Categories
Past Lives of Jesus Reincarnation

Melchizedek as a Past Life of Jesus Christ

Another incarnation of Jesus is the Old Testament figure known as Melchizedek, the High Priest and King of Salem. It is clear from the Book of Hebrews that Melchizedek was not an ordinary man, assuming he even was a man. A careful examination of the evidence concerning the existence of Melchizedek reveals him to be a previous reincarnation of Jesus. There are strong parallels between Melchizedek and Jesus: both are the Son of God, priest of the Order of Melchizedek, King of Righteous, King of Peace, the Messiah, appointed by God, eternal priesthood, and pre-existent. Besides the Biblical evidence, there exists evidence from the discoveries of early Christian texts in 1945 and the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. There is also extra-Biblical revelations that support this Melchizedek-Jesus connection.

Table of Contents

  1. Identical Characteristics of Melchizedek and Jesus
    a. Identical Sonship: Son of God
    b. Identical Order of High Priesthood: Melchizedek
    c. Identical Symbol of Rule: King of Righteousness
    d. Identical Right to Rule: Appointed by God
    e. Identical Title: King of Peace
    f. Identical Term of Priesthood: Eternal
    g. Identical in Likeness: Priest
    h. Identical Age: Pre-Existent
    i. Identical Association with: Abraham
    j. Identical Use of Ritualistic Symbols: Bread and Wine
    k. Identical Title: Anointed One, the Messiah
  2. Christian Gnosticism Affirms Jesus to be Melchizedek Reincarnated
  3. Dead Sea Scrolls Revealed the Messiah to be a Reincarnation of Melchizedek
  4. NDEs of Edgar Cayce Reveals Jesus to be Melchizedek Reincarnated

1. Identical Characteristics of Melchizedek and Jesus

a. Identical Sonship: Son of God

In the Bible, the only individuals who have the title of the “Son of God” are Jesus, Adam and Melchizedek:

ADAM: “…the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.” (Luke 3:38)
MELCHIZEDEK: “Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:3)
JESUS: “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1)

The Bible also states that Melchizedek was made in the image or likeness of the Son of God. This could be taken as the image of the son of God (the second in the trinity) or as the image of the begotten son of God, when the Lord took on a fleshly body. But they are one and the same:

JESUS: “…the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

JESUS: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:6)

Note: The word “order” is translated into Greek as “aphomoioo” which means: (a) a facsimile, (b) an exact copy or exact reproduction, (c) a duplicate.

JESUS: “And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears.” (Hebrews 7:15)

Note: The phrase “another priest like” is translated into Greek as “kata ten homoioteta” which means: (a) in every respect, (b) after the similitude of, (c) according to the likeness of, (d) a thing so like another as to be indistinguishable from it.

b. Identical Order of High Priesthood: Melchizedek

Melchizedek and Jesus have identical priesthoods.

MELCHIZEDEK: “He was priest of God Most High.” (Genesis 14:18)

MESSIAH: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4)

JESUS: “You are a priest forever, in the order [facsimile] of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:6)

Note: The word “facsimile” translated into Greek means: (a) an exact copy or exact reproduction, (b) duplicate.

Notice how Paul described a deep mystery concerning Jesus and Melchizedek but is reluctant to tell the uninitiated who are not ready for it:

MELCHIZEDEK and JESUS: “[Jesus] was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:10-14)

Paul indicates the Priest(s) of Order of Melchizedek were to last forever and that the system of priests through the Tribe of Levi would eventually come to an end. These men were chosen by God for the office. They would give sacrifices to God which symbolically atoned, or paid for the people’s sins. We see this principle at work very early in the story of Job:

MELCHIZEDEK: “After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.’ So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.” (Job 42:7-9)

c. Identical Symbol of Rule: King of Righteousness

Melchizedek as the King of Righteousness:

MELCHIZEDEK: “To whom Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being by interpretation King of Righteousness and after that also King of Salem, which is King of Peace. (Hebrews 7:2)

The Messiah as the King of Righteousness:

MESSIAH: “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” (Jeremiah 23:5)

Melchizedek, as the King of Righteousness, fulfilled this scepter promise:

MELCHIZEDEK: The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.” (Genesis 49:10)

Jesus, as the King of Righteousness, fulfilled this scepter promise:

JESUS: “But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8)

d. Identical Right to Rule: Appointed by God

Jesus and Melchizedek’s priesthoods are similar because they did not depend upon genealogy as the Aaronic priesthood did. The human lineage of Jesus was from Judah – a tribe that Moses did not associate with the priesthood.

JESUS: “For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.” (Hebrews 7:14)

Jesus Christ is a priest after the order of Melchizedek, not because he came from the right line, but because he comes as one who has indestructible life – the only one who can be an eternal priest! The priesthood of both is a royal priesthood. The priesthood of both is based on personality, not legality. Both are universal priesthoods for Gentile and Jew because the priesthood of Melchizedek was before the Law was given. Melchizedek illustrates an eternal priesthood of which the Jesus is the reality.

e. Identical Title: King of Peace

Melchizedek and Jesus are the Kings of Peace.

MELCHIZEDEK: “First, his name means “King of Righteousness”; then also, “King of Salem” means “King of Peace.” (Hebrews 7:2)

JESUS: “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Melchizedek is the “King of Peace” and Jesus is the “Prince of Peace.” Who could be King of Peace over Jesus?

f. Identical Term of Priesthood: Eternal

Melchizedek and Jesus are eternal priests.

MELCHIZEDEK and JESUS: “…like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:3)

MELCHIZEDEK and JESUS: “You [Jesus] are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:6)

Melchizedek and Jesus are priests forever with an unchangeable priesthood. This indicates they are the same priest – just different times.

g. Identical in Likeness: Priest

Melchizedek and Jesus are priests of God:

MELCHIZEDEK: “He was priest of God Most High.” (Genesis 14:18)

JESUS: “And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come.” (Hebrews 7:15-16)

Note: The translation of the word “likeness” into Greek is “homoios” which means: (a) after the similitude of. Therefore, Hebrews 7:15-16 does not mean Jesus is “similar to Melchizedek.” In context, it means Jesus IS Melchizedek. The proof of this can be found in another Bible verse where the word “equality” in Greek used for “likeness”:

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:6-7)

Point #1: Jesus was a human being:

“The Word became flesh.” (John 1:14)

Point #2: Jesus had a human nature:

“The gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David.” (Romans 1:2-4)

Conclusion:

(1) Jesus was more than just the likeness of Melchizedek.

(2) Jesus was Melchizedek.

Why would Jesus be compared to Melchizedek if his status was not equal to or greater than Jesus? He certainly would not be compared to anyone lesser than himself. This suggests that both Melchizedek and Jesus were of the same nature and of similar purpose and, therefore, the same person.

h. Identical Age: Pre-Existent

Melchizedek, the Messiah and Jesus are described as pre-existent (i.e. they existed before birth):

MELCHIZEDEK: “Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:3)

MESSIAH: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)

MESSIAH: “The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began. When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water … Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.” (Proverbs 8:22-31)

JESUS: “‘Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.’ ‘You are not yet fifty years old,’ the Jews said to him, ‘and you have seen Abraham?’ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!'” (John 8:56-59)

JESUS: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1-2) “He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.” (Revelation 19:13)

i. Identical Association with: Abraham

Both Melchizedek and Jesus were both associated with Abraham:

MELCHIZEDEK: Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abraham, saying, ‘Blessed be Abraham by God Most High, Creator of heaven and Earth.’ (Genesis 14:18-19)

JESUS: “‘Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.’ ‘You are not yet fifty years old,’ the Jews said to him, ‘and you have seen Abraham?’ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!'” (John 8:56-59)

Melchizedek and Jesus are one spirit who incarnated many times and who transcended death. They could enter and leave the world at will without having to go through birth and death.

JESUS: “Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.” (Hebrews 7:23)

j. Identical Use of Ritualistic Symbols: Bread and Wine

Melchizedek’s offering of bread and wine to Abraham is the first incidence where bread and wine appear in the Scripture. Melchizedek provided a priesthood which gave the symbols of bread and wine. Jesus also provided a priesthood which gave the symbols of bread and wine:

MELCHIZEDEK: “And Melchizedek King of Salem brought forth bread and wine…” (Genesis 14:18)

JESUS: “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:26-29)

JESUS: “I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.’ ‘Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ ‘Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:48-59)

k. Identical Title: Anointed One, the Messiah

The Messiah is the “anointed one”:

MESSIAH and JESUS: “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” (Psalm 45:6-7; Hebrews 1:8-9)

The Messiah and Melchizedek, by extension, are “anointed ones” priests of the Most High:

MESSIAH and MELCHIZEDEK: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You [the Messiah] are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'” (Psalm 110:4)

Jesus is the “anointed one:”

JESUS: “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the Earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his anointed one.” (Acts 4:25-26)

Note: The word “anointed” is translated into Greek as “chrio” which means: to contact between the one being anointed and the one doing the anointing. The Greek word “Christos” which is translated as “Christ” is derived from the Greek word “chrio”.

2. Christian Gnosticism Affirms Jesus to be Melchizedek Reincarnated

On December, 1945, in Upper Egypt, ancient texts revealing that the early Christians and Jews believed that Melchizedek was a previous reincarnation of Jesus the Messiah.

These long lost texts were discovered by an Arab peasant was digging in the ground in search of fertilizer when he discovered large jars containing books which have been buried since around 390 A.D. These books where hidden by monks from a nearby monastery to escape destruction under the order of the emerging orthodox Church in its violent expunging of all heresy. These texts were one of the greatest archaeological discovery ever discovered. It was only eclipsed by the Dead Sea Scroll discovery in Israel two years later in 1947. It is a strange coincidence that these ancient discoveries containing valuable information of early Jewish and Christian theology and history should appear around the same time.

This immensely important discovery in Egypt includes a large number of Christian Gnostic scriptures — texts once thought to have been entirely destroyed. Some of the scriptures discovered were the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Truth.

One of the Christian Gnostic texts discovered is entitled “Melchizedek“. The following quote is from this text. […] indicates missing fragments or illegible wording.

“And you crucified me from the third hour of the Sabbath – eve until the ninth hour. And after these things I arose from the dead. My body came out of the tomb to me. […] They did not find anyone greeted me […] They said to me, Be strong, Melchizedek, great High Priest of God Most High” (Melchizedek)

There is little doubt that this quote attributed to Melchizedek refers to him being crucified and resurrected. Commenting on the above text, noted authority Birger A. Pearson states:

“Furthermore, the tractate’s apparent identification of Melchizedek with Jesus Christ … is also documented elsewhere in early Christianity, particularly in Egypt. We are drawn to the conclusion that, in the revelation which the priest Melchizedek has received, he has seen that he himself will have a redemptive role to play as the suffering, dying, resurrected and triumphant Savior, Jesus Christ! … From what we read … it seems that the victory of Jesus Christ is the victory of Melchizedek and that, in fact, they are one and the same. I did and do understand the text of the first tractate to imply that Melchizedek was prophesied to return again, as Jesus.”

3. Dead Sea Scrolls Revealed the Messiah to be a Reincarnation of Melchizedek

In 1947, scrolls from the Jewish Essenes were discovered which affirmed that they believed Melchizedek would reincarnate as the Messiah.

These ancient scrolls of profound importance were discovered by young Bedouin shepherds, searching for a stray goat around the Dead Sea in Israel entered an undiscovered cave and found jars filled with ancient scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls were scrolls from a monastic group known as the Essenes, dated to be about two thousand years old. The Essenes were an apocalyptic Jewish sect who withdrew from society and established a monastery on the shores of the Dead Sea. It is believed that sometime during the Roman-Jewish war of 66-70 A.D. the Essenes hid their sacred writings.

The Essenes believed in the doctrine of pre-existence and reincarnation and appeared to have been influenced by Gnosticism. The Dead Sea Scrolls prove that the Jewish mystical tradition of divine union went back to the first, perhaps even the third, century B.C.

Biblical scholars were not disturbed by what they found in the Dead Sea Scrolls because they had known all along that the origin of Christianity was not what was commonly supposed to have been.

The first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus stated that the Pharisees were believers in reincarnation. Josephus has several long passages dealing with the reincarnation beliefs of both the Essenes and the Pharisees. Josephus writes that the Jews in their secret or esoteric doctrines called the Kabbalah taught reincarnation openly.

The caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found yielded a series of thirteen fragments on Melchizedek which identifies Melchizedek as the one who will carry out the vengeance of God’s judgments and the one who delivers the people from the hand of Belial and the spirits of his lot.

The belief that Melchizedek was the Messiah was a strongly held conviction among the Qumran community, as well as among some other Jewish and Gnostic sects in the first century A.D. This becomes apparent in the text entitled “The Last Jubilee” (Dead Sea Scroll: 11Q13, Column 2) about the coming of Melchizedek as the Messiah.

“The Last Jubilee” is a sermon within the “Melchizedek Texts” (also known as “I IQ Melchizedek Text” or ” I I Q Melchizedek”). The following is a summary of this sermon:

The Last Jubilee text refers in messianic terms to a future King of Righteousness. In the text, this King of Righteousness is described as passing judgment on Belial [Satan] and his followers. After the judgment in heaven comes the destruction of those who have followed Belial rather than God. The text states that “the one designed, by God’s favor, for the King of Righteousness (which is what, by his very name, Melchizedek prefigures) will come into his dominion.” The time of his coming “into his dominion” is identified as the period which Isaiah termed the year of favor or “acceptable year of the Lord” (“The Last Jubilee“)

The Biblical reference for this can be found in Isaiah 61:1-2:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted, he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn …” (Isaiah 61:1-2)

Jesus made his first appearance in Nazareth and spoke at the synagogue there, and the Book of Isaiah was handed to him. Luke 4:17-19 records that he then found and read the two verses quoted above but stopped after the phrase “acceptable year of the Lord.” Bible scholars concluded that by suspending reading without referring to God’s day of vengeance, Jesus was distinguishing between his present ministry of grace and the second advent when he would carry out God’s judgments. On the other hand, his stopping after that phrase may have been for the purpose of emphasis, for it truly was the “year of the Lord.”

After Jesus had concluded his reading, verse 21 adds:

“And he began to say unto them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.'” (Luke 4:21)

Thus in Luke 4:21, Jesus seems to identify himself as the one promised by Isaiah “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” when he said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And the Melchizedek Texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls identify Melchizedek as the person who will fulfill that prophecy.

In the text “Commentary on the Book of Habakkuk,” the “Teacher of Righteousness” is referred to as one “to whom God has made known all the mysteries of His servants the prophets.” This Teacher of Righteousness was expected to return and usher in the Messianic Age and according to Jewish tradition to be Elijah or Phinehas or Melchizedek.

At least one respected Dead Sea Scroll authority stated that Jesus in these documents “appears in many respects as an astonishing reincarnation of the Teacher of Righteousness.”

The Qumran “Melchizedek Texts” contain several comments which seem clearly to identify the so-called “King of Righteousness,” a title referring to Melchizedek, as the promised Messiah. They discuss the role of this future King in overthrowing Belial and executing God’s avenging judgment and clearly state that this King will be “Melchizedek redivivus” (reincarnated). One scholar has summarized the document thusly:

“In this fragment, written in Hebrew, Melchizedek appears as an eschatological savior who has a heritage. His mission is to bring back at the end of days the exiles to announce to them their liberation … and the expiation of their sins.” (Melchizedek)

4. NDEs of Edgar Cayce Reveals Jesus to be Melchizedek Reincarnated

Edgar Cayce received volumes of information from his near-death experiences from a heavenly so-called “Hall of Records.” Much of the revelations he received concerned Jesus and his many incarnations including Adam and Melchizedek. Cayce received these revelations years before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Gnostic find. These discoveries agree with the Cayce revelations concerning Adam, Melchizedek and Jesus.

This parallel between Melchizedek and other incarnations from the ancient Christian Gnostic texts also supports the Cayce revelations that Enoch and Melchizedek were the same spirit. Cayce also provided the interesting revelation that the Dead Sea Essenes grew out of the teachings of Melchizedek as propagated by prophets, such as Elijah, Elisha, and Samuel. Cayce also identified Melchizedek as a previous incarnation of Jesus.

According to Cayce, it was necessary that the very advanced spirit of Melchizedek reincarnate in order to reach Christhood as Jesus. The Cayce revelations show us why the Master spirit again incarnated after the experience as Melchizedek:

“The Christ spirit incarnated as Adam, Enoch, Melchizedek, then took on flesh to teach and lead. After several more incarnations such as Joseph (prince of Egypt), the Christ spirit realized it was necessary to set a pattern for humanity and to show the way back to God. Thus, the Master spirit assumed the mission of through his final incarnation as Jesus. By resurrecting his body, he made the Jesus-Melchizedek priesthood eternal.” (Edgar Cayce)

This priesthood, according to the Encyclopedia Judaica‘s interpretation of Hebrews, “is excellent, superior to that of Abraham’s descent, and transcends all human, imperfect orders.”

In view of such evidence found in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, the Christian Gnostic texts, the Dead Sea Scrolls and extra-Biblical sources such as Cayce, the early Christian veneration of Melchizedek and the rich Messianic tradition about him, Christians should in no way find it demeaning to link the soul of Melchizedek with that of Jesus. Certainly both individuals were important instruments of God, and each life marks an historic step in the spiritual evolution of humanity.

Categories
Past Lives of Jesus Reincarnation

Joshua as a Past Life of Jesus Christ

According to the Book of Exodus and the Book of Numbers, the Biblical character named Joshua is mentioned in a few passages as Moses’ assistant. Joshua is the central character in the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Joshua who became the leader of the Israelite tribes after the death of Moses. According to Bible Chronology, Joshua lived between 1500-1390 BCE, or sometime in the late Bronze Age. There several identical characteristics between Joshua and Jesus including: having the same name Hebrew name “Yehoshua” which means “Yahweh is salvation,” having the same role as leader of Israel, having the same mission of peace, having the same number of appointed men (twelve), and having the same representations of twelve stones for the appointed twelve.

Table of Contents

  1. Identical Name: Yehoshua, “Yahweh is Salvation”
  2. Identical Roles: Leader of Israel
  3. Identical Mission: Peace
  4. Identical Number of Appointed Men: Twelve
  5. Identical Representations: Twelve Stones
  6. Edgar Cayce’s View of Joshua as a Previous Incarnation of Jesus

1. Identical Name: Yehoshua, “Yahweh is Salvation”

The English name “Joshua” is a rendering of the Hebrew language “Yehoshua”, meaning “Yahweh is salvation”. The vocalization of the second name component may be read as Hoshea – the name used in the Torah before Moses added the divine name (Numbers 13:16). “Jesus” is the English of the Greek transliteration of “Yehoshua” via Latin. In the Septuagint, all instances of the word “Yehoshua” are rendered as “Iesous” which is the closest Greek pronunciation of the Aramaic “Yeshua” (Nehemiah 8:17). Thus in Greek Joshua is called “Jesus son of Nun” to differentiate him from Jesus Christ.

Note that “Joshua”, “Jeshua”, and “Jesus” are really the same name. That is, the name “Jesus” is a Latinization of the Aramaic Jeshua or Yeshua, which is in turn taken from the Hebrew Yehoshua, or Joshua. Thus, Jesus was named after the Old Testament hero.

2. Identical Roles: Leader of Israel

JOSHUA: “Because of you the Lord became angry with me also and said, “You shall not enter it, either. But your assistant, Joshua son of Nun, will enter it. Encourage him, because he will lead Israel to inherit it.” (Deuteronomy 1:37-38)

JESUS: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.‘” (Matthew 2:6)

3. Identical Mission: Peace

JOSHUA: “The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.” (Joshua 9:14-15)

JESUS: “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

4. Identical Number of Appointed Men: Twelve

a. Joshua appointed twelve men from each tribe:

“So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites.” (Joshua 4:4)

b. Jesus appointed twelve apostles:

“These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.” (Mark 3:16-19)

c. Jesus twelve apostles will judge the twelve tribes of Israel:

“Jesus said to them [twelve apostles], “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matthew 19:28)

d. Considering how families and friends tend to reincarnate together, perhaps the twelve apostles were reincarnations of the twelve rulers of the tribes of Israel.

5. Identical Representations: Twelve Stones

a. Joshua choose twelve men from each tribe and represented each one by a gemstone:

“The Lord said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.” (Joshua 4:1-3).

Israel’s Twelve Tribal Leaders: “In the first row there shall be a ruby, a topaz and a beryl; in the second row a turquoise, a sapphire and an emerald; in the third row a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst; in the fourth row a chrysolite, an onyx and a jasper. Mount them in gold filigree settings. There are to be twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.” (Exodus 28:17-21).

1. Ruby2. Topaz3. Beryl
4. Turquoise5. Sapphire6. Emerald
7. Jacinth8. Agate9. Amethyst
10. Chrysolite11. Onyx12. Jasper
Gemstones in the Book of Exodus of the Twelve Tribes of Israel

b. Jesus choose 12 apostles with each apostle represented by a gemstone in the Book of Revelation:

“It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb … “The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.” (Revelation 21:12-20)

1. Jasper2. Sapphire3. Chalcendony (Agate)
4. Emerald5. Sardonyx (Onyx)6. Carnelian (Ruby)
7. Chrysolite8. Beryl9. Topaz
10. Turquoise11. Jacinth12. Amethyst
Gemstones in the Book of Revelation of the Twelve Apostles

c. The types of gemstones representing the 12 tribal leaders of Israel are the same as the 12 gemstones representing the 12 apostles but in different order:

If the top half of the matrix of the 12 tribal leaders is rotated by 180 degrees, and the bottom half turned upside down, with Onyx additionally swapping places with Topaz, the lists become extremely similar with only four differences. See this Wikipedia article.

6. Edgar Cayce’s View of Joshua as a Previous Incarnation of Jesus

Note that the Greek names for “Joshua”, “Jeshua”, and “Jesus” are really the same name. The name “Jesus” is a Latinization of the Aramaic “Jeshua” or “Yeshua,” which is in turn taken from the Hebrew “Yehoshua,” or Joshua. Jesus was named after the Old Testament hero Joshua. Edgar Cayce assigned the soul-entity of Jesus to the same name for three separate incarnations: Joshua, Jeshua, and Jesus. Cayce elsewhere reports that Jesus was registered by his Essene school under the name of “Jeshua” [Cayce Reading 2067-7].

The ides of Jesus as a reincarnation of Joshua is more difficult to account for given Joshua’s genocidal tendencies in securing a nation for the Israelites. In Glenn Sandurfur’s book entitled, “Lives of the Master: The Rest of the Jesus Story,” (page 110), he makes an interesting observation that the lives of Jesus and Joshua followed remarkably similar paths geographically: including memorable stops at Jericho/the Jordan, Hazor/Capernaum, and Aijalon/Emmaus. But unlike Joshua, Jesus did not fear entering the city of Jerusalem. Sandurfur’s explanation is that Jesus met his previous karma by healing people in those very places where Joshua had killed.

Cayce viewed Joshua as a member of a family who produced many spiritual teachers [Cayce Reading 1737]; and also as the scribe named Jeshua, who psychically dictated much of the material from the books traditionally attributed to Moses [Cayce Reading 5023-2]. This explains how Moses could have managed to include such details as the creation of the universe and his own death. The readings give little information about Asaph, the music director and seer who served under David and Solomon and who authored Psalms 50, and Psalms 73 through 83. Jeshua, the high priest who helped organize the return from exile and the rebuilding of Solomon’s Temple (as recounted in the Book of Ezra and the Book of Nehemiah) is claimed by Cayce to have compiled and translated the books of the Bible [Cayce Reading 5023-2]. If these characters, as Cayce describes them, have anything in common, it is their role as psychic revelators. In line with his speculations about Jesus’ fulfillment of Joshua’s karma. Glenn Sandurfur (Lives of the Master, p. 129) notes that whereas Jeshua made a point of rejecting Samaritan generosity (towards the rebuilding of the temple). Jesus centered a parable around it.

