Eschatology and Soteriology in Greek Rebirth

Gananath Obeyesekere

in Imagining Karma

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780520232204
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936300 | DOI:
Eschatology and Soteriology in Greek Rebirth

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This chapter focuses on the traditions of thoughts in ancient Greece, labeled as “Pythagorean,” that also contained multiple theories of rebirth. Pythagoras, like similar figures in religious history, is simultaneously an historical and mythic persona such that it makes little sense to differentiate the two. Pythagoras is a construction of Pythagoreanism, that is, the tradition of thought built on the work of a mythic founder. There does not seem to be the slightest doubt that Pythagoras believed in reincarnation, and to demonstrate it this chapter focuses on the Pythagoreans. References to Pythagoras, across genres, indicate that this rebirth eschatology entailed animal rebirths, which therefore explains the strong injunction against consuming flesh. The tradition of a vegetarian diet was also pronounced although some accommodations were made to the popular Greek cuisine of the sacrifice. Pythagoras received ridicule from Greek thinkers and intense reverence from believers, followers, and intellectual admirers. He refined his capacity for retrocognition to the extent of recollecting past lives. Pythagoras was considered the founder of Greek mathematics and a “philosopher.”

Keywords: eschatology; soteriology; Pythagoreans; Pythagoras; reincarnation

Chapter.  25608 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Buddhism

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