Listen to what Jesus said when he was asked about resurrection.
quote: Mark 9
10 And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.
11 And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?
12 And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought.
13 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.
Parallel in Matthew
quote: Matthew 17 10And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?
11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.
13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.
quote: Matthew 11 11Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
The fictional Gospel of John was written perhaps to contradict what Jesus said.
Interestingly, early Christian communities seemed to hold views that were based on the plain words of Jesus.
quote: The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions John Bowker (ed.) Oxford University Press; 1st edition (May 8, 1997) p.311
Elkesaites. A Jewish Christian group which arose c. 100 CE in the country east of the Jordan, having affinities with the *Ebionites (e. g. in their *asceticism and in their use of only the gospel of *Matthew) and deriving their name from Elkesai who received a revelation from an angel 96 miles tall. Mani (see MANICHAEISM) belonged to an Elkesaite community in S. Babylon from the ages of 4 to 25. It is clear that a number of Manichean beliefs (e. g. in repeated incarnations of Christ, heavenly and earthly counterparts, and eating as sacramental) derive from the Elkesaites.)
Mani and the Dead Sea Scrolls Manichaean mythology not only draws on Genesis, but also borrows from extrabiblical Jewish texts, including a Second Temple era account known as the Book of Giants. The Book of Giants includes an expanded version of Genesis 6:1–4, in which the sons of God mate with the daughters of man. The Book of Giants is known from only two literary collections: the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Manichaean scriptures, where it was considered canonical.
How did Mani and his followers know about this ancient Jewish book? Is there a connection between Mani and the Essenes, the Jewish sect often credited with producing and preserving the Qumran library?
Bishop Epiphanius of Salamis, a fourth-century C.E. expert on Christian heresies, suggests an intriguing link.
According to Epiphanius, who was intimately familiar with the late antique Palestinian landscape, the Dead Sea area was home to a Jewish sect of “Ossaeans,” a designation that is strikingly reminiscent of “Essenes.” Epiphanius reports: “During the reign of the Emperor Trajan [98–117 C.E.],” these “Ossaeans” were joined “by one called Elksai, who was a false prophet.” According to Epiphanius, the Ossaean sect is now called “Sampsaean,” but elsewhere he states that the “Sampsaeans are now called Elkesaites.”
quote: Oxford Dictionary p.302 Ebionites. (Heb. ..., 'poor men'). Asect of Jewish Christians of the early centuries CE. Its nature and history cannot be reconstructed from the surviving references. It appears to have existed east of the river Jordan. ...It is an open question whether they can have been direct descendants of the Jerusalem church. ...See also ENCRATITES.
quote: Oxford Dictionary ibid. p. Encratites. Groups of early Christians whose ascetic practices (and related teaching) were condemned by mainstream writers such as *Iranaeus. The term was apparently not used precisely but with reference to many *gnostics and *Ebionites who commonly rejected *alcohol, meat, and especially marriage. In these terms, much of earliest Syriac Christianity may be said to have been 'encratite'.
quote: Oxford Dictionary of Worlds Religions John Bowker p.113 Avatara (skt., 'descent')
quote: Oxford Dictionary of Worlds Religions John Bowker
p.471 Incarnation (Lat., in carne, "in flesh/body'). The belief that God is wholly present to, or in, a human life and body. The term may be used to 'translate' the Hindu understanding of *avatara, but it is more commonly used of the belief that in *Jesus Christ, the divine and human natures were united in one person, and that God was, consequently, in carne, incarnated.
Reincarnation has to do with descending and migrating into a body from conception and not necessarily to death.