Categories
Past Lives of Jesus Reincarnation

Joseph as a Past Life of Jesus Christ

Another past life of Jesus apparently is Joseph, the son of Jacob and Rachel in the Old Testament. Joseph is an important figure in the Book of Genesis and also in Islam’s Quran. Joseph’s father was Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. Jacob fathered twelve sons from whom have sprung the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Because of this, Jacob’s name was later changed to Israel. Joseph was Rachel’s firstborn and Jacob’s eleventh son. Of all the sons, Joseph was preferred by his father, and this is represented by a “long coat of many colors.” When Joseph was seventeen years old he had two dreams that made his brothers plot his demise. In the first dream, Joseph and his brothers gathered bundles of grain, of which those his brothers gathered, bowed to his own. In the second dream, the sun (father), the moon (mother), and eleven stars (brothers) bowed to Joseph himself. These dreams, implying Joseph’s supremacy, angered his brothers who sold him into slavery. But Joseph rose to become the second most powerful man in Egypt next to Pharaoh, where his presence and office caused Israel to leave Canaan and settle in Egypt. Joseph, the Hebrew Prince of Egypt, has some of the most interesting parallels to the life of Jesus suggesting Joseph was a previous incarnation of Jesus. In Judaism, the Messiah was thought of as the “son of Joseph” (Messiah ben Joseph) as well the “son of David” (Messiah ben David).

Jewish tradition actually alludes to four messianic figures. Called the “Four Craftsmen” discussed in the Babylonian Talmud, each will be involved in ushering in the Messianic age. They are mentioned in the Talmud and the Book of Zechariah (Zechariah 2:1-17). Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (aka “Rashi”) in his commentary on the Talmud gives more details. His commentaries which covers nearly all of the Babylonian Talmud has been included in every edition of the Talmud since its first printing. Rashi explains that Messiah ben Joseph is called a craftsman because he will help rebuild the temple. Nahmanides also commented on Messiah ben Joseph’s rebuilding of the temple.The roles of the Four Craftsmen are as follows. Elijah will be the herald of Jewish eschatology. If necessary, Messiah ben Joseph will wage war against the evil forces and die in combat with the enemies of God and Israel. According to Saadia Gaon the need for his appearance will depend on the spiritual condition of the Jewish people. In the Sefer Zerubbabel and later writings, after his death a period of great calamities will befall Israel. God will then “resurrect the dead” and usher in the Messianic Era of universal peace. Messiah ben David will reign as a Jewish king during the period when God will resurrect the dead. With the ascendancy of Rabbinic Judaism the Righteous Priest (Melchizedek) has largely not been the subject of Jewish messianic speculation. Most Jews believe that the Third Temple will be built during this era.

Table of Contents

  1. Parallels Between the Lives of Joseph and Jesus
  2. Scriptural Comparisons Between Joseph and Jesus
  3. Edgar Cayce Affirmed Joseph and Jesus were Different Incarnations of the Same Soul

1. Parallels Between the Lives of Joseph and Jesus

The following are the amazing parallels between Joseph and Jesus which suggests a karmic link between them and another past life connection of Jesus.

Jesus and Joseph were both born through miracles. Jesus through the virgin birth (Matthew 1:18-23) and Joseph through Rachel’s barren womb which was opened by God (Genesis 30:22-24).

Joseph’s father loved him more than his brothers. Jesus is the beloved son and preferred one of the Father.

Both are described in the Bible to be very pious men who received revelations from God. The Bible records no sin in the life of either Joseph or Jesus.

Jesus and Joseph both went to Egypt in their youth. Both began their life’s work at the age of thirty (Genesis 41:46, Luke 3:23). This parallel was noted by Origen in his Homilies on Genesis (II,5).

The course of the lives of Joseph and Jesus were dramatically changed by the power of dreams. Joseph became an interpreter of his own dreams and the dreams of others which he used to save everyone’s life including his own. It was also a dream which led Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, to flee Israel for their lives to Egypt. In the same way, it was a dream of Joseph while acting as prince of Egypt which led his family out of Israel and into Egypt. After the danger was over, God called both Joseph’s family and Jesus’ family out of Egypt and back to Israel as an act of salvation. (Hosea 11:1 and Matthew 2:15).

Joseph and Jesus were hated because of their greatness. Joseph had a dream which made it clear that he would rule over his brothers some day and for this they hated him:

“Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it. His brothers said to him, Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us? And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.'” (Genesis 37:5-8)

Jesus encountered the same reaction from his brothers and everyone in town. After preaching in his own hometown, Jesus received the following response:

“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things? And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” (Matthew 13:55-57)

While the religious leaders were rejecting Jesus, even some of Jesus’ own family rejected him. In John 7:5, his own brothers asked Jesus for more signs because:

“Even his own brothers did not believe in him.” (John 7:5)

But ultimately, Joseph and Jesus attained great authority and inspired confidence in those around them. When the famine arrived and the grain ran out in Egypt, the Pharaoh told the Egyptians:

“Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you.” (Genesis 41:55)

Likewise, Jesus’ mother told the servants at the marriage feast in Cana to do what Jesus tells them to do when the wine runs out:

“Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5)

Joseph miraculously gave bread to the people around him because he received God’s revelation which saved the people from dying during the famine. Jesus miraculously gave bread to the people around him because he received God’s revelation which saved the people from the spiritual famine.

Joseph and Jesus were both sent by their fathers to their brothers who hated them and rejected their claim to preeminence. In the seventh chapter of Acts in the New Testament, the martyr Stephen gives a speech before he is stoned to death. In it, Stephen draws a parallel between Joseph and Jesus:

“The patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him, and rescued him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him governor over Egypt and over all his household. Now there came a famine throughout all Egypt and Canaan and great affliction and our fathers could find no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent forth our fathers the first time. And at the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. And Joseph sent and called to him Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five souls.” (Acts 7:9-14)

The purpose of Stephen’s speech was to show how the enemies of Jesus were jealous of him in the same way that Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him. This theme of jealousy is also used in three other places in Acts and they always describe the jealousy of the apostle’s opponents due to the success of the apostle’s gathering around them more people who become believers. (see Acts 5:17, Acts 13:45, Acts 17:5).

Because of envy, Joseph’s brothers conspired to kill Joseph:

“So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. ‘Here comes that dreamer!’ they said to each other. ‘Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.’ (Genesis 37:18-19)

In the same way, the religious leaders hated Jesus because through his actions and words demonstrated that he was greater than them. Jesus’ claims to come from heaven, be greater than Abraham, have God as his own Father, and be the one of whom Moses wrote about, caused hatred and envy which caused them to conspire to kill him:

“Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him.” (Matthew 26:3-4)

Joseph was sold into Egypt on the advice of his brother Judah. Jesus was handed over to the Romans by the hand of his disciple Judas.

Joseph did not utter a word to his brothers when they sold him. Jesus did not utter a word to the judges when they judged him.

Joseph asked the imprisoned chief cup bearer not to forget him when he is released and reinstated at court. He said:

“Be sure to remember me when things go well for you.” (Genesis 40:14)

In the same words, the thief on the cross said in karmic fashion to Jesus:

“Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)

One could even extend this parallel to include the fact that Jesus was bearing the “cup” which his Father gave him to drink in the same way the cup bearer did for the Pharaoh.

Two other prisoners were with Joseph suffering the same punishment. Two other prisoners were with Jesus suffering the same punishment. In Joseph’s case, it is written: “Two other prisoners were with Joseph suffering the same punishment.” Two other prisoners were with Jesus suffering the same punishment. In Joseph’s case, it is written:

“After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men – the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison – had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.” (Genesis 40:4-5)

The two prisoners told Joseph their dreams for which Joseph interpreted. As a result of these two dreams, death would come to one of the prisoners but release and exaltation for the other. In Jesus’ case, it is written that:

“Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.” (Matthew 27:38)

As it was in Joseph’s case, one prisoner would be condemned while the other prisoner would be released and find salvation:

“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him, ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him, ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'” (Luke 23:39-43)

In persecution, Jesus and Joseph were stripped of their robes and placed in a pit for three days where they ultimately arose victorious to be great princes and became exalted by God for their great suffering. In the pre-Christian apocryphal Jewish text called “Testament of Joseph,” Joseph’s suffering is described in a way that could easily apply to Jesus as well:

“My brothers hated me but the Lord loved me. They wanted to kill me but the God of my fathers preserved me. Into a cistern they lowered me, the most High raised me up. They sold me into slavery, the Lord of all set me free. I was taken into captivity, the strength of His hand set me free. I was overtaken by hunger, the Lord Himself fed me generously. I was alone and God came to help me. I was in weakness and the Lord showed His concern for me. I was in prison and the Savior acted graciously on my behalf. I was in bonds and He loosed me. Falsely accused, and He testified on my behalf. Assaulted by bitter words of the Egyptians, and He rescued me. A slave, and He exalted me.” (Testament of Joseph 1:4-7)

Both Joseph and Jesus were persecuted because of false witnesses. The wife of Potiphar bears false witness against Joseph before the members of her household and before her husband (Genesis 39:14-19). Witnesses falsely accused Jesus before the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:60-62, Mark 14:55-59) and before Pilate (Matthew 27:12-14, Mark 15:3-5). Joseph went to prison because of the false witnesses. Jesus went to hell after being crucified because of false witnesses. The words “prison” and “hell” are often used interchangeably in the Bible.

Joseph becomes a model of sexual purity in the early Church as found in the early Christian apocryphal texts of the Protevangelium of James and the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew. They record how Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, was falsely accused of having had sexual relations with the virgin Mary before their marriage and how he was arrested by the religious authorities and forced to submit himself to a test to prove his purity. In the same way, Joseph refused the sexual advances of Potiphar’s wife and this made him a model of the sexual purity praised by many Church Fathers such as Origen who wrote:

“Joseph, refused to give in to passion, despite the entreaties and threats of the one who was legally his mistress Joseph preferred prison to the loss of his chastity.” (Against Celsus IV,46).

In this sense, Joseph is shown as a man who resisted the seduction of a woman and reversing the karmic debt for the sin of Adam who was tempted by Eve. Origen credited Joseph’s ultimate rule over Egypt to Joseph’s mastery over his own body:

“Joseph, whom no sensual passion was able to vanquish, became lord and master of all Egypt,” (Homilies on Genesis XV,3)

Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, was also seen as a model of this same purity as was the virgin Mary whose purity reversed the karmic transgression of Eve thereby attaining perfection as a mother.

Joseph’s brothers smeared his robe with goat’s blood in order to blame Joseph’s demise on wild animals. On the day of Jesus’ death, it was Passover and a goat is sacrificed for the atonement of sins.

Both Joseph and Jesus were men among many brothers who rejected them but was saved by God and raised to be the judge of their brothers. This same theme can be found in Jesus’ parable of the murderous tenants in the vineyard. It is a parable which can be found in all three synoptic gospels. The parable is an important key to understanding how Jesus’ rejection and death is to be understood (see Matthew 21:33-46, Mark 12:1-11, Luke 20:9-19). In the parable, evil men plot to kill the son of the vineyard owner, saying:

“This is the heir; come let us kill him and the inheritance will be ours.” (Matthew 21:38, Mark 12:7, Luke 20:14).

These words are even similar to the words of Joseph’s brothers when they plotted to kill Joseph:

“Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns” (Genesis 37:20)

Both were sold for the price of a slave. Joseph was sold for 20 shekels of silver and Jesus was sold for 30 pieces. Both were assigned with two other prisoners. Church Father Tertullian (145-220 AD) wrote explicitly about the parallels between Joseph and Jesus and their suffering:

“Joseph himself was made a figure of Christ in this point alone, that he suffered persecution at the hands of his brethren, and was sold into Egypt on account of the favor of God. Likewise, Christ was sold by Israel according to the flesh, by his brethren, when he is betrayed by Judas.” (Tertullian 7,10)

In the Treatises of Aphrahat the Persian, a Father of the Syriac tradition, stated: Joseph persecuted is the image of Jesus persecuted (Treatises of Aphrahat the Persian 21,9).

The stories of Joseph and Jesus are both a kind of “rags to riches” story. Joseph was brought out of the pit and prison to be exalted to the Pharaoh’s right hand:

“Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you. So Pharaoh said to Joseph, I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as His second in command.” (Genesis 41:39-41)

Jesus was brought out from the pit after death and exalted to the Father’s right hand:

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on Earth and under the Earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:8-11)

Forgiveness and reconciliation are the major aspects concerning the lives of both Joseph and Jesus. Caesarius of Arles, in his Sermon XC, drew this parallel between Joseph and Jesus:

“He [Joseph] embraced them one by one and shed tears over each one of them. Watering the neck of each one of them, who feared him, he washed away the hate of his brothers by the tears of his love.” (Caesarius of Arles XL,4).

The actual Bible verse referred to here is Genesis 45:14 when Joseph’s dramatic revealing of his true identity to his brothers and their reconciliation and his forgiveness is the dramatic climax of the story of Joseph:

“Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you … So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God … Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.” (Genesis 45:5-14)

In a similar vein, Jesus was revealed as the Son of God while on the cross when he forgives his brothers:

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

When Mary announced Jesus’ resurrection to the disciples, they didn’t believe it:

“But these words seemed to them an idle tale and they did not believe them.” (Luke 24:11)

Likewise, Joseph’s father is unbelieving when his sons announce to him that Joseph is alive:

“But he was as one stunned for he did not believe them.” (Genesis 45:26)

When Joseph’s father finally did see Joseph, he stated he is now ready to die:

“Now I can die, now that I have seen you again, and seen you still alive.” (Genesis 46:30)

The same thing was said by Simeon the Elder, awaiting the Messiah in the Temple when he meets Jesus and recognized him as the long awaited Messiah. He exclaimed:

“Lord, let your servant now depart in peace according to your word. My eyes have seen your salvation.” (Luke 2:29-30)

The brothers of Joseph recovered his bones from Egypt and brought them to the Promised Land. God the Father of Jesus resurrected his body from Hades and brought him to heaven.

Even more interesting parallels between Joseph and Jesus can be found at this website.

2. Scriptural Comparisons Between Joseph and Jesus

(1) Both were miraculously born (Joseph: Genesis 30:22-24) (Jesus: Matthew 1:18-23)

(2) Both were a shepherd of his father’s sheep (Joseph: Genesis 37:2) (Jesus: John 10:11-14)

(3) Both were most beloved sons (Joseph: Genesis 37:3) (Jesus: Matthew 3:17)

(4) Both were hated for no good reason (Joseph: Genesis 37:4) (Jesus: John 15:25)

(5) Both had brothers who rejected him (Joseph: Genesis 37:5-8) (Jesus: John 7:4-5)

(6) Both were given visions of the future (Joseph: Genesis 37:6-7) (Jesus: Matthew 24:3)

(7) Both were hated for their teachings (Jospeh: Genesis 37:8) (Jesus: John 7:7)

(8) Both were rebuked by their earthly parents because they didn’t understand why they treated their parents the way they did (Joseph: Genesis 37:10) (Jesus: Luke 2:48-50)

(9) Both were hated because of their brothers’ jealousy (Joseph: Genesis 37:11) (Jesus: Matthew 27:17-20)

(10) Both were stripped of their robes (Joseph: Genesis 37:23) (Jesus: Matthew 27:28)

(11) Both descended into a pit (Joseph: Genesis 37:24) (Jesus: Matthew 12:40)

(12) Both were betrayed by the advice of Judah (Judas), one of the Twelve (Joseph: Genesis 37:26-27) (Jesus: Matthew 26:14)

(13) Both were betrayed for the price of a slave (Joseph: Genesis 37:28) (Jesus: Matthew 26:15)

(14) Both were taken into Egypt to avoid being killed (Joseph: Genesis 37:28) (Jesus: Matthew 2:13)

(15) Both gained the confidence of others quickly (Joseph: Genesis 39:3) (Jesus: Matthew 8:8)

(16) Both became a servant (Joseph: Genesis 39:4) (Jesus: Philippians 2:6-7)

(17) Both resisted the most difficult of temptations (Joseph: Genesis 39:6-9) (Jesus: Hebrews 4:15)

(18) Both were persecuted because of false witnesses (Joseph: Genesis 39:14-19) (Jesus: Matthew 26:60-62)

(19) Both were silent before their accusers (Joseph: Genesis 39:20-21) (Jesus: Mark 15:4-5)

(20) Both were condemned with two other prisoners (Joseph: Genesis 40:1-3) (Jesus: Luke 23:32)

(21) Both received the same punishment as the two other prisoners (Joseph: Genesis 40:2-4) (Jesus: Luke 23:33)

(22) Joseph asked one of the other prisoners to “remember him” when he is released and reinstated to Pharaoh. Jesus had one of the other prisoners ask to “remember him” when he is released and reinstated to the Kingdom of God (Joseph: Genesis 40:12-14) (Jesus: Luke 23:42)

(23) Both had one of the two other prisoners with them released and exalted (Joseph: Genesis 40:20-22) (Jesus: Luke 23:39-43)

(24) Both of their lives were changed by the power of dreams (Joseph: Genesis 41:15) (Jesus: Matthew 2:19-20)

(25) Both were taught by God (Joseph: Genesis 41:15-16) (Jesus: John 5:19)

(26) Both miraculously gave bread to hungry people who came to him (Joseph: Genesis 41:17-36) (Jesus: Mark 6:41)

(27) Both were filled with the Spirit of God (Joseph: Genesis 41:38) (Jesus: Luke 4:1)

(28) Both became exalted by God for their great suffering (Joseph: Genesis 41:39-40) (Jesus: Matthew 28:18)

(29) Both arose into a new life (Joseph: Genesis 41:41) (Jesus: Mark 16:6)

(30) Both began their ministry at the age of thirty (Joseph: Genesis 41:46) (Jesus: Luke 3:23)

(31) Both were not recognized by their own brothers (Joseph: Genesis 42:8) (Jesus: Luke 24:36-37)

(32) Both tested people to reveal their true nature (Joseph: Genesis 42:8-17) (Jesus: Mark 11:28-30)

(33) Both forgave the people who wanted to kill them (Joseph: Genesis 45:3-14) (Jesus: Luke 23:34)

(34) Both loved people unconditionally (Joseph: Genesis 45:15) (Jesus: Matthew 5:43-45)

(35) Both had people who refused to believe they were not dead (Joseph: Genesis 45:26) (Jesus: Luke 24:9-11)

(36) Both returned to their father (Joseph: Genesis 46:29) (Jesus: Mark 16:19)

(37) Both had someone state they could die now that they saw them (Joseph: Genesis 46:30) (Jesus: Luke 2:25-32)

(38) Both arose victorious to be great princes (Joseph: Genesis 49:26) (Jesus: Isaiah 9:6)

(39) Both returned good for evil (Joseph: Genesis 50:17-20) (Jesus: Luke 6:27)

(40) Both of their families were called out of Egypt and back to Israel as an act of salvation (Joseph: Hosea 11:1) (Jesus: Matthew 2:14-15)

3. Edgar Cayce Affirmed Joseph and Jesus were Different Incarnations of the Same Soul

Edgar Cayce identified Joseph, the son of Jacob, as one of the incarnations of the Jesus-entity soul. According to Cayce, Joseph’s escape from the pit was not only a literal event, but a symbolic anticipation of Jesus’ resurrection. In John Van Auken‘s excellent article entitled “Toward a Universal Christ” he wrote:

Edgar Cayce asked us, “What will you do with this man Jesus of Nazareth Jeshua of Jerusalem, Joshua in Shiloh, Joseph in the court of Pharaoh, Melchizedek as he blessed Abraham, Enoch as he warned the people, Adam as he listened to Eve?” In a reading for a person who had both Jewish and Christian training and was wrestling to decide which religion he preferred, the Source of Cayce’s readings asked, “Have you not found that the essence, the truth, the real truth is ONE? Mercy and justice; peace and harmony. For without Moses and his leader Joshua (that was bodily Jesus) there is no Christ. Christ is not a man. Jesus was the man; Christ the messenger; Christ in all ages, Jesus in one, Joshua in another, Melchizedek in another; these be those that led Judaism! These be they that came as the child of promise, as to the children of promise; and the promise is in you, that you lead as He has given you: Feed my sheep.” (John Van Auken)

Categories
Past Lives of Jesus Reincarnation

David as a Past Life of Jesus Christ

Jesus asked his disciples the following question: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13-16). The disciples’ reply was that people were saying he was one of the Old Testament prophets such as Elijah or Jeremiah. The nature of Jesus’ question, and his disciples’ reply, reveals the question was assumed to be one about who the people were saying Jesus was in a past life. His disciples knew this and so they gave a reincarnational answer. And Jesus made no comment against the popular belief in reincarnation and his question sealed it with his approval. Belief in reincarnation during the time of Jesus was almost universal including in all the so-called pagan religions. Nowhere in the New Testament is reincarnation denied, disputed or questioned. If reincarnation was a false doctrine it would almost certainly have been denounced in the same harshest terms as idolatry, sorcery and evil throughout the entire Bible. Instead, as we have seen, reincarnation is referenced throughout the Bible and taught by Jesus.

More evidence of reincarnation as a teaching of Jesus can be found in the belief systems of the early Judeo-Christians. One group, known as the Ebionites, believed the Holy Spirit had incarnated first as Adam and later as Jesus. Other early Judeo-Christians, such as the Elkasaites and Nazarenes, also believed this. In the Clementine Homilies, an early Judeo-Christian document, also taught of Jesus having many previous incarnations. The Jewish sect of Samaritans in Jesus’ day, believed the spirit of Adam had reincarnated as Seth, Noah, Abraham, and Moses. Even today, Orthodox Judaism teaches reincarnation (gilgul).

All human beings are participating in an evolving, reincarnational, perfecting process toward sanctification and holiness. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, it states that Jesus himself, as a human being, also needed perfecting and it was through his suffering on the cross which accomplished this (Hebrews 2:10, Hebrews 5:9). This implies Jesus himself had enduring the perfecting process of past lives, and the biblical evidence shows this. One of those past lives is King David (1000 BC) who was anointed the king of Israel and Judah. David conquered Jerusalem, took the Ark of the Covenant into the city, and established the Kingdom there. David is mentioned in the prophetic Hebrew literature as an ideal king and Messiah. The Hebrew word translated as “Messiah” comes from the Hebrew noun meaning “the anointed one.” In the First Book of Samuel, the young shepherd David is anointed King (“Messiah”) of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1,10-13). In the Second Book of Samuel, the dying King David is called “the anointed (“Messiah”) of the God of Jacob (2 Samuel 23:1). As we will see, the Hebrew Bible is filled with references of David as God’s first Messiah and references of Jesus as the reincarnation of David.

Table of Contents

  1. Whose Son is the Messiah?
  2. David and Jesus as Firstborn, Seed, Root, Melchizedek, Savior
  3. David Will Be Reincarnated in the Last Days
  4. More Evidence of David as a Past Life of Jesus

1. Whose Son is the Messiah?

In Jewish eschatology, the Messiah also came to refer to a future Jewish king from the Davidic line who will be the king of God’s kingdom and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age. In Judaism, he is referred to as “Messiah ben David,” which means “Messiah, son of David.” Belief in the eventual coming of a future Messiah is a fundamental part of Judaism and Christianity. The early Church believed the life of David foreshadowed the life of Christ; Bethlehem is the birthplace of both; the shepherd life of David points out Christ the Good Shepherd; the five stones chosen to slay Goliath are typical of the five wounds on Christ; the betrayal by his trusted counselor, Achitophel, and the passage over the Cedron remind us of Christ’s sacred Passion. Many of the Davidic Psalms, as we learn from the New Testament, are clear references to Jesus. In the Gospel of Luke, the archangel Gabriel informs the Virgin Mary she will give birth to Jesus whom God will give the throne of “his father David.”

“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:31–33)

The “Son of David” is a clear title of the Messiah is the New Testament (See also Matthew 1:1; Matthew 15:22; Mark 10:47). Jesus confounded the religious leaders who were persecuting him by asking them a question about the son of David:

“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, ‘What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?‘ ‘The son of David,’ they replied. He said to them, ‘How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’ If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?‘ No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.” (Matthew 22:41-45, See also Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44)

In the above verse, Jesus references David’s Psalm 110:

“The Lord says to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.'” (Psalm 110:1)

Although Jesus doesn’t give us the answer to his question on how the Messiah can be David’s son when David calls him “lord,” we already know the answer. Jesus knew that he himself, as the Messiah, was not a genetic son of David because he was the only “begotten son of God” — the title given to the soul whom God first gave to David:

David as God’s only begotten son: “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to me, ‘You are my son, today I have begotten you.'” (Psalm 2:7)
Jesus as God’s only begotten son: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Jesus’ human father, Joseph, was a genetic descendant of David; but because Jesus was not a genetic descendant of Joseph — and therefore not of David — the only way he could be the “son of David,” David’s “lord,” and God’s “only begotten son” would be if David’s soul was a past life soul of Jesus.

