from the exposition of the robust Jewish Christian James. He loosely uses a Hellenistic expression associated
with the Orphic mysteries and ultimately with Indian thought. It seems to mean here "course of life." Now the tongue is concerned with communication. Each speaker may be seen standing in the cycle or "circle" of humanity and setting it on fire with desire, suspicion, rivalry, hatred and war. (Ward's emphasis)1
Did the blind man live before? Last, there is the revealing passage in John 9:1-3 about the man born blind.
As he [Jesus] passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him."
The disciples were wrestling with the eternal question of seemingly unjust circumstances: a man with a severe birth defect lay at their feet. In probing Jesus as to the reason for these sad circumstances, they ask him what seems to be a double-barreled question, "Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
The implications of the first half of the question seem obvious enough within the context of reincarnationist speculation. As has been noted, rebirth doctrines were circulating in New Testament times, and the disciples, who were caught up in the spiritual whirlwind of speculation that surrounded Jesus, may well have considered theories of reincarnation. While it cannot be said with certainty that the disciples were referring to rebirth, it seems a likely explanation. How else could this man have "sinned," since he had been born blind?
The second half of the question centered on the Jewish concept that guilt was passed down several generations, and the possibility that the blind man was paying for his parents' or grandparents' transgressions.
Jesus' answer was direct and without hesitation: "It was not that this man sinned or his parents, but that the works of
God might be made manifest in him." Having said that, Jesus healed him and the man then glorified God and worshiped Jesus. If reincarnation was believed and taught by Jesus, this would have been the ideal opportunity to explain the doctrines of karma and reincarnation; yet with one sentence, Jesus apparently excluded reincarnation as a possible explanation.
In Luke's Gospel there is a similar passage which implicitly excludes karma and reincarnation as an explanation for seeming injustice in this life. Luke picks up the narrative and writes, "There were some present at that very time who told [Jesus] of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And [Jesus] answered them,
Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." (13:1-5).
Indeed, it is this biblical silence on the subject of reincarnation that is the real key to understanding the Christian attitude toward rebirth. While all the Eastern, gnostic and occult traditions enumerate karmic patterns and the destiny of rebirth with detail and precision, it is never mentioned in the Bible, which refers only to resurrection. Geddes MacGregor, distinguished professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Southern California, is a Christian who believes that a subdued or modified form of reincarnation can conceivably be grafted onto Christianity. But he too admits in his book Reincarnation in Christianity that "the Bible does not explicitly teach reincarnationism."2 Commenting further, he says, "Reincarnation was certainly not part of the principal ideological furniture of the Bible as it was of the literature of India that was the
heritage of Buddha."3 Furthermore, not only is reincarnation never mentioned in the Bible, but many biblical passages implicitly deny it.4
Reincarnation and the Early Church
Some modern reincarnationists suggest that the Bible does not explicitly teach reincarnation because the church in its historical development eliminated the teaching. Joseph Head and S.L. Cranston, in their anthology on rebirth titled Reincarnation: The Phoenix Fire Mystery, allege that "the New Testament was not recorded until long after Jesus died, and its books subsequently passed through the censoring hand of church councils. In the sixth and later centuries when the present Bible was decided on, a number of differing gospels existed. Those deemed unacceptable were destroyed."5
Did the original Bible get censored? The charge made by Head and Cranston is a common one, but it is based on an erroneous view of early Christianity. The debate about the date of the New Testament composition has now been largely resolved and laid to rest by the consensus of New Testament scholarship. The overwhelming majority of biblical scholars both liberal and conservative now date the writing of the entire New Testament in the latter half of the first century. John A.T. Robinson, a noted British scholar of liberal persuasion, believes that the New Testament canon was written by A.D. 70. Although most scholars would date the Gospel of John and the Revelation twenty years later, we may be quite certain that the entire New Testament was either written by eyewitnesses to Jesus' ministry or compiled from eyewitness accounts. Such origins strongly support the historical validity of the Scriptures, especially the four Gospels.
