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I Think It Really Came From The Greeks

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Posted by Richard Ruquist on May 15, 2002 13:58:09 UTC

About 500 BC, both in India and in the City States of Greece, ironically in present day Turkey, the concept of reincarnation came into being.

Buddha was the primary instigator in India, proposing both a problem, the eternal rebirth cycle, and its solution, enlightenment via meditation. Previously in the Upanishads there was some mention of rebirth, but just as one of a much larger number of intellectual concepts being debated by Brahmins and sages. Also some concepts like the soul but not well developed.

The concept of the soul was much more extensively discussed by the early Greeks starting with Thale and Anaximides(Sp?) and maturing with Plato. Harvey can correct my feeble memory, but I think that is the essence of the development of the concept of the soul. Along with that concept came the concept of transmigration, or rebirth of the soul generation after generation. But as far as I can tell, the concept of transmigration did not win the wide acceptance that the concept of the soul did.

The Christian concept of the soul also had these roots. The jewish concept of transmigration was most likely borrowed from the Greeks. It is discussed at length in the Talmud, but similar to the Greeks it never won wide acceptance. In the Talmud, that concept was based on a phrase from the Torah, the Books of Moses, as all Talmud concepts were seemingly required.

The phrase from the bible makes it sound like the Rabis were really reaching for anything to support the belief in transmigratin. The phrase is
"from generation to generation to generation". It doesn't sound any more relevant in context as out of context. You should realize that the Rabis were trying to make a synthesis with Greek thought in order to be more appealing intellectually. Christians did the same thing.

So Christian teaching also supported the whole idea of the soul and transmigration in Christianity culminating when the Christian philosopher Origen claimed that all of the teachings of the Greek philosophers came from the Old Testament. So Christianity thus inherits all of the Greek intellectualism.

However, intellectualism is exactly what it is. The fundamentalists should become more familiar with the roots of all the concepts that they so fervantly adhere to. Greek philosophy would hardly be considered the word of god in your circles. But I must admit that I think that the inspiration of Greek philosophy also came from god. Same goes for science in my opinion.



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