Monday, March 05, 2007


Returning to the Jewish Encyclopedia article "Cabala", I'm picking up the text at this sub-heading:


Adam Kadmon, the "primal man" of the Elcesaites, was also, according to the conception of these Jewish Gnostics, of huge dimensions; viz., ninety-six miles in height and ninety-four miles in breadth; being originally androgynous, and then cleft in two, the masculine part becoming the Messiah, and the feminine part of the Holy Ghost.

That bears not even a remote resemblance to Catholic cosmology. The God of the Bible is always male, including the Holy Ghost. In catholic cosmology man can never become god no matter how many times he is split. It is worth noting that in New Age theology man becomes deified, which is much closer to what I find in that quoted passage.

The Heavenly Halls

Mystagogues of the Merkabah are said here to bring "themselves into a state of entranced vision by fasting, asceticism, and prayer" in a fashion similar to descriptions of the Montanist ecstasy.

Cosmological Theories

There is a reference here to Essene cosmology, prompting me once again to wonder what is contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Theurgic Cabala

Any one knowing the names and functions of the angels could control all nature and all its powers...Probably entrusted formerly only to oral tradition, the ancient names were written down by the mystics of the geonic period; and so Hai Gaon...mentions a large number of such works as existing in his time...Of all these works, aside from the Hekalot, only the "Harba de-Mosheh"...("The Sword of Moses")...This book consists almost entirely of mystical names by means of which man may guard himself against sickness, enemies, and other ills, and may subjugate nature. These and other works later on formed the basis of the theurgic Cabala.

Origin of the Speculative Cabala

If, now, the German Cabala of the thirteenth century is to be regarded as merely a continuation of geonic mysticism, it follows that the speculative Cabala arising simultaneously in France and Spain must have had a similar genesis. It is the Sefer Yezirah which thus forms the link between the Cabala and the geonic mystics.

Mysticism of Jewish Heretics

This Jewish form of the Gnostic Demiurge, which was also known to the Samaritans...was accepted with slight modifications by the Karaites...as well as by the German cabalists...These, of course, were not new theories originating at this time, but an awakening of Jewish Gnosticism, that had been suppressed for centuries by the increasing preponderance of