Mysterious account of the transfiguration of Jesus with biblical excerpts [NIV] touching on reincarnation.

[Christians – care to comment?]

Christians believe that when one dies, one goes to Heaven, Purgatory, or Hell.

Reincarnation, it seems, is not a term that has any real meaning for Christians. Yet Jesus openly gave the impression that John the Baptist was none other than the Elijah prophesied to come before him.  When Jesus was questioned by his disciples [Matthew 17.10]: “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus answered [Matthew 17.11/12]: “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.”  Matthew 17.13: “Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.” But in Matthew 11.7 to 11.15 we can see that Jesus had already made the announcement of John the Baptist being the Elijah who was to come.

11.7. As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind?

11.8. If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces.

11.9. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

11.10. This is the one about whom it is written:  ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’

11.11. I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

11.12. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.

11.13. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.

11.14. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.

11.15. He who has ears, let him hear.

Jesus can be said to have projected the image that a person after having gone to so-called Heaven can return to Earth generations later as a physically different person with a new identity. Was Jesus fabricating, to justify or service his own image as the Messiah? What other interpretation, if any, can we give to Jesus’ announcement that Elijah has already come? Christians can always evaluate by asking: “Was Jesus talking of reincarnation or something else?” Arguably, Jesus’ projection of John the Baptist as the reincarnated personification of Elijah cannot be dismissed as an equivocation. He distinctly projected an image of reincarnation on more than one occasion, once before his so-called Transfiguration and then after his Transfiguration. Reincarnation in one form or another was apparently an acceptable part of Christian teaching until it was considered un-Christian by some delegates appointed by the Emperor Constantine to the Council of Constantinople in 553 CE.

According to the Bible, the Transfiguration allegedly took place after the death of John the Baptist. There are certain mysterious aspects about the story of the Transfiguration; let’s review the relative biblical passages [Matthew 17.1 to 17.13]:

17.1. After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.

17.2. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.

17.3. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

17.4. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

17.5. While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

17.6. When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified.

17.7. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.”

17.8. When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

17.9. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

17.10. The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”

17.11. Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things.

17.12. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.”

17.13. Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

What can be deemed mysterious about these few lines? For a start we can say they are about a specific biblical account, thus the question of whether or not the event so described happened as alleged must remain open or unanswerable, as this appears to be something beyond verification. If you are a God-believer and believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, you may insist that everything stated in the Bible is true. Others, non-believers, for example, may of course challenge your views and may point out apparent discrepancies or inconsistencies in biblical texts and then critique them as unreliable or as works of mythology. But let’s review what Matthew is telling us. The announcement that allegedly came from the cloud [line 17.5] sounds familiar, like the announcement at the time of the so-called baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan, when a voice from heaven was allegedly heard saying [Matthew 3.17]: This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” If you believe in the Trinity doctrine, that Jesus is God himself, you will have to admit that for God to call Jesus â Son would sound bizarre, to say the least. Can anyone argue there is no reason to attribute both these announcements as having emanated from God? Yes, anyone who prefers to take the Bible as myth. But if you are a Trinitarian and believe that God spoke these words, you cannot deny that God was allegedly expressing a love for none other than himself, and was well pleased with his own self; God can be accused of being narcissistic. In the context of belief in Jesus being God himself, therefore being able with divine powers to influence anything, line 17.5 seems superfluous and mysterious. But the statement  – This is my Son – seems to suggest a separate entity, distinct from the father. If these words are reviewed in conjunction with Matthew 1.18 and Luke 1.26 – 1.37:

Matthew

1.18. This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit

Luke

1.26. In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,

1.27. to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.

1.28. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

1.29. Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

1.30. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.

1.31. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.

1.32. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,

1.33. and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

1.34. “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

1.35. The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

1.36. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.

1.37. For nothing is impossible with God.”

we can argue that the so-called Holy Spirit allegedly procreated Jesus by impregnating a female human virgin who was then betrothed to a man; in which case the Holy Spirit can be seen as the father of Jesus. If virginity can be truly associated with sanctity [the Catholic Church has long associated sexuality with sin and virginity with sanctity], then the Holy Spirit can be accused of sexual depravity for impregnating a virgin instead of a non-virgin and depriving the former of her sanctity. As in the Old Testament, the apparent dependency of God on human beings is once more made evident; on this occasion, resorting to the use of the body of a young woman, a virgin, in order to be born to exist on Earth. Was there a need for God to go through such a process, considering that in Genesis, in the story of Abraham, God allegedly made known his physical presence, in the form of a man, when he reportedly visited Earth from his Heavenly abode. With his so-called divine powers, raising the dead and other miracles, Jesus could have appeared on Earth Terminator-Style and the script could have been written for such an eventuality, as nothing is impossible to God, as God-believers are wont to believe. It, however, appears strange that the gospels of Mark and John, as some people have apparently noted, provide no snippets of the so-called virgin birth of Jesus as narrated in Matthew and Luke.

