Religion Past and Present

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Transmigration of Souls
(1,282 words)

[German Version]

I. Religious Studies

1. Terminology.

Theories of transmigration, which go back to the pre-Socratics of the 6th and 5th centuries bce (Empedocles, Pythagoras, Orphism), presuppose a dualism of body and soul. They hold that a human birth is not a totally new creation but the reincarnation of a pre-existent soul. Repeated incarnations extend not only to human beings of all classes and stations but also to flora and fauna; their purpose is the eschatolo…

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Betz, Hans Dieter, Dehn, Ulrich, Dan, Joseph and Schmidtke, Sabine, “Transmigration of Souls”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 15 August 2022 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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