Before proceeding on that note, lets just say that Paul (in Romans 5 and I Cor. 15) didn't say anything about Elijah not being dead. Hebrews 11 also didn't mention it. The New Testament is actually silent on the issue. Josephus didn't draw conclusions.
quote: Josephus 2. Accordingly the king in a very little time died, as Elijah had foretold; but Jehoram his brother succeeded him in the kingdom, for he died without children: but for this Jehoram, he was like his father Ahab in wickedness, and reigned twelve years, indulging himself in all sorts of wickedness and impiety towards God, for, leaving off his worship, he worshipped foreign gods; but in other respects he was an active man. Now at this time it was that Elijah disappeared from among men, and no one knows of his death to this very day; but he left behind him his disciple Elisha, as we have formerly declared. And indeed, as to Elijah, and as to Enoch, who was before the deluge, it is written in the sacred books that they disappeared, but so that nobody knew that they died.
Also, consider this in Mark.
quote: Mark 5 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus'2 name had become known. Some3 said, x“John the Baptist4 has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 xBut others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is ya prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” ....
Mark 8 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, p“John the Baptist; and others say, qElijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, r“You are sthe Christ.” 30 tAnd he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
But here is the response showing that the issue isn't death
quote: The Jewish World around the New Testament Richard Bauckham Baker Academic (July 1, 2010) pp.21-23 Pseudo-Philo, Biblical Antiquities 48:1. This passage probably from the late first century, is the earliest evidence of a tradition, later found in the Pseudo-Jonathan Targum to the Pentateuch (Exod 4:13; 6:18; 40:10; Deut 30:4; cf. Num 25:12) and occasionally in rabbinic literature (Pirqe R. El. 29) that identified Elijah with the high priest Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron. We need not discuss the exegetical origins of the tradition here. What is important for our present purposes is that the version of the tradition in Pseudo-Philo refers to the death of the returning Elijah: And in that time Phinehas laid himself down to die, and the Lord said to him, 'Behold you have passed the 120 years that have been established for every man. And now rise up and go from here and dwell in Danaben on the mountain and dwell there many years. And I will command my eagle, and he will nourish you there, and you will not come down to mankind until the time arrives and you be tested at that time; and you will shut the heaven then, and by your mouth it will be opened up. And afterward you will be lifted up into the place where those who were before you were lifted up, and you will be there until I remember the world. Then I will make you all come and you [plural] will taste what is death ( Bib Ant. 48:1).
Here Phinehas is commanded to hide on a mountain, where God nourishes him, until the time - many - centuries later - when he is to re-appear in the world as the prophet Elijah, unequivocally identified by the information that he will both conjure up a drought and put an end to it. Elijah's ascension is then predicted: 'you will be lifted up into the place where those who were before you (priores tui) were lifted up.' Presumably this is a paradise, and there Elijah and the others remain until, at the end time, God brings them back to the earth. Only then will Phinehas-Elijah and the others die. This reference to the death of Phinehas-Elijah in the eschatological future seems to be unique among the texts that identify Phinehas and Elijah.
Who are the ones who had been lifted up to paradise before Phinehas-Elijah? Certainly they include Enoch, whose translation to heaven Pseudo-Philo has noted in its place, following Genesis 5:24 (Lib. Ant. 1:16). Perhaps Pseudo-Philo's statement that Enoch 'was not found' (non inveniebatur), where Genesis has 'was not,' is intended to assimilate Enoch's ascension to that of Elijah (cf. 2 Kgs 2:17). Pseudo-Philo nowhere indicates that any other of his characters belong in the same category. According to 2 Baruch (13:3), Baruch does, according to 4 Ezra (14:9), Ezra does, but these lived long after Elijah's ascension. Later Rabbinic literature supplies other names of 'those who entered paradise alive': Elizer the servant of Abraham, Serah the daughter of Asher (Gen 46:17), Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh (1 Chron 4:17, identified with the Egyptian princess who rescued Moses), Jabez (1 Chron 4:9-10), Hiram king of Tyre, Ebed-melech the Ethiopian (Jer 38:7-13; 39:15-18), Jonadab the Rechabite and his descendants (Jer 35), the servant of Rabbi Judah the Prince, Rabbi Joshua ben Levi, and the Messiah. Of these, Elizer, Serah, Bithiah, and perhaps Jabez, lived before the time of Phinehas, while Hiram lived before the time of Elijah's ascension. We have no evidence that precisely these persions were already, in the late first century CE, when Pseudo-Philo wrote, thought not to have died, but, in some cases at least, this idea about them was based in ingenious exegesis of the kind that certainly was employed in Pseudo-Philo's time and often presupposed by Pseudo-Philo's text. Some of these persons, therefore, may be those, besides Enoch, who had already been translated to paradise before Phinehas-Elijah was.
