Religious Studies and Theology, Vol 31, No 1 (2012)

Pop Patristic Reincarnation? A Critique of Origen’s Alleged Doctrine of Reincarnation

Cyril Wohrer
Issued Date: 25 Nov 2012


This paper offers an analysis of popular contemporary claims that Origen proclaimed a theory of reincarnation. Establishing the difference, often based on linguistic subtleties, between a Platonic idea of the pre-existence of the soul and a generic definition of reincarnation as often conceived by mainstream parapsychology and Hindu beliefs, I argue that Origen’s conception of the self—being anchored in a clearly Biblical conception—is evidently distinct from the idea that an individual soul survives death and literally transmigrates into a new psycho-physical complex. When we pry into Origen’s actual writings on this topic, we can only conclude that he did not believe in reincarnation as such. The rejection of Origen’s doctrine on the soul, therefore, does not reflect an accurate reading of his teachings.

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DOI: 10.1558/rsth.v31i1.91


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