2. David and Jesus as Firstborn, Seed, Root, Melchizedek, Savior

And as the “only begotten son,” both David and Jesus are said to be the “firstborn” of God:

David as firstborn of God: “I have found My servant David; with My holy oil I have anointed him, with whom My hand shall be established; also My arm shall strengthen him… He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.’ And I will appoint him to be My firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth.” (Psalm 89:20, 26-27)
Jesus as firstborn of God: “And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.'” (Hebrews 1:6; See also Romans 8:29, Colossians 1:15-18, Hebrews 12:22-23, Revelation 1:5)

In the gospels and in Paul’s epistles, the soul (spirit) is metaphorically referred to as a “seed” (See Matthew 13:24-30; 1 Peter 1:23). God promised David that his “seed” and throne would be established forever to all generations suggesting his “seed” would be his reincarnation:

The seed of David established with David: “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to my servant David: ‘Your seed I will establish forever, and build up your throne to all generations.'” (Psalm 89:3-4)
The seed of David established with Jesus: “Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” (John 7:42)

An even more direct reference to the soul of Jesus as a reincarnation of the soul of David is the Messianic title “Root of Jesse.” Jesse was the father of David and a direct descendant from Judah, Jacob, Isaac and Abraham. So “Root of Jesse” is the literal son of Jesse, who is David himself. Isaiah the prophet, whose ministry was active hundreds of years after David’s death from 740 BC to 698 BC, prophesied of a “Branch” which will rise from the “Root of Jesse” (David) of whom “the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him” during a time when “the wolf will live with the lamb.” The apostle Paul confirms that Isaiah’s prophesy applies to Jesus:

Root of Jesse anointed Messiah: “Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king (David) among his sons.” (1 Samuel 16:1)
Messiah as Branch from “Root of Jesse”:A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit… In that day the Root of Jesse (David) will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:1,10)
Jesus as One from the “Root of Jesse”: “And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse (David) will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.'” (Romans 15:12)

Again, because Jesus was not the genetic descendant of David, he could only be the “Root of Jesse” if his soul was a reincarnation of David who WAS a genetic descendant of Jesse. And genetic ancestry is critical in Judaism. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus is also referred to as the “Root of David” (Revelation 5:5) which is also a Messianic title. Concerning the “shoot” and “Branch” rising from the “Root of Jesse,” as previously mentioned, the gospels and epistles use the metaphor of a “seed” for the soul (Matthew 13:24-30; 1 Peter 1:23). From the seed arises the “shoot” — the “resurrected” body — which we’ve already made the case is the reincarnated soul in a new body (a fetus). The prophet Jeremiah, whose ministry was active from 626 BC until 587 BC, like the prophet Isaiah, also prophesied of a future “Branch” — another Messianic reference to Jesus — whom God will one day “raise up” (reincarnate) as King to rule after the Jews are brought back to their homeland from all the nations:

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” (Jeremiah 23:5)

Another connection between David and Jesus is their “Priesthood of Melchizedek.” Melchizedek was a king and priest appearing in the Book of Genesis whose name means “King of Righteousness” — a name echoing kingly and priestly functions. He is the first individual to be given the title of “priest” in the Hebrew Bible. The majority of Chazalic literature attributes the primary character of the following Psalm as King David who was a “righteous king” of Salem (Jerusalem) and, like Melchizedek, had certain priest-like responsibilities:

David as “priest of Melchizedek”: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You (David) are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'” (Psalm 110:4)
Jesus as “priest of Melchizedek”: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:19-20)

As we will also see, there is also biblical evidence of Jesus, and therefore David, as having a past life as Melchizedek. Other Messianic titles shared between David and Jesus include “King of Israel,” “King of Righteous,” “Servant of the Lord,” and “Shepherd.” In Psalm 22, David also demonstrated his ability as a prophet when describing — in uncanny detail — the experience of Jesus on the cross:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?… (v.1) But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone despised by the people… (v.6) All who see me mock me; they hurl insults… (v.7) ‘He trusts in the Lord,’ they say, ‘let the Lord rescue him’… (v.8) From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God… (v.10) Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me… (v.12) I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint… (v.14) My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me… (v.14) My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth… (v.15) You lay me in the dust of death… (v.15) Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me… (v.16) They pierce my hands and my feet… (v.16) All my bones are on display… (v.17) People stare and gloat over me… (v.17) They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment… (v.18) For he (God) has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one… (v.24) He has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help (v.24) (Psalm 22:1-24)

3. David Will Be Reincarnated in the Last Days

The prophet Hosea‘s ministry was active just before the destruction of Israel in 722 BC — several hundred years after the death of King David. Hosea prophesied that “in the last days” Israel will be restored and King David himself will rule over them:

“For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their King. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.” (Hosea 3:4-5)

Note that Israel was established as a Jewish nation in 1948, and they are still awaiting their Messiah — as Christians are awaiting the return of Christ. The implication is that Jesus, as the reincarnation of David, will rule at that time.

The prophet Ezekiel (622-570 BC) prophesied incessantly for five years and acted out the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple several hundred years after the death of David. Like Hosea, Ezekiel prophesied the future return of the Jews to Israel and the reincarnation of David himself to rule them:

“I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land… I will place over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken.” (Ezekiel 34:13, 23-24)

In Part 6 of my article on Reincarnation in the Bible, in Ezekiel’s “vision of the Valley of the Dry Bones” in Chapter 37, Ezekiel described the entire nation of Israel reincarnating in the last days and King David himself reincarnating to rule over them:

I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God. My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees.” (Ezekiel 37:22-24)

The prophet Jeremiah was a contemporary of Ezekiel whose prophetic ministry was active from 626 BC until after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in 587 BC. During that time, Babylon conquered Jerusalem and began taking Jews as captives to Babylon. Jeremiah prophesied that the Jews would be scattered from their homeland and persecuted; but God would protect them from total destruction and one day return to their homeland. He also prophesied a day when Israel will no longer be enslaved by foreigners and God would “raise up” King David himself to rule over them:

“This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you. ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their ancestors to possess… In that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will break the yoke off their necks and will tear off their bonds; no longer will foreigners enslave them. Instead, they will serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.'” (Jeremiah 30:1-3; 8-9)

Notice also Jeremiah 30:9 says that King David himself will be “raised up” (reincarnated) sometime after Israel is restored. As previously mentioned, “raised up” is a reference to reincarnation. Notice also that even if we assume a corpse resurrection interpretation, Jeremiah says it will be King David himself who will be “raised up.” From this information, we can conclude that the so-called “Second Coming” of Jesus will actually be the “Third Coming” of King David assuming Jesus and King David were the same soul. See also Jeremiah 23:5-6 and Jeremiah 33:15-16 for more support.

The prophet Zechariah began his ministry in the second year of Darius, king of Persia (520 BC), about sixteen years after the beginning of the Jews returning to Israel from their Babylonian exile and hundreds of years after the death of David. Jeremiah prophesied of a future time when all the nations of the world will be against Jerusalem causing God to destroy all Israel’s enemies and establish the House of David (the Davidic line of kingship):

“I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves… On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord going before them. On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” (Zechariah 12:2-3; 8-10)

The “Angel of the Lord” (in Hebrew “Messenger of Yahweh“) is an entity appearing 65 times in the Old Testament on behalf of God (Yahweh). In some instances it is made clear that the reference is to an appearance of Yahweh himself rather than a separate entity acting on his behalf. The Angel of the Lord is identified by the early Church Fathers, such as Justin Martyr and Tertullian, as the pre-incarnate Christ whose appearance is recorded in the Old Testament. Zechariah’s prophecy reveals it will be a reincarnation of the “house of David” (David himself) — the Angel of the Lord (Jesus), the one who was pierced, who will save Israel in the latter days.

4. More Evidence of David as a Past Life of Jesus

The following biblical comparisons show David and Jesus as having the same identity. Both are “the most exalted king of the Earth”:

David as the most exalted king of the Earth: “I have found My servant David; with My holy oil I have anointed him, with whom My hand shall be established; also My arm shall strengthen him…. He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.’ And I will appoint him to be My firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the Earth.” (Psalm 89:20, 26-27)
Jesus as the most exalted king of the Earth: “On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” (Revelation 19:16)

Both David and Jesus are “the Holy One”, the Messiah:

David as the “Holy One”: “For our shield belongs to the Lord, and our king to the Holy One of Israel. Then You spoke in a vision to your Holy One, and said: ‘I have given help to one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people. I have found My servant David; with My holy oil I have anointed him”. (Psalm 89:18-20)
Jesus as the “Holy One”: “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.'” (John 6:68-69) (See also Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34)

David said God would not leave his soul in Sheol, nor allow God’s “Holy One” to see corruption:

“I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope. For you will not leave my (David’s) soul in Sheol, nor will You allow your Holy One (Messiah) to see corruption.” (Psalm 16:8-10)

The above Psalm of David corresponds with the Acts of the Apostles where Peter revealed Jesus to be a past life of David during his sermon at Pentecost when he explained how Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of David concerning how God would not leave David’s soul, as Jesus, in Sheol:

For David says concerning him (Jesus): ‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For you will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will you allow your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’ Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, he would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that his (Jesus’) soul was not left in Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.” (Acts 2:25-31)

In the above verse, Peter equated David mentioning his soul would not be allowed to be left in Hades (Sheol) with Jesus’ soul not allowed to be left in Hades.

In the next verse, James (the brother of Jesus) quotes an end time prophecy in Amos 9:9-12 concerning David’s fallen “tent” being restored as a metaphor for the resurrection of Jesus’ “body” which implies David and Jesus were the same soul:

“The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. When they finished, James spoke up. ‘Brothers,’ he said, ‘listen to me. Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: ‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’ — things known from long ago. It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” (Acts 15:12-19)

In the Bible, the word “tent” is used as a metaphor for the physical body, such as in the New Testament, by both the apostles Paul and Peter for example:

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)

“So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body.” (2 Peter 1:12-13)

Categories
Past Lives of Jesus Reincarnation

Adam as a Past Life of Jesus Christ

Judaism, Christianity and Islam all accept the account of Adam and Eve as part of their religion. The Bible gave the distinct title of “Son of God” to only three personalities in the entire Bible: Adam, Melchizedek, and Jesus. So, it should not be surprising that these three personalities have a connection that goes well beyond coincidence. This connection is proof that these personalities were indeed the same soul appearing in different incarnations. This shows that the Bible is the story of the sojourn of the “Son of God” beginning with Paradise lost and ending with Paradise restored. The following information describes just the Adam-Jesus connection.

Table of Contents

  1. Identical Title: “Son of Man”
  2. Identical Title: “Son of God”
  3. Identical Birth Order: First Born
  4. Identical Rule: Ruler of God’s Creation
  5. Identical Parent: Father of the Human Race
  6. Identical Essence: Human-Divine Unity
  7. Identical Pattern: Image and Copy
  8. Identical Positions: “First and Last”
  9. Identical Immortality: Immortal from the Beginning
  10. Identical Origins: “Beginning and End”
  11. Identical Title: Logos
  12. Identical Nature: Image of God
  13. Identical Sacrificial Result: First and Last Sacrifice
  14. Identical Association: Tree of Life
  15. Identical in Near-Death Experiences: “Being of Light”
  16. Identical Karma: Required to Pay for Original Sin
  17. Identical Burial Place: Golgotha
  18. Edgar Cayce’s Revelation of Jesus
  19. Edgar Cayce’s Revelation of the Virgin Mary

1. Identical Title: Son of Man

The Hebrew word for “Adam” is “man”. The title “Son of Man” is a reference to Adam. The phrases “Son of Man” and “Son of Adam” are inter-changeable.

Jesus referred to himself using the phrase “Adam Kadmon” [Son of Man] to refer to the heavenly apocalyptic figure who is to come. Paul used the phrase “Adam Kadmon” as the archetypal man created in God’s image who was the first and perfect representative of humanity who would return at the end of time and restore all things.

God’s judgment upon Adam resulted in his reincarnation:

ADAM: “For dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19)

Talmudists interpret this verse this way:

Because Adam sinned it was necessary for him to reincarnate to make good the evil committed in his first existence; so he comes as David, and later is to come as Messiah.

The Bible mentions David reincarnating hundreds of years later for the people:

DAVID: “Instead, they will serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.” (Jeremiah 30:9)

In the traditions of the Talmudists, the soul of Adam reincarnated in David, and that on account of the sin of David against Uriah it will have to come again in the expected Messiah.

Out of the three letters ADM (the name of the first man) the Talmudists always made the names Adam, David and Messiah.

2. Identical Title: Son of God

Both Adam and Jesus are given the title of “Son of God”:

ADAM: “..the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.” (Luke 3:38)
JESUS: “I believe that you are the Christ, the son of God.” (John 11:27)

As previously mentioned, the Bible gives the distinct title of “Son of God” to only three personalities in the entire Bible: Adam, Melchizedek, and Jesus.

God declares the “sons of God” to be divine:

SONS of GOD: “I said, ‘You are gods; you are all sons of the Most High.'” (Psalm 82:6)

Jesus declares himself the “Son of God”:

SONS of GOD: “Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods?’ If he called them ‘gods,’ … what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son?'” (John 10:30-36)

3. Identical Birth Order: First Born

Both Adam and Jesus are referred to as “the first born” of every creature:

ADAM: “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)
JESUS: “Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature” (Colossians 1:15)

Adam (“ben elohim”) is translated as “Son of God” meaning Adam was the first born of God.

4. Identical Rule: Ruler of God’s Creation

Both Adam and Jesus are referred to as rulers of God’s creation:

ADAM: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the Earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28)
JESUS: “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.” (Revelation 3:14)

5. Identical Parent: Father of the Human Race

Adam is referred to as the “father” of the human race:

ADAM: “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the Earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28)
ADAM:Your first father sinned; your spokesmen rebelled against me.” (Isaiah 43:27)

Jesus and the Messiah are called “father”:

JESUS:I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30-33)
JESUS: “He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

6. Identical Essence: Human-Divine Unity

The Bible states that divinity dwelt in both Adam and Jesus:

ADAM: “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26)
JESUS: “[Jesus is] all the fullness of deity in bodily form.” (Colossians 2:9)

In the Bible verse below, Paul refers to Adam as “the first man” and Jesus as “the second man”:

FIRST and SECOND MAN: “The first man was of the dust of the Earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the Earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:47-49)

7. Identical Pattern: Image and Copy

Paul refers to Adam as a “pattern” of Jesus:

ADAM as a PATTERN of JESUS: “Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come [Christ].” (Romans 5:14)

The Greek translation of the word “pattern” is “tupos” which is defined as: An impression made by a stamp, an exact image, an exact model, a copy, a type, an example. In context, the phrase “who is a pattern of the coming one” (“ejstin tuvpo tou’ mevllonto hos estin tupos tou mellontos”) refers to Adam as a copy of Christ.

8. Identical Positions: “First and Last”

In the Bible verse below, Paul refers to Jesus as the “last Adam”:

JESUS as LAST ADAM: “The first Adam became a living being; the last Adam [Jesus], a life-giving spirit.” (1 Corinthians 15:45)

Jesus reveals himself as “the First of God’s creation” (human-divine being) and “the Last of God’s creation” (human-divine being).

JESUS: “I am the First and the Last.” (Revelation 1:17)

The Son of God’s “first incarnation” was as Adam and the “last incarnation” of God’s Son was Jesus.

In the Book of Isaiah, God also expresses himself as the “First” and “Last”:

GOD: “I am the First and I am the Last.” (Isaiah 48:12)

9. Identical Immortality: Immortal from the Beginning

God created Adam as immortal, but the partaking of the knowledge of good and evil made him mortal:

ADAM: “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17)

John reveals that Jesus is immortal and was with God in the beginning:

JESUS: “He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1-2)

The prophet Isaiah also referred to the Messiah as both immortal and God:

MESSIAH: “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

10. Identical Origins: “Beginning and End”

Both Adam and Jesus were at the beginning of creation:

ADAM: “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.'” (Mark 10:6)
JESUS: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 21:6)

11. Identical Title: Logos

Adam is the “Logos”:

ADAM: The term “Bar Nasha” or “Son of Man” refers to the “divine human form,” the “Logos,” the eternal “image of God.” (Source: John Rossner, In Search of the Primordial Tradition and the Cosmic Christ, p.189)

Jesus is the “Logos”:

JESUS: “In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1-2)

12. Identical Nature: Image of God

Adam and Jesus were the “image” of God:

ADAM: “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26)
JESUS: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

13. Identical Sacrificial Result: First and Last Sacrifice

The first sacrifice made was for physical needs:

ADAM: “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21)

The last sacrifice was for spiritual needs:

JESUS:He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” (Hebrews 7:27-28)

14. Identical Association: Tree of Life

In the beginning, Adam had the Tree of Life:

ADAM: “In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9)

Adam’s transgression banished humanity from the Tree of Life:

ADAM: “So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:22-24)

Jesus’ sacrifice for transgression restored humanity to the Tree of Life:

JESUS:To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7)
JESUS: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.” (Revelation 22:1-3)

15. Identical in Near-Death Experiences: “Being of Light”

In the Jewish Kabbalah, Adam appears to people after immediately after death:

ADAM: “So it is that when a man is about to depart from life, Adam, the first man, appears to him and asks him why and in what state he leaves the world. He says: ‘Woe to you that through you I have to die.’ To which Adam replies, ‘My son, I transgressed one commandment and was punished for so doing; see how many commandments of your Master, negative and positive, you have transgressed.'” (Jewish Kabbalistic book Zohar I, 57b)

During one particular Jewish woman’s NDE, Rene Turner, the Messiah appeared to her immediately after her death:

MESSIAH: “I became aware that I must be dead … I arrived in an explosion of glorious light into a room with insubstantial walls, standing before a man about in his thirties, about six feet tall, reddish brown shoulder length hair and an incredibly neat, short beard and mustache. He wore a simple white robe. Light seemed to emanate from him and I felt he had great age and wisdom. He welcomed me with great love, tranquility, and peace (indescribable) – no words. I felt, ‘I can sit at your feet forever and be content,’ which struck me as a strange thing to think/say/feel. I became fascinated by the fabric of his robe, trying to figure out how light could be woven!” – Rene Turner, a Jewish woman, who she met the Messiah during her death experience.

Jesus also appears to people during NDEs:

JESUS: “I felt a wonderful feeling wash over me – a sense of peace and power. I felt love and a sense of wonder as I realized that any question I could come up with would be answered. There was Jesus. I was stunned and said, ‘I don’t believe in you.’ He smiled and said the etheric equivalent of ‘Tough shit, here I am.’ Looking at his eyes, I asked, ‘You mean, you’ve been with me the whole time and I didn’t know?’ And his reply was, ‘Lo, I am with thee, always, even beyond the end of the world.'” – Jeanie Dicus, a Jewish woman, met Jesus during her near-death experience and Jesus asked her if she wanted to reincarnate.

16. Identical Karma: Required to Pay for Original Sin

The connection between Jesus and Adam is fundamental to Christian doctrine. Their connection is the foundation holding together the entire Christian system of election, redemption, atonement, justification, regeneration and sanctification. The idea of Jesus “paying the penalty” (or “karma“) for the transgressions of humanity makes no sense without this “hidden” connection to Adam and his “hidden” mission of bringing knowledge of good and evil to humanity. Without Adam being a previous incarnation as Jesus, the gospel message of Jesus paying for the sins of humanity appears to be an incredible injustice.

According to the Bible, Adam brought divine knowledge of good and evil into the world which resulted in both positive and negative consequences. Knowledge (i.e., gnosis) of both good and evil is a divine characteristic and a fundamental principle of early Christian Gnosticism. Jesus came to reverse the negative consequences of Adam’s transgression by paying his karmic debt. This becomes apparent when the Bible often draws parallels between Adam and Christ:

The obedience of Jesus reversed the disobedience of Adam:

ADAM and JESUS: “For just as through the disobedience of the one man (Adam) the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man (Jesus) the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)

These Bible verses describe the work of Adam being undone by the work of Jesus. This is an excellent example of how divine justice is meted out in the Bible and in Eastern religions. The only person who can satisfy divine justice by reversing the work of Adam would have to be Adam himself or an incarnation of Adam. And because Paul states in the Bible verse above that Jesus was the only man who could satisfy divine justice by paying the “karmic debt” of Adam, this implies that Adam was indeed a previous incarnation of Jesus.

After Satan caused Adam and Eve to sin, God passed judgment upon them. In doing so, God revealed a remarkable prophecy which is that humanity’s redemption will come through Eve – through the birth of a son:

SATAN and EVE: “Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’ So the Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, ‘Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put hostility between you (Satan) and the woman (Eve), and between your (Satan’s) offspring and hers (Eve’s offspring); he (Eve’s offspring) will crush your (Satan’s) head, and you (Satan) will strike his (Eve’s offspring’s) heel.” (Genesis 3:13-15)

Notice how this Genesis verse refers to “Eve’s offspring” as “he” (singular, not plural) meaning Eve’s offspring will be a single man which suggests Eve’s offspring will be a descendant of hers. This Genesis 3:15 verse, where God pronounces judgment on Satan and Eve, is so remarkable I want to break it up into four parts to analyze it fully. It not only supports the idea of Adam as a previous incarnation as Jesus; but also Eve as a previous incarnation of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Let’s separate God’s judgment upon Satan and Eve from Genesis 3:13-15 giving only Genesis 3:15:

SATAN and EVE (paraphrased): “And I will put hostility between Satan and Eve, and between Satan’s offspring and Eve’s son; Eve’s son will crush Satan’s head, and Satan will strike Eve’s son’s heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

We can now break down Genesis 3:15 into these four parts:

(a) God will put hostility between Satan and Eve.
(b) God will put hostility between Satan’s offspring and Eve’s son.
(c) Eve’s son will crush Satan’s head.
(d) Satan will strike Eve’s son’s heel.

Let’s examine each part separately:

(a) God will put hostility between Satan and Eve:

Here is part (a) of the Genesis 3:15 prophecy:

SATAN versus EVE: “And I will put enmity between you (the serpent, Satan) and the woman (Eve).” (Genesis 3:15)

Part (a) of the Genesis 3:15 prophecy is fulfilled in the Book of Revelation below:

SATAN versus MARY: “When the dragon (Satan) saw that he had been hurled to the Earth, he pursued the woman (Jesus’ mother Mary) who had given birth to the male child (Jesus).” (Revelation 12:17)

These verses make sense only if Eve was a previous incarnation of Mary. The mother of Jesus was certainly persecuted by Satan when her son Jesus was killed. These verses imply that Mary was paying the “karmic debt” for Eve’s transgression in the Garden of Eden in the same way that Jesus paid the “karmic debt” for Adam.

(b) God will put hostility between Satan’s offspring and Eve’s son:

Here is part (b) of the Genesis 3:15 prophecy:

SATAN’S OFFSPRING versus EVE’S SON: “…and between your (Satan) offspring and her’s (Eve’s son, the Messiah).” (Genesis 3:15)

Part (b) of the Genesis 3:15 prophecy is fulfilled when Jesus, Mary’s son, referred to those who wanted to kill him as Satan’s “offspring”:

SATAN’S OFFSPRING versus MARY’S SON: “You belong to your father the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44-45)

So part (b) of the Genesis 3:15 prophecy reveals the hostility between the enemies of Jesus (Satan’s offspring) and Jesus (Mary’s son) which is even more suggestive of Eve being a previous incarnation of Mary.

As a side note, the Bible also teaches us how to recognize Satan’s “offspring” from God’s “offspring”:

“This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:10)

(c) Eve’s son will crush Satan’s head

Here is part (c) of the Genesis 3:15 prophecy:

EVE’S SON verses SATAN: “…he (Eve’s son) will crush your (Satan’s) head…” (Genesis 3:15)

Part (c) of the Genesis 3:15 prophecy is fulfilled when Jesus conquered Satan at the cross when he paid for Adam’s transgression.