During the first and second centuries the Gospels and Epistles were widely disseminated among the Christian churches of the Mediterranean world. After a short time
there was considerable consensus about which writings were inspired and original and which were not. The criteria employed by the postapostolic church were three:
1. Apostolicity. Was the material written by an apostle? If not, did the writer (for example, Luke) have apostolic sanction? This sanction sometimes took the form of secondhand writing; that is, it may have been produced by an apostle's understudy, disciple or even an amanuensis (scribe).
2. Doctrinal orthodoxy. Did the writing contain the true teaching of the apostles? This could be determined quite easily through comparison with other apostolic writings and the oral tradition perpetuated in apostolic circles.
3. Public reading. Those documents which were consistently read as divine revelation in the majority of the churches in time came to be accepted as inspired. Thus by the end of the second century the canonical writings had gained widespread acceptance.6 From an early date they were often quoted side by side with the Old Testament as Scripture (see 2 Peter 3:16).
A "hammering out process" followed for some years, during which period questions were raised over a handful of books such as Hebrews, James, 3 John, Jude and Revelation. Some minor variations in the number of books used in the local congregations occurred as late as the fourth century, but nothing hinting of Gnostic teaching was allowed or used in the apostolic churches at any time.
Many other writings existed and were given careful consideration, and even some popular orthodox writings, such as The Didache and The Shepherd of Hermas, were eliminated. Most of the New Testament apocrypha (noncanonical writings and gospels) are still extant and readily available; they have recently been subjected to considerable critical scholarship. It has now been established that these apocryphal gospels, mostly Gnostic in origin, were written in the second and third centuries, usually as extrapolations from
or additions to the original four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Thus the New Testament apocrypha were all written one to two hundred years after the departure of Christ from the world and could not have been written by eyewitnesses, which is a severe blow to their credibility.
We may therefore rest assured that we have in our present canon an accurate portrayal of the life and teachings of Jesus as well as a trustworthy interpretation of his ministry by the apostles in their subsequent writings, the Epistles, since Christ tacitly made provision for the writing of the New Testament by giving his authority to the apostles (see Matthew 16:19). After the apostles died, the apostolic succession was handled with utmost care and a strong concern for the preservation of Christ's true teachings.
Was there an unwritten, secret teaching of Christ? The charge that the true esoteric doctrines of Christ have been suppressed is an old accusation which was first put forth by some of the Gnostic sects in the second century and was refuted at that time. The great apologist Irenaeus of Lyons, who was taught by Polycarp of Smyrna (a disciple of the apostle John), addressed this problem in Against Heresies about A.D. 190: "Even if the Apostles had known of hidden mysteries, which they taught to the 'perfect' secretly and apart from others, they would have handed them down, especially to those to whom they were entrusting the churches themselves."7
Nevertheless, two Theosophist writers state that the early Christians had freely held reincarnational views until certain church councils decided otherwise.
It was not until some five centuries after the origin of Christianity, when it had long been the state religion of Rome, that the belief in reincarnation was formally declared to be not according to orthodox dogma.8
Reincarnation was accepted by some of the church fathers and prevailed so widely in early Christendom that as late as the middle of the sixth century after Christ
it was necessary to convene a special Church Council in order finally to suppress it.9
The above writers refer to unnamed church councils, presumably presided over by elderly churchmen who, with a predisposition toward entrenched dogmatism, anathematized the doctrine of reincarnation. In fact, there was no such action at any church council in the entire first millennium: the subject was not even broached at the ecumenical councils. The only time a similar problem came up was in reference to the third-century theologian Origen, whose speculations concerning the pre-existence of the soul were anathematized at the Council of Constantinople in 553. However, Origen specifically denied reincarnation in his later writings (see page 46).
Reincarnation proponents sometimes fall into the trap of intellectual dishonesty before they realize it has closed over them: one cannot condemn the Bible as an edited compilation of the church fathers on the one hand, as Head and Cranston do, and then proceed to take portions of it out of context to prove rebirth theories on the other. If the church fathers had decided to extirpate reincarnation from the Bible, they would certainly have removed Jesus' statements about John the Baptist and Elijah. The argument that reincarnation is found in the Bible is sharply at odds with the parallel assertion of many reincarnationists that it was taken out of the Bible or anathematized at certain church councils. Reincarnationists cannot have it both ways.
