New Thoughts about Old Bible Verses


The talk with Nicodemus

Was John the Baptist Elias?

The man born blind – a reincarnation?

I have yet many things to say...


For more information you can freely download my Book Reincarnation, Christianity and the Dogma of the Church as a PDF file in the European A4 format.
If you instead want it in the US Letter format, you can download it here.


Jesus’ talk with Nicodemus


Jesus said: «Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.» Nicodemus asked him: «How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born (John 3.3-4, cf. John 3.7). Hence Nicodemus didn’t realize that it would have to be a new mother. In modern Bible texts Jesus is quoted as follows: «…except a man be born from above...», which theology wants to explain this way: The Greek word anothen has a double sense and can mean both «again» (or «a second time») and «from above». Jesus is said to have meant «from above» and Nicodemus is said to have understood «the second time» or rather «again». This is obviously nonsense since they didn’t speak Greek. They spoke Aramaic! The Aramaic language has no double-sense word that would fit here, but a single-sense word mille’ela, which means «from above», and another single-sense word taneyanut, which means «again, once more, anew». A misunderstanding is not possible and Nicodemus’ question clearly indicates that Jesus used the latter word.


Cf. Rudolf Schnackenburg on John 3,3: «In Aramaic there is no word that like in Greek would allow for both meanings...» [1].


One may also ask what «born from above» is supposed to mean. Are some of us «born from below»? Maybe even some in high positions in the Churches?


Jesus then says «...Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God» (John 3.5). Several theologians regard «of water» as being a later insertion. since these words are missing in various old manuscripts. We, therefore, with certainty only have «of the Spirit» left, which doesn’t contradict the possibility that a soul or a spirit enters a body to be born (again).


The common interpretation of the here uncertain word «water» refers to baptism. One would have to be baptized before one could see the kingdom of God. This seems doubtful at this text location, since baptism wasn’t yet a sacrament in these days. It is only later in the Bible – apart from Jesus’ own baptism by John – that we learn that the disciples had begun to baptize (but not Jesus himself) (John 4.1-2) and it is not before his reappearance to the disciples that he gives them the task to baptize all in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Math. 28.19). The latter must not necessarily mean a baptism with water. So says John  the Baptist himself: «I indeed baptize you with water ... but he that cometh after me ... shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire» (Math. 3.11, Mark 1.8, Luke 3.16, John 1.26).


The commission to baptize in Math. 28.19 is, however, by many researchers in theology regarded as a falsification. The Greek word for «baptism», báptisma, appears only in the New Testament and is derived from the word bápto, which means «immerse». To «immerse in the Holy Spirit» and to pour a handful of water on the head can, after all, be quite different things…


However, «water» could be seen as referring to the physical part, to the body with its blood and «water of life», its liveliness resulting from having a soul – and not only to baptism – and «spirit» as referring to the soul part, so that the words could be understood as «be born with a body and a soul»… If Jesus really used these words (see above).


Kirkegaard [2] mentions that the Aramaic word for «water» could also mean «semen». Thus we would again, even though it may be a bit further fetched, arrive at the same result: The body conceived through semen, with its soul (or spirit).


A bit later in the text a peculiar statement follows: «The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit» (John 3.8). Who can understand that?  The Greek word pneuma is here translated in two ways, first as «wind» and then as «spirit». Greek dictionaries explain that the translation «spirit» is valid only in an «indirect sense». The common meaning in the theological context is, however, «breath of life» or «soul», that, which gives life to the body. Furthermore the word phoné is not very well translated as «sound», because it rather means «voice». Thus we arrive at the following translation, which is linguistically correct: «The soul goes as it wants to and you hear its whispering, but you cannot tell from where it comes nor where it goes: so is every one born with a soul Here Jesus talks about a preexistence of the soul, since it comes from somewhere, where it was before conception. Preexistence doesn’t necessarily include reincarnation, but reincarnation includes preexistence.


These examples show how translations are often made according to dogmatically established «rules» in order to lead the understanding in a desired direction, covering up that it could also be understood in another way – but that we shouldn’t know…


This highly important passage contradicts another allegation that Jesus would have spoken of a rebirth in this life and that Nicodemus would have understood him in this sense. Obviously Nicodemus didn’t understand what Jesus meant, since he was told: «Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things (John 3.10). What is it that he should have known? That is not stated in the text. Could it be reincarnation that she should have known about? This may be a bit far fetched, but he should apparently have known about the preexistence of the soul…


Was John the Baptist Elias?


Jesus said about John: «And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come» (Math. 11.14). «And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already … Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist» (Math. 17.10-13). This much discussed Bible passage can literally be understood such that John would be the reincarnation of Elias. As a refutation another quotation is resorted to: «And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No» (John 1.21). But if Jesus claims that he would really be Elias, should we believe John more than Jesus? [I here use the more modern form «Elias» instead of the older one «Elijah».]