MARY’S SON versus SATAN: “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30)

These verses suggest even more that Eve was a previous incarnation of Mary. Paul uses the same language when he writes how the “God of peace” will “crush Satan under the feet” of those who believe (Romans 16:20). This “God of peace” in Romans is a reference to the Messiah as written in Isaiah 9:6.

(d) Satan will strike Eve’s son’s heel

Here is part (d) of the Genesis 3:15 prophecy:

SATAN versus EVE’S SON: “… and you (Satan) will strike his (Eve’s son’s) heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

Part (d) of the Genesis 3:15 prophecy is fulfiilled in the following verses:

SATAN versus MARY’S SON: “Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus.” (Luke 22:3-4)
SATAN versus MARY’S SON: “Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others – one on each side and Jesus in the middle … Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother … When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:17-18; 19:25; 19:30)
SATAN versus MESSIAH: “They have pierced my hands and my feet.” (Psalm 22:16)

So making the appropriate substitutions when taking all the interpretations of parts (a) through (d), we can understand the Genesis 3:15 prophecy of God pronouncing judgment upon Satan and Eve this way:

SUMMARY: God has put hostility between (a) Satan and Eve, and between (b) Satan’s offspring and Eve’s son; (c) Eve’s son will crush Satan’s head, and (d) Satan will strike Eve’s son’s heel.

So now we can understand the “hidden” meaning behind Genesis 3:15 when God pronounces judgment upon Satan and Eve:

SUMMARY: God put hostility between Satan and Eve, and between the Satan’s children and Eve’s future son (the Messiah); the Messiah will crush Satan’s head [at the cross], but in doing so, Satan will strike the Messiah’s heel (Jesus’ crucifixion).

In summation, Genesis 3:15 is the first Messianic prophecy mentioned in the Bible and is a reference to an offspring of Eve who will be the Messiah and who will pay for the transgressions of Adam and Eve. What is interesting is how this verse refers to the Messiah as the “offspring of Eve.” While it is true every human being can be considered to be an “offspring of Eve,” this verse makes better sense when interpreted to mean an offspring born directly from Eve’s own womb. This means Eve would need to reincarnate to give birth to the Messiah. The woman who gave birth to Jesus was, of course, the Virgin Mary. Traditionally, the Catholic Church has believed that Mary was not only a virgin when she bore Jesus, but that she herself was born without sin. Thus, a mystical tradition has existed concerning Mary which lasts even to this day.

But what makes this “Eve-Virgin Mary connection” important is how it best explains – in a logical manner – the cosmic reasons for Jesus’ sacrifice and death and how it satisfied divine justice. The ancient concept of divine justice can be summed up beautifully in the Bible as “an eye for an eye.” This concept of divine justice was not limited to just the early Hebrews because it is a concept that is practically universal. The more ancient religions of the East referred to the concept of an eye for an eye as “karma.” It demands transgressors pay for their own transgressions. No one else can pay for your own transgressions but you. Thus, because it was Adam and Eve who transgressed, it would have to be Adam and Eve themselves who paid. God’s judgment upon them was that Eve would have to bear a son who would suffer as a consequence for their transgression. The only real and logical way this could be done would be through reincarnation. Eve would have to reincarnate to bear a son – the reincarnation of Adam. His tremendous suffering at the cross – and the suffering it would cause herself – would satisfy divine justice and pay for the transgression committed in Eden.

When we consider the orthodox view that Jesus and Mary were not the reincarnations of Adam and Eve, it makes much less sense when we talk about the so-called substitutionary sacrificial nature of Christ’s death. The big question is this: How can divine justice be satisfied when an innocent person suffers and pays for the transgressions of someone else? Without reincarnation, it makes complete nonsense. It only makes sense if the innocent person was a reincarnation of the guilty person paying for their transgressions.

17. Identical Burial Place: Golgotha

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there was a Jewish tradition that the skull of Adam was stored at Golgotha where Jesus was crucified:

“There was a tradition current among the Jews that the skull of Adam, after having been confided by Noah to his son Shem, and by the latter to Melchizedek, was finally deposited at the place called, for that reason, Golgotha. The Talmudists and the Fathers of the Church were aware of this tradition, and it survives in the skulls and bones placed at the foot of the crucifix. The Evangelists are not opposed to it, inasmuch as they speak of one and not of many skulls. (Luke, Mark, John, loc. cit.) Calvary is 140 feet south-east of the Holy Sepulcher and 13 feet above it. The early traditions mentioned at the beginning of this article still cling to it. The chapel of Adam beneath that of Calvary stands for the first. A picture in it represents the raising of Adam to life by the Precious Blood trickling down upon his skull. An altar is there dedicated to Melchizedek.” (Catholic Encyclopedia)

The following Bible verse describes Jesus’ crucifixion at Golgotha:

“Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others – one on each side and Jesus in the middle.” (John 19:17-18)

18. Edgar Cayce’s Revelation of Jesus

When Cayce was in one of his many psychic trances, a question was put to him about Jesus as follows:

QUESTION: “When did the knowledge come to Jesus that he was to be the Savior of the world?”
CAYCE’S ANSWER: “When he fell in Eden.” [Cayce Reading 2067-7]

According to Edgar Cayce, the incarnations of the Christ-soul were as follows. Amilius the ruler of the lost civilization of Atlantis; Adam the first “son of God” and “son of man”; Enoch the patriarch who journeyed to heaven to receive mysteries; Hermes the sage and architect of the Great Pyramid; Melchizedek the mystical High Priest and and ancient King of Jerusalem; Joseph the son of Jacob who became the Prince of Egypt; Joshua the leader of the Israelites into the Promised Land; Asaph the music director and seer who served under David and Solomon; Jeshua the scribe of Moses who helped write the Torah; Zend the father of Zoroaster who founded the Zoroastrianism religion; and finally Jesus the Christ who overcame death and will return again to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth [See Cayce Reading 364-7]. According to Cayce, the entire Christian Bible is the story of the Christ-soul’s long struggle to attain Christhood – the perfect unity of the human with the divine.

The belief in many incarnations of Jesus is not a new belief. The early Christian group known as the Ebionites taught that the Holy Spirit had first incarnated as Adam and later reincarnated as Jesus. Other Jewish Christian groups such as the Elkasaites and Nazarenes also held this belief. The Samaritans believed that Adam had reincarnated as Seth, then Noah, Abraham, and even Moses. The Clementine Homilies, an early Christian document, also taught many incarnations of Jesus.

What is interesting about Cayce identifying Adam as a previous incarnation of Jesus, is how the Jewish Kabbalistic book called the Zohar describes Adam appearing to people after their death. Assuming the concept held by many early Christians of Adam as a previous incarnation of Jesus, the Zohar agrees with the multitude of near-death accounts where people are met by Jesus after their death.

Cayce affirmed how the Christ-soul, by possessing the body of Adam, ultimately became the first human being who attained the unity of the human with the divine in the person named Jesus. It should also be noted that sin did not begin with Adam according to Cayce, but had its origins in spiritual realms before even the creation of the Earth. We can therefore assume this was Adam’s redemptive intent all along – to be savior of the world. Christ is thus seen as the last Adam, the “one man” who by his obedience undoes the results of the disobedience of the first (Romans 5:12-21). Jesus recapitulated the stages of Adam’s fall, but in reverse order and quality. It is understandable how shocking this statement of Cayce’s is to most fundamental Christians, how it makes Jesus appear to be the author of sin at the human level. However, Cayce in no way states that Jesus as the Christ was guilty of any sin of any kind. At that stage of his personal and cosmic development his obedience was flawless, his relationship with God perfect. In Cayce’s words:

“… the perfect relationship to the Creative Forces or God, the Father – which the human Jesus attained when he gave of himself to the world, that through him, by and in him, each entity might come to know the true relationship with the Father.” (Edgar Cayce)

Cayce also affirmed Jesus would reincarnate again at the so-called “Second Coming.”

Cayce unlocked the mystery of Adam and Eve and why there are two separate and contradictory creation accounts described in Genesis 1:25-27 (the first creation account) and Genesis 2:18-22 (the second creation account.) The first creation account describes how the man and woman were created at the same time in God’s image and after the creation of the animals. The second creation account describes how man was created first, then the animals, and then the woman from “Adam’s rib.”

Cayce associated the first creation account of Genesis 1:25-27 with the creation of Amilius – the first Christ-soul – and the first expression of Divine Mind (the logos) BEFORE his first incarnation into a physical body identified as Adam. Cayce revealed how the first creation account involved a first wave of souls leaving heaven and inhabiting Earth. This event is described in the Bible as the time when the “Sons of God” mated with the “daughters of men” (Genesis 6:1-4) producing the “Nephilim.” This entanglement of the Sons of God with the flesh of ape-like bodies occurred through the accidental misuse of their free will. Cayce identified this entanglement of souls with flesh as the Biblical account of the “fall of the angels” as described symbolically in Revelation 12 and in the Book of Enoch – a book considered to be part of the Hebrew canon and which Jesus’ brother, Jude, quoted from in the Epistle of Jude in the New Testament. Enoch, according to Cayce, was also an incarnation of the Christ-soul whose trip to heaven describes in detail the fall of the angels.

Cayce associated the second creation account with a second wave of souls incarnating to Earth as “sons of God” led by Amilius who voluntarily became entrapped in flesh as Adam in order to assist the first wave of entrapped souls. Cayce identified this second wave of souls with the creation account of Adam and Eve where Amilius altered the process of physical evolution in order to create more appropriate physical bodies for them rather than the ape-like forms they possessed and became entangled with. This process is described symbolically in Genesis 2:21 where the woman was formed from “Adam’s rib.” Adam was the first “son of man” and “Son of God” having the Christ-soul incarnated into physical form. Cayce also uses the name “Adam” to refer to the entire group of souls who Amilius aided into incarnating as the five races on five separate continents [Cayce Reading 900-227].

Cayce identified Amilius to be the ruler of the lost continent of Atlantis whose wife was named “Lilith” – another non-physical soul-entity. Cayce identified Lilith as being the first physical incarnation of Eve. Interestingly enough, there exists a ancient legend associated with a spirit-entity named Lilith apart from the Cayce readings.

19. Edgar Cayce’s Revelation of the Virgin Mary

According to Cayce, not only was Jesus and Adam the same soul in different incarnations, but the Virgin Mary and Eve were also the same soul in different incarnations. Cayce also revealed that Adam and Eve (and therefore Jesus and Mary) were “twin souls“. When Cayce used this term in the readings, he was not referring to “soulmates” which is a different concept. Basically, a soulmate is a soul – or a group of souls – who have shared so many lifetimes that they resonate to the same pitch or vibration, so to speak. Soulmates understand each other like no one else can. This acquired understanding gives soulmates the ability to help each other in ways that would be difficult without the deep bonding that has occurred through the multitude of incarnations together.

Twin souls, on the other hand, are two souls who share a common purpose or higher ideal. They do not necessarily have to be married or have had previous marriage incarnations. While the “soulmate” relationship is largely built in the physical realm, the “twin soul” relationship evolves more from a commonality in the spirit realms – at the idea or ideal level. It is in this sense that the Adam/Eve and Jesus/Mary relationship is considered by Cayce to be a “twin soul” relationship.

The Cayce readings state that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were affiliated with an Essene community based near Mount Carmel. It was a continuation of the “school of the prophets” begun by Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, and ultimately Melchizedek. Although the Essenes are not mentioned in the Bible, what Cayce’s generation would have known about them came only from the writings of Josephus, Philo, and Pliny the Elder. Because the Dead Sea Scrolls were not discovered until 1947, Cayce could not have been influenced by them because he died in 1945. But much of what Cayce revealed about the Essenes was later verified by the Dead Sea Scrolls.

According to the Cayce material, the Essenes were a religious community consisting of both Jews and Gentiles, men and women, whose purpose was to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. The word “Essene,” according to Cayce, means “expectancy.” Josephus wrote that the Essenes were known for fortune-telling. Cayce described them spending their time recording experiences of “the supernatural or out of the ordinary experiences; whether in dreams, visions, voices, or what not” (Cayce Reading 1472-1). Cayce revealed the Essenes as students of astrology, numerology, and reincarnation.

The Dead Sea Scrolls describe the Essenes as an authoritarian, highly regimented community which controlled every aspect of its members’ lives. The Manual of Discipline specifies that members were to turn over all money and property to the community after a year’s probation. Qumran was located at about a four-hour walk from Jericho, most likely from a desire to be separated from the world. Their theology stressed a good versus evil dualism. Their writings describe a conflict between a “Teacher of Righteousness” and the “Wicked Priest” which some scholars believe refers to the struggle among early Christians between James and Paul. The Essenes anticipated a final war between the “sons of light” and the “sons of darkness.” The scholars agree that there are many interesting similarities between Jesus and the Qumran community. Other similarities can be found in the life and ministry of John the Baptist.

Cayce revealed that, due to her great virtue, Mary was chosen by the Essenes at around the age of thirteen for intensive spiritual training in preparation for the conception of the Messiah. Mary’s election as mother of the Messiah occurred during a special ceremony in the temple at Mount Carmel, in which an angel lead her by the hand to the altar. Remarkably, this agrees with early Christian writings discovered in Egypt after Cayce’s death:

In the Infancy Gospel of James, Mary is presented to the Lord at the age of three when her father Joachim “set her on the third step of the altar, and the Lord God gave grace to her … and she received food from the hand of an angel.” Cayce and the Infancy Gospel of James agree that Joseph was chosen to be Mary’s husband by lot. They also agree that Joseph was much older than Mary. Cayce revealed their ages at the time of their marriage as thirty-six and sixteen, respectively. Meanwhile, the Infancy Gospel of James states that Joseph was a widower, and although different versions disagree as to Mary’s age, the most common figure is sixteen. Cayce and the Infancy Gospel of James agree that Jesus was born in a cave. Cayce also revealed that the Essenes admitted women which agrees with the writings of Josephus.

More about the Cayce revelations concerning the Essenes can be found at the Edgar Cayce website.

Categories
History Reincarnation

Reincarnation In Judaism

From time to time in Jewish history, there was an insistent belief that their prophets were reborn. Evidence of this can be found in the Hebrew scriptures, the Dead Sea Scrolls, early Christian and Jewish Gnostic writings, the New Testament, and the writings of ancient historians. At the time of Jesus, there were many competing ideas concerning death and what happens afterward. Greek and Neo-Platonic concepts of reincarnation, Persian resurrection, ancient Hebrew ideas of “Sheol“, beliefs in no afterlife at all, and religions and philosophies from other sources, all existed among the Jews in those days.

The origin of resurrection in Jewish and Christian doctrine began with the Babylonian exile, a period when the Jews in Israel were conquered and taken captive to Babylon. Later, in 539 B.C., Babylon itself was conquered by the Persians who installed a Zoroastrian theocracy throughout the defeated Babylonian empire. It was then that the Zoroastrian religion and its doctrine of resurrection began exerting a tremendous influence on Judaism. Christianity, in turn, inherited the concept of resurrection from Judaism. In fact, it was the Zoroastrian religion that was the source of resurrection, the belief in angels (including that of Satan), the afterlife, rewards and punishments, the soul’s immortality, and the Last Judgment.

Before the influence of Zoroastrianism on Judaism, the Jews believed in “Sheol,” a pit beneath the Earth where people went after death. As time went on, many Jews greatly resisted the imposition of Zoroastrianism masquerading as Judaism. Whatever the Persian governors and priests were doing in Jerusalem in the name of Judaism, caused a great schism. A sect of purists, called the Sadducees, which was made up of over 97% of the population, rose up. They rejected all Persian concepts such as resurrection, angels, or spirits. The Sadducees did not emphasize life after death at all according to the New Testament (Matthew 22:23).

The first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote that the Pharisees, the Jewish sect that founded Rabbinic Judaism to which Paul once belonged, believed in reincarnation. He writes that the Pharisees believed the souls of evil men are punished after death. The souls of good men are “removed into other bodies” and they will “have power to revive and live again.” Josephus records that the Essenes of the Dead Sea Scrolls lived “the same kind of life” as the followers of Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher who taught reincarnation. According to Josephus, the Essenes believed that the soul is both immortal and pre-existent, necessary for tenets for belief in reincarnation.

Because Israel was located at a strategic crossroad where several continents come together, Jews in those days were exposed to many religions and philosophies. Some Jews were Gnostics of the Platonic tradition and were believers in “transmigration,” a form of reincarnation held by the Greeks. Other Jews held to the Persian concept of resurrection. Jewish ideas included the concept that people could live again without knowing exactly the manners by which this could happen. Today, believers in traditional Judaism firmly believed that death was not the end of human existence. However, because Judaism is primarily focused on life here and now rather than on the afterlife, Judaism does not have much dogma about the afterlife, and leaves a great deal of room for personal opinion. Today, it is possible, for example, for an Orthodox Jew to believe the “resurrection” refers to a time when souls of the righteous dead go to a place similar to the Christian heaven. It is also possible for an Orthodox Jew today to believe the “resurrection” refers to the reincarnation of a soul through many lifetimes.

In the Talmud, “gilgul neshamot” (i.e., reincarnation) is constantly mentioned. The term literally means “the judgment of the revolutions of the souls.” Rabbi Manasseh ben Israel (1604-1657), one of the most revered Rabbis in Israel, states in his book entitled Nishmat Hayyim:

“The belief or the doctrine of the transmigration of souls is a firm and infallible dogma accepted by the whole assemblage of our church with one accord, so that there is none to be found who would dare to deny it… Indeed, there is a great number of sages in Israel who hold firm to this doctrine so that they made it a dogma, a fundamental point of our religion. We are therefore in duty bound to obey and to accept this dogma with acclamation… as the truth of it has been incontestably demonstrated by the Zohar, and all books of the Kabalists.” (Nishmat Hayyim)

Reincarnation has been a belief for thousands of years for orthodox Jews. The Zohar is a book of great authority among Kabbalistic Jews. It states the following:

“All souls are subject to revolutions. Men do not know the way they have been judged in all time.” (Zohar II, 199b)

That is, in their “revolutions” they lose all memory of the actions that led to their being judged.

Another Kabbalistic book, the Kether Malkuth states:

“If she, the soul, be pure, then she shall obtain favor … but if she has been defiled, then she shall wander for a time in pain and despair… until the days of her purification.” (Kether Malkuth)

How can the soul be defiled before birth? Where does the soul wander if not on this or some other world until the days of her purification? The rabbis explained this verse to mean that the defiled soul wanders down from paradise through many births until the soul regained its purity.

When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947, it was considered the greatest archeological discovery ever found. It revealed never before known information about the Jewish sects at the beginning of the transformation of a small sect of Jews that later developed into Christianity. Two years earlier, in 1945, early Christian Gnostic writings were discovered which also provided important details about the early sects of Christianity. Together, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gnostic discoveries yielded more information in particular concerning Jewish and early Christian mystic belief and practice of divine union (i.e., attaining a perfect human-divine unity). In fact, the Dead Sea Scrolls prove that the Jewish mystical tradition of divine union went back to the first, perhaps even the third, century B.C.E. Jewish mysticism has its origins in Greek mysticism, a system of belief which included reincarnation. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, some of the hymns found are similar to the Hekhaloth hymns of the Jewish mystics. One text of hymns gives us clear evidence of Jewish mysticism. The text is called “Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice.” Fragments of 1 Enoch, which is considered the oldest text of Jewish mysticism, were also found with the Scrolls. Since evidence shows Jewish mysticism existed in the third century B.C.E., as Enoch indicates, then it would certainly have existed in first-century Israel. As stated earlier, the ideas of divine union and reincarnation can both be found in early Christianity. One may easily conclude it was the key to the very heart of Jesus’ message.

One particular Dead Sea Scroll entitled “I IQ Melchizedek Text” which contains a sermon called “The Last Jubilee“, mentions reincarnation. This scroll is about the “last days” during which time it says, a “Melchizedek redivivus” (revived, reincarnate) will appear and destroy Belial (Satan) and lead the children of God to eternal forgiveness. Below are parts of this message from this scroll, parts of which are unreadable. The unreadable parts will be denoted by this (…) symbol. Here is it’s message:

“When, therefore, the scriptures speaks of a day of atonement … What is meant, … is that … by a day on which all the children of Light and all who have cast their lot with the cause of righteousness will achieve forgiveness of their sins, whereas the wicked will reap their desserts and be brought to an end. There is a further reference to this final judgment in the continuation of the verse from the Psalter . . . the allusion is to Belial and the spirits of his ilk — that is to … defy God’s statutes in order to perfect justice … King … Melchizedek … will execute upon them God’s avenging judgment, and … deliver the just from the hands of Belial and all those spirits of his ilk. With all the angels of righteousness at his aid, he will blast the council of Belial to destruction … the eminence in question being the destination of all who are indeed children of God … It will be from Belial … that men will turn away in rebellion, and there will be a reestablishment of the reign of righteousness, perversity being confounded by the judgments of God. This is what scripture implies in the words, ‘Who says to Zion, your God has not claimed his Kingdom!’ The term Zion there denoting the total congregation of the ‘sons of righteousness’ that is, those who maintain the covenant and turn away from the popular trend, and your God signifying the King of Righteousness, alias Melchizedek Redivivus, who will destroy Belial. Our text speaks also of sounding a loud trumpet blast throughout the land on the tenth day of the seventh month. As applied to the last days, this refers to the fanfare which will then be sounded before the Messianic King.” (The Last Jubilee)

As was mentioned earlier, Melchizedek was the High Priest described in the Bible who sounds remarkably like an incarnation of Jesus. It was also mentioned how some early Christians believed Melchizedek to be an early incarnation of Jesus. If the above message of the Dead Sea Scrolls can be believed, then the passage is very likely referring to the coming of a Messiah who will be a reincarnation of Melchizedek.

Categories
History Reincarnation

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and Her Near-Death Experience

A lot of media attention is being given to the novel “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown because of its radical claims purporting to be historical truth. The book may be riding the popular crest of another recent religious story about Jesus called “The Passion.” Since the book was released, a primetime television special was broadcast about the book. Hollywood director Ron Howard is said to be planning to make a movie about it. Cable programs have been airing debates about the book and the controversy surrounding it. The following is an article about the Gnostic “Gospel of Mary.”

Table of Contents

  1. Historical Concepts About Mary Magdalene
  2. Evidence Revealing Jesus was Married to Mary Magdalene
  3. Who was Mary Magdalene?
  4. The Orthodox Mary Magdalene Versus the Gnostic Mary Magdalene
  5. Jesus’ Elevation of the Role of Women
  6. The Fall of the Role of Women by Orthodox Christianity
  7. Mary Magdalene – The Beloved Disciple
  8. Mary Magdalene’s Near-Death Experience
  9. The Gospel of Mary
  10. An Analysis of Mary Magdalene’s NDE

1. Historical Concepts About Mary Magdalene

Before I heard about the book, The Da Vinci Code, I was already familiar with the historical concepts the book is based on:

(1) Jesus was not believed to be God by his followers, but was viewed to be a man who was very close to God.

(2) Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene who was the “disciple whom Jesus loved.”

(3) That Mary Magdalene played a larger role in early Christian history than previously thought. She was considered an apostle of Christ and was the author of the Gospel of John. (She was also the author of the Gospel of Mary which was discovered in 1945 and describes the soul’s journey after death which resembles a near-death experience. It also has concepts similar to those found in Tibetan Buddhism‘s “Book of the Dead.” More about this later.

(4) There was a covered-up, either intentionally or ignorantly, by the Church centuries after Jesus’ death which attempted to hide these controversies.

These controversial claims may be the only thing about The Da Vinci Code which are actually true. The leading authority on the women of ancient Christianity is the Harvard professor Karen L. King who has commented on the entire book by saying it is “good fiction.”

In the 60s and 70s, there were controversial books and movies about Jesus such as “Jesus Christ Superstar” which assumed that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a sexual relationship. Of recent date, Martin Scorsese’s 1988 movie “The Last Temptation of Christ” included a sex scene between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The idea of a married Jesus is a controversy thousands of years old.

Concerning “The Da Vinci Code,” I only want to mention the importance of Leonardo Da Vinci‘s painting entitled “The Last Supper” which you can see on the right. If you look at the painting you will notice that the disciple seated to Jesus’ right appears to be either a woman or a very, very effeminate man. Historically, the orthodox Church has assumed the identity of the “disciple whom Jesus loved” to be the Apostle John. The disciple whom Jesus loved is the disciple described in the Bible as resting his head on the bosom of Jesus during the Last Supper. If this “beloved disciple” really is John, this raises an interesting question: What kind of relationship did this “disciple whom Jesus loved” actually have with Jesus?

