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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 ?
Referring to Jodie Whittaker who plays the Time Lord's latest incarnation as a "babe", Billie, 34, added: "If they're going to change the world and travel through time, they're gonna have to have a strong allegiance.
I understand the doctrine of Incarnation inclusively.
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here takes clear direction from his work to filter through contemporary women's fiction and determine his views on it as it relates to incarnation, in this case on rewriting notions of the sacred.
The parents feared " political misconceptions of the Chinese Government" after the Dalai Lama revealed that Nyima was the fourth re- incarnation of the Karmapa.
HELLO DOCTOR: Peter Capaldi who has been unveiled as the 12th incarnation of Doctor Who.
The hunt is now on for an actor to replace him and become the 12th incarnation of the Time Lord.
I've always considered that Jesus of Nazareth, although born into a particular culture in his incarnation, transcends any and every culture.
The authors clarify various positions, identify their strengths and limits, and suggest promising avenues for further thought and scholarship, all the while presenting the state of the debates surrounding the metaphysics of the incarnation in analytic or Anglo-American circles.
They are (1) the incarnation as eternal, (2) the particularity of Jesus' human experience, and (3) divine justice as necessarily retributive.
Jesus and the Incarnation is a collection of papers representing a wide range of Christian voices and perspectives around the themes of "The Word Made Flesh" and "The Word Made Book" within the context of global Muslim-Christian encounters.