Pseudo-Philo's Biblical Antiquities has much in common, especially in its eschatological themes and language, with the two apocalypses of roughly the same date: 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch. The notion of a group of people who had not died and whom God would bring to earth at the end-time is found in 4 Ezra (6:26; 7:28; 13:52; 14:9), which provided the closest parallel to the Biblical Antiquities in this respect. The group are defined as 'those who were taken up, who from their birth have not tasted death' (6:26). The following passage is especially illuminating for our purposes: For my son the Messiah shall be revealed with those who are with him, and those who remain shall rejoice four hundred years. After those years my son the Messiah shall die, and all who draw human breath. Then the world shall be turned back to primeval silence for seven days, as was at the first beginnings, so that no one shall be left. After seven days the world that is not yet awake shall be roused, and that which is corruptible shall perish (4 Ezra 7:28-31 NRSV).
In this passage those who are with the Messiah apparently share in the messianic kingdom, at the end of which both the Messiah and all living humans die. The latter must include those who had been taken up without dying and who return to earth with the Messiah at the beginning of the messianic kingdom. The idea seems to be that everything in this world must revert to nothing before it can be recreated in the world to come. No mortal being, not even the Messiah himself, can enter the new creation without dying and rising again. The issue seems to be the same as that which Paul deals in 1 Corinthians 15:50-52, though the solution is rather different.
It is not easy to parallel at all precisely these expectations of the death of the Messiah and the reversion of all creation to chaos (thought cf. 2 Bar 44:9), but it is notable how closely the end of this passage and the following verses (4 Ezra 7:31-35) are paralleled by Biblical Antiquities 3:10, including the idea of another, everlasting world to come. In view of the close parallels at these and other points between the eschatological expectations of 4 Ezra and Pseudo-Philo, it is reasonable to find in 4 Ezra 7:28-31 an explanation of the expected death of the returning Elijah in Biblical Antiquities 48:1. Phinehas-Elijah will finally taste death because every human must; it is the only way into the new creation. But he will die, not be killed. Thus, while Zeron was right to find in Biblical Antiquities 48:1 an expectation that both Enoch and Elijah (along with others who ascend without dying) will eventually die, he was mistaken to call this death 'martyrdom.' This expectation has little in common with the expectation found in the Christian apocalypses that Enoch and Elijah will come to denounce Antichrist and will be put to death by him. Both the rationale for it are quite different.
The above text had lots of detailed footnoted references that I didn't provide the ellipsis for, sorry.
quote: Oxford Dictionary of Worlds Religions John Bowker
p.309 Elijah .... the *gospels record speculation that John the Baptist, who wore the same clothes..., was a reincarnation of the prophet.
This is a conservative dictionary too btw.