If we assume that Jesus loved everyone, then what made this special disciple become more favored by Jesus? Such questions have led some scholars (and movie producers) to speculate that Jesus may have been a homosexual. This theory is even more controversial. Besides Jesus having a special male disciple to love, Jesus is described in the Bible as kissing men, living and sleeping with men, washing their bodies, and teaching them to love other men. The Bible also records Jesus “giving his body” to his disciples to “eat.” Jesus also preached tolerance for so-called “sinners” such as adulterers, prostitutes, and even homosexuals (Matthew 10:14-15). He rejected the social norms of his day which considered such outcasts as worthy of death. In those days, women had the same status as cattle, slavery was sanctioned, and so-called sexually immoral people were stoned to death. Not only did Jesus not follow the social norms of his day, he hung out with the sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors and even made some of them apostles. He even told the religious bigots that the prostitutes were entering heaven before they were.

2. Evidence Revealing Jesus was Married to Mary Magdalene

Despite all these things, I am convinced that the evidence shows that Jesus was not a homosexual (although I would not think less of Jesus if he was) but that the “special disciple” whom Jesus loved was none other than Mary Magdalene. There are some very good reasons to believe that Jesus was married. Here are the major ones:

(1) Jesus was culturally obligated to be married. In those days, Jewish law required every Rabbi to be married. Unmarried men were considered a curse to Jewish society. Jesus said he fulfilled the law and the prophets. The first positive commandment found in the Bible deals with the propagation of the human race (Genesis 1:28). It was therefore considered the duty of every male in Israel to marry – usually at the age of eighteen. Anyone who remained unmarried after age twenty was considered cursed by God (source: Kid. 29b). So important was marriage to the Jews of ancient Israel that men were frequently compelled by the courts to take a wife (source: M. Zvi Udley, Ph.D.). Given the cultural conditions in which Jesus lived, the burden of proof lies with those who do not believe Jesus was married. They must show why Jesus and his parents would have been derelict in their civic responsibilities and not contracted a marriage for Jesus.

(2) According to Josephus, the great Jewish historian, the descendants of David felt a moral obligation to perpetuate their royal heritage because they never knew which one of their descendants would be the chosen Messiah. The Bible shows that Jesus was a direct descendant of David and this made him morally obligated to be married.

(3) Hippolytus and Origen, two earlier Church leaders, wrote that the Song of Solomon was a prophecy of a marital union between Christ and Mary Magdalene.

(4) While the Bible “appears” to be silent on the subject of Jesus’ marital status, it was not until late in the second century that any Christian leader denied that Jesus was married. Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria believed that a married Jesus was inconsistent with his role as the Savior of the world. Other Church fathers denied that Jesus was married based upon the supposed silence in the Bible about his marital status. They also believed it conflicted with the Church’s doctrine of a celibate priesthood and the Church’s general view of sex as sinful. The evidence shows that the Church eventually denied the very humanity of Jesus when the council declared him God.

(5) Irenaeus, a major second century Christian leader, wrote about the so-called “Doctrine of Recapitulation” which supports the idea of a married Jesus. Irenaeus taught that Jesus symbolically entered every critical stage of human existence and sanctified it. This included a person’s family and sexual life.

(6) There was a second century tradition among certain early Christian sects which held that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. There is also Biblical and extra-Biblical evidence of their special relationship as man and wife.

3. Who was Mary Magdalene?

Throughout history, Mary Magdalene has been a mysterious figure for many Christians. She is the most prominent woman in the Gospels and is mentioned first in seven of the eight lists of women who walked with Jesus. An orthodox tradition exists which claims that Mary Magdalene was a repentant prostitute – even though there is no Biblical evidence suggesting she was a prostitute. She is mentioned in the Bible as being among the women of Galilee who followed Jesus and his disciples. She was present at Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. She was one of the women who went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. She was the first to see the risen Christ. By definition, this meant she was the “first apostle.” She was the one who announced Jesus’ resurrection to the apostles. Because she was the first to announce his resurrection, the Catholic Church honored her with the title “apostola apostolorum” which means “the apostle to the apostles.”

The Bible never claims that Mary Magdalene was the repentant prostitute who washes the feet of Jesus with her hair in Luke 7:36-50. But this incident of a woman anointing the feet of Jesus is cited by some scholars as the most direct witness to Jesus being married. This incident is recorded in all four Gospels and was a story in which Jesus himself gave express command that it be preserved. This feet anointing ceremony was an ancient ritual among royalty in the ancient world. It was a ritual which sealed the marital union between a king and his spouse. The ritual is even mentioned briefly in the Song of Solomon.

The Bible never claims that Mary Magdalene was the woman who was caught in the act of adultery and saved from being stoned to death by Jesus in John 8:1-11. However, she is identified as having once been possessed by seven demons in Luke 8:2. This may be the source of the orthodox tradition that Mary was a prostitute before she met Jesus.

The Bible records that Mary met Jesus after his resurrection. The Bible records a degree of intimacy between them during this incident which one would expect between lovers, not friends. When Mary is referred to as “woman” by Jesus, it can just as easily be translated as “wife”. The Greek word for “woman” and “wife” is the same and translators have to rely on the context in determining how to translate it. Sometimes, the translation between “woman” and “wife” is completely arbitrary.

4. The Orthodox Mary Magdalene Versus the Gnostic Mary Magdalene

In 1945, ancient texts which yielded more information about Mary Magdalene and the early Christians were discovered in Upper Egypt. Many early Christian texts were found which included several previously unknown gospels. These gospels reveal teachings and events surrounding Jesus and the disciples which had never been known before. For example, one gospel mentions that Jesus kissed Mary Magdalene frequently and “on the mouth.” Another text shows that Jesus called Mary Magdalene the “woman who knows all.” These early writings affirm that Mary was the “companion,” even the consort, of Jesus. Mary is even the author of her own gospel called the Gospel of Mary.

All these facts begs the question: Why would there be two different traditions of Mary Magdalene? The most plausible explanation can be found in the historical schism which developed very early in the Christian community. It is apparent that the early Christian community was split by doctrinal disagreements. The majority of the community were Christians who leaned toward so-called “heretical doctrines” such as Docetism, Montanism, and Gnosticism. The rest of the community were incorporated into the emerging institutional Church. They became known as “orthodox” believers who conformed to the political and spiritual authority of the Church. These orthodox believers labeled those outside of their organization as “heretics” because they did not conform to the authority of the priests.

While the Christian Gnostics preserved the tradition of Mary Magdalene as the beloved disciple and a leader in the Christian community, the orthodox Christians, on the other hand, removed all references to Mary Magdalene as being the founder of the Johannine Community. They did this by turning the references to “the disciple whom Jesus loved” into an anonymous male disciple. Grammatical flaws found by Bible scholars within various Bible passages in the Gospel of John support this transformation. It is theorized that the emerging Church did this because they could not accept the authenticity of a gospel written by a woman. And not only did the Church suppress the prominent role of Mary Magdalene, it suppressed the role of women in general within the Church. It did this by denying the historical role that women had in Judaism.

5. Jesus’ Elevation of the Role of Women

Despite the historical treatment of women as having the same status of cattle, the Bible records that a woman once ruled ancient Israel: “Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time” (Judges 4:4). The Bible even declares Rahab the prostitute to be “righteous” for giving lodging to the spies and sending them off in a different direction (James 2:25). Besides Deborah, the Bible recognizes other female prophetesses such as the four daughters of Philip, Mary (the sister of Aaron), and Mary (the mother of God) whom the Bible states: “Henceforth all women and all generations shall call me blessed” (Luke 1:48). The Bible also reports that many women became missionaries and even martyrs for the Christian cause. While women in general held a low status in society in those days, Jesus is seen ignoring these social norms concerning women. In one incident, the disciples marvel that they find Jesus talking to a woman – and not just any woman – a Samaritan woman. Jews were forbidden to associate with Samaritans. Men were also forbidden to even touch a woman because they never knew if they would be breaking their tradition of not touching a woman while she is in her menstrual phase (Leviticus 15:19-24). Compared to the Synoptic gospels (Matthew, Luke, and Mark) the Gospel of John shows women playing a bigger role. In the Gospel of Mark, there are only 5 instances where women are recorded as speaking. In the Gospel of Matthew, there are 9 instances. In the Gospel of Luke, there are 11 instances. But the Gospel of John records 22 instances of women speaking. Of course, the Christian Gnostics maintained a tradition which started with Jesus of having women perform equal functions with men in the community. This suggests the author of this gospel, the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” viewed women more favorably. And there is evidence that the identity of the author of the Gospel of John and the “disciple whom Jesus loved” is Mary Magdalene.

6. The Fall of the Role of Women by Orthodox Christianity

As the orthodox Church gained increasing political power, the role of women in the Church decreased. This can be directly attributed to the influence of the letters and teachings of Paul. Paul frequently takes an anti-women stance in his letters. While the so-called “heretical” believers allowed women to serve as priests and gave them equal status, the orthodox Church adopted Pauline Christianity which rejected the role of women. Paul taught that women are too poor of judgment to teach; that they must remain silent in Church; that they are forbidden to have authority over a man (1 Timothy 2:12-14). In essence, Paul was saying that because women were created second and sinned first, they should shut up. Paul also demanded that women be submissive to men (Ephesians 5:22-23); that women are inferior to men (1 Corinthians 11:7); that women are “saved through childbearing” (1 Timothy 2:15); and although God declares the institution of marriage to be “good” (Genesis 2:18), Paul declares marriage to be “not good” (1 Corinthians 7:8). Paul demanded that women should wear veils to indicate their secondary status in the order of creation (1 Corinthians 11:4-16). Paul’s anti-women stance may have come from the fact that he himself was not married (although unmarried Jewish men were considered cursed) or it may be because his anti-Gnostic crusade caused him to reject the Christian Gnostic idea of equality among the sexes. Here is a comprehensive article on Paul as the source of misogyny, antisemitism, and slavery in western civilization.

The Gospel of John was written by someone who was an eyewitness to the events (John 21:24). This is a claim which the Synoptic gospels cannot make. But for some reason, the writer of the Gospel of John wanted to remain anonymous. The writer was obviously an extremely important figure. It is clear that the “disciple whom Jesus loved” was highly favored by Jesus over the other disciples. Most Biblical scholars today do not believe the Gospel of John was written by the Apostle John. The author is assumed to be the anonymous disciple of Jesus referred to as “the beloved disciple” and “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” As mentioned earlier, there is compelling evidence suggesting that the identity of this beloved disciple was Mary Magdalene. In fact, some scholars believe she may have been the true founder of what has come to be known as the Johannine Community. But at some point after the death of Jesus, the emerging male leadership of that community simply became embarrassed about having a female founder. The theory goes that in the Gospel of John, the “beloved disciple” was transformed into a male disciple in the text because this beloved disciple was clearly the founder and champion of the community that produced this gospel. That disciple was Mary Magdalene.

The Gospel of John was initially not accepted by orthodox authorities. The oldest known commentary on the Gospel of John is that of the Gnostic Heracleon (AD 180). Irenaeus of Lyons (AD 202) refuted the Gnostic exegesis of it. There is an abundant amount of correlation between the ideas found in the Gospel of John and the early Christian Gnostic writings discovered in 1945 which strongly suggests that the Gospel of John was a Gnostic gospel. It is the Gospel of John which shows Jesus teaching doctrines considered to be heresies to the Orthodox Church such as: (1) pre-existence (John 1:2; John 8:58; John 9:1-2; John 9:34); (2) reincarnation (John 3:3-8; Revelation 3:12); (3) the Jewish leaders believing in reincarnation (John 1:19-25); (4) the mystery of God within human beings (John 10:30-38; John 14:20; John 17:20-23); and (5) Jesus paying the karmic debt for the sins of humanity (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 3:5; 1 John 4:10). In the Secret Revelation of John, a Gnostic gospel written by 185 A.D. at the latest, reincarnation is placed at the center of the discussion concerning the salvation of souls. John’s perspective of reincarnation in his secret teachings is that everyone is born into this world having drunk from the water of forgetfulness and lives in a state of spiritual ignorance. People are able to overcome this ignorance by having the life-giving Spirit descend upon them. These souls “will be saved and will become perfect,” that is, escape the cycle of birth and rebirth. John asks Jesus what will happen to those who do not attain salvation. Jesus answers that they are hurled down “into forgetfulness” and thrown into “prison” – the Christian Gnostic symbol for a new body. The secret teachings of Jesus reveal that the only way for souls to escape the cycle of birth and rebirth is to acquire knowledge (“gnosis“) after coming from forgetfulness by finding a teacher who can lead the soul in the right direction:

“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.” (Secret Book of John 14:20)

As the Church gained political power, it not only denied women their rightful place in the Church, it also denied the humanity of Jesus by declaring him to be God. This made it even more impossible to assert that Jesus was ever married. Deifying Jesus also elevated him beyond humanity’s ability to become like him in attaining one-ness and son-ship with God as he did. Salvation through the example of Jesus was replaced with salvation through Jesus-worship.

7. Mary Magdalene – The Beloved Disciple

The orthodox view is that Peter was the leader of the twelve disciples and head of the Church. But the early Christian writings discovered in 1945 tell a different story – that Mary Magdalene was the beloved disciple who had more authority than Peter. This is also supported by Biblical facts. In John 13:23-26, the beloved disciple is “resting on bosom of Jesus” while Peter must petition the beloved disciple to ask Jesus a question for him. In John 18:15-16, the beloved disciple has access to the high priest’s palace while Peter does not. In John 20:2-10, the beloved disciple immediately believes in Jesus’ resurrection while Peter and the rest of the disciples do not understand what’s going on. In John 21:7, the beloved disciple is the only one who recognizes the risen Christ while he speaks from the shore to the disciples on their fishing boat. In John 21:20-23, Peter jealously asks Jesus about the fate of the beloved disciple. Even more struggles between Peter and Mary are recorded in the newly discovered writings.

These writings portray Peter as being jealous of the revelations that Mary received from the risen Christ. For example, the Gospel of Thomas describes Peter as saying: “Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life.” In the Gospel of Philip, the favorable relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene is contrasted with Jesus’ relationship with the rest of the disciples. Similar examples of Mary Magdalene being favored by Jesus over Peter can be found in the Gospel of the Egyptians and Pistis Sophia. These texts also describe Peter rejecting the authority of women to teach.

The Gospel of Mary describes Mary Magdalene as Jesus’ beloved disciple who possessed and taught superior knowledge than the public orthodox tradition had.

The Gospel of Thomas records a very interesting promise made to Peter by Jesus. He is promised that Jesus will lead Mary Magdalene in order to:

“…make her male so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Gospel of Thomas)

This seemingly strange comment can only be understood in the context of Jesus teaching the one-ness of all things which can be found throughout these writings.

In the Acts of Philip, Jesus praises Mary Magdalene for her manly character. Because of this he gives her the task of joining the weaker Philip on his mission journey – but not as a woman:

“As for you, Mary,” Jesus says, “change your clothing and your outward appearance: reject everything which from the outside suggests a woman.” (Acts of Philip)

This shows how society in those days generally rejected the authority of women.

In the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, and the Pistis Sophia, Peter is described as denying Mary Magdalene’s closeness to Jesus. These writings give Mary Magdalene a special position. In the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Mary, she is the only person to whom the other disciples refer to as the one loved by Jesus more than the others and as the one who has a greater insight.

The Gospel of Philip states:

“And the companion of the [Savior is] Mary Magdalene. [But Christ loved] her more than [all] the disciples [and used to] kiss her [often] on her [mouth]. The rest of [the disciples were offended] by it [and expressed disapproval]. They said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Savior answered and said to them, “Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness.” (Gospel of Philip)

The Gospel of Philip states:

“There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary his mother and her sister and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion.” (Gospel of Philip)

His sister and his mother and his companion were each named Mary.

These passages establish the fact that Christian Gnostics believed Mary Magdalene to be the “beloved disciple” and the companion of the Lord. She is repeatedly singled out as the disciple whom Jesus loved the most.

8. Mary Magdalene’s Near-Death Experience

Mary Magdalene is seen in the Gospel of Mary as a disciple who is singled out by Jesus for special teachings. This gospel also shows Mary describing her vision of the soul’s journey after death and the challenges it must overcome. These passages from the Gospel of Mary contain concepts similar to concepts found in near-death experiences and Tibetan Buddhism‘s Book of the Dead.

The Gospel of Mary describes how, after the crucifixion of Jesus, the disciples were gathered together and weeping. At Peter’s request, Mary tells the disciples about revelations given to her that were hidden from them. The basis for her knowledge is the vision of the Lord she had and a private dialogue with him. What is incredibly unfortunately is that four pages of the Gospel of Mary are missing and only the beginning and end of Mary’s revelation exist. Nevertheless, judging by what does exist of this gospel, Mary’s vision certainly resembles an NDE.

The revelation is in the form of a dialogue. The first question Mary asks the risen Christ is how one sees a vision. Jesus replies that the soul sees through the mind which is between the soul and the spirit. At this point the text breaks off. When the text resumes at the end of the gospel, Mary is in the midst of describing her revelation concerning the rise of the soul past the four afterlife “powers.” The four powers represent the four of the multi-dimensional levels of the afterlife hierarchy. According to Mary’s vision, the enlightened soul becomes free of their bonds, rises past the four powers, conquering them with “gnosis” (spiritual knowledge), and finally attain eternal life.

9. The Gospel of Mary

The following is the Gospel of Mary which describes this vision further:

The Gospel of Mary

…They wept greatly, saying, “How shall we go to the Gentiles and preach the gospel of the kingdom of the Son of Man? If they did not spare him, how will they spare us?” Then Mary stood up, greeted them all, and said to her brethren, “Do not weep and do not grieve nor be irresolute, for his grace will be entirely with you and will protect you. But rather let us praise his greatness, for he has prepared us and made us into men.” When Mary said this, she turned their hearts to the Good, and they began to discuss the words of the [Savior]. Peter said to Mary, “Sister, we know that the Savior loved you more than the rest of women. Tell us the words of the Savior which you remember – which you know (but) we do not, nor have we heard them.” Mary answered and said, “What is hidden from you will proclaim to you.” And she began to speak to them these words: “I,” she said, ” I saw the Lord in a vision and I said to him, “Lord, I saw you today in a vision.” He answered and said to me, “Blessed are you, that you did not waver at the sight of me. For where the mind is, there is the treasure.” I said to him, “Lord, now does he who sees the vision see it (through) the soul (or) through the spirit?” The Savior answered and said, “He does not see through the soul nor through the spirit, but the mind which (is) between the two – that is (what) sees the vision and it is ….’ (Missing pages here) “I did not see you descending, but now I see you ascending. Why do you lie, since you belong to me?” The soul answered and said, “I saw you. You did not see me nor recognize me. I served you as a garment, and you did not know me.” When it had said this, it went away rejoicing greatly. Again it came to the third power, which is called ignorance. It (the power) questioned the soul saying, “Where are you going? In wickedness are you bound. But you are bound; do not judge!” And the soul said, “Why do you judge me although I have not judged? I was bound though I have not bound. I was not recognized. But I have recognized that the All is being dissolved, both the earthly (things) and the heavenly.” When the soul had overcome the third power, it went upwards and saw the fourth power, (which) took seven forms. The first form is darkness, the second desire, the third ignorance, the fourth is the excitement of death, the fifth is the kingdom of the flesh, the sixth is the foolish wisdom of flesh, the seventh is the wrathful wisdom. These are the seven (powers) of wrath. They ask the soul, “Whence do you come, slayer of men, or where are you going, conqueror of space?” The soul answered and said, “What binds me has been slain, and what surrounds me has been overcome, and my desire has been ended, and ignorance has died. In a (world) I was released from a world, (and) in a type from a heavenly type, and (from) the fetter of oblivion which is transient. From this time on will I attain to the rest of the time, of the season, of the aeon, in silence.” When Mary had said this, she fell silent, since it was to this point that the Savior had spoken with her. But Andrew answered and said to the brethren, “Say what you (wish to) say I about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas.” Peter answered and spoke concerning these same things. He questioned them about the Savior: “Did he really speak with a woman without our knowledge (and) not openly? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did he prefer her to us?” Then Mary wept and said to Peter, “My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?” Levi answered and said to Peter, “Peter, you have always been hot-tempered. Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries. But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well. That is why he loved her more than us. Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect man and acquire him for ourselves as he commanded us, and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Savior said. When [ …] and they began to go forth (to) proclaim and to preach.

10. An Analysis of Mary Magdalene’s NDE

Mary’s description of her experience with “seven powers of wrath” causes me to wonder if this incident is somehow related to Luke’s mentioning of Mary Magdalene having seven demons cast out of her. Luke was the companion of Paul who wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. If this vision by Mary is the cause of her being smeared with the accusation of being demon possessed, it may be merely a reflection of the orthodox rejection of Christian Gnosticism and the rejection of Mary Magdalene‘s traditional authority among the disciples.

According to her vision, the first afterlife state or “power” she describes is said to be “darkness”. This may correspond to the so-called “void” experienced by NDErs immediately after death. The second afterlife state that Mary describes is referred to as “desire”. This may correspond to the earthbound realm that people with strong physical desires are attracted to after death. The third afterlife state that Mary describes is referred to as “ignorance” where judgment occurs. This may correspond to the life review and the self-judgment which NDErs often describe. The fourth afterlife level that Mary describes is referred to as “the excitement of death”. This may correspond to the feeling of joy that NDErs describe when they realize they have escaped from these darker, lower realms and the joy of entering the realm of light. The fifth afterlife state that Mary describes is referred to as “the kingdom of the flesh”. This may be a reference to how heaven has a similar appearance and environment as Earth with mountains, cities, lakes, etc… The sixth afterlife state that Mary describes is referred to as “the foolish wisdom of the flesh”. This may be a reference to how living in the higher realms is completely different to living in the environment on Earth. The seventh afterlife state that Mary describes is called the “wrathful wisdom”. Surprisingly, this is a good description of one of the afterlife phases in the Tibetan Buddhist afterlife cosmology. Wisdom is also another correlation to the NDE which frequently involves tremendous knowledge.

According to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, on the seventh “day” after death there appears the “knowledge-holding” deities, who appear fierce and demonic-looking to the unenlightened. To the enlightened, however, they appear as “peaceful deities.” But because of ignorance, the unenlightened soul cannot face these knowledge-holding deities who appear to them as “wrathful“. According to Buddhism, this confusion causes the soul to descend back to Earth to be reincarnated. On the other hand, the enlightened soul recognizes that these deities are really “peaceful” and only appear wrathful to ignorant people. It is the soul’s own negative karma which perceives these deities as they perceive them. But liberation from reincarnation is attained when the soul recognizes their one-ness with the deities. Those who do not recognize their one-ness with them will ignorantly flee out of fear to lower afterlife states.

Although this may seems very unusual to some people, a perfect example of this concept can be found in the NDE of Pastor Howard Pittman. During his NDE, Pittman is brought before God but perceives God to be the jealous and angry God of wrath he preached about for 35 years and is often incorrectly portrayed to be God in the Bible. Pittman is chased away from God’s “angry” presence because of judgment he feels before God (which is really self-judgment). But, amazingly, Pittman is allowed a second chance to go before God. This second time he is astonished to perceive God as a “God of love.” Pittman doesn’t realize it but his perception of God as a “God of wrath” was a figment of his own religious mind-set and an illusion created by his own ignorance. Pittman’s NDE is the epitome of how we create our own reality on Earth, but infinitely more so in heaven. The kingdom of heaven (or hell) is within us. Death is merely a body problem. What lives within us will become our environment after death. This is why it is critically important what a person has living within them. Is it love, joy and peace? Or do you see the devil everywhere?

