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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 ?
Even (liberal) Christian theologians argue that Jesus never claimed to be God incarnate.
But this is surely highly disingenuous, because the entire premise of Miles' study is based on the assumption that Jesus was God incarnate.
In the mood of New Year's celebration, residents were more willing than usual to give alms to send the Kitchen God incarnate, or the beggars, away.
Neusner proposes a different kind of dialogue, where both Jews and Christians try to make sense of the deeply held convictions of the other: the conception of God incarnate in a human being and the conception of the uniqueness and holiness of Israel.
God Incarnate means universal elevation and redemption.
The band chose their name in honour of the then Emperor of Ethiopia (formerly Abyssinia) Haile Selassie, who was effectively God incarnate to the Rastafarian movement.
For Calvin, Christ as God incarnate is both "Cosmic Mediator" and "Redemptive Mediator," i.
Christmas, however, celebrates the Birth of Christ, God incarnate, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).
She may have thought he would be the Messiah or the deliverer of Israel, or even the ruler of Israel, but to even imagine Jesus was God incarnate was more than anyone at the time could comprehend.
And finally, in Mark, we learn that even the unclean spirits know this God incarnate.
Rabjohns argued that Christ as God incarnate was male, and had chosen only male apostles.
Before he was worshiped as God incarnate, how did Jesus struggle to incarnate God?