A 100 CE Christian sect believed in Jesus as an avatar and in reincarnation (earlier than the book of John was even written)
quote: ALCHASAI, a sectarian in the early Christian Church, 1st-2nd centuries A.D., in the time of Trajan. .... The Cologne Codex as a whole indicates that Elchasaism was more important and widespread than hitherto known. It confirms and clarifies the patristic records, although it adds little to the general knowledge of the movement (or movements): (1) ritualistic conception of piety, life “according to the Law” (nomos), (2) keeping of the sabbath, (3) repeated baptisms (violently attacked by Mani), (4) “baptism” of food, (5) ritual preparation and baking of bread, disapproved by Mani, (6) acknowledgment of the gospels (so also Mani), but rejection of St. Paul, to whom Mani was indebted, (7) vegetarianism (so Ephiphanius and the Fehrest), implied though not expressly mentioned by the Codex (accepted by Mani), (8) cyclic incarnation of the True Apostle (taken over by Mani). (See Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 5, 1970, pp. 158ff.; A. Henrichs, “Mani and the Babylonian Baptists,” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 77, 1973, pp. 47ff.; A. Henrichs and L. Koenien, “Der Kölner Mani-Codex . . . ,” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 32, 1978, pp. 183ff.) .... The primary importance of the Cologne Codex is that it convincingly underlines the character of Manicheism as a religion rooted in a Christian (Judeo-Christian/Judeo-Gnostic [but the anápausis of Elchasaism, the eternal rest of the body, removes the latter far from gnosticism]) tradition and not primarily an Iranian mystery religion (R. Reitzenstein’s “iranisches Erlösungsmysterium”), although Iranian elements play no small part in the forming of Mani’s gnostic religion. The text also shows that the apparent “Mandean” influence on Manicheism (cf. the Psalms of Thomas) must be interpreted as indirect, stemming from the common general baptist milieu, out of which also the Mandeans emerged.
There are 3 Encyclopedia Iranica links (including 1 super long one in my op). The above was a quote from the shorter last one. See the others.
These were the majority of Christians. The Iranian empire was packed with Jews and Aramaic individuals. That was where the bulk of Christians were. This was fairly representative of their views.
It gives us an idea of why the Gospel of John was written (from Alexandria?). And why the Pastoral Epistles were written (from Ephesus?).
quote: Exodus 6:25 Eleazar son of Aaron married one of the daughters of Putiel, and she bore him Phinehas. These were the heads of the Levite families, clan by clan.
There was a descending from above in both the case of John (see Gospel quotes) and Phinehas. If there is an earthly descent (from a mother) and a heavenly descent then that is evidence of at least incarnation, and in the case of these 2 an ascension as well. (Don't confuse with Hophni and Phinehas, son of Eli from 1 Samuel, which still predated Elijah by 150+ years). Elijah himself was a reincarnation (of Phinehas), according to 1 century CE Jewish thinking.
Descent and Ascension w/ death for Phinehas c. 1500 BCE, then descent then possible translation (or death which would then have an ascension) for Elijah in the 9th century. It's all based on 1st century AD documents (including the Gospel of Mark which could date in the mid 60s CE).
Hebrews 11 says Enoch was "translated" I think. That isn't the same as a death which would have an ascension.
This gospel is dated about 96-98 AD even by evangelical protestants fundamentalists. This text almost certainly dates after the 100 AD Elkesai datum (and the Ebonites would have held much the same views as the other non-Catholics like Elkesai - long before his 100 CE event).
quote: John 1New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Word Became Flesh
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life,[a] and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own,[c] and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,[d] full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son,[e] who is close to the Father’s heart,[f] who has made him known.
The Testimony of John the Baptist
19 This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.”[g] 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said,
“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’”
as the prophet Isaiah said.
Then chapter 3, which is clearly a total twisting of something Jesus actually said. I suspect it starts out accurate, then it gets twisted.
quote: 3 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus[a] by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c] 7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You[d] must be born from above.’[e] 8 The wind[f] blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
11 “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you[g] do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.[h] 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up
The rest of what is said is a 100% contradiction of the 3 (much) more historical gospels.
Both chapter 1 and chapter 3 are a (fictional) polemic that never-the-less want the readers to view as historical.
The "Church Fathers" ( 1 Clement on)were all European Roman Catholics. They weren't the majority, not even close. The large bulk of Jews were in the eastern Persian empire, and they lacked the forgeries like the Pastoral Epistles that totally changed the picture on so many issues.
Read about the true majority of the early centuries. A silent majority today.
quote: 1 Corinthians 8 10 For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? 11 So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. 12 But when you thus sin against members of your family,[c] and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling,[d] I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them[e] to fall.
