Transmigration of the soul

Transmigration of the soul (sometimes given simply as Transmigration) is a philosophy of reincarnation incorporating the specific belief that after death, the soul of a living being is then transferred (or transmigrates) into another living form and thus takes birth again.


Orthodox Judaism also rejects reincarnation as doctrine, but the Hasidic sect and those who follow the teachings of the Kabbalah, a collection of mystical texts first published in 1280, accept the belief in the transmigration of souls as a firm and infallible doctrine. Rabbi Manasseh ben Israel (1604–1657), the revered theologian and English statesman, said that reincarnation was a fundamental point of their religion: "We are therefore duty bound to obey and accept this dogma with acclamation…as the truth of it has been incontestably demonstrated by the Zohar, and all the books of the Kabbalists."
~ Unusual and Unexplained

Jewish treatment of metempsychosis, as found in the kabbalah , was limited by the need to conform to orthodox scriptures, and the theory of transmigration was tolerated rather than approved. The Jewish theories, derived mainly from Gnostic, Manichaean, and Neoplatonic sources, teach that man has absolute free will, but that his soul is tied and sullied by contact with matter. Demon (imperfect) souls try to prevent the fulfillment of the finite divine plan. To act out this plan, the spotless souls descend from their original abode in heaven and are incarnated. Punishment and atonement for sins is achieved by another incarnation; but before this happens, the now impure soul flits about as a disembodied spirit. If the pious suffer, it is believed to be for sins committed in a previous existence. At the end of the cycles, when all the incarnated souls are once again pure, the Messianic period begins. No theories of transmigration are admitted into Christian religion.
~ The Columbia Encyclopedia

The kabbalists, on the other hand, do believe in reincarnation. The Zohar [the great 13th century kabbalistic text] refers to the doctrine in a number of passages (e.g. ii. 94a, 99b). Nahmanides [1194-1270], in his commentary to the book of Job (to Job 33:30), speaks of reincarnation as a great mystery and the key to an understanding of many biblical passages. The later Kabbalah is full of the belief in the transmigration of souls.
~ MyJewishLearning

Early Beliefs

Basically reincarnation means to return to the flesh again after death. The basic theology of reincarnation is that all people have a soul or spirit, and after death are reborn again on the physical plane. The belief in reincarnation has been around for thousands of years and can be seen in early Egyptian, Hindu and Buddhist theology. Now what many people do not know is that the belief in reincarnation was also held in early Christianity.

First of all, we see the belief in reincarnation throughout the Hermetic literature which had an impact on the formulation of early Christianity. Secondly, we see the doctrine of reincarnation discussed by the early Church fathers i.e., St. Augustine, Clement of Alexandria and Origen. Thirdly, reincarnation is prevalent in some of the early Christian Gnostic sects, such as the Valentinian and Sethians. Later in the medieval period, reincarnation is advocated by the Templars, the Cathars and the Waldensian Christian sects. And following the Renaissance period, reincarnation is central to the Christian Spiritualist Movement and especially to the Rosicrucian.