Christian Kabbalah

Reuchlin_Wappen_1530

(De arte cabalistica libri tres, iam denua adcurate revisi, Johann Reuchlin, 1530 – Source)

Note: The following article has been taken and translated by F.v.F. from the book “Kabbala: Teorie si Practica” by Raul Petrisor with the author’s permission.

 

Christianity arose with Jesus and was, at the beginning, a Jewish sect that identified, accepted and saw Jesus (Jeshua) as the Messiah. He was born and raised in the Jewish tradition, culture and society. All the initial apostles and disciples were Jews. In the period and historical context in which it makes its appearance, the Jewish nation was full of hope. The great majority was waiting for a leader, a Messiah[1], who was going to free them from the oppression of the Roman Empire. At the same time, the Jewish spiritual elite was waiting for a Messiah to reunite the people of Israel with their God (YHVH).

Joshua himself affirmed quite clearly that he did not come to create a new spiritual movement with new teachings and rules, but his role was to fulfill the Torah, to refresh the ancient religion of the people of Israel, who was in moral and spiritual decline.

“Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)

What began as a small Jewish sect formed around the Messiah, who understood and applied the Jewish Laws and precepts and, in no case, the Greek and Roman ones, has got to the point of transforming into a religion formed of gentiles[2]. In the process of transformation and development of the prechristian religion, many of the Jewish Laws and doctrines that stood at the base of the sect have transformed or were abdicated. In this way it was made possible the assimilation of the spiritual movement within the Greek society, as well as the development within the culture and social-political entourage of Rome.

With the appearance of Saint Peter, who began these transformations, the pre-Christian groups divided in two camps: on one side, those who originated from Jewish roots, who understood, applied and lived by the Jewish Laws and traditions, and on the other side the gentiles, who became very numerous. The first opposed the centralization and institutionalization to which it was heading and which Peter wanted, but which took place because of the emperor Constantine the Great. He imposed the homogenization of the pre-Christian beliefs and movements in the whole empire. In this process of cosmetology of the pre-Christian religion that had to serve the political and economical interests of the Roman Empire, the few Jewish groups were eliminated or assimilated.

Nevertheless, the knowledge of kabbala remained alive and was passed through direct line, containing especially the teachings and practices that we now call gnostic. A strong impulse had the Gnostic groups with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gospel of Thomas from Nag Hammadi[3]. These documents, as well as the teachings of Jesus from Peshitta[4], make the things be seen in another light and from another perspective. More and more it is understood that the elements of mysticism proliferated within the pre-Christian groups, but also of the early Christian church.

Many of the ideas, practices and concepts of kabbala are reflected in the Christian mystic. The Mystery of Crucifixion and that of the Eucharist have been identified with the mystery of Easter, which at the Jews is Pesach and through which it is commemorated the exit from Egypt under the leadership of Moses. The mystery of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist has its roots in the mystery of bread and wine, that goes back to the Jews and even earlier.

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying: Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of Heaven and Earth.” Genesis 14:18-19.

Finally, Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire and crystallized into what we call Christianity.

At the end of the XV century, there started a movement among Jews converted to Christianity in Spain. They started attributing Christian aspects to the hidden mysteries of kabbala. The Christian and Renaissance speculations concerning kabbala, through which can be explained many secrets of the Christian faith and especially of the catholic faith, have been formulated around the Platonic Academy established by De Medici family, in Florence.

The Florentines, lead by the famous Renaissance hermetic Pico della Mirandola (1463 – 1494)[5] believed they have discovered in kabbala a divine revelation that coul give the keys of understanding the teachings of Pythagoras, Plato and the internal secrets of catholic Christianity. Pico himself had a considerable quantity of kabbalistic literature translated into Latin by the converted teacher Samuel ben Nissim Abulfaraj.

Among the 900 thesis, Pico presented for public debate in Rome the affirmation that “no science can convince us more of the Divinity of Jesus Christ than magic and kabbala” and believed it can be proved the dogmas of the trinity and of the incarnation through kabbalistic axioms.

All of these caused a movement in the Christian intellectual world, the writings of Pico and his follower, Johannes Reuchlin (1455 -1522), have gotten to a great interest in the doctrine of divine numbers and magical practice, this culminating with the writing of Cornelius Agrippa Nettesheim, De Occult Philosophia (1531), and, on the other hand, to attempts to form a synthesis between Christian theology and kabbalistic theology.[6]

The information and ideas have spread quickly in Italy, Germany and France.

In the XVI century, the appearance of kabbalistic texts in Latin made the number of attempts to create parallels between the two esoteric doctrines to grow.

In the XVII century, the center of Christian kabbala moved from Spain to England and Germany because of the writings of Jacob Boehme and of the notoriety of the book Kabbala Denudata, written by Knor von Rosenroth[7], in 1684, which contains the translation in Latin of some very important fragments from the Zohar and great quantities of information from Lurianic Kabbala [8]. Rosenroth and Athanasius Kirchner [9] made the connection between Adam Kadmon[10] and Jesus, as archetypal aspect of Christian theology, as well as between the Superior Triad, formed by the sephorith Kether, Chokhmah and Binah and the Holy Trinity.

In the XVIII century takes place the final phase of Christian kabbala development, in which have been added the alchemical symbolism and theosophical ideas. Because of this, Christian kabbala became a self sustaining science and, we could say, very different from the Jewish one from which it evolved.

[1] Messiah means “the anointed one”.

[2] In latin, gentiles means “belonging to a clan or tribe”. Nowadays it has the semnification of  “non-Jew”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentile

[3] The Nag Hammadi Library, James M. Robinson (1988).

[4] It is the standard version of the Bible from Syriac language, Aramaic dialect, that was translated directly into Hebrew, independently from the greek version, Septuagint.

[5] “Pico della Mirandola, Giovanni, Conte” in Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge, volume 15, copyright 1991, Grolier Inc.

[6] Kabbalah, Gershom Scholem, p.197-198.

[7] The translation into English was made by S.L.MacGregor Mathers, in 1887, under the name Kabbalah Unveiled.

[8] It is Jewish and was preached by Rabbi Ari Isaac Luria; Lawrence Fine: Physician of the Soul, Healer of the Cosmos, Isaac Luria and His Kabbalistic Fellowship, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2003.

[9] Was a German Jesuit from the XVII century who published over 40 works on esoterism, geology, medicine etc.

[10] In translation “primal man”, synonymous with Purusha from Upanishade.

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Position: Collaborator City: Cluj-Napoca & Bucharest, Romania Age: 38 Beliefs/System: - Domains of interest: Domains of interest: Kabbalah, Hermetism, Alchemy, Numerology, Tarot, Ceremonial Magick, Shamanism, Reiki, Metaphysics Website: www.raulpetrisor.ro | www.institutulhermetic.ro | www.aost.ro Read more >

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