The Greek uses the double "never never" which is for permement emphasis. "I will never never eat kreas (flesh) while the world stands" The NRSV left out the double "never never" but the King James translators took both nevers out! Paul used the word for flesh (kreas) in only two places - both permament bans on eating meat (the word dishonestly translated "meat" in most places is broma which just means "bread")
quote: Romans 14 Welcome those who are weak in faith,[a] but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. 2 Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 3 Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them .... 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. 19 Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; 21 it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister[j] stumble.[k] 22 The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. 23 But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith;[l] for whatever does not proceed from faith[m] is sin
The King James translated verse 20 "For meat destroy not the work of God"! And Romans 14:21 is the only other place where kreas ("flesh") is used. I suspect the "drink" part was added in to confuse the issue.
And don't forget verse 1 of chapter 15 as the translators want you to. (a guy named Langdon did the verse divisions hundreds of years prior to King James I think)
quote: Chapter 15:1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
The full writing of Paul (if we are allowed to see it as such - see 15:1!) says that it isn't a sin to desire to eat meat, just a sin to eat meat. And it isn't based on the technical "unclean" concept of the law, so arguments about that (much twisted by the Catholics and their Protestant followers) issue are obsolete. It's a totally new concept.
The NRSV is full of soft-pedal translation choices to soften the words of Paul and make the issue sound minor. It can't be as bad as the King James though.
The eastern (mostly) Semitic Christians didn't have 1 Timothy 4 and the rest of the Pastoral to deal with though. Not early on, anyway.
If Elijah did not die, then he had no need of reincarnation - his original incarnation would still exist. So the other part of the question is whether it was meant literally or not.
Although it must also be said that relying on John to accurately portray Jesus' teachings is a bit odd if you genuinely consider it untrustworthy.
And as a side note, the original reference to Elijah's return does not sound an awful lot like John the Baptist, and somewhat ironic given Matthew 10:35-36
Malachi 4 NRSV writes:
5 Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse
Re: Shi ites have the same confusion with the Mahdi
Will he reincarnate?
Is this question even possible to answer? Do we know enough about Elijah's current state to say whether his return to earth requires resurrection, reincarnation, or something less?
Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King
If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams
We have seen how Manichaeism came straight out of the 1st century Jewish Christianity of James the brother of Jesus.
quote: Oxford Dictionary of World Religions (ed) John Bowker (1997) being made the state religion of the Turkish Uigur Empire in 762. It also reached China in 694 where, known as the 'religion of light', it seems to have persisted...almost down to modern times.
Manichaeism was very present in the Persian Empire, and then into the early days of Islam.
quote: Avatar and incarnation Wilde lectures in natural and comparative religion Geoffrey Parrinder (1970) p.14
An avatara is a descent, a 'down coming' (from a verb tri, to cross over, attain, save, with the prefix ava, down; and so ava-tri, descend into, appear, become incarnate). ....
p.196 The great majority of Muslims are Sunni, followers of 'tradition'. The Shi'a, 'followers' of 'Ali, though a minority, comprise many different sects, and are particularly important for our purpose since ideas of divine indwelling or similar beliefs, often occur. The Shi'ism belief was placed in divine manifestations. The Quran has spoken of revelations and meditations between God and man, but the true Word or revelation was the Qur'an. The Shi'a added the idea of the Imam, the human manifestation of the divine and leader of salvation. The term Imam is used several times in the Qur'an, for a sign, model and leader. The earliest Shi'a development identified the Imam with 'Ali, and his sons Hasan and Husain stressing their flawless genealogy and limiting the manifestation of God in the Imams to 'right guidance'. This view is still held by the Zadis, who are nearest to the Sunnis.
With the passing centuries Greek philosophy was studied throughout Islam and adapted to particular needs. Beliefs in prophets and Imams developed into ideas of cosmic powers. A new theory of Imam was that the cosmic force, the eternal instrument of creation was born by the Imams, who came one after another in a series, like Avatars. One Imam is always present in the world which would perish if the Imam disappeared. This has been described as a series of 'missionary campaigns' of the Deity, launched for preaching the eternal religion.
