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

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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.

Affiliations: 1: University of Helsinki HelsinkiFinland


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