Categories
History Reincarnation

Reincarnation In Early Christianity

In December, 1945, early Christian writings containing many secrets of the early Christian religion were found in upper Egypt, a location where many Christians fled during the Roman invasion of Jerusalem. Undisturbed since their concealment almost two thousand years ago, these manuscripts of Christian mysticism rank in importance with the Dead Sea Scrolls. These writings affirmed the existence of the doctrine of reincarnation being taught among the early Jews and Christians. These Christian mystics, referred to as Christian Gnostics, were ultimately destroyed by the orthodox Church for being heretics. Their sacred writings were destroyed and hidden with the belief that they would be revealed at an appropriate time in the future. The discovery in 1945 yielded writings that included some long lost gospels, some of which were written earlier than the known gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Brian A. Bain, M.A., has this to say about the 1945 discovery:

“Long considered to be heretical, ancient Gnostic Christian texts unearthed this century display compelling similarities between Gnostic conceptions of life and death and modern near-death experiences. The Gnostic texts devoted extensive tracts to what readers could expect to encounter when they died. Other passages make numerous allusions to near-death-like experiences that can be realized in this life, most notably the human encounter with a divine light. The Gnostic Christian literature gives us one more example of NDEs and similar experiences in the ancient world.”

Another interesting fact comes from Edgar Cayce (a near-death experiencer) who affirmed that Gnosticism is the highest form of Christianity.

The Christian Gnostics were regarded by some as a new Jewish sect who believed they had finally found the long-awaited Messiah and not a new religion. Some of the apostles became Gnostic and because of this, Christianity could well have grown up as a Gnostic religion had it not been for their eventual persecution by the organized Church centuries later.

Table of Contents

  1. The Secret Teachings of Jesus
  2. Origen: The Champion for the Secret Teachings of Jesus
  3. The Theology of Christian Gnosticism
  4. Christian Gnostic Writings
  5. The Gospel of Thomas
  6. The Apocalyptic Texts
  7. The Apocalypse of Paul
  8. The Suppression of Christian Gnosticism

1. The Secret Teachings of Jesus

An important Christian Gnostic teaching was the “Logos” which in Greek is translated as “the image of the Word.” It is an important concept found in the Gospel of John:

“In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

Logos is the part of God that acts in the world. It is the perfect unity of the human and the divine. This is affirmed by John when he wrote that “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” When John stated that Jesus is the Logos, he is stating that Jesus became the Logos, the Christ. The Logos is the “divine spark” of God within humans that needs to awakened. Everyone has the “image of the Word (Logos)” within them and it is for this reason that Genesis describes humanity as created “in the image and likeness of God.” The Logos is the divine Spirit in humanity. By using the Christian Gnostic idea of the Logos, John is not only affirming the pre-existence and divinity of Jesus, but he is affirming that all sons of God created in the “image of the Word” as Jesus was, preexisted in spirit before being born. In other words, every human is an incarnation of the Logos and every human has to potential of becoming like Jesus, a manifestation of the human-divine unity. Every human can attain “Christhood” and because of this, every soul will eventually be drawn back to God.

The Roman Church misunderstood what the Logos was in John and incorrectly concluded from this that only Jesus is divine – the Word made flesh. The orthodox Church either rejected or ignored this Christian Gnostic concept found in John. This may have been a factor when the Gospel of John was almost rejected from New Testament canon when it was being put together. This was during a time when Christian Gnosticism became an enemy of the organized Church. Nevertheless, it was the idea of the pre-existence of the soul and its corresponding doctrine of reincarnation that the Roman Church had great difficulty with:

“If anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema.” (Decree against reincarnation, Second Council of Constantinople)

The Christian Gnostics emphasized spiritual knowledge rather blind faith as the road to salvation. They indicated that they possessed secret knowledge (i.e., “gnosis” in Greek) concerning the hidden meaning of the “resurrection.” This was a part of the secret teachings of Jesus handed down to them by the apostles. This special knowledge was not given to people who were only given the public teachings of Christianity. They were given only to those initiated to receive these secret teachings. In contrast, the very term “Catholic” means “universal”, implying that anyone could become a member of the Church by adhering to the public teachings of faith and rituals. The Christian Gnostics were harsh critics of the orthodox Church and accused the Church of watering down the gospel in order to popularize it for the masses. The orthodox Church stressed salvation through faith alone and by the rituals of the Church.

This secret gnosis emphasized spiritual “resurrection” (i.e,. spiritual rebirth) and physical “resurrection” (i.e., reincarnation) as opposed to a resurrection defined as people sleeping in their graves until it is time for all corpses to come out of their graves on the Last Day. Christian Gnostics held the view that if spiritual resurrection was not attained in one lifetime, then the soul would be subjected to as many reincarnations as it takes until spiritual regeneration is attained.

One of the great Church leaders was Clement of Alexandria in Egypt (150-211 A.D.) who indicated that he possessed the secret teaching handed down from the apostles.

In the Gnostic text entitled the Secret Gospel of Mark, one of the Christian Gnostic texts discovered in 1945, describes Jesus performing secret initiation rituals. Before the discovery of this secret gospel, our only knowledge of it came from a letter written by Clement. Clement quotes from this secret gospel and refers to it as:

“…a more spiritual gospel for the use of those who were being perfected.” He also states, “It even yet is most carefully guarded [by the church at Alexandria], being read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries.”

Clement mentions elsewhere that Jesus revealed a secret teaching to those who were:

“…capable of receiving it and being molded by it” He also affirmed that, “The gnosis (secret knowledge) itself is that which has descended by transmission to a few, having been imparted unwritten by the apostles.” (Miscell. Book VI, Chapter 7)

The existence of a secret teaching can be found in the New Testament:

“He told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding.'” (Mark 4:11-12)

“He replied, ‘The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.'” (Matthew 13:11-12)

“We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.” (1 Corinthians 2:6-7)

“This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.” (1 Corinthians 4:1)

“At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.'” (Matthew 11:25-26)

Paul wrote about teachings which are taught to spiritual “babies,” teachings about righteousness for the more mature, and then teachings for the spiritually mature. Paul reveals this fact immediately after equating Melchizedek to Jesus by stating:

“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:11-14)

According to tradition, after the Roman invasion of Jerusalem, the author of the Gospel of Mark established a church in Alexandria, Egypt. Mark may also have been the author of a “secret gospel” containing more advanced teaching for those being initiated into the Christian mysteries. This secret gospel contains passages portraying Jesus teaching secret doctrines.

2. Origen: The Champion for the Secret Teachings of Jesus

As the orthodox church in Rome gained more and more political power the more it viewed secret teachings as a threat to their own public teachings. But the Church leader who made the final and greatest attempt to revive the secret teachings of Jesus within the orthodox teachings was the first Church Father named Origen (183-253 A.D.) of Alexandria in Egypt who was a disciple of Clement of Alexandria. Origen was the first person since Paul to develop a system of theology around the teachings of Jesus. His effort was the first within the orthodox church to systematize a theology on such a vast scale. Although Origen defended orthodoxy, he included in his system the wisdom of the Christian Gnostics. His theology was a perfect synthesis of “orthodox” and “gnostic” teachings and came the closest to reviving the “Lost Christianity” of the original sects, communities and schools, at a time when the Christian Gnosticism was falling into disrepute. Unfortunately, hundreds of years later, the Church declared him a heretic and his teachings as heresy mostly because they affirmed pre-existence and reincarnation.

Origen had this to say about the secret teachings of Jesus:

“[Jesus] conversed with His disciples in private, and especially in their sacred retreats, concerning the Gospel of God; but the words which He uttered have not been preserved, because it appeared to the evangelists that they could not be adequately conveyed to the multitude in writing or in speech and they saw what things were to be committed to writing, and how this was to be done, and what was by no means to be written to the multitude, and what was to be expressed in words, and what was not to be so conveyed.” (Contra Celsus, Chap. VI. 18)

Concerning these secret teachings, Clement stated:

“James the Righteous, John and Peter were entrusted by the Lord after his resurrection with the higher knowledge. They imparted it to the other apostles, to the seventy.” (Outlines Book VI)

3. The Theology of Christian Gnosticism

According to Gnostic theology, a series of “falling away” from “the Whole” (God) occurred in eternity which resulted in all that exists today. After the first “fall”, the divine consciousness descended to the level of the divided consciousness; now after another “fall”, it has fallen even further, into the depths of the unconscious; it has been “forgotten.” It is now humanity’s privilege to discover the potential realms of human existence and face the great challenge of the “ascension of consciousness” through the Man-God-Spirit transformation.

Once souls fell into the lower levels of consciousness, they became enamored of it and burned with the desire to experience the pleasures of matter. The souls then no longer wanted to disengage itself from these lower levels. Thus the world was born. From that moment souls forgot themselves. They forgot they original habitation, their true center and eternal being.

Gnosticism proceeds from one fundamental insight: this world in which we find ourselves is thoroughly and irretrievably less than holy. The soul is trapped in a prison of flesh, and the flesh is intrinsically less than divine. According to Gnostic theology, the creation of the cosmos came about as the result of a tragicomic mistake: the fall of the soul from God. Thanks to the advent of Christ in the lower realms of consciousness, the power of reconciling the fallen souls has been given to restore the One-ness and usher in the kingdom of light over the kingdom of flesh and matter. The unity of the Godhead is assured thanks to the introduction of the new uniting force, the Logos, the part of God who acts in the flesh and the material. It is important to distinguish the Logos (Christ) from the soul named Jesus. Any person has the potential of becoming a Logos but it was the soul known as Jesus who actually incarnated as a Logos and therefore became a Christ on Earth.

We, as humans, cannot comprehend the omnipotent power available to us until we utilize the Christ power. When we effectively use the divine “Christ awareness” we have the ability to help in the liberation of the imprisoned “sparks of divinity” from flesh and rejoin them to the Source. The divine plan of creation will become complete as the divine outpouring of Christ gnosis liberates humanity from ignorance. The result of this will be the redemption of all human beings.

The Christ power can only liberate souls through the call and revelation of Christ gnosis to, “Awake, remember who you are and where you come from!” But since the soul cannot by itself hear the gnosis, the Christ power resorts to elaborate strategies to create the conditions for which all souls will be saved.

Christian Gnostics felt that initiation into the Cosmic Christ gnosis is inseparable from “the light which lighteth every person coming into the world.” It is this light within, our Higher Self, which each individual must bring to at-onement with the divine Source if liberation is to occur.

As more and more people hear the call to “Wake up!” and attain the Christ gnosis and become liberated, their souls are received back into the bosom of Divine Consciousness. The soul becomes free from unholy flesh and from the cycle of birth and rebirth. Christian Gnostics seek to achieve this by cultivating the Higher Self within people to seek reunification with the Godhead. But each soul returning to its divine source must, after death, pass through the various levels of consciousness. Sometimes Christian Gnostics describe seven of these heavenly realms, other times ten.

4. Christian Gnostic Writings

The following quote from Jesus from the Christian Gnostic gospel, the Book of Thomas the Contender, describes Jesus teaching reincarnation:

“Watch and pray that you may not be born in the flesh, but that you may leave the bitter bondage of this life.” (Book of Thomas the Contender 9:5)

In another part of the Book of Thomas the Contender, Jesus tells the disciple Thomas that after death, those people who were once believers but have remained attached to things of “transitory beauty,” will be consumed “in their concern about life” and will be “brought back to the visible realm.”

The following quote from Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas affirms Jesus teaching reincarnation to his disciples:

“When you see your likeness, you are happy. But when you see your images that came into being before and that neither die nor become visible, how much you will bear!” (Gospel of Thomas, saying 84)

More excerpts from this very interesting gospel will be profiled later.

In the Secret Book of John, written by 185 A.D. at the latest, reincarnation is placed at the center of the discussion concerning the salvation of souls. The following is a summary of the Secret Book of John’s perspective on reincarnation:

Everyone has drunk from the water of forgetfulness and lives in a state of ignorance. Some people are able to overcome ignorance by having the life-giving Spirit descend upon them. These souls “will be saved and will become perfect,” that is, escape the cycle of birth and rebirth. John asks Jesus what will happen to those who do not attain salvation. They are hurled down “into forgetfulness” and thrown into “prison,” the Christian Gnostic symbol for a new body.

Jesus says the only way for these souls to escape is to acquire knowledge after coming from forgetfulness. A soul can accomplish this by finding a teacher who can lead the soul in the right direction:

“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.” (Secret Book of John 14:20)

Another Christian Gnostic book, the Pistis Sophia (Greek for “Faith Wisdom”), outlines a system of punishment and rewards that includes reincarnation. The book explains the differences in one’s fate as a result of past-life actions. A “man who curses” will be given a body that is continually “troubled in heart.” A “man who slanders” will be given an “oppressed” body. A thief will be given a “lame, crooked and blind body.” A “proud” and “scornful” man will be given “a lame and ugly body” that “everyone continually despises.” From this, we can see how this Earth, as well as hell, is a place of education through suffering.

According to the Pistis Sophia, some souls experience hell as a place of shadows and torture. However, after these souls pass through hell, they return to Earth for further experiences. Only a relatively few extremely evil souls are not permitted to reincarnate. These souls are cast into “outer darkness” until a time when they are “destroyed and dissolved.”

The Pistis Sophia combines the ideas of reincarnation and divine union in a verse beginning with the question:

“[What happens to] a man who has committed no sin, but done good persistently, but has not found the mysteries?” (Pistis Sophia)

The Pistis Sophia reveals such a soul will receive “a cup filled with thoughts and wisdom,” allowing the soul to remember its divine origin and pursue the “mysteries of the light” until it finds them and is able to “inherit the light forever.” To “inherit the light forever” is a Gnostic term for union with God.

In the Gospel of Phillip, Philip makes a clear distinction between the resurrection of the Spirit (i.e., spiritual regeneration) and the resurrection of the body (reincarnation). In Jesus’ case, he was born with the fullness of the Holy Spirit and his death resulted in a miracle resurrection of his body:

“Those who say that the Lord first died and then arose, are confused. For first he arose and (then) he died. If someone first acquires the resurrection [of the Spirit], he will not die; (as) God lives, that one was [not] going to [die]” (Gospel of Philip 22)

In the Apocryphal book, Wisdom of Solomon, recognized as canonical by the Catholic Church, is the following verse:

“I was given a sound body to live in because I was already good.” (Wisdom of Solomon 8:19-20)

This verse raises the following question: How is it possible to get a body after you have already been good, unless reincarnation is true?

Among the works of the Christian Gnostics are some of the early gospels, including secret gospels which were not preserved in the New Testament. The Gospel of Thomas was the first gospel ever written and is considered by scholars to be the most reliable gospel. Much of this gospel contains sayings of Jesus that are contained in the four New Testament gospels.

The Christian Gnostic gospels reveal a clear and strong vision of the resurrection as a past and present event. Below is a verse from the Gospel of Thomas that shows the “resurrection” to be a past event:

“His followers said to him, ‘When will the rest for the dead take place, and when will the new world come?’ He said to them, ‘What you look for has come, but you do not know it.'” (Gospel of Thomas, saying 51)

In the verse above, Jesus says the resurrection and the kingdom are already here. In Gnostic terms, this quote from Jesus refers to a person’s past “resurrection” (i.e., physical rebirth, reincarnation) and the fact that we are already living in the kingdom of God which exists within us. Only through the Christ gnosis can this kingdom be realized and the cycle of resurrection end.

5. The Gospel of Thomas

The sayings that are presented below are excerpts of the Gospel of Thomas that are not present in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

“These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Judas Thomas the Twin recorded.
Jesus said, “Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death.”
Jesus said, “Let one who seeks not stop seeking until one finds. When one finds, one will be disturbed. When one is disturbed, one will be amazed, and will reign over all.”
Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, ‘Behold, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds in the sky will get there before you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will get there before you. Rather, the kingdom is inside you and outside you. When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and embody poverty.”
Jesus said, “Know what is within your sight, and what is hidden from you will become clear to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.”
Jesus said, “I have thrown fire on the world and, behold, I am guarding it until it is ablaze.”
Jesus said to his disciples, “Compare me with someone, and tell me whom I am like.” Simon Peter said to him, “You are like a just angel.” Matthew said to him, “You are like a wise philosopher.” Thomas said to him, “Teacher, my mouth is utterly unable to say whom you are like.” Jesus said, “I am not your teacher. You have become intoxicated because you have drunk from the bubbling spring that I have tended.” And he took Thomas and withdrew, and told him three things. When Thomas came back to his friends, they asked him, “What did Jesus tell you?” Thomas said to them, “If I tell you even one of the things he told me, you will pick up rocks and stone me. Then fire will come forth from the rocks and devour you.”
The disciples said to Jesus, “Tell us about the end.” Jesus said, “Have you already discovered the beginning, that now you can seek after the end? For where the beginning is, the end will be. Blessed is one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end, and will not taste death.”
Jesus said, “Blessed is one who came to life before coming to life.”
Jesus said, “If you become my disciples and hearken to my sayings, these stones will serve you.”
Jesus saw some babies nursing. He said to his disciples, “These nursing babies are like those who enter the kingdom.” They said to him, “Then shall we enter the kingdom as babies?” Jesus said to them, “When you make the two into one, when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male and the female will not be female, when you make eyes replacing an eye, a hand replacing a hand, a foot replacing a foot, and an image replacing an image, then you will enter the kingdom.”
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are alone and chosen: you will find the kingdom. For you have come from it, and you will return there again.”
His disciples said to him, “When will the final rest for the dead take place, and when will the new world come?” He said to them, “What you look for has already come, but you do not know it.”
Jesus said, “I disclose my mysteries to those who are worthy of my mysteries. Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”
Jesus said, “Whoever knows everything but lacks within lacks everything.”
Jesus said, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. If you do not have that within you, what you do not have within you will kill you.”
Jesus said, “I am the light that is over all things. I am all: all came forth from me, and all attained to me. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Pick up a stone, and you will find me there.”
Jesus said, “Whoever is close to me is close to the fire, and whoever is far from me is far from the kingdom.”
Jesus said, “Images are visible to people, but the light within is hidden in the Father’s image of light. He will reveal himself, but his image is hidden by his light.”
Jesus said, “When you see a likeness of yourself, you are happy. But when you see your images that came into being before you, and that neither die nor become visible, how much you will be able to tolerate!”
Jesus said, “When you make the two into one, you will become sons of man, and when you say, ‘Mountain, move!’ it will move.”
Jesus said, “Whoever drinks from my mouth will be like me, and I shall be that person, and what is hidden will be revealed to that one.”
Jesus says, “Whoever finds self is worth more than the world.”
His disciples said to him, “When will the kingdom come?” “It will not come by looking for it. Nor will it do to say, ‘Behold, over here!’ or ‘Behold, over there!’ Rather, the kingdom of the Father is spread out on the Earth, but people do not see it.” (Gospel of Thomas)

6. The Apocalyptic Texts

Among the Christian Gnostic writings were no less than five separate apocalypses. Here they are:

(1) The First Apocalypse of James contains the secret teachings of Christ that were given to James the Just, the Lord’s brother. In it, James refers to Jesus as “rabbi.” Jesus warns James to leave Jerusalem, for the city is a dwelling place of a great number of “archons” or evil angels. Jerusalem is stigmatized as the city which “gives the cup of bitterness to the sons of light.” Jesus coaches James on what to say when he is judged and challenged by the “toll collectors” of heaven in order to pass through the gates of heaven.

(2) The Second Apocalypse of James.

(3) The Apocalypse of Adam.

(4) The Apocalypse of Paul

(5) The Apocalypse of Peter is a record of the vision of Peter the apostle in which he speaks with Christ in the spirit. In this, Peter is clearly seen as the true successor to Christ and the founder of the Gnostic community. In the vision, Peter first sees hostile priests who seem to be intent upon stoning him and Christ to death. Next, Peter recalls the crucifixion during which Jesus stood nearby talking with him.

Peter asks, “Who is this one glad and laughing on the tree (i.e., cross)? And is it another one whose feet and hands they are striking?”
Christ replies, “He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus. But this one into whose hands and feet they drive the nails is his fleshy part, which is the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness. But look at him and me.” (Apocalypse of Peter)

Peter seemed to realize that it would be a long time before his book was read and understood, for he writes:

“These things, then, which you saw you shall present to those of another race who are not of this age.” (Apocalypse of Peter)

He seems to be right, as this apocalypse has only just seen the light of day before we enter the age that many believe will begin with the second coming of Christ.

7. The Apocalypse of Paul

The Apocalypse of Paul is an account of the apostle’s ascent into heaven and what he found there, with instructions for other souls on how to conduct themselves during judgment. One of the most interesting aspects of this text is that it corresponds to events found in the New Testament and includes references to reincarnation. Several Christian Gnostic texts combine the ideas of reincarnation and union with God.

As Paul passes through the fourth heaven, he witnesses a soul being punished for murder. This soul is brought “out of the land of the dead” (i.e., Earth) by angels where three witnesses charge the soul with murder. The soul looks sorrowfully down and is cast down into a body that has been prepared for it. The book describes Paul’s journey through the heavens, which is also symbolic for the Gnostic process of union with God.

The New Testament contains a letter by the apostle Paul to the Christians in the city of Corinth, Greece, where he had founded a church on his first visit there. The Christians at this church were being divided by the teachings of so-called “false teachers” that were infiltrating the church there and Paul wrote a letter telling them to not forget what they were taught by Paul. These “false teachers” were trying to get people to follow their teachings and not Paul’s. In order to put these false teachers to shame, Paul rebukes the Corinthians by using false pride and boasting about himself and telling the church why he is more qualified than the false teachers. He tells them of his sufferings and how he was once stoned and left for dead (2 Corinthians 11:23-26). The letter goes on to say:

“I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a person 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. And I know that this person – whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows – was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that humans are not permitted to tell.” (2 Corinthians 12:1-4)

In the above passage, Paul continued his “boasting” by telling about visions and revelations he had received from the Lord. “I know a person in Christ” means that he was speaking about himself. He explained that he didn’t know if he was taken up in his body or in his spirit, but he was in paradise (“the third heaven“). This incident cannot be positively identified with a recorded event in Paul’s career, although some think this may have been when he was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19-20). Paul told about this incident to show that he had been uniquely touched by God.

Many people are unaware of this passage of the Bible and that it is a near-death experience which Paul had. The person who wrote most of the New Testament, the sacred writings of orthodox Christianity, had a near-death experience which he based his authority as an apostle of Christ to the Corinthian church. It can even be argued that his near-death experience directly or indirectly inspired his epistles.

The Apocalypse of Paul reveals how each soul must rise as best it can after death through a hierarchy of heavens and face the increasingly difficult challenges posed by the guardian angels of each heaven. The journey begins with Paul meeting a child on the mountain of Jericho on the way to heaven (symbolized by Jerusalem). This child turns out to be the Holy Spirit, who takes Paul first to the third heaven.

The Holy Spirit warns Paul to keep his wits about him for they are about to enter the realm of “principalities … archangels and powers and the whole race of demons.” The Holy Spirit also mentions that they will pass “one that reveals bodies to a soul-seed,” that is, the being that takes souls and plants them in new bodies for reincarnation. For the soul who wished to ascend to the highest heaven, reincarnation was to be avoided.

When Paul reaches the fourth heaven, the Holy Spirit encourages him to look down upon his body which he has left behind on the mountain of Jericho. As Paul ascends, he witnesses in the fourth heaven the judgment and punishment of another soul. He says, “I saw the angels resembling gods … bringing a soul out of the land of the dead.” The soul has been resurrected so that it can be judged, one of the four events promised for the end of the world. The angels were whipping it.

The soul spoke, saying, “What sin was it that I committed in the world?” The “toll collector” of this heavenly gate accuses the soul. The soul replies, “Bring witnesses! Let them show you in what body I committed lawless deeds.” Three bodies rise up as witnesses and accuse the soul of anger and envy, and finally murder. When the soul heard these things, it gazed downwards in sorrow … It was cast down.

At this point we expect the soul to be cast into hell, as in later Christian doctrine, but no: “the soul that had been cast down went to a body which had been prepared for it,” and was reincarnated.

Paul, somewhat shaken by this experience, was beckoned forward by the Holy Spirit and allowed to pass through the gate of the fifth heaven. Here he saw his fellow apostles and “a great angel in the fifth heaven holding an iron rod in his hand.” This angel and three other angels, with whips in their hands, scourge the souls of the dead and drive them on to judgment. Paul remains with the Holy Spirit and the gates to the sixth heaven swing open effortlessly before him.

In the sixth heaven, Paul sees a strong light shining down on him from the heaven above. He is motioned by the “toll collector” through the gates of the seventh heaven. Here, he sees “an old man filled with light and whose garment was white. His throne, which is in the seventh heaven, was brighter than the sun by seven times.” This old man bears a striking resemblance to Jehovah as he is described in the vision of Ezekiel.

