Clement of Alexandria's Position on Reincarnation

Project Details


This project focuses on Clement of Alexandria’s (d. c. 220 CE) stance on the tenet of reincarnation. It is usually assumed in scholarship that Christianity inherited from Judaism a negative attitude towards this Pythagorean–Platonic doctrine, but I have shown in my doctoral thesis (Reincarnation in Philo of Alexandria; Åbo Akademi University 2013, published in 2015 in SBL's Studia Philonica Monographs) that the most important representative of Hellenistic Judaism, Philo of Alexandria (1st century CE) accepted the doctrine. It played an important part in Philo’s thought, although it seems to have been an esoteric tenet. Clement, a church father with a Platonist orientation, is the first person known to have extensively used Philo’s writings. His explicit endorsement of esotericism and ambiguous references to reincarnation, which are in sharp contrast with the attacks on the tenet by other church fathers, and my results on Philo give ample reason for critically re-examining his stance. This study has the potential of groundbreaking discoveries concerning early Christian views.
Effective start/end date01/09/201631/08/2019



Fields of Science

  • 614 Theology
  • 611 Philosophy