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the assumption of human form by a god, an idea common in religion. In early times the idea was expressed in the belief that certain living men, often kings or priests, were divine incarnations. India and Egypt were especially rich in forms of incarnation in men as well as in beasts. Incarnation is found in various phases of Greek religion, in which the human body of a god was a disguise or a temporary means of communication. Among western cultures the most widely accepted belief in incarnation is in that of JesusJesus
or Jesus Christ
, 1st-century Jewish teacher and prophet in whom Christians have traditionally seen the Messiah [Heb.,=annointed one, whence Christ from the Greek] and whom they have characterized as Son of God and as Word or Wisdom of God incarnate.
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, held by Christians to be God in the flesh, partaking wholly both of divinity and of humanity, except in so far as human beings have a propensity to sin. This is the accepted understanding of the biblical "The Word was made flesh." See avataraavatara
[Skt.,=descent], incarnations of Hindu gods, especially Vishnu. The doctrine of avatara first occurs in the Bhagavad-Gita, where Krishna declares: "For the preservation of the righteous, the destruction of the wicked, and the establishment of dharma [virtue], I come into
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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

This doctrine, although it doesn't appear by name in the Bible, is the central tenet of Christianity. It states that Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity (see Arius), "took on" flesh (in carne, "in flesh"), or became a man. In other words, God became human, was born as a baby, and was later killed by humankind in order to become the substitute sacrifice for the propitiation of sin (see Christianity). This does not mean that God ceased to exist other than within the flesh of Jesus of Nazareth. It means that the eternal "Word" of God became the "Son" of God, present now in time. This concept is called the hypostatic union—perfect God and perfect man in one body. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1). Whenever the "other" steps across the line separating material from spiritual and becomes human, or "takes on" humanity, the divine is said to be "incarnate," or "in the flesh."

The term is used in a slightly different form outside of Christianity. Hindu belief, for instance, sees the human spirit (Atman) existing, over the course of many lifetimes, in many different bodies. When the spirit or soul incarnate in flesh takes on a new form, a new body, it is said to be reincarnate, or incarnated again. This is the doctrine of reincarnation.


1. Christian theol the assuming of a human body by the Son of God
2. Christianity the presence of God on Earth in the person of Jesus
References in periodicals archive ?
The cruciform misslo Dei for the twenty-first century will embody the vulnerability of God incarnate in Jesus.
The three reasons from 1827 and 1831 converge in their common understanding of a separate subjectivity for God incarnate.
First, as God incarnate in Jesus reveals God's solidarity with human brokenness and pain, so Christian participation in the mission of God means "passionate involvement in human suffering.
Christmas, however, celebrates the Birth of Christ, God incarnate, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).
How could they forget that this humble human being, God incarnate and crucified for all.
As Michael D settles into the Aras, the Republic of Ireland manager was forced to deny, albeit it tongue-in-cheek, that he was God incarnate because his decision to select Jon Walters had paid off handsomely in their 4-0 victory against Estonia.
Euthyphro and the Goodness of God Incarnate, ROBIN LE POLDEVIN
A "cosmic christology," a more expansive understanding of Christ, is about relationship: God in relationship to us and us in relationship to God incarnate.
173-244), truly human, truly God incarnate, by "faith in Christ's penal, substitutionary self-sacrifice" (p.
In 1976, he and a number of other senior Christian theologians published a collection of essays called The Myth of God Incarnate.
In a few places, DiPasquale seems to rely on shock appeal to carry a point, as when she claims that Lanyer's "passionate lines urge the addressee to direct all her erotic desire toward a God incarnate in flesh that is gloriously, specifically male, a God whose freely flowing blood is the ultimate ejaculation" (172).
He addresses the humanizing of Jewish Law by Jesus, which Jesus had every right to do if He was God incarnate.