the doctrine of the transmigration of souls into other bodies. This tenet has been attributed to the sect of the Pharisees. Josephus, who was himself a Pharisee, gives this account of their doctrine in these points: "Every soul is immortal; those of the good only enter into another body, but those of the bad are tormented with everlasting punishment." From whence it has been pretty generally concluded, that the resurrection they held was only a Pythagorean one, namely, the transmigration of the soul into another body; from which they excluded all that were notoriously wicked, who were doomed at once to eternal punishment; but their opinion was, that those who were guilty only of lesser crimes were punished for them in the bodies into which their souls were next sent. It is also supposed, that it was upon this notion the disciples asked our Lord, "Did this man sin, or his parents, that he was born blind?" John 9:2
; and that some said, Christ was "John the Baptist, some Elias, others Jeremias, or one of the prophets," Matthew 16:14
. The transmigration of souls into other bodies was undoubtedly the opinion of the Pythagoreans and Platonists, and was embraced by some among the Jews; as by the author of the Book of Wisdom, who says, that "being good, he came into a body undefiled," Matthew 8:20
. Nevertheless, it is questioned by some persons, whether the words of Josephus, before quoted, are a sufficient evidence of this doctrine of the metempsychosis being received by the whole sect of the Pharisees; for "passing into another or different body," may only denote its receiving a body at the resurrection; which will be another, not in substance, but in quality; as it is said of Christ at his transfiguration, το ειδος του προσωπου αυτου ετερον , "the fashion of his countenance was" another, or, as we render it, was "altered,"
. As to the opinion which some entertained concerning our Saviour, that he was either John the Baptist, or Elias, or Jeremias, or one of the prophets, Matthew 16:14
, it is not ascribed to the Pharisees in particular, and if it were, one cannot see how it could be founded on the doctrine of the metempsychosis; since the soul of Elias, now inhabiting the body of Jesus, would no more make him to be Elias, than several others had been, in whose bodies the soul of Elias, according to this doctrine, is supposed to have dwelt since the death of that ancient prophet, near a thousand years before. Beside, how was it possible any person that saw Christ, who did not appear to be less than thirty years old, should, according to the notion of the metempsychosis, conceive him to be John the Baptist, who had been so lately beheaded? Surely this apprehension must be grounded on the supposition of a proper resurrection. It was probably, therefore, upon the same account, that others took him to be Elias, and others Jeremias. Accordingly, St. Luke expresses it thus: "Others say, that one of the old prophets is risen from the dead," Luke 9:19
. It may farther be observed, that the doctrine of the resurrection, which St. Paul preached, was not a present metempsychosis, but a real future resurrection, which he calls the "hope and resurrection of the dead,"
. This he professed as a Pharisee, and for this profession the partisans of the sect vindicated him against the Sadducees, Acts 23:7-9
. Upon the whole, therefore, it appears most reasonable to adopt the opinion of Reland, though in opposition to the sentiments of many other learned men, that the Pharisees held the doctrine of the resurrection in a proper sense.