The old man asks, “Where are you going, Paul?” Only reluctantly, after some encouragement from the Holy Spirit, does Paul speak with him and give the Gnostic sign he has learned. The eighth heaven then opens and Paul ascends. Here he embraces the twelve disciples, most of whom he has not met before, and together they rise to the ninth heaven. Finally, Paul reaches the tenth and highest heaven, where he is transformed.

8. The Suppression of Christian Gnosticism

The Christian Gnostics believed in reincarnation and the pre-existence of the soul. They refused to believe in a resurrection of corpses at the end of time. They emphasized meeting Jesus on a spiritual level to become liberated and attain permanent citizenship in heaven. The Church of Rome of the second century A.D., on the other hand, declared that those who deny a Last Day resurrection of corpses are heretics.

Many Christian Gnostics regarded themselves as part of the organized body of Christians of the early church. However, as the organized Church gained political control of the Roman Empire, the Christian Gnostics were persecuted by the organized Church and many were martyred. The Christian Gnostic tradition is one of many branches of early Christianity labeled as heretical by the early Church fathers. The Gnostic influences and writings were removed from official Church doctrines as heresy. Because of their suspected Christian Gnostic origins, the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation were almost rejected from the New Testament. Nevertheless, the organized Church succeeded in hiding its Christian Gnostic doctrines.

It is not surprising that the orthodox Church bishops edited out the practical spiritual knowledge which were once an integral part of Christianity and was known and practiced by the apostle Paul. For these fathers, it was far more convenient and gratifying for their egos to assert that spiritual grace could only be attained through them as Christ’s representatives on Earth. To control the masses, the political organization of the church declared that salvation was attained only through the church rituals and through the priesthood. Salvation through a personal mystical experience with Christ apart from the organized church was cast away. In a move that is very likely to have met with the disapproval of Christ himself, the worldly political aspirations of a few priests won out over the spiritual enlightenment of the many.

And as it is with any religion or movement, the successors of its founder decided which things to keep and which to throw out. The organized Church discarded the spiritual knowledge of Christian Gnosticism as being too dangerous and kept the concept of blind acceptance of church doctrine.

Ultimately, the organized Church declared Christian Gnosticism a heresy and began killing those who adhered to its doctrines. Thus the powerful Roman Church began its crusade of eliminating all rivals to its authority. Christian Gnosticism was obliterated and relatively little historical and theological information was left to fully understand early Christian history. This all changed in 1945 with the discovery of the Gnostic Christian scriptures discovered in Egypt. Then in 1947, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls of early Jewish Gnostic writings occurred. Today, with many Christians wondering if the Second Coming of Christ is soon to happen, it may not be a coincidence that these secret writings have come to surface after two thousand years of being hidden. Finally, after two thousands years, the secret is finally out again.

Categories
History Reincarnation

Reincarnation in Early Church History

It really shouldn’t matter much whether or not a Christian believes in reincarnation. Doctrines and beliefs matter very little in comparison to a mystical experience with the light of God. A multitude of near-death accounts affirm that God is not concerned about the theology that people profess; rather it is the inward spirituality that matters most. Whether reincarnation is true or not, near-death accounts reveal that it is the life we are currently living that is more important. This may be one of the reasons that reincarnation was suppressed by the Church. Forgetting an existence before birth is also an important revelation from NDEs. Accordingly, people are required to forget their prior existence in order to not dwell on the “mission” they are to accomplish in life. It is also the reason why NDE experiencers are made to forget details of their pre-existent life when they return to life. Focusing on the life we are living also ensures that we are not so heavenly minded, we are no earthly good. While debating whether or not reincarnation was once a doctrine of the early Church is like debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, reincarnation is certainly a concept that ties the other Christian doctrines together and solves many of the mysteries found in the Bible.

Jesus affirmed the way to overcome death and rebirth, and attain eternal life, is simply through the practice of love (Luke 10:25-28). Faith assumes the possibility of doubt; but knowledge implies certainty. Knowledge of God is attained through love according to John (1 John 4:7-8). When it comes to living a life of love, having faith in reincarnation does not give anyone an advantage before God. Reincarnation is a theory that, at most, explains the apparent inequities and apparent injustices between people and the dispensing of divine justice. But the spiritual life of love does not depend upon the particular creed one professes. With this in mind, the following information is an excerpt from Dr. Quincy Howe, Jr.‘s excellent book entitled Reincarnation for the Christian.

Table of Contents

  1. The Controversy About Origen
  2. The Theological System of Origen
  3. Objections and Rebuttals to Origen’s Theology
  4. Conclusion on Origen’s Condemnation
  5. Origen’s Theology on Human Pre-Existence
  6. Origen’s Theology on Reincarnation
  7. Other Church Fathers on Reincarnation
  8. The Christian Neo-Platonist Clement of Alexandria
  9. Biblical Support for Pre-Existence

1. The Controversy About Origen

During the period from A.D. 250 to 553 controversy raged, at least intermittently, around the name of Origen (183-253 A.D.), 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 AD. 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, Epiphanius of Salamis, Theophilus the 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 pre-existence 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:

  1. It seems to minimize Christian salvation.
  2. It is in conflict with the resurrection of the body.
  3. It creates an unnatural separation between body and soul.
  4. It is built on a much too speculative use of Christian scriptures.
  5. 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.

2. The Theological System of Origen

Looking at the sequence of creation from its inception to its conclusion, one could summarize his 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 spatially 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 Corinthians 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.

3. Objections and Rebuttals to Origen’s Theology

Objection #1: It seems to minimize Christian salvation.

This objection was expressed very clearly by Theophilus (385-412 AD), patriarch of Alexandria:

“What is the point of preaching that souls are repeatedly confined in bodies, only to be released again, and that we experience many deaths? Does he [Origen] not know that Christ came, not in order to free souls from bodies after their resurrection or to clothe freed souls from bodies once again in bodies that they might come down from heavenly regions to be invested once again with flesh and blood? Rather, he came so that he might present our revived bodies with incorruptibility and eternal life.” (Jerome, Letters 98.11.)

Rebuttal #1: The essential difference between Theophilus and Origen is this: For Origen, man, the creature of free choice, stands responsible before God for his initial defection. God uses all his love and persuasion to hasten man along his way, but man must go the whole journey. For Theophilus, however, part of the responsibility for man’s defection from God is lifted from his shoulders by the Son. Thus man is a completely free and sovereign agent only when he falls; when he rises, however, much of the travail is being borne by another. Man does what he can in a single life and Christ will make good the rest.

Reincarnation should be understood, however, not as a statement on Christ, but as a statement on man. Theophilus is in effect charging that man is so feeble that he must depend on Christ to take him most of the way. The reincarnationalist, however, is convinced of man’s divinity and hence of his innate ability to return to God’s favor.

Objection #2: It is in conflict with the resurrection of the body.

Here are the words of Epiphanius of Salamis (310 – 403 AD):

“First of all if, as the Origenists say, another body succeeds this one, then the judgment of God is not just, for he will either be condemning the new body for the sins of the former one, or he will be ushering it into its glorious and heavenly inheritance in recognition of the fastings, vigils, and persecution suffered for the name of God by an earlier body.” (Epiphanius, Ancoratus 87.)

Rebuttal #2: For the Platonic philosopher, as for Origen, the entire goal of life is to disentangle the soul from the pernicious influence of the body. This stands in strong contrast to the statement of Epiphanius that the body is itself a living principle and whatever it has endured, it will carry before God for judgment. For Origen, it is unthinkable that the body of flesh and blood should be resurrected into immortality. This body, after all, belongs to the transient world of matter and passes away as all matter must. Origen, the Christian and the Platonist, found it much more likely that a new spiritual body have nothing in common with the material elements of the “natural” body should enjoy the resurrected life. Furthermore, he found ampler support for this in 1 Corinthians 15:44. (Against Celsus 5.19.)

Objection #3: It creates an unnatural separation between body and soul.

Probably the best statement of this is to be found in a letter of the Emperor Justinian to Mennas, patriarch of Constantinople. This letter from the year 543 was the prelude to Origen’s condemnation in 553 AD:

“Therefore it is clear that souls are not cast into bodies for the punishment of sins as they [the Origenists] foolishly claim, but rather that God fashioned body and soul simultaneously, creating man in his perfected entirety [i.e., body and soul].” (Letter to Menna, PG 86.1, p. 951)

Rebuttal #3: This again raises the question of how one views the human creature. Is he basically a spiritual being, or does he exist only as a composite creature with body and soul? With pre-existence goes the assumption that he is essentially spirit. Indeed the reincarnationalist can even find Scriptural support for personal disincarnate pre-existence. Origen took Ephesians 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.” (Ephesians 1:4)

Jerome, who is just as uncomfortable as Justinian about pre-existence, 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 reincarnationalist is that this passage from Ephesians offers very explicit Scriptural testimony for individual pre-existence.

Objection #4: It is built on a much too speculative use of Christian scriptures.

Rebuttal #4: This resistance to speculative thought is implicit in so much of what is said against Origen. Epiphanius, for example, cannot conceive of a spiritual body coming into man’s heavenly inheritance. Justinian cannot conceive of a soul that preexists the body. Methodius (311 AD) cannot conceive of man as a disincarnate creature. All these objections show an unwillingness of the early church to deal in speculative ideas that do not find immediate confirmation in the Scriptures. Origen constructed a theology and cosmology that accounts for the rise and fall of creation and the state of man both prior to the beginning and after the end. This was a very natural thing for him to do, for Greek philosophy had always been engaged in inquiry of this sort.

Objection #5: There is no recollection of previous lives.

If reincarnation is indeed true, why do we have no recollection of earlier lives? Justinian raise this question in connection with Luke 16:19-31 (Letter to Mennas, PG 86.1, p. 959). The evangelist tells of how Lazarus, the impoverished and sore-ridden beggar, sits at the bosom of Abraham after his passing, while the rich man, whose very crumbs from the table had been a boon to Lazarus, is buried in hell. The rich man calls out to Abraham in distress, only to be reminded of the profligate manner of his life. Justinian takes this as an indication that while man is in the disincarnate interval after life, he recalls what has transpired during his incarnate life – after all, the rich man does recall the manner of his life. If this is so, then surely incarnate man, upon his return to a new body, should recall the incidents of earlier incarnations. Origen does not address himself to this specific problem, but he may very well have been satisfied with the myth that Plato used to account for the lapse of recollection between lives. According to the account of Er at the end of Plato’s Republic (621 BCE), the souls of men drink from the waters of forgetfulness as they proceed from one life to another.

It should also be noted here that this phenomenon of forgetting memories remembered in the afterlife is a theme for near-death experiencers.

4. Conclusion on Origen’s Condemnation

With the condemnation of Origen, so much that is implied in reincarnation was officially stigmatized as heresy that the possibility 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 pre-existence, 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.

5. Origen’s Theology on Human Pre-Existence

Origen was a champion for the doctrine of pre-existence. Even if we didn’t have any references by Origen concerning the subject of reincarnation, his belief in pre-existence alone shows that he was a believer in reincarnation. The reason is because all of his other beliefs cannot be true without reincarnation. His other beliefs would be impossible without the assumption of reincarnation to be a fact. His beliefs in the fall of souls, pre-existence, the divinity of the soul, and universal salvation are Neo-Platonic doctrines that, without the tie that binds them together (reincarnation), his theology is not only impossible, it is irrational, illogical, and ridiculous. We don’t need any quotes from Origen concerning reincarnation. Everything he has written, in context, demonstrates his clear stance on this subject. The Church didn’t fight so hard to get rid of pre-existence for nothing. They knew that pre-existence implied reincarnation because they are virtually the same concept. And because the Church destroyed the Origenists and their texts, the rest of orthodox theology, in my humble opinion, is ridiculous and dishonoring to God.

Origen taught that the pre-existence of souls can be found in both the Old and New Testaments in the story of Esau and Jacob and how God loved Jacob and hated Esau before they were even born (Malachi 1:2-3 and Romans 9:11-24).

“So the one nature of every soul being in the hands of God, and, so to speak, there being but one collection of reasoning entities, certain causes of more ancient date led to some of these being made vessels unto honor, and others vessels unto dishonor.” (Origen, de Principiis, Bk. III, ch. i)

The phrase “certain causes of more ancient date,” is a clear and distinct reference to the pre-existence of Esau and Jacob whose past life karma (and karma implies reincarnation) caused Jacob to be a “vessel created for honor” and Esau a “vessel created for dishonor” (i.e. destruction).”

“Those who maintain that everything in the world is under the rule of the divine foresight, as is also our own belief, can give no other reply, it seems to me, in order to show that no shadow of injustice can rest upon the divine government of the world than by holding that there were certain exact causes of prior existence by consequence of which all souls before their birth in the present body contracted a certain amount of guilt in their reasoning nature, or perhaps by the actions, on account of which they have been condemned by the divine providence to be placed in their present life … Even in such a case we must admit that there sometimes existed certain causes preceding the present bodily birth.” (Origen, de Principiis, Bk. III, ch. iii, sec. 5)

These last two citations from Origen are taken from Rufinus‘ Latin translation. Rufinus took great liberties in watering down Origen’s writings to fit orthodoxy.

“Rational creatures had also a similar beginning. Indeed, if they had a beginning such as the end for which they hope, they must have unquestionably existed from the very beginning of the ages which are not seen … If this be so, then of course there has been a descent from a higher to a lower condition not only by those souls who have deserved this change by the variety of their inner movements of consciousness, but also by those who in order to serve the world, came down from the higher and invisible spheres to these lower and visible ones.” (Origen, de Principiis, Bk. III, ch. v, sec.4)

“We see that not then for the first time did Divinity begin its work when it made this visible world: but just as after the destruction of this visible world there will be another world, its product, so also we believe that other worlds existed before the present came into being.” (Origen, de Principiis, Bk. III, ch. iii, sec.3)

“Every one, therefore, of the souls descending to the Earth, is strictly following his merits, or according to the position which he formerly occupied, is destined to be returned to this world in a different country or among a different nation, or in a different sphere of existence on Earth, or afflicted with infirmities of another kind, or mayhap to be the children of religious parents or of parents who are not religious: so that of course it may sometimes happen that a Hebrew will be born among the Syrians, or an unfortunate Egyptian may be born in Judea.” (Origen, de Principiis, Bk. IV, ch. i, sec. 23)

The following are quotes from Origen’s writings and supporting texts that display his reincarnational beliefs. Origen wrote that the resurrection of corpses was preached in Churches for the “simpler class of believers” and for the ears of the “common people” and that Paul “wished to conceal the secret meaning” of 1 Corinthians 15:35-58:

“God, then, gives to each thing its own body as He pleases… the Scripture teaching us at great length the difference between that which is, as it were, “sown,” and that which is, as it were, “raised” from it in these words: “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” And let him who has the capacity understand the meaning of the words: “As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” And although the apostle wished to conceal the secret meaning of the passage, which was not adapted to the simpler class of believers, and to the understanding of the common people, who are led by their faith to enter on a better course of life, he was nevertheless obliged afterwards to say (in order that we might not misapprehend his meaning), after “Let us bear the image of the heavenly,” these words also: “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.” (Origen, Against Celsus 5.19)

When Clement states that the Mysteries of God are never written, but rather, only spoken between teacher and disciple, the ultimate meaning of this great truth is only comprehended when one arrives at the level where they realize that the true oral teaching is that which is whispered in the ear when a consecrated disciple is able to come into the presence of the True Prophet (i.e., the indwelling Son of God).

Among the mysteries that were concealed from the masses was the doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul. In “The True Word“, Celsus accused the early Church of teaching the masses the doctrine of heaven and hell while teaching the elect the doctrine of reincarnation. Origen does not refute Celsus, but rather explains that:

“But on these subjects much and that of a mystical kind, might be said; in keeping with which is the following: It is good to keep close the secret of a king, (Tobit 12:7), in order that the doctrine of the entrance of souls into bodies, not, however, that of the transmigration from one body into another, may not be thrown before the common understanding, nor what is holy given to the dogs, nor pearls be cast before swine. For such a procedure would be impious, being equivalent to a betrayal of the mysterious declaration of God’s Wisdom.” (Origen, Against Celsus)

The key verse is: “It is good to keep secret the entrance of souls into bodies, but not the transmigration from one body into another.”

Here, Origen openly affirms the doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul, as well as the doctrine of transmigration (reincarnation), are openly revealed to Christians who have been purified and matured sufficiently to comprehend the mysteries of God, while the knowledge of why the soul even came into this world is kept secret, and is not openly revealed to carnal minds. In explanation, Origen quotes scripture and writes:

“It is good to keep close the secret of a king, and affirms that certain mysteries only belong to the spiritually mature in the word, and that one should not permit what is holy given to the dogs, nor pearls be cast before swine.” (Origen, Against Celsus)

6. Origen’s Theology on Reincarnation

Perhaps the most well-known quote by Origen concerning his belief in reincarnation is the following quote:

“The soul has neither beginning nor end. [They] come into this world strengthened by the victories or weakened by the defeats of their previous lives.” (Origen, de Principiis)

In view of this very well defined Biblical doctrine, isn’t this the same exact message that Jesus mentions in his Parable of the Talents?:

“Again, it [the kingdom of heaven] will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability.” (Matthew 25:14-30)

Origen wrote in On First Principles, Chap V, that he believed that the wicked will be resurrected with “dark and black bodies” according to their previous state of spiritual darkness and spiritual ignorance. Those who have lived a holy life will receive bright and glorious bodies. He then explains further in a passage that was removed from his work, but preserved by Jerome:

Origen writes: “Perhaps, however, the ‘gloom and darkness’ should be taken to mean this coarse and earthly body, through which at the end of the world each man that must pass into another world will receive the beginnings of a fresh birth.” (G. W. Butterworth, ed., Origen: On First Principles, (Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1973), Intro., p. xxiii.)

Jerome commented on the above quote from Origen:

“In so speaking he clearly supports the doctrine of transmigration taught by Pythagoras and Plato.” (Jerome, Letter CXXIV, to Avitus)

The passage of Origen’s view on resurrection, along with Jerome’s comment of it, shows that he is referring to holy people reincarnating to another world at the end of the age (which is an astrological reference, not the end of the world). But concerning the “dark” person (spiritually ignorant) that Origen refers to had a past life in the body before the end of the age. After the end of the age, if there is more spiritual ignorance within the individual, he is incarnated again to a different world. Origen is talking about more than one incarnations and that is reincarnation. Jerome certainly knew what he meant.

Gregory of Nyssa preserved the following writing from Origen:

“By some inclination toward evil, certain souls … come into bodies, first of men; then through their association with the irrational passions, after the allotted span of human life, they are changed into beasts, from which they sink to the level of plants. From this condition they rise again through the same stages and are restored to their heavenly place.” (G. W. Butterworth, On First Principles, Book I, Chapter VIII (New York: Harper & Row, 1966), p. 73)

The above writing by Origen clearly describes not only pre-existence, but multiple incarnations as well.

Origen quoted from the Apocryphal Gospel of the Hebrews where Jacob states:

“I am an angel of God; one of the first order of spirits. Men call me Jacob, but my true name, which God has given me, is Israel.” (Orat. Joseph. apud ORIG). Many of the Jewish doctors have believed that the souls of Adam, Abraham, and Phineas, have successively animated the great men of their nation. Philo says that the air is full of spirits, and that some, through their natural propensity, join themselves to bodies; and that others have an aversion from such a union.” (Origen, Commentary on John, Book II)

Origen is stating in the above quote that John the Baptist was an embodied angel who had previously lived on Earth as the prophet Elijah.

Origen also discussed reincarnation with the skeptic Celsus:

“Is it not more in conformity with reason that every soul for certain mysterious reasons (I speak now according to the opinion of Pythagoras and Plato and Empedocles, whom Celsus frequently names) is introduced into a body, and introduced according to its deserts and former actions? … Is it not rational that souls should be introduced into bodies, in accordance with their merits and previous deeds, and that those who have used their bodies in doing the utmost possible good should have a right to bodies endowed with qualities superior to the bodies of others? … The soul, which is immaterial and invisible in its nature, exists in no material place without having a body suited to the nature of that place; accordingly, it at one time puts off one body, which was necessary before, but which is no longer adequate in its changed state, and it exchanges it for a second.” (Origen, Contra Celsus, Book I., chap. XXXII)

Even with the obvious attempt by a pious scribe to qualify Origen’s clear statement of reincarnation with “I speak now…etc.,” it is clear that Origen was discussing his own belief in reincarnation by referring to multiple incarnations.

In the next passage, Origen refers to “fallen souls” (which alone shows his Neo-Platonic and Gnostic reincarnation leanings) and then discusses how they have multiple incarnations:

“It can be shown that an incorporeal and reasonable being has life in itself independently of the body… then it is beyond a doubt bodies are only of secondary importance and arise from time to time to meet the varying conditions of reasonable creatures. Those who require bodies are clothed with them, and contrariwise, when fallen souls have lifted themselves up to better things their bodies are once more annihilated. They are ever vanishing and ever reappearing.” (Letter CXXIV, to Avitus)

Origen describes four types of bodies: (1) ethereal, (2) aereal, (3) gross, and (4) fleshly. This doctrine of the descent of the soul into four lower bodies is preeminently Platonic and has much in common with the doctrines of the various schools of Christian Gnostics. Origen teaches that God created matter to accommodate the fallen souls so that they could be restored to their spiritual state.

The divisive result of Origen’s doctrine on the reincarnation of men, angels and demons cannot be overestimated. The idea of fallen angels walking the Earth as humans paying their “karmic debts” for past life sins is the key to Origen’s doctrine of universal salvation – even the salvation of the devil.

Origen and early Christians believed in a higher form of “metempsychosis“, a form of reincarnation which rejected the possibility of humans reincarnating as animals (i.e., transmigration.) It is this confusion that anti-reincarnationalists have today which leads them to falsely conclude that Origen’s theology did not include reincarnation.

Origen’s writings show that the controversy was not about reincarnation (a higher form of metempsychosis) but about Plato’s doctrine of transmigration:

“And the expulsion of the man and woman from paradise, and their being clothed with tunics of skins (which God, because of the transgression of men, made for those who had sinned), contain a certain secret and mystical doctrine (far transcending that of Plato) of the souls losing its wings, and being borne downwards to Earth, until it can lay hold of some stable resting-place.” (Contra Celsus, Book IV., chap. XL)

Origen, who had obviously been initiated in the Eleusinian Mysteries, does not teach transmigration of the souls of human beings into the bodies of beasts:

“We think that those views are by no means to be accepted which some people most unnecessarily advance and support, to the effect that rational souls can reach such a pitch of abasement that they forget their rational nature and high dignity and sink into the bodies of irrational beasts, either large or small.” (Origen, de Principiis, Bk. I, ch. viii, sec.3)

Origen regarded the Biblical “fall” as separating souls from God. He taught that redemption required the active application of free will to earn reunion with God and, in the interim, souls could go around again and again, occupying human bodies as one might put on and put off clothes until salvation was achieved.

In his chapter on “Loss or Falling Away,” Origen explains that the fall necessitated the use of bodies of various levels of density. He writes:

“All rational creatures who are incorporeal and invisible, if they become negligent, gradually sink to a lower level and take for themselves bodies suitable to the regions into which they descend; that is to say, first ethereal bodies, and then aereal. And when they reach the neighborhood of the Earth they are enclosed in grosser bodies, and last of all are tied to human flesh.” (G. W. Butterworth, ed., Origen: On First Principles, (Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1973), p. 40- 41.)

