How was reincarnation understood in the context of Christian belief, before the church disavowed such belief?






I know that reincarnation was accepted as a Christian belief until the Middle Ages. Where can I find reliable scholarship discussing how reincarnation was understood, in the context of Christianity, during the period before it was disavowed/ discarded by the Church? Who is knowledgeable on this topic and willing to share?


  1. Reincarnation, although perhaps accepted by the church till the Middle Ages, was never a part of original Christianity.
    It is based on the idea that the soul is immortal.
    It isn’t. Ezekial 18:4.
    Jesus never taught immortal soul.

  2. It was a part of Christian belief up to 545AD when Emperor Justinian had it forcibly removed by issuing a decree.
    The actual decree stated:
    “If anyone asserts the fabulous preexistence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema. (The Anathemas against Origen), attached to the decrees of the Fifth Ecumenical Council, A.D. 545, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2d ser., 14: 318).”
    Your best bet is to find some works by Origen who mentions the pre-existence of souls, this is reincarnation under a slightly different name.
    you could also try this site
    Obviously there is little historical information on christian reincarnation beliefs, the orthodox church murdered just about everyone who didn’t accept their dogma. There are still hints of it within the New Testament, but its disputable, too open to interpretation and not really worth the trouble.

  3. Most likely early Christian reincarnationism was an offshoot of reincarnation as taught in traditional Judaism.
    Ancient Judaism would be your most likely source for reincarnation in Jesus’s original teachings. See the following references: – watch it all for the total picture
    There is evidence that Christian Reincarnationists believed that Jesus was the ultimate and complete reincarnation of Adam.
    They believed, as Jesus, the soul of Adam finally achieved the state of godlike perfection. Note that Jesus taught that we should be as perfect as God, according to Matthew 5:48.
    Early Christians believed Jesus, as the perfected soul of Adam, reopened paradise for the world, and that everyone who followed Jesus’s path would achieve the same.
    If you read the bible with an open mind and an awareness of the historical background of Judaism and early Christianity, it becomes very clear that the underlying theme of the New Testament is reincarnation, from which all other aspects of Christianity derive. In the eyes of early Christianity, the promise Jesus represented was the restoration of Eden, and whosoever believed in Jesus as the perfected “son of God, Adam” (Luke 3:38) could now follow Jesus into paradise.
    As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:45, “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.”

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