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Reincarnation in America

by Lee Irwin

Reincarnation in America Synopsis

Reincarnation in America: An Esoteric History surveys the complex history of reincarnation theories across multiple fields of discourse in a pre-American context, ranging from early Greek traditions to Medieval Christian theories, Renaissance esotericism, and European Kabbalah, all of which had adherents that brought those theories to America. Rebirth theories are shown in all these groups to be highly complex and often disjunctive with mainstream religions even though members of conventional religions frequently affirm the possibility of rebirth. As a history of an idea, reincarnation theory is a current, vital belief pattern that cuts across a wide spectrum of social, cultural, and scientific domains in a long, complex history not reducible to any specific religious or theoretical explanation. This book is cross-disciplinary and multicultural, linking religious studies perspectives with science based research; it draws upon many distinct disciplines and avoids reduction of reincarnation to any specific theory. The underlying thesis is to demonstrate the complexity of reincarnation theories; what is unique is the historical overview and the gradual shift away from religious theories of rebirth to new theories that are therapeutic and trans-traditional.

Reincarnation in America Press Reviews

Reincarnation in America by Lee Irwin is a work of vast scope, covering even more than its title would suggest about reincarnation theories and traditions. Here you will find much that was never before gathered into a single book, whose range extends from ancient Greek and Roman sources to Native American, medieval, and early modern traditions, right up to contemporary scientific research. A great accomplishment-highly recommended! -- Arthur Versluis, Michigan State University In his new book, Lee Irwin traces the idea of reincarnation from the ancient world to the modern North American scene through the prism of the category of esotericism, that is, all of those secret teachings or experiences that generally lie outside the mainstream of Western religious thought and so are often rejected as unorthodox, superstitious, heretical, magical, or, these days, anecdotal. The aesthetic and intellectual effect of the book is a profound double sense of just how widespread and common but also how diverse and complicated the different historical models of rebirth actually are. This is scholarship on religion in the classical sense: at once deeply historical and robustly comparative, and always pushing toward the philosophical, moral and cosmological implications of the comparative data. -- Jeffrey J. Kripal, Rice University Lee Irwin provides readers with a thorough survey of beliefs in reincarnation across cultures and throughout history, presented in a style that is both scholarly and personal at once. The book will be a valuable resource for students and non-academics who want to learn more about the history of reincarnation beliefs, how such beliefs have appeared in different religious and spiritual traditions, or who have an interest in the scientific attempts made to understand the nature of such experiences as past-life memories. -- Christopher M. Moreman, California State University, East Bay

Book Information

ISBN: 9781498554077
Publication date: 28th July 2017
Author: Lee Irwin
Publisher: Lexington Books
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 474 pages
Categories: History of religion, Religion & beliefs, Aspects of religion (non-Christian),

About Lee Irwin

Lee Irwin is professor in the Religious Studies Department at the College of Charleston.

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