Re: Born Blind, Jn.9:2

Sorry to be so late on this, but I've still been pondering this.

On Sat, 15 Oct 1994, David Moore wrote:

>      There are some citations from Josephus that may shed light on what the
> Pharisees believed concerning this point.  In _Jewish Antiquities_, XVIII,
> 13, he says, 
>      Though [the Pharisees] postulate that everything is brought about by 
>      fate, still they do not deprive the human will of the pursuit of what
>      is in man's power, since it was God's good pleasure that there should 
>      be a fusion and that the will of man with his virtue and vice should 
>      be admitted to the council-chamber of fate.  They believe that souls 
>      have power to survive death and that there are rewards and 
>      punishments under the earth for those who have led lives of virtue or
>      vice....
> Such an attitude toward "fate" (we should temper our understanding of this
> word by remembering that Josephus was writing for a Roman, not a Jewish,
> audience) might indicate that the Pharisees could believe that someone
> might suffer for sins he would some
>  day commit.  

Even though Josephus was writing to non-Jews, I think it's interesting 
that he repeatedly introduces the idea of Fate along with the idea of 
God, e.g. _Jewish War_ ch. 7 [Penguin; Loeb ii]: "...The Pharisees...ascribe 
everything to Fate or to God, ... in every action Fate takes some part.  
Every soul is incorruptible, but only the souls of good men pass into 
other bodies..."  Josephus seems to speak highly of the Pharisees' 
character, but I would hesitate to call him a Pharisee - I thought he was 
generally considered to be a superstitious agnostic.

>      Statements by Josephus that might be interpreted to the effect that
> the Pharisees believed in reincarnation, like "They believe souls have
> power to survive death....", as cited above, should be understood in the
> light of what Josephus, himself a Pharisee, says about life after death. 
Speaking of the righteous dead, he
> writes, "[T]heir souls, remaining spotless and obedient, are allotted the
> most holy place in heaven, whence, in the revolution of the ages (EK
> PERITROPHS AIWNWN), they return to find 
> in chaste bodies a new habitation" (_Jewish War_, III, 374).  This latter,
> of course, is what we also know of the Pharisees from the NT (cf. Acts
> 23:6ff.): that they believed in the resurrection of the dead.

What's odd about this passage is that it seems to say people's souls will 
be resurrected into *other* peoples' bodies, not their own, and the 
mention of the _peritropE_ seems to be an allusion to the ideas of cyclic 
reincarnation (even if he concedes it happens but once).  Josephus may 
have been familiar with the Roman commonplace that Celtic belief in 
reincarnation fortified them in their brave resistance, and he may have 
wished to appropriate this for Jews.
     Admittedly, I'm not sure if any of this has much bearing on the New 
Testament passage in question, but it certainly is thought-provoking.

Greg Jordan