In a kind of Neo-Gnosticism the relationship between the Imam and God was spoken about in a way not unlike that between Christ and God in Christian theology, and many mystical allegories were made of their communion. Although most theologians do not accept this it became powerful among the masses, especially in Persia, and influenced both the Sufis and Isma'ilis. Bust most of the Shi'a rejected the notions of transmigration (tanasukh) of the Imams, their rebirth and incarnations. Rather it was thought that the divine light shone upon the Imam, who was otherwise an ordinary mortal, like Muhammad, who has said, 'I am a man like yourselves'. The soul and body of the Imam existed independently of the eternal light of the Imam.
To extremists there was a complete hulul, the divine light dwelt fully in the Imam bodily, the mortal part of him was completely absorbed, and finally he was identical with God. Both the Zadis and the middle of the road Imamis combated this doctrine, as bringing Shi'ism into disrepute. The orthodox Isma'ilis reject both Incarnation and transmigration, but such ideas are held by 'ultras' (Ghulat) who believe that God became incarnate by indwelling (hulul) in Ali. Both Twelver and Sevener (Isma'ili) Shi'a excommunicate the extremists, Nusairis, Druzes, and the like, calling them hululiya like the Christians.
The Nusairis hold that spiritual beings emanate from the ineffable deity in a hierarchy of Name (ism), Door (bab), and other classes. Five names include 'Ali, though sometimes he has been placed above them all. The 'Men of God' (Ahl-iHaqq) believe in seven successive manifestations of God, coming to dwell 'in a garment', accomplished by four angels. His first appearance was in the Creator, the second in 'Ali, and the third in leaders of the Men of God. There is a belief also in a thousand and one reincarnations of men.
The Druzes (Duruz), founded by Darazi among others, are now regarded as a separate religion from Islam, but call themselves Unitarians. They believe that the Fatimid Caliph and Imam Hakim, 'Our Lord', held a position comparable to the cosmic intellect and was the last incarnation of God. As an embodiment of the Godhead he was above 'Ali, and so Isma'ilism was superseded. He was also beyond good and evil and this explains away symbolically the cruelties of the wicked Caliph. When Hakim died it was said that he was hidden, like the 'Hidden Imam' of the Shi'a, but he will appear at the end of time to establish justice in the world. The Druzes have different Pillars of Faith from orthodox Islam, to the number of seven, and including acceptance of the unity of Our Lord. They believe not only in reincarnation, but also in the transmigration of souls, of which there is a fixed number who are immediately reborn after death until they are perfected and ascend to the stars.
Sufi mystical teachings on unity have an important bearing on belief in reincarnation. From the fourth Islamic century there came ideas from late Greek Philosophy, and particularly the Platonic doctrine of emanations from God. Mystics came to speak of union with God as the result of divine emanation, or as due to the divine spark in man which revived under the effect of illumination or as the result of consciousness of undifferentiated existence where the soul realized its oneness with God. Since Islam went to India early and over the years became increasingly involved in Indian ideas there were probably Hindu influences also upon the later Sufis, though this was pantheistic and not an Avatar direction. The stark contrast of God and man, which is found in the Qur'an and Orthadox Islamic theology, seems to be quite irreconcilable with the claims of some Sufis not only to be united with God but to 'be God'. But this is quite natural on Hindu monistic terms although, as has been remarked earlier, monism does not lead toward the Avatar doctrine but rather against it.
In fact nearly all the Sufis rejected the use of the term hulul, 'indwelling' or 'incarnation', because this word had Christian undertones. To speak of a place for incarnation, a point of impact for for immaterial realities, was regarded as an attempt at materializing them. Sufi writers warned their followers of the dangers of heresy and wrote special chapters in their manuals listing the dangers to which mystics might be exposed, and in these books hulul appears regularly. The term ittihad, 'becoming one', was preferred by Sufis to describe the mystical union in which one with the creature becomes one with the Creator. To some mystics this suggested that there are two beings which become one, and to others human individuality was only a phase which passes away in divine reality.