Did the early church teach reincarnation? We have observed that reincarnationist teachings were woven into the spiritual fabric of the first- and second-century Hellenistic society in which the church was formed. This was due to earlier Platonic and Indian influence. A Buddhist king of India, Asoka, is said to have sent missionaries to the Mediterranean in the fourth century B.C.; and when this influence combined with Greek speculations, many mystery cults, as well as Gnosticism, flourished. Church historian
Kenneth Scott Latourette cites an example of such cultic teaching, which formed the spiritual milieu around the early church:
Various sects associated with the name of Orpheus held that matter and flesh are evil and that the soul of man must be free from contamination with them. They also taught that men are born and reborn, in each reincarnation imprisoned in the flesh and subject to those ills to which flesh is heir, unless the soul can be freed from the body. The separation accomplished, the soul would live forever in bliss. The emancipation was to be achieved through initiation into the cult, with cleanliness and asceticism.10
Confronted with such ideas, the early church persistently struggled to maintain its unique identity and teachings. Many gentile converts to the Christian faith had a subtle (or overt) mental preconditioning that was steeped in Greek philosophy, Gnosticism or mystery religions. Pagan converts often were influenced by the idea that the soul and body were in conflict with each other, leading to mystical speculations and practices, whereas Jewish thought had always perceived body and soul as a unity. As a result, Gentiles often had a difficult time with the Jewish heritage and Old Testament concepts that were pivotal to a correct understanding of Christianity. There is no question that these subtle influences crept into the church repeatedly and had to be dealt with. The apostle Paul concentrated on this problem in his letter to the Colossians as well as other New Testament epistles.
But did the Fathers themselves ever espouse reincarnation theories? Three in particular have been upheld as teaching such views: Justin Martyr, Origen and Jerome.
Justin Martyr. There are a number of statements made by contemporary reincarnationists about Justin Martyr (ca. 100-165), one of the church's first apologists. An anonymous British clergyman writes: "There is no doubt that
many of the Christian Fathers held to [reincarnation] or were more or less disposed to it. Justin Martyr expressly speaks of the soul inhabiting more than one human body, and says that souls which fail in their duty pass into grosser forms."11 The writer here takes his opinion from Justin's Dialogue with Trypho, issued about 155, some twenty years after his Disputation with Trypho the Jew, in which Justin had engaged shortly after his conversion. In this text, Justin and Trypho discuss transmigration at some length and conclude that it is not such a good idea:
Trypho: Therefore souls neither see God nor transmigrate into other bodies.
Justin: You speak the truth, I agree.12
Origen. The greatest debate on the subject of reincarnation in the early church has raged around Origen (185-254). Head and Cranston state categorically, "That Origen taught the pre-existence of the soul in past world orders of this earth and its reincarnation in future worlds is beyond question."13
One of the great thinkers of early Christianity, Origen won by his speculative brilliance both admirers and antagonists within the church. Strongly influenced by Greek philosophy, Origen (at least in his earlier works) did teach the doctrine of pre-existence of the soul, that is, that humans were formerly angelic creatures whose good or bad deeds in the heavens resulted in a favorable or not-so favorable birth on earth. His writings on pre-existence, however, specifically denied transmigration after the initial incarnation of the soul. Even many Christian scholars are unsure as to whether or not Origen held to reincarnation, but it would seem that they have simply not read Origen thoroughly on this subject. In his commentary on Matthew, he directly considers this under the title "Relation of John the Baptist to Elijah the Theory of Transmigration Considered":
In this place, it does not appear to me that by Elijah the soul is spoken of, lest I should fall into the dogma
of transmigration, which is foreign to the Church of God and not handed down by the Apostles, nor anywhere set forth in the Scriptures. For observe, [Matthew] did not say, in the "soul" of Elijah, in which case the doctrine of transmigration might have some ground, but "in the spirit and power of Elijah."14
In another place he says, "Let others who are strangers to the doctrine of the Church, assume that souls pass from the bodies of men into the bodies of dogs. We do not find this at all in the Divine Scriptures."15 His commentary on Matthew was written toward the end of his life (about 247), when he was over sixty years of age, and it most likely records his final opinions on the subject. His comments on John the Baptist and Elijah are followed by a lengthy refutation of the doctrine of transmigration.
