Friday, March 16, 2007
GEORGE ROBINSON ON KABBALAH
At MyJewishLearning.com is an article by George Robinson in which he talks about gnosticism in Kabbalah:
In the following article, the author refers to the relationship between kabbalah and Gnosticism, an early Christian theology. This relationship played a key role in the scholarship of Gershom Scholem, the great scholar of Jewish mysticism. It should be noted, however, that recent scholarship has questioned the Gnostic influence on Jewish mysticism.
As I've posted in the recent past, "the great scholar of Jewish mysticism, Gershom Scholem" believed there was Gnosticism in Jewish mysticism and writes about it.
But the Gnostic doctrine of “aeons,” specific powers and emanations of God, found a new shape in kabbalah, in an interpretation that fit more comfortably with Judaism’s insistence on monotheism. Nevertheless, the simple concept of a unified, omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing) Deity had been dealt a blow of sorts. Kabbalists offered a God whose unity consisted of a series of complex harmonies between oppositions, exchanges of Divine energy among attributes or emanations, body parts, and even genders.
He also places the kabbalah in the mainstream of Judaism, and indicates that
The first movement to be called kabbalah, the term most closely associated with Jewish mysticism today, arose primarily in northern Spain and southern France, mainly Provence. The primary thinkers of this group included the unknown author of the Sefer Ha-Bahir, Abraham ben David of Posquieres and his son, Isaac the Blind, and the lyun (Contemplation) circle, which produced numerous neo-Platonic mystical texts.
Provence was the home of the Cathars/Albigensians, and the home of the neo-Cathars known as Rosicrucians. They, too, had or have circles--study circles--as explained in the Antonin Gadal website. They, too, seek out divination with the Tarot. If Robinson is claiming the Gnostic influence came from Christians, it is from the heretical Christians, the Rosicrucian Christians, and has no home within Roman Catholicism. And where did these Christians get their concepts? In the Middle Ages, it is clear that the Christians who embraced the doctrine of the Kabbalah within the Catholic Church got their ideas from Judaism.
Bishop John Cole, of the Order of the Grail, places the source of medieval kabbalism in the Languedoc:
The distinctive forms of medieval kabbalism can with a great deal of certainty be said to have had its birth or rather rebirth in the area of the Languedoc. Many sources place the root of this revival in Spain, however it was not until the early thirteenth century that it was transplanted to places such as Aragon and Castille from the Languedoc.
The time period of this development in Southern France would be between the years 1150-1220. This appears to be a very magical period for intellectual as well as for theological and theosophical speculation. We also received some of the most impressive and enlightened Grail literature from this period.
The area of Languedoc would have been an idea place for Jewish culture to flourish during the 12th and 13th centuries. Catholic Christianity had lost its reign and the much more tolerant Cathars had become the prominent Christian culture of the region. The Cathars detested the corruption of the catholic clergy, and sought to practice a form of Christianity more identical with Primitive Christianity, claiming their own apostolic lineage.
The Kabbalah does not derive from Catholicism.
Returning to another Robinson article at MyJewishLearning.com, I found:
It may be said quite fairly that thirteenth-century Castille hosted the first Golden Age of kabbalah. Any list of key figures in Jewish mysticism would have to include the Kohen brothers, Abraham Abulafia and Joseph Gikatilla. The influence of these men and a number of others, many of them anonymous, would come to influence Moses de Leon when he wrote what would prove to be the single most important text in kabbalah, the Zohar.
They were a strangely assorted group, these Spanish Jewish mystics. Rabbis Jacob and Isaac ha-Kohen extolled a radical new brand of kabbalistic imagery with an unmistakable Gnostic bent; Rabbi Isaac posited an entire array of evil emanations, controlled by the sinister grouping of Asmodeus, Satan,and Lilith.
Robinson again confirms the Gnostic roots.
George Robinson's comments are taken from his book ESSENTIAL JUDAISM, copyright 2000. Gershom Scholem's books are copyrighted in the 1950s. The Jewish Encyclopedia was published in about 1906. All three sources make the same claim, that the Kabbalah has Gnostic roots.
Circumstantial evidence indicates that the Kabbalah and Catharism were both centered in the same location in France. Catharism was and is a Gnostic/esoteric Catholic heresy. Both Catharism and Jewish mysticism use the Kabbalah and the Tarot. The similarities are striking.