The teaching of the great Persian mystic Husain b Mansur al-Hallaj is important in this context and disputed. Junayd, who has been called 'the Crown of the Mystics', said that he saw much folly and nonsense in the words of Hallaj and he rejected the notion of incarnation. Hallaj was executed for heresy (A.D. 922). His most famous saying was Ana-il-Haqq, 'I am Reality' or 'My "I" is the Creative Truth'. This was an apparent identification of himself with God.
The religion of Mani had an influence on Islam too.
quote: Oxford Dictionary 373
Ghaiba (Arab., 'absence'). The state of one who has been withdrawn by God from visible appearance on earth, although he is still living invisibly on earth. The clearest example is the Hidden Imam (al *Mahdi).
quote: Oxford Dictionary p.707-8
Nur Muhammadi (Pers. abbr. of Arab., 'light of Muhammad') The essential nature of *Muhammad which was created before the creation of the world, and is thus something akin to 'the pre-existent prophet'. For the Shi'ites, the belief lent itself to the continuing inspiration of the *imams, who share in the nature of the Prophet through the dispensation of his illumination. Among the Sunnis, it was more modestly interpreted as the nature of the *rasul once called by God. The origins may perhaps be *Manichaean.
quote: Oxford Dictionary p.469
Imam, (Arab., in the *Quran 'sign', 'pattern', 'leader'). The leader of the Muslim congregational *salat, who can be any man of good standing in the community, but is often a theologically educated man who is engaged by the *mosque. There is no ordination, nor is the Imam like the Christian *priest: he is only imim while acting as such. ...
2.Among Shi'ites, the Imam has an incomparably higher status. Initially, it is almost synonymous with 'rightful caliph (*khalifa), i.e. *Ali and his descendants. The stress on succession led to the elaboration of the Imam as one who has received secret knowledge (*jafr), and who still receives (or may receive) direct divine guidance. There is a dispute among Shi'ites whether the line ended with the seventh (*seveners) or twelfth (Twelvers or 'Ithna 'Ashariyya) successor, complicated further by those who believe in a hidden Imam (see AL-MAHDI) whom the initiate can recognize, who may still give guidance, and who will become manifest at the End (see also ISMAILYA). As philosophical ideas spead which argued for the unity or Being, with the consequence that human (or perhaps all) manifestation is an incarnation of Being, so Imams were regarded by some Shi'ite groups as incarnations of divine beings. See also (al-) Zaidiy(y)a for their special understanding of Imam. See Index, Imams.
3. Among *Sufis (not always in distinction from (2)), the Imam is the guide to true knowledge, and is thus equivalent to pir (in Persian) or murshid.
quote: Oxford Dictionary p.483
Ithna 'Ashiy(y)a (Arab., ithna 'ashar, 'twelve') The Twelvers, majority *Shi'a Islam, the official Shi'a religion of modern Iran. This Shi'a sect follows the cult of Twelve *Imams, in distinction from the smaller Sab'iya sect (*Seveners, see also ISMA'ILIYYA). The Safavids made the Ithna 'Ashariy(y)a the state religion of Iran in 1500 (AH 906). The series of Twelve Imams is *Ali, *al-Hasan, *al-Husain, Ali Zayn, al-Abidin, Muhammad al-Baqir, Ja'far al Sadiq, Musa al-Kazim, Ali al-Rida, Muhammad al-Taqi, Ali al-Naqi, al-Hasan al-Askari, and Muhammad *al-Mahdi. The Imams are chosen of God. ...Moreover there is a strong eschatological element maintained by the Twelvers: the twelfth Imam ...disappeared when a young child, and it is believed that he will come back again ...to herald the Day of Judgement ...This is the Hidden Imam
quote: Oxford Dictionary al-Mahdi
In Shia Islam, even stronger beliefs surrounding al-Mahda as the hidden Imam, who will emerge at the end of time, developed among the Twelvers ... The twelfth Imam, Ali ibn Muhammad Simmari, was born in Samarra' in 869 (AH 255). On the death of his father in AH 260, he became Imam but was kept in seclusion (the first so-called occultation, *ghaiba, ghaibat-i-sughra), being seen (if at all) on rare occasions only by senior figures. He answered questions through a succession of deputies (wakil). Shortly before the death of the fourth wakil in 939 (AH 329), it was announced that there would be no further Imams, that the major occultation would occur (ghaibat-i-kubra), and that the imam would remain hidden until God gave him permission to manifest himself.
