Reincarnation vs. Resurrection: The Debate Ends
Proceedings of the Asian Conference on Ethics, Religion & Philosophy, 30 March - 2 April, Osaka, Japan, 2012
18 Pages Posted: 31 May 2012 Last revised: 18 Dec 2013
Date Written: 2012
There are two types of death, the death of the body and the death of the soul. Many world Scriptures portray that although a body is alive, the soul within that body may remain dead. The Bible and the Qur'an makes a portrayal that although people seem to be alive, their souls are dead. The body is sometimes symbolized as the tomb for the dead soul. Therefore, it is possible that as long as the soul is dead, it continues to reincarnate into other bodies (tombs), until the soul is resurrected, breaking the wheel of Samsara.
Although Christianity preaches resurrection, this paper attempts to present a Biblical mystery about reincarnation. Reincarnation in Hebrew is "gilgul." The term shares the same root as Gilgal and Golgotha. Golgotha is the place where Jesus was crucified, according to the Gospel. Gilgul means round or wheel. It is for that reason Golgotha is also translated as the place of the Skull, as it is round. This paper shows how the symbolism of Jesus' crucifixion in Golgotha is a portrayal of breaking the wheel of Samsara and how the dead souls in their tombs (bodies) may be resurrected to life.
In the Qur'an, death is almost always referring to the death of souls, and not the body. Therefore, resurrection may be understood as the resurrection of the dead souls, and not the body. Hell is described as a place that whenever flesh degenerates, it is replaced for another, so that people may taste suffering. This may also be understood as reincarnation of the soul in different bodies, until the dead soul is resurrected.
This paper shows that the debate between resurrection and reincarnation may not be needed, as resurrection is the point where the wheel of reincarnation is broken.
Keywords: allegory, comparative religion, hermeneutics, reincarnation, resurrection
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