Academy of Finland
Funding decision
Name Yli-Karjanmaa, Sami P
Organisation HY
Project title Clement of Alexandria’s Position on Reincarnation
Decision No. 294528
Decision date 29.04.2016
Funding period 01.09.2016 - 31.08.2019
Funding 233 507
WebFOCUS Report
Project description
This project focuses on Clement of Alexandria’s (d. c. 220 CE) stance on the tenet of reincarnation. It is usually assumed in scholarship that Christianity inherited from Judaism a negative attitude towards this Pythagorean–Platonic doctrine, but I have shown in my doctoral thesis (Åbo Akademi University 2013) that the most important representative of Hellenistic Judaism, Philo of Alexandria (1st century CE) accepted the doctrine. It played an important part in Philo’s thought, although it seems to have been an esoteric tenet. Clement, a church father with a Platonist orientation, is the first person known to have extensively used Philo’s writings. His explicit endorsement of esotericism and ambiguous references to reincarnation, which are in sharp contrast with the attacks on the tenet by other church fathers, and my results on Philo give ample reason for critically re-examining his stance. This study has the potential of groundbreaking discoveries concerning early Christian views.