Hidden Imam. A Shi'a Muslim belief that the last Imam in succession from *Ali did not die, but disappeared, and is now in a hidden state from which he helps believers and will return as *al-Mahdi at the end of time to return peace and justice to the earth. Different Imams are identified as the Hidden Imam by different Shi'a groups. See AL-MAHDI; DRUZES; ITHNA 'ASHARIYYA; GHAIBA
quote: Oxford Dictionary p.947
Tanasukh. Islamic word for rebirth of souls. ...held to be true by some *Shi'a sects. Some *Isma'ilis believe in rebirth until the *Imam is recognized. ...a sinner will be reborn as a Sunni (or Jew or Christian)
quote: Oxford Dictionary p.480
Isma'ilil(y)a or Isma'ilis. An aggregation of Muslim groups, notable for esoteric teaching. Although the Isma'ilis are associated with *Shi'a Islam, they are more to be identified with their own teachings (which absorbed much from the remnants of *Gnosticism in Persia) than with Shi'ite doctrines. Nevertheless, they emerged historically from the disputes following the death of the sixth Shi'a Imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq. The succession should have passed to his eldest son, Isma'il, but he died before his father. Nevertheless, some maintained that the authority had been transmitted to him as the first-born (and beyond him to his son). Others held that the succession should pass to Ja'far's eldest surviving son (his third), Musa al-Kazim. The Twelvers (*ithna 'ashariyya, majority Shi'a) choose Musa and his successors, while those following Isma'il came to be known as Isma'ilis - and also as Seveners...
Out of the Isma'iliya there later arose many subsets e.g. *Qarmatians, Nizaris (including *Assassins), Musta'lis, *Druzes, and Muqam'ah.
quote: Oxford Dictionary p.708
Nusairi or Alawi. An extreme *Shi'a sect strongly influenced by *Isma'ilis and Christianity. ...They have no *mosques, partake of wine during religious ceremonies, ...They also believe in *tanasukh (rebirth) of an elaborate kind.
quote: Oxford Dictionary p.295Druzes
The Druze religion was derived from *Isma'iliya ...The main dogmas of the Druze faith are ...belief in successive manifestations of the deity (or the Universal Intelligence, al-'Aql al Kulli) in human form; acceptance of al-Hakim as the last and greatest of these divine incarnations ...Hakim, who is not dead, but hidden
This is real interesting
quote: Oxford Dictionary p.33
Ahl-i-Haqq (People of the Truth) A secret religious sect found in W. Persia and Kurdistan, dating back to the 11th cent. It incorporates *Zoroastrian, *Manichaean, Jewish, Christian, and *Sufi ideas into a popular *messianic cult. The Ahl-i-Haqq is not a single entity but a loosely knit federation of associated movements sharing the following: they await the advent of the Lord of Time 'who shall come to accomplish the desires of the Friends and embrace the Universe'; and the belief in the seven successive manifestations of divinity in a human form (worn as a garment), including *Jesus Christ, *Ali, and Sultan Sohak. This cult, supported mainly by the lower classes, peasants, and nomads, is rich in folklore and miraculous elements. Post-revolutionary Iran witnessed sections of Ahl-i-haqq claiming Imam *Khumayni to be a precursor for the final reincarnation, but this claim was later denied by the authorities, and the movement was heavily criticized for its un-Islamic ideology. Since it includes a belief in reincarnation, the opposition is not surprising.
We won't understand this in its broad sense if we are kept in the dark about the issues surrounding John the Baptist and what Jesus said about him.
We won't understand this if we don't understand first century Christianity (the James - Ebionite - Elkesaite -Mani connection).
We won't understand any of this if we fail to connect Mani to first century Christianity.