7. Other Church Fathers on Reincarnation

Other prominent figures in the Church affirmed that reincarnation was a part of early Christian doctrine:

Rufinus assured Anastasius in a letter that belief in repeated lives was a matter of common knowledge among the church fathers and had always been imparted to the initiated as an ancient tradition. (Reincarnation and Karma, Pfullingen 1962, p. 41)

According to Jerome (340-420 AD):

“The transmigrations (reincarnation) of souls was taught for a long time among the early Christians as an esoteric and traditional doctrine which was to be divulged to only a small number of the elect.” (Jerome, Letter to Demetrias)

According to Origen’s predecessor, Clement of Alexandria (150-211 AD):

“The Gnosis itself is that which has descended by transmission to a few, having been imparted unwritten by the apostles.” (Miscell. Book VI, Chapter 7)

St. Gregory (257-337 AD) wrote:

“It is absolutely necessary that the soul should be healed and purified, and that if it does not take place during its life on Earth, it must be accomplished in future lives.” (Trinick 1950: 38)

Gregory of Nyssa (330-400 AD) wrote:

“The resurrection is no other thing than ‘the re-constitution of our nature in its original form'”, and states that there will come a time “when the complete whole of our race shall have been perfected from the first man to the last.” (On the Soul and Resurrection)

Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) wrote the following to Trypho the Jew:

“And what do those suffer who are judged to be unworthy of this spectacle? said he. They are imprisoned in the bodies of certain wild beasts, and this is their punishment.” (Dialogue with Trypho)

Jerome wrote in a letter to Demetrius that among the early Christians, the doctrine of reincarnation had been passed on to the elect, as an occult tradition. (Reincarnation and Karma, Pfullingen 1962, p. 41)

According to Origen, Basilides (117-138 AD) held a doctrine of reincarnation that was identical to the Pythagorean belief that human souls may take on the bodies of animals in future lives (i.e. transmigration). (Basilides, “Fragment F,” in Layton, Gnostic Scriptures, p. 439.)

8. The Christian Neo-Platonist Clement of Alexandria

The famous Neoplatonic School was founded to restore the Platonic philosophy and theology. Reincarnation was accepted by the Christian Neoplatonists in Alexandria, Egypt.

In a passage surviving only with Eusebius, he quotes Clement in “Institutions, Book 6”:

“James the Righteous, John and Peter were entrusted by the Lord after his resurrection with the higher knowledge (gnosis). They imparted it to the other apostles, to the seventy.” (Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, page 49.)

Clement stated that he possessed teachings:

“…preserving the tradition of the blessed doctrine derived directly from the holy apostles, Peter, James, John and Paul.” (Miscellanies, Book I, chap.1)

Clement on the divine mysteries of Jesus:

“The Lord … allowed us to communicate of those divine Mysteries, and of that holy light, to those who are able to receive them …. The Mysteries are delivered mystically, that what is spoken may be in the mouth of the speaker; rather not in his voice, but in his understanding…” (Miscellanies, Book I, chap.1)

9. Biblical Support for Pre-Existence

The Church of Rome in declaring Origen and his teachings heresy declared:

“If anyone assert the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema.” (Anathema I, 5th Ecumenical Council)

The whole idea of reincarnation is connected inextricably with the principle of pre-existence, and of the restoration of the soul to its former condition after the death of the body. Below is a Bible verse supporting pre-existence:

“He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish in his sight and love.” (Ephesians 1:4)

The above verse reveals God choosing people before the world existed and before they could have physically been born. This suggests the people the verse is referring to, must have existed somewhere even if only in the Mind of God. Such an existence does not rule out the pre-existence of souls. After all, there is likely no difference between a soul and a thought in the Mind of God. Here is another Bible verse on pre-existence:

“Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad – in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls – she was told, The older will serve the younger.’ Just as it is written: Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'” (Romans 9:11-13)

This verse shows that God loved Jacob and hated Esau before they were even born. Again, even if it was merely in the Mind of God, it would still be pre-existence. Below is an excellent verse in the Old Testament on pre-existence:

“The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began. When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water; before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before he made the Earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world. I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the Earth. Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.” (Proverbs 8:22-31)

In the above passage, Solomon states that when the Earth was made he was present, and that, long before he could have been born as Solomon, his delights were in the habitable parts of Earth with the sons of men.

For information about the Biblical support for reincarnation visit the Reincarnation and the Bible page.

Categories
History Reincarnation

Reincarnation in Christian History

Many Christians have the misconception that the concept of reincarnation means that, at the time of death, people reincarnate immediately and do not have any experiences in the spirit realms in between Earth lives. Near-death experiences prove this misconception to be untrue. Because time does not exist in the spirit world, a person can spend “eons of time” in the spirit realms, if they wish to do so, and have the freedom to decide if they want to reincarnate or not. The ultimate goal of reincarnation is to learn enough lessons from Earth lives that reincarnation is no longer necessary.

But does it make any difference whether or not one believes in reincarnation? The doctrine of reincarnation, like any dogmatic tenet, is not very important when it comes to living a spiritual life. Debating about whether reincarnation exists or not is the equivalent of debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. There is probably no special spiritual advantage for a person to believe or not believe in reincarnation. However, reincarnation does provide a reasonable theory to account for the apparent absurdities in the dispensation of divine justice.

This article on reincarnation is authored by Elizabeth Clare Prophet (1939-2009) who was a minister with The Summit Lighthouse and author of several books dealing with early Christianity and many related metaphysical books, such as: Reincarnation: The Missing Link in Christianity (1997), Fallen Angels and the Origins of Evil (2000), Karma and Reincarnation (1999), The Lost Teachings of Jesus (1986), Quietly Comes the Buddha (1998), The Path to the Universal Christ (2003), Kabbalah: Key to Your Inner Power (1997), Keys to the Kingdom (2003), The Astrology of the Four Horsemen (1990), and Walking with the Master (2002).

Elizabeth Clare Prophet’s meticulous and impressive research into the history of reincarnation in the early Christian movement provides the seeker of truth a valid reason to believe that the early Church officials decided to halt the long history of reincarnation in the early Christian sects in order to further their own political purposes. The following information comes from my favorite book by Ms. Prophet, Reincarnation: The Missing Link in Christianity.

Table of Contents

  1. The Mystery of God in Humanity
  2. The Arian Controversy
  3. The Council of Nicea
  4. The Fifth General Council
  5. Conclusion

1. The Mystery of God in Humanity

Early in the fourth century, while Bishop Alexander of Alexandria was expounding on the Trinity to his flock, a theological tsunami was born.

A Libyan priest named Arius stood up and posed the following simple question:

“If the Father begat the Son, he that was begotten had a beginning of existence.”

In other words, if the Father is the parent of the Son, then didn’t the Son have a beginning?

Apparently, no one had put it this way before. For many bishops, Arius spoke heresy when he said that the Son had a beginning. A debate erupted, led by Arius on the one side and by Alexander and his deacon Athanasius on the other. Athanasius became the Church’s lead fighter in a struggle that lasted his entire life.

In 320 A.D., Alexander held a Council of Alexandria to condemn the errors of Arius. But this did not stop the controversy. The Church had nearly split over the issue when the controversy reached the ears of the Roman emperor Constantine. He decided to resolve it himself in a move that permanently changed the course of Christianity.

The orthodox accused the Arians of attempting to lower the Son by saying he had a beginning. But, in fact, the Arians gave him an exalted position, honoring him as “first among creatures.” Arius described the Son as one who became “perfect God, only begotten and unchangeable,” but also argued that he had an origin.

The Arian controversy was really about the nature of humanity and how we are saved. It involved two pictures of Jesus Christ: Either he was a God who had always been God or he was a human who became God’s Son.

If he was a human who became God’s Son, then that implied that other humans could also become Sons of God. This idea was unacceptable to the orthodox, hence their insistence that Jesus had always been God and was entirely different from all created beings. As we shall see, the Church’s theological position was, in part, dictated by its political needs. The Arian position had the potential to erode the authority of the Church since it implied that the soul did not need the Church to achieve salvation.

The outcome of the Arian controversy was crucial to the Church’s position on both reincarnation and the soul’s opportunity to become one with God. Earlier, the Church decided that the human soul is not now and never has been a part of God. Instead it belongs to the material world and is separated from God by a great chasm.

Rejecting the idea that the soul is immortal and spiritual, which was a part of Christian thought at the time of Clement of Alexandria and Origen, the Fathers developed the concept of “creatio ex nihilo“, creation out of nothing. If the soul were not a part of God, the orthodox theologians reasoned, it could not have been created out of his essence.

The doctrine persists to this day. By denying man’s divine origin and potential, the doctrine of creation out of nothing rules out both pre-existence and reincarnation. Once the Church adopted the doctrine, it was only a matter of time before it rejected both Origenism and Arianism. In fact, the Arian controversy was only one salvo in the battle to eradicate the mystical tradition Origen represented.

Origen and his predecessor, Clement of Alexandria, lived in a Platonist world. For them it was a given that there is an invisible spiritual world which is permanent and a visible material world that is changeable. The soul belongs to the spiritual world, while the body belongs to the material world.

In the Platonists’ view, the world and everything in it is not created but emanates from God, the One. Souls come from the Divine Mind, and even when they are encased in bodily form, they retain their link to the Source.

Clement tells us that humanity is “of celestial birth, being a plant of heavenly origin.” Origen taught that man, having been made after the “image and likeness of God,” has “a kind of blood-relationship with God.”

While Clement and Origen were teaching in Alexandria, another group of Fathers was developing a counter-theology. They rejected the Greek concept of the soul in favor of a new and unheard of idea: The soul is not a part of the spiritual world at all; but, like the body, it is part of the mutable material world.

They based their theology on the changeability of the soul. How could the soul be divine and immortal, they asked, if it is capable of changing, falling and sinning? Because it is capable of change, they reasoned, it cannot be like God, who is unchangeable.

Origen took up the problem of the soul’s changeability but came up with a different solution. He suggested that the soul was created immortal and that even though it fell (for which he suggests various reasons), it still has the power to restore itself to its original state.

For him the soul is poised between spirit and matter and can choose union with either:

“The will of this soul is something intermediate between the flesh and the spirit, undoubtedly serving and obeying one of the two, whichever it has chosen to obey.” If the soul chooses to join with spirit, Origen wrote, “the spirit will become one with it.”

This new theology, which linked the soul with the body, led to the ruling out of pre-existence. If the soul is material and not spiritual, then it cannot have existed before the body. As Gregory of Nyssa wrote:

“Neither does the soul exist before the body, nor the body apart from the soul, but … there is only a single origin for both of them.”

When is the soul created then? The Fathers came up with an improbable answer: at the same time as the body – at conception. “God is daily making souls,” wrote Church Father Jerome. If souls and bodies are created at the same time, both pre-existence and reincarnation are out of the question since they imply that souls exist before bodies and can be attached to different bodies in succession.

The Church still teaches the soul is created at the same time as the body and therefore the soul and the body are a unit.

This kind of thinking led straight to the Arian controversy. Now that the Church had denied that the soul pre-exists the body and that it belongs to the spiritual world, it also denied that souls, bodies and the created world emanated from God.

2. The Arian Controversy

When Arius asked whether the Son had a beginning, he was, in effect, pointing out a fundamental flaw in that doctrine. The doctrine did not clarify the nature of Christ. So he was asking: If there is an abyss between Creator and creation, where does Christ belong? Was he created out of nothing like the rest of the creatures? Or was he part of God? If so, then how and why did he take on human form?

The Church tells us that the Arian controversy was a struggle against blasphemers who said Christ was not God. But the crucial issue in the debate was: How is humanity saved – through emulating Jesus or through worshiping him?

The Arians claimed that Jesus became God’s Son and thereby demonstrated a universal principle that all created beings can follow. But the Orthodox Church said that he had always been God’s Son, was of the same essence as God (and therefore was God) and could not be imitated by mere creatures, who lack God’s essence. Salvation could come only by accessing God’s grace via the Church.

The Arians believed that human beings could also be adopted as Sons of God by imitating Christ. For the Arians, the incarnation of Christ was designed to show us that we can follow Jesus and become, as Paul said, “joint heirs with Christ.”

The Orthodox Church, by creating a gulf between Jesus and the rest of us, denied that we could become Sons in the same way he did. The reason why the Church had such a hard time seeing Jesus’ humanity was that they could not understand how anyone could be human and divine at the same time. Either Jesus was human (and therefore changeable) or he was divine (and therefore unchangeable).

The orthodox vision of Jesus as God is based in part on a misunderstanding of the Gospel of John. John tells us:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Later John tells us the “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”

The orthodox concluded from these passages that Jesus Christ is God, the Word, made flesh.

What they didn’t understand was that when John called Jesus “the Word,” he was referring to the Greek tradition of the Logos. When John tells us that the Word created everything, he uses the Greek term for Word – “Logos.” In Greek thought, Logos describes the part of God that acts in the world. Philo called the Logos “God’s Likeness, by whom the whole cosmos was fashioned.” Origen called it the soul that holds the universe together.

Philo believed that great human beings like Moses could personify the Logos. Thus, when John writes that Jesus is the Logos, he does not mean that the man Jesus has always been God the Logos. What John is telling us is that Jesus the man became the Logos, the Christ.

Some early theologians believed that everyone has that opportunity. Clement tells us that each human has the “image of the Word (Logos)” within him and that it is for this reason that Genesis says that humanity is made “in the image and likeness of God.”

The Logos, then, is the spark of divinity, the seed of Christ, that is within our hearts. Apparently the orthodox either rejected or ignored this concept.

We should understand that Jesus became the Logos just as he became the Christ. But that didn’t mean he was the only one who could ever do it. Jesus explained this mystery when he broke the bread at the Last Supper. He took a single loaf, symbolizing the one Logos, the one Christ, and broke it and said, “This is my body, which is broken for you.”

He was teaching the disciples that there is one absolute God and one Universal Christ, or Logos, but that the body of that Universal Christ can be broken and each piece will still retain all the qualities of the whole. He was telling them that the seed of Christ was within them, that he had come to quicken it and that the Christ was not diminished no matter how many times his body was broken. The smallest fragment of God, Logos, or Christ, contains the entire nature of Christ’s divinity – which, to this day, he would make our own.

The orthodox misunderstood Jesus’ teaching because they were unable to accept the reality that each human being has both a human and a divine nature and the potential to become wholly divine. They didn’t understand the human and the divine in Jesus and therefore they could not understand the human and the divine within themselves. Having seen the weakness of human nature, they thought they had to deny the divine nature that occasionally flashes forth even in the lowliest of human beings.

The Church did not understand (or could not admit) that Jesus came to demonstrate the process by which the human nature is transformed into the divine. But Origen had found it easy to explain:

He believed that the human and divine natures can be woven together day by day. He tells us that in Jesus “the divine and human nature began to interpenetrate in such a way that the human nature, by its communion with the divine, would itself become divine.” Origen tells us that the option for the transformation of humanity into divinity is available not just for Jesus but for “all who take up in faith the life which Jesus taught.”

Origen did not hesitate to describe the relationship of human beings to the Son. He believed that we contain the same essence as the Father and the Son:

“We, therefore, having been made according to the image, have the Son, the original, as the truth of the noble qualities that are within us. And what we are to the Son, such is the Son to the Father, who is the truth.”

Since we have the noble qualities of the Son within us, we can undergo the process of divinization (at-onement with God).

To the Arians, the divinization process was essential to salvation; to the orthodox, it was heresy. In 324 A.D., the Roman emperor Constantine, who had embraced Christianity twelve years earlier, entered the Arian controversy. He wrote a letter to Arius and Bishop Alexander urging them to reconcile their differences, and he sent Bishop Hosius of Corduba to Alexandria to deliver it. But his letter could not calm the storm that raged over the nature of God – and man. Constantine realized that he would have to do more if he wanted to resolve the impasse.

3. The Council of Nicea

In June, 325 A.D., the Council of Nicea opened and continued for two months, with Constantine attending. The bishops modified an existing creed to fit their purposes. The creed, with some changes made at a later fourth century council, is still given today in many churches. The Nicene Creed, as it came to be called, takes elaborate care by repeating several redundancies to identify the Son with the Father rather than with the creation:

“We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made … Who … was incarnate and was made human …”

Only two bishops, along with Arius, refused to sign the creed. Constantine banished them from the empire, while the other bishops went on to celebrate their unity in a great feast at the imperial palace.

The creed is much more than an affirmation of Jesus’ divinity. It is also an affirmation of our separation from God and Christ. It takes great pains to describe Jesus as God in order to deny that he is part of God’s creation. He is “begotten, not made,” therefore totally separate from us, the created beings. As scholar George Leonard Prestige writes, the Nicene Creed’s description of Jesus tells us “that the Son of God bears no resemblance to the … creatures.”

The description of Jesus as the only Son of God is carried forward in the Apostles’ Creed, which is used in many Protestant churches today. It reads: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty … I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.” But even that language – calling Jesus God’s only Son – denies that we can ever attain the sonship that Jesus did.

Christians may be interested to know that many scholars analyzing the Bible now believe that Jesus never claimed to be the only Son of God. This was a later development based on a misinterpretation of the Gospel of John.

There is further evidence to suggest that Jesus believed all people could achieve the goal of becoming Sons of God. But the churches, by retaining these creeds, remain in bondage to Constantine and his three hundred bishops.

Some of the bishops who attended the council were uncomfortable with the council’s definition of the Son and thought they might have gone too far. But the emperor, in a letter sent to the bishops who were not in attendance at Nicea, required that they accept “this truly divine injunction.”

Constantine said that since the council’s decision had been “determined in the holy assemblies of the bishops,” the Church officials must regard it as “indicative of the divine will.”

The Roman god Constantine had spoken. Clearly, he had concluded that the orthodox position was more conducive to a strong and unified Church than the Arian position and that it therefore must be upheld.

Constantine also took the opportunity to inaugurate the first systematic government persecution of dissident Christians. He issued an edict against “heretics,” calling them “haters and enemies of truth and life, in league with destruction.”

Even though he had begun his reign with an edict of religious toleration, he now forbade the heretics (mostly Arians) to assemble in any public or private place, including private homes, and ordered that they be deprived of “every gathering point for [their] superstitious meetings,” including “all the houses of prayer.” These were to be given to the orthodox Church.

The heretical teachers were forced to flee, and many of their students were coerced back into the orthodox fold. The emperor also ordered a search for their books, which were to be confiscated and destroyed. Hiding the works of Arius carried a severe penalty – the death sentence.

Nicea, nevertheless, marked the beginning of the end of the concepts of both pre-existence, reincarnation, and salvation through union with God in Christian doctrine. It took another two hundred years for the ideas to be expunged.

But Constantine had given the Church the tools with which to do it when he molded Christianity in his own image and made Jesus the only Son of God. From now on, the Church would become representative of a capricious and autocratic God – a God who was not unlike Constantine and other Roman emperors.

Tertullian, a stanch anti-Origenian and a father of the Church, had this to say about those who believed in reincarnation and not the resurrection of the dead:

“What a panorama of spectacle on that day [the Resurrection]! What sight should I turn to first to laugh and applaud? … Wise philosophers, blushing before their students as they burn together, the followers to whom they taught that the world is no concern of God’s, whom they assured that either they had no souls at all or that what souls they had would never return to their former bodies? These are things of greater delight, I believe, than a circus, both kinds of theater, and any stadium.”

Tertullian was a great influence in having so-called “heretics” put to death.

4. The Fifth General Council

After Constantine and Nicea, Origen’s writings had continued to be popular among those seeking clarification about the nature of Christ, the destiny of the soul and the manner of the resurrection. Some of the more educated monks had taken Origen’s ideas and were using them in mystical practices with the aim of becoming one with God.

Toward the end of the fourth century, orthodox theologians again began to attack Origen. Their chief areas of difficulty with Origen’s thought were his teachings on the nature of God and Christ, the resurrection and the pre-existence of the soul.

Their criticisms, which were often based on ignorance and an inadequate understanding, found an audience in high places and led to the Church’s rejection of Origenism and reincarnation. The Church’s need to appeal to the uneducated masses prevailed over Origen’s coolheaded logic.

The bishop of Cyprus, Epiphanius, claimed that Origen denied the resurrection of the flesh. However, as scholar Jon Dechow has demonstrated, Epiphanius neither understood nor dealt with Origen’s ideas. Nevertheless, he was able to convince the Church that Origen’s ideas were incompatible with the merging literalist theology. On the basis of Ephiphanius’ writings, Origenism would be finally condemned a century and a half later.

Jerome believed that resurrection bodies would be flesh and blood, complete with genitals – which, however, would not be used in the hereafter. But Origenists believed the resurrection bodies would be spiritual.

The Origenist controversy spread to monasteries in the Egyptian desert, especially at Nitria, home to about five thousand monks. There were two kinds of monks in Egypt – the simple and uneducated, who composed the majority, and the Origenists, an educated minority.

The controversy solidified around the question of whether God had a body that could be seen and touched. The simple monks believed that he did. But the Origenists thought that God was invisible and transcendent. The simple monks could not fathom Origen’s mystical speculations on the nature of God.

In 399 A.D., Bishop Theophilus wrote a letter defending the Origenist position. At this, the simple monks flocked to Alexandria, rioting in the streets and even threatening to kill Theophilus.

The bishop quickly reversed himself, telling the monks that he could now see that God did indeed have a body: “In seeing you, I behold the face of God.” Theophilus’ sudden switch was the catalyst for a series of events that led to the condemnation of Origen and the burning of the Nitrian monastery.

Under Theodosius, Christians, who had been persecuted for so many years, now became the persecutors. God made in man’s image proved to be an intolerant one. The orthodox Christians practiced sanctions and violence against all heretics (including Gnostics and Origenists), pagans and Jews. In this climate, it became dangerous to profess the ideas of innate divinity and the pursuit of union with God.

It may have been during the reign of Theodosius that the Gnostic Nag Hammadi manuscripts were buried – perhaps by Origenist monks. For while the Origenist monks were not openly Gnostic, they would have been sympathetic to the Gnostic viewpoint and may have hidden the books after they became too hot to handle.

The Origenist monks of the desert did not accept Bishop Theophilus’ condemnations. They continued to practice their beliefs in Palestine into the sixth century until a series of events drove Origenism underground for good.

Justinian (ruled 527-565 A.D.) was the most able emperor since Constantine – and the most active in meddling with Christian theology. Justinian issued edicts that he expected the Church to rubber-stamp, appointed bishops and even imprisoned the pope.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire at the end of the fifth century, Constantinople remained the capital of the Eastern, or Byzantine, Empire. The story of how Origenism ultimately came to be rejected involves the kind of labyrinthine power plays that the imperial court became famous for.

Around 543 A.D., Justinian seems to have taken the side of the anti-Origenists since he issued an edict condemning ten principles of Origenism, including pre-existence. It declared “anathema to Origen … and to whomsoever there is who thinks thus.” In other words, Origen and anyone who believes in these propositions would be eternally damned. A local council at Constantinople ratified the edict, which all bishops were required to sign.

In 553 A.D., Justinian convoked the Fifth General Council of the Church to discuss the controversy over the so-called “Three Chapters.” These were writings of three Originist theologians whose views bordered on the heretical. Justinian wanted the writings to be condemned and he expected the council to oblige him.

He had been trying to coerce the pope into agreeing with him since 545 A.D. He had essentially arrested the pope in Rome and brought him to Constantinople, where he held him for four years. When the pope escaped and later refused to attend the council, Justinian went ahead and convened it without him.

This council produced fourteen new anathemas against the authors of the Three Chapters and other Christian theologians. The eleventh anathema included Origen’s name in a list of heretics.

The first anathema reads:

“If anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema.” (“Restoration” means the return of the soul to union with God. Origenists believed that this took place through a path of reincarnation.)

It would seem that the death blow had been struck against Origenism and reincarnation in Christianity.

After the council, the Origenist monks were expelled from their Palestinian monastery, some bishops were deposed and once again Origen’s writings were destroyed. The anti-Origenist monks had won. The emperor had come down firmly on their side.

In theory, it would seem that the missing papal approval of the anathemas leaves a doctrinal loophole for the belief in reincarnation among all Christians today. But since the Church accepted the anathemas in practice, the result of the council was to end belief in reincarnation in orthodox Christianity.

In any case, the argument is moot. Sooner or later the Church probably would have forbade the beliefs. When the Church codified its denial of the divine origin of the soul (at Nicea in 325 A.D.), it started a chain reaction that led directly to the curse on Origen.

Church councils notwithstanding, mystics in the Church continued to practice divinization. They followed Origen’s ideas, still seeking union with God.

But the Christian mystics were continually dogged by charges of heresy. At the same time as the Church was rejecting reincarnation, it was accepting original sin, a doctrine that made it even more difficult for mystics to practice.

5. Conclusion

With the condemnation of Origen, so much that is implied in reincarnation was officially stigmatized as heresy that the possibility 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 pre-existence, 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 A.D. 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 A.D. In the Council of Lyons, in 1274 A.D., 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 A.D. 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.