In any case, John is right with his answer. He is, as he is asked, actually not Elias, but John. This doesn’t exclude the possibility that he once was Elias. Maybe he himself knew what Jesus knew, but answered in this sense on purpose. Maybe he knew as little as we know who he was in a past life and answered accordingly. Already the fact that he was asked this question shows that people considered it possible that he could have been a reincarnation of Elias!


Theology in this context repeatedly refers to the Bible report that Elias would not have died like others do, but have ascended to heaven with his body (2 Kings 2.11, in another counting 4 Kings 2.11). Therefore, he could not have reincarnated in another body, but his spirit would have «overshadowed» John.


Is heaven a physical world in which we have physical bodies like on Earth? It seems that hardly anyone imagines heaven to be like that. Thus Elias’ body will have transformed to a «heavenly body» (as Paul writes). This would not contradict the possibility of an incarnation in a new earthly body.


And if Elias would have «overshadowed» John, where was his body? If it stayed in heaven, Elias’ soul could, after all, separate from his body and, maybe, even incarnate. Otherwise one would have seen his body floating above John…. Here theologians are owing us an explanation…


Another attempt to refute is that Elias appeared in front of Jesus and the disciples on a mountain, together with Moses (Math. 17.3, Mark 9.3). This is, however, not a contradiction, since at that time John was already dead. Reincarnationistically speaking, Elias was no more in the body of John and could well have shown himself in his earlier appearance!


One of the best known authors of the Swedish literature is Victor Rydberg. He wrote a comprehensive treatise: The Teachings of the Bible about Christ, which was only published in Swedish and Danish [3]. Its Swedish text was from 1862 on published in five each time improved editions and later in several reprints. The learned and well-read author shows important discrepancies between the dogma and the New Testament. In an extensive appendix: On the Preexistence of Man, he clearly shows the following, referring to rabbinic literature: In the Judaism of that time it was a general view that Elias would through a «second coming in flesh» prepare the way for Messiah and anoint him, and that is what John did! The Bible says about John: «Prepare ye the way of the Lord» (Math. 3.3, John 1.23). Most Jews didn’t know that Elias had returned in the appearance of John, and this is according to Justin the Martyr one of the reasons, why they didn’t want to see the expected Messiah in Jesus.


Did John have a karma?

John was decapitated. Could this fate have a karmic reason? The Bible reports that Elias by his own hands killed the prophets of Baal at the stream Kishon (1 Kings 18.40). Thus Elias had murdered! Should for that reason John experience being decapitated?


The man born blind – a reincarnation?


Jesus healed a man who was born blind. The disciples the ask him: «Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind (John 9.2).


Who asks like that definitely thinks about preexistence of the soul before this life, otherwise the formulation of the question would have no sense. To be born blind as a consequence of own sin – the one alternative in the question – the sin must have been committed before birth. The one who asked is likely to have thought of a physical existence before birth rather than a preexistence without a physical body.


Now, how does Jesus react to this obvious hint? He doesn’t reject the idea that is included in the question (and misses a good opportunity if he would have wanted to refute the concept). Instead he says: « Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him» (John 9.3). It has been repeatedly attempted to interpret a rejection of the reincarnation idea in this statement, but there is no logical ground for it. The most that can be concluded is that in this special case the suffering doesn’t seem to be the consequence of earlier misdeeds.


With reference to Siémons [4] this can certainly be understood such that the man born blind – that is, the person sitting there, the blind body with a soul – had not sinned, but the one his soul was in another incarnation. Seeing it that way, he was (in the worldly aspect) that time another than that blind-born one, but with the same soul. Here it would be in a similar way as with the answer above to the question if John was Elias.


It rather appears that Jesus avoided the issue since he didn’t want to make a public statement about it.


Another «explanation», which is rarely stated, is that the man born blind could have sinned in the mother’s womb (for example through «evil thoughts»). This allegation is simply too absurd to be taken seriously.


I have yet many things to say ...


«I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.» (John 16.12). What did Jesus mean with these words? It would probably be rather far fetched to claim that reincarnation could not be among these things...

Jesus has in none of the texts that witness him rejected reincarnation. The attempt to interpret the case with the man born blind in this direction is artificial and wishful thinking (see above). On the contrary there are, as shown above, several sayings of Jesus which can be  interpreted in the sense of reincarnation.




  1. Rudlof Schnackenburg: Das Johannesevangelium [«The Gospel of John»], Part I., Herder, Freiburg (Germany), 1972, p. 381.
  2. Karl Aage Kirkegaard: Reinkarnation er forenelig med kristendom [«Reincarnation is Compatible with Christianity»], Sankt Ansgars Forlag, Copenhagen, 1999.
  3. Viktor Rydberg: Bibelns lära om Kristus [«The Teachings of the Bible about Christ»], 12th ed., Bonniers, Stockholm, 1923.
  4. Jean-Louis Siémons: La Réincarnation. Des preuves aux certitudes, Retz, Paris, 1982, p. 211.