From Luke 1.32 – 1.33 we get the message that Jesus will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High but the message is clear that Jesus himself is NOT the Most High. And The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David implies that Jesus is a descendant of David. So which is which? To Muslims the title son of God can be considered significant only to the extent that it represents an honor allegedly bestowed on a human deemed to be a prophet or an emissary of God. Arguably, God is portrayed as a multifaceted being in the Bible; his portrayal as a misogynist seems to be in sharp contrast to his portrayal as a lover of human female virgins when you recall he was allocated his share of 32 virgin women in Numbers 31.40. Anyone familiar with the Bible would know line 1.36 is an indirect reference to the future birth of John the Baptist or, if you prefer, the reincarnation of the so-called prophet, Elijah. One funny aspect in all this is that John the Baptist or Elijah had to play second fiddle to Jesus, by being born through the womb of a woman already in her old age, whereas Jesus, so-called God-incarnate, preferred the womb of a young woman, supposedly a virgin, for his birth. Another oddity one can term it as bias is that when Mary expressed skepticism [line 1.34] – which was natural since she was still a virgin – about her giving birth to a son, she received no punishment for her skepticism. However, when Zechariah [Luke 1.11 – 1.20] expressed skepticism when he was told that his wife, Elizabeth, despite being barren and old, would give birth to a son, he was punished by being rendered mute. That’s another example of so-called divine wisdom or justice.

Let’s return from our short digression to the transfiguration. One other query concerning the transfiguration account that seems unavoidable: How did the disciples know that the two entities talking with Jesus were Moses and Elijah? By what means, if any, were these entities identified? They talked and the disciples heard? Were names mentioned in the dialogue? Did Moses and Elijah introduce themselves when they allegedly appeared and talked to Jesus? Moses and Elijah were allegedly individuals never before seen by any of Jesus’ disciples; they allegedly lived and departed in an era long before the birth of Jesus. Jesus’ disciples might have seen John the Baptist before his death, and Jesus had allegedly told his disciples that John the Baptist was Elijah. Thus the disciples could only have in their mind the image of John the Baptist even if he was Elijah on his return to Earth. So, presumably, if one of the images before them was John the Baptist in terms of his physical appearance when he was alive, the disciples might have considered him as Elijah, considering what Jesus had allegedly said; but if this image was not the image of John the Baptist, how did the disciples know that it was Elijah? If the disciples had been more familiar with John the Baptist than with Elijah, whose physical appearance they had never seen, it would be more reasonable to react instinctively by calling out the name of John the Baptist rather than Elijah if the image of John the Baptist had indeed appeared. But one can argue that it was a case of the disciples remembering being told that John the Baptist was Elijah. Another questionable aspect: Why was Elijah not named Elijah when he allegedly returned to Earth to fulfill a so-called prophecy concerning the so-called coming of the Messiah? Was there a slip-up in the script? If John the Baptist was indeed the new personification of Elijah, he made no mention of it himself when he was alive, going by biblical script. Presumably, as far as he was concerned, he was born John the Baptist. We have just stated that it could have been a case of the disciples remembering being told previously [Matthew 11.7 to 11.15] of Elijah being reincarnated as John the Baptist. But if that is the case, they would have known that Elijah had already come and departed; unless they had forgotten what Jesus had said or were not around or paying attention when lines 11.7 to 11.15 were spoken. Otherwise their question to Jesus [line 17.10]: “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” can be construed as a real mystery or as an irrational question.

Another irrationality can be associated with Peter’s enthusiasm for putting up shelters for Moses and Elijah. Peter, it can be argued, allegedly knew little or nothing about the evil bigotry and killing instinct of either of these individuals, as narrated in the Bible. However, it appears the capacity for bigotry or evil of these individuals can in no way be comparable to the ultra-malevolence and genocidal instinct of their so-called creator, God. Elijah, we are told, in 2 Kings 2.11, was bodily taken up alive to Heaven in a fiery chariot while Moses died and was buried, secretly, in the land of Moab. Whether it was only a vision that the disciples saw, or whether the entire story is myth is for each individual to decide. Did Elijah evince a physical body when he allegedly appeared together with Moses? How did Moses appear? If Moses had a new physical body then it would appear superfluous to claim that bodily resurrection became possible only after the advent of Jesus, or it would be wrong to say bodily resurrection would be something impossible before Jesus had died for our sins.

People with a belief in reincarnation may tell us that not everybody can remember their past lives. People, generally, cannot even remember the things that happened in their present life, for instance, in their early childhood years, let alone the experiences of life before the present one. But the reincarnation of Elijah appears to be a special case; this reincarnation was presumably engineered by God to fulfill a prophecy of the coming of the so-called Messiah. If Elijah was specially selected to be reborn again as John the Baptist, surely God’s omni-powers could make him remember everything about his past life. Some people may view the account of the Transfiguration as another biblical inconsistency, notwithstanding that in some quarters reincarnation as a concept of rebirth cannot be dismissed outright. If the incarnation of so-called 2nd Person of the so-called Trinity on Earth, allegedly achieved through a process of using a female human body, can be so believable, what can be so unbelievable about a human being, believed to have a soul or spirit or higher self, achieving rebirth through a process of reincarnation in another body?

But there is no doubt that the transfiguration of Jesus, like other stories in the Bible, is a story littered with mysteries or aspects that are simply beyond rational assessment.

[Excerpted from “God or Allah, truth or bull?”]

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