Jerome. It is alleged that Jerome, a fourth-century saint and noted linguist, also promoted reincarnation. David Christie-Murray, in his book Reincarnation: Ancient Beliefs and Modern Evidence, asserts that "St. Jerome is supposed to have supported reincarnation in his 'Letter to Avitus' and that the doctrine was propounded among early Christians as an esoteric doctrine. Jerome was also a translator and admirer of Origen."16
Actually Jerome's letter to Avitus severely criticizes Origen for his Platonic ideas and nowhere condones the teaching of reincarnation. In his Letter to Demetrius he also refutes Origen's teaching on pre-existence, calling Origen's literary perambulations "a fountainhead of gross impiety."
Other notable Fathers. A number of other early Christian writers, indulging in the sarcasm and polemics common at that time, commented on transmigration. Irenaeus devoted the entirety of chapter thirty-three of Against Heresies to transmigration; his chapter title sets the tone: "Absurdity of the Doctrine of Transmigration of Souls."
Tertullian, the brilliant theologian and lawyer from Carthage, writing in his Apology, traces the doctrine of reincarnation
to Pythagoras (ca. 450 B.C.) and opines that "the doctrine of transmigration is a falsehood which is not only shameful, but also hazardous. It is indeed manifest that dead men are formed from living ones; but it does not follow from that, that living men are formed from dead ones."17
Writing about "the fabulous doctrines of the heathen," Gregory of Nyssa (335-95), one of the most original thinkers of the young church, says:
They tell us that one of their sages said that he, being one and the same person, was born a man, and afterwards assumed the form of a woman, and flew about with the birds, and grew as a bush, and obtained the life of an aquatic creature. And he who said these things of himself did not, so far as I can judge, go far from the truth: for such doctrines as this, saying that one soul passed through so many changes, are really fitting for the chatter of frogs and jackdaws, the stupidity of fishes, or the insensibility of trees.18
The heart of the matter seems to be that reincarnation was never much of a problem or issue in the early church. Even Augustine, despite the fact that he was a Manichaean Gnostic for nine years before his conversion and was well versed in Platonic thought, only mentions reincarnation in passing. In his letter to Optatus, he writes, "For it is impossible that you should hold the opinion that it is for deeds in a former life that souls are confined in earthly and mortal bodies."19
Other Christian writers such as Lactantius and Minucius Felix also mention and condemn transmigration. While it was occasionally addressed, no extant literature from the early ecumenical councils indicates that it was ever an issue for early Christianity. Although taught by a variety of non-Christian thinkers like the Neo-Platonists, reincarnation never was a part of the early church. Origen's theories on pre-existence might have easily developed into a full-blown
incorporation of transmigratory speculations, but it seems that his teachings on this subject were never given serious credence.
One of the chief reasons for the early Christians' resistance to reincarnation was that the first-century church was rooted in the thought of Judaism, which had never embraced any systematic rebirth formulations. As MacGregor notes, "Though the Christian hope of resurrection is specifically allied to belief in the resurrection of Christ, the way had already been prepared for the resurrection idea by its development in late pre-Christian Jewish thought."20
The Kingdom of God
The message of Jesus as proclaimed in the Gospels can be summed up in four words: the kingdom of God. This phrase, or variations of it such as "kingdom of heaven" or simply "the kingdom," occurs seventy-four times in the four gospels. The use of this phrase within the context of the Old Testament, first-century Judaism and the rest of the New Testament meant that God's rule would end the present worldly system of oppression, suffering, evil and chaos. The kingdom of God was to be a restoration of the fallen world, a miraculous transformation achieved by the appearance and action of God in short, the end of the world as we know it. Jewish apocalyptic literature was in full flower at this time, pointing to the hope of the coming of the Messiah. Jesus made it very clear that his appearance was the long-awaited inbreaking of God's redemption and that he was the Messiah, who had come not to establish an earthly kingdom with its capital in Jerusalem, but to establish God's spiritual kingdom by conquering sin and death through his death and resurrection. The Jewish religious establishment did not understand this, and so they crucified him for blasphemy, since he had proclaimed himself equal to God; they never thought he would rise from the dead to vindicate his claims.
When Jesus rose on the first Easter Sunday, evil had been conquered on the cross and God's "beachhead" in the world had been established. Oscar Cullmann has observed that the resurrection was comparable to D-Day at Normandy in 1944; V-Day will occur when Jesus returns in the glory of the clouds to judge the world and restore the kingdom of God in fullness. Thus the early church had no concept of eternal cycles where good and evil would wax and wane. They thought in linear terms; the fallen status quo would be done away with forever at Christ's Second Coming.
Because of this, the real attitude of the early church toward reincarnation was not so much hostility as it was apathy. To the average Christian, reincarnation if it was ever discussed was fundamentally irrelevant. As MacGregor points out: "In Christian thought, reincarnation might [hypothetically] have occurred in the past; it could not occur in this world in the future, since there was to be no such world."21
This feeling was connected with the early church's hope that the end was at hand and that the Lord's Second Coming was imminent. But even apart from the Lord's immediate return, the Christian hope of joyous resurrection to eternal life seemed far superior to the notion of rebirth. These early Christians understood that death, the final enemy, had been conquered through the sacrificial death and victorious resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and that the judgment of the wicked would be accomplished once and for all at the Great White Throne (Rev 20:11). Christians then as now looked forward to an existence in a new life with God for eternity, where worship, joy, knowledge and spiritual growth would be a permanent state of affairs. Jesus had said, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die" (John 11:25-26). The Christian church fully understood this; hence the concept of reincarnation was as useful to them as a trap door in the bottom of a rowboat.
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1. Ronald A. Ward, "James," ed. D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer, A.M. Stibbs, O.J. Wiseman, The New Bible Commentary: Revised (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), p.1230.
2. Geddes MacGregor, Reincarnation in Christianity (Wheaton, Ill.: Quest Books, 1978), p.16.
3. Ibid., p.42
4. Among the biblical passages which implicitly deny reincarnation are the following: 2 Sam 12:23; 14:14; Ps 78:39; Lk 23:39-43; Acts 17:31; 2 Cor 5:1, 4, 8; 6:2; Gal 2:16; 3:10-13; Eph 2:8-9; Phil 1:23; Heb 9:27; 10:12-14 and Rev 20:11-15.
5. Head and Cranston, Phoenix Fire Mystery, p.134.
6. Irenaeus' list (ca. 190) attests to the widespread acceptance of the New Testament canon by the end of the second century. His list was almost identical to our present canon.
7. C.C. Richardson, ed., Early Christian Fathers (New York: Macmillan, 1970), pp.371-72.
8. Winner, Basic Ideas, p.56.
9. Wright, Reincarnation, p.67.
10. Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christianity (New York: Harper & Row, 1953), p.24.
11. Reincarnation and Christianity (London: Wm. Rider and Son, 1909), p.51.
12. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, trans. Thomas Falls (New York: Christian heritage Press, 1948), p. 155.
13. Head and Cranston, Phoenix Fire Mystery, p.145.
14. Allan Menzies, ed., The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 10 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), pp. 474-75.
15. Ibid., p. 447.
16. David Christie-Murray, Reincarnation: Ancient Beliefs and Modern Evidence (London: David and Charles, 1981), p. 59.
17. Philip Schaff, ed., Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, vol. 4 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), p.209.
18. Schaff and Wace, ed., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, vol. 5 (Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1979), p.419.
19. Ibid., p.283.
20. MacGregor, Reincarnation in Christianity, p.91.
21. Ibid., p.94.
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