Does the bible teach reincarnation?

I’m sitting on the fence with this. It seems open to interpretation; yet, as a whole idea it would seem the bible is about reincarnation. Hmmm?

In my reading of it, no. It does teach about the continuance of life after death, but not reincarnation as it relates to the Hindu concept of multiple incarnations until perfection is reached.

No, reincarnation is not in the Bible. It teaches that there is one physical life and death, and that after that, you go to either eternal and spiritual life or death, heaven or hell. There’s only one instance of physical life after first death, and that’s in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So handy, how do you figure that the Bible is one big theme of reincarnation?

A nit to pick, Kerrigan. While I agree with your statement, there are several instances of dead people being raised back to life (see: Lazarus). However, there are no instances of people returning in some other living form.

I’m not sure where one would get the idea that the whole Bible is about reincarnation. However, there is one passage that could be easily interpreted in that light:

The logic is that there’s no way that the man could’ve been born blind for his own sins unless he had committed them in a former life (or God practices pre-emptive punishment, which no one seems to like). Granted, Jesus immediately rejects that as the reason, but it’s difficult to see why the disciples would ask that question unless they had some idea of reincarnation.

I’m real curious to hear what everyone (especially Christians) has to say about this.

Just because an idea is mentioned or implied as being held by some people in the Bible doesn’t mean that the Bible supports it. IIRC, the New Testament also mentions the Sadducees, who denied the ressurrection; but that’s a far cry from the Bible teaching that there is no resurrection.

No, the logic is that it was formerly believed that the sins of the PARENTS would be paid for by the son.

Munch: But the question was, “Is it the man’s OR his parent’s sin?” We understand the question about the parent’s sin, but how could a man’s sin be responsible for being born blind? It doesn’t seem possible unless he sinned before he was born.

Fair enough. My question is more along the lines of “Why didn’t Jesus say that the question didn’t make sense?” After all, Jesus did refute the ideas of the Sadducees.

I remember reading once an article or explanation or something that said there was some kind of belief/theory at the time about there being two natures in the womb (one evil, one good) that would battle for control, or something about pre-birth sin, or something. (It’s a very, very fuzzy recollection). Anyway, the question was directed at that, not a previous life, but something that happened during the 9 months prior to birth.

Let me see if I can find the site.


I think that’s the point Jesus is trying to make; that it can’t be the man’s own fault, he’s just posing it as a question to force them to answer, instead of just telling them straight out.

Wait, are you saying that Jesus asked the question? John 9:2 reads “His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’” This seems to indicate pretty clearly that the disciples posed the question.

Oops, My bad, that’ll teach me to leap in feet first (actually it probably won’t teach me anything)

In any case then, this would still only be a very tenuous suggestion that the disciples might have been thinking about reincarnation; still a far cry from it being a central theme in the bible as suggested in the OP.

The Bible NEVER suggests that reincarnation is real. However, by reading between the lines, you can tell that many people in Biblical times DID believe in it.

Good example? Jesus asks his Apostles, “Who do the people say that I am?” They answer, “Some say you are Elijah, or John the Baptist, or one of the prophets of old.”

In other words, many people in Jesus’ time believed that HE was the reincarnation of some Old Testament personage.

Hmmm, or that they believed he was one of those people resurrected (not the same thing)

I hope I didn’t come off as implying that I thought reincarnation was a central theme of the Bible; I just wanted to know how people would interpret this passage in light of the previous discussion.

Not at all.

It would be nice to know what Handy was thinking of up there in the OP though…

First off, I apologize for my earlier statement. I had a momentary memory lapse and did not think of the several instances in the Bible of dead people being raised back, but as it has been said already, none of them came back in some other life form.

It seems that those who are contemplating John 9:2, referring to disciples asking who sinned to make the man blind (him or his parents), have forgotten to look on to the following verses.

John 9:1-3 reads "Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And his disciples asked Him, saying ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.’" Emphasis mine, Jesus’ answer tells us that the man’s blindness was not the result of sin, but rather a vehicle for the works of God to be proven, as was done when Jesus healed the blindness a few verses later.

I’ve read this idea it in various ways: e.g.

“The theory of reincarnation is recorded in the Bible. But the proper
interpretations were struck from it during the Ecumenical Council in Constantinople sometime around
553 A.D., called the Council of Nicea” (Out on a Limb)

“In Chapter 14 of Children’s Past Lives I give a brief history of the early Christian
church to show that reincarnation was once a widespread belief among early
Christians, and that it was expunged from the Church canons as the result of
theological politics and worldly power struggles.” (Dogma Bites Man.)

In other words, isn’t it possible reincarnation may have been taught but is no longer? Sure.

This is true. But to ask the question in John 9:2, wouldn’t the disciples have to have some idea similar to reincarnation? I don’t see how they could’ve come up with it otherwise.