Thursday, 11 October 2012

Christian Kabbalah

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The Renaissance saw the birth of Christian Kabbalah/Cabbalah (From the Hebrew קַבָּלָה "reception", often transliterated with a 'C' to distinguish it from Jewish Kabbalah and Hermetic Qabbalah), also spelled Cabbala/Cabala. Interest grew among some Christian scholars in what they saw to be the mystical aspects of Judaic Kabbalah, which was compatible with Christian mystical thought. Although somewhat obscure, the tradition of Christian Kabbalah or Catholic Kabbalah still persists today.[citation needed]



[edit] Background

The movement was influenced by a desire to interpret aspects of Christianity even more mystically than current Christian Mystics. Greek Neoplatonic documents came into Europe from Constantinople in the reign of Mehmet II. Neoplatonism had been prevalent in Christian Europe and had entered into Scholasticism since the translation of Greek and Hebrew texts in Spain in the 13th century. The Renaissance trend was a relatively short-lived phenomenon, ending by 1750.
After the 18th century, Kabbalah became blended with European occultism, some of which had a religious basis; but the main thrust of Christian Kabbalah was by then dead. A few attempts have been made to revive it in recent decades, particularly in relation to the Neoplatonism of the first two chapters of the Gospel of John, but it has not entered into mainstream Christianity.

[edit] Christian Kabbalists

Christian Kabbalah arose during the Renaissance as a result of continuing studies of Greek texts and translations by Christian Hebraists.[citation needed] The invention of the printing press also played its part in the wider dissemination of texts.

[edit] Pico della Mirandola

Among the first to promote the knowledge of Kabbalah beyond exclusively Jewish circles was Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463–1494)[1] a student of Marsilio Ficino at his Florentine Academy. His syncretic world-view combined Platonism, Neoplatonism, Aristotelianism, Hermeticism and Kabbalah.
Mirandola's work on Kabbalah was further developed by Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680), a Jesuit priest, hermeticist and polymath; in 1652, Kircher wrote on the subject in Oedipus Aegyptiacus. Though they both worked from within the Christian tradition, both were more interested in the syncretic approach. Their work led directly into Occult and Hermetic Qabalah.
That could not be said of Reuchlin, Rosenroth and Kemper.

[edit] Johann Reuchlin

Johann Reuchlin, (1455–1522), was a German humanist and a scholar of Greek and Hebrew. For much of his life, he was the centre of Greek and Hebrew teaching in Germany. Having met with Mirandola in Italy, he later studied Hebrew with a Jewish physician, Jakob ben Jehiel Loans, producing thereafter De Arte Cabbalistica in 1517.

[edit] Balthasar Walther

Balthasar Walther, (1558 - before 1630), was a Silesian physician. In 1598-1599, Walther undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in order to learn about the intricacies of the kabbalah and Jewish mysticism from groups in Safed and elsewhere, including amongst the followers of Isaac Luria. Despite his claim to have spent six years in these travels, it appears that he only made several shorter trips. Walther himself did not author any significant works of Christian kabbalah, but maintained a voluminous manuscript collection of magical and kabbalistic works. His significance for the history of Christian Kabbalah is that his ideas and doctrines exercised a profound influence on the works of the German theosopher, Jacob Böhme, in particular Böhme's Forty Questions on the Soul (c.1621).[2]

[edit] Athanasius Kircher

The following century produced Athanasius Kircher, a German Jesuit priest, scholar and polymath. He wrote extensively on the subject in 1652, bringing further elements such as Orphism and Egyptian mythology to the mix in his work, Oedipus Aegyptiacus. It was illustrated by Kircher's own adaptation of the Tree of Life.[3]

[edit] Christian Knorr von Rosenroth

Christian Knorr von Rosenroth, (1631–1689), was a Christian Hebraist who studied Kabbalah, in which he believed to find proofs of the doctrines of Christianity.

[edit] Johan Kemper

Johan Kemper (1670–1716) was a Hebrew teacher, whose tenure at Uppsala University lasted from 1697 to 1716.[4] He was Swedenborg's probable Hebrew tutor.
Kemper, formerly known as Moses ben Aaron of Cracow, was a convert to Lutheranism from Judaism. During his time at Uppsala, he wrote his three-volume work on the Zohar entitled Matteh Mosche (The Staff of Moses).[5] In it, he attempted to show that the Zohar contained the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.[6]
This belief also drove him to make a literal translation of the Gospel of Matthew into Hebrew and to write a kabbalistic commentary on it.

[edit] Adorján Czipleá

[edit] Blessed Raymond Llull

[edit] Bibliography

  • Blau, J. L.; The Christian Interpretation of the Cabala in the Renaissance, New York: Columbia University Press, 1944
  • Dan, Joseph (ed.), The Christian Kabbalah: Jewish Mystical Books and their Christian Interpreters, Cambridge, Mass., 1997
  • _______', Modern Times: The Christian Kabbalah, in "Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction," Oxford University Press, 2006
  • Farmer, S.A; "Syncretism in the West: Pico's 900 Theses (1486)", Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1998, ISBN 0-86698-209-4
  • Reichert, Klaus; Pico della Mirandola and the Beginnings of Christian Kabbala, in "Mysticism, Magic and Kabbalah in Ashkenazi Judaism," ed. K.E.Grozinger and J. Dan, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1995
  • Swietlicki, Catherine; Spanish Christian Cabala: The Works of Luis de Leon, Santa Teresa de Jesus, and San Juan de la Cruz, Univ. of Missouri Press, 1987
  • Wirszubski, Chaim; Pico della Mirandola's encounter with Jewish mysticism, Harvard University Press, 1989
  • Armstrong, Allan; The Secret Garden of the Soul - an introduction to the Kabbalah, Imagier Publishing: Bristol, 2008
  • Yates, Frances A.; The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age, Routledge & Kegan Paul: London, 1979

[edit] References

  1. ^ Christian Cabala. Under section: A history of the early Christian Cabala
  2. ^ Leigh T.I. Penman, ‘A Second Christian Rosencreuz? Jakob Böhme’s Disciple Balthasar Walther (1558-c.1630) and the Kabbalah. With a Bibliography of Walther’s Printed Works.’ Western Esotericism. Selected Papers Read at the Symposium on Western Esotericism held at Åbo, Finland, on 15–17 August 2007. (Scripta instituti donneriani Aboensis, XX). T. Ahlbäck, ed. Åbo, Finland: Donner Institute, 2008: 154-172. Available online at:[1]
  3. ^ Schmidt, Edward W. The Last Renaissance Man: Athanasius Kircher, SJ. Company: The World of Jesuits and Their Friends. 19(2), Winter 2001–2002
  4. ^ Messianism in the Christian Kabbala of Johann Kemper, The Journal of Scriptural Reasoning Volume 1, No. 1—August 2001
  5. ^ Schoeps, Hans-Joachim, trans. Dole, George F., Barocke Juden, Christen, Judenchristen, Bern: Francke Verlag, 1965, pp. 60-67
  6. ^ See Elliot R. Wolfson's study available at [2].

[edit] External links

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