The New Life of the Good Souls in Josephus: Resurrection or Reincarnation?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

This study examines four Josephan passages discussing souls entering a new body or life. It argues that research on this issue can be advanced from the conclusion by several scholars that despite the language of reincarnation it is really the belief in resurrection that underlies Josephus’s accounts. The key findings include: Josephus does not directly characterize the new life as a reward, and the fact that its recipients are good souls does not contradict reincarnation. The descriptions of the new body in B.J. are in all respects easier to reconcile with reincarnation than resurrection. The expression ἐκ περιτροπῆς (αἰώνων) is best understood as referring to (cyclical) recurrence. The Josephan version of re-embodiment that emerges has many exact similarities with accounts of reincarnation but only a few general ones with resurrection. The thesis that Josephus’s real referent is resurrection is implausible.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal for the Study of Judaism
Volume48
Issue number4-5
Pages (from-to)506-530
Number of pages25
ISSN0047-2212
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 614 Theology
  • 611 Philosophy

Cite this

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title = "The New Life of the Good Souls in Josephus: Resurrection or Reincarnation?",
abstract = "This study examines four Josephan passages discussing souls entering a new body or life. It argues that research on this issue can be advanced from the conclusion by several scholars that despite the language of reincarnation it is really the belief in resurrection that underlies Josephus’s accounts. The key findings include: Josephus does not directly characterize the new life as a reward, and the fact that its recipients are good souls does not contradict reincarnation. The descriptions of the new body in B.J. are in all respects easier to reconcile with reincarnation than resurrection. The expression ἐκ περιτροπῆς (αἰώνων) is best understood as referring to (cyclical) recurrence. The Josephan version of re-embodiment that emerges has many exact similarities with accounts of reincarnation but only a few general ones with resurrection. The thesis that Josephus’s real referent is resurrection is implausible.",
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The New Life of the Good Souls in Josephus : Resurrection or Reincarnation? / Yli-Karjanmaa, Sami.

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism, Vol. 48, No. 4-5, 10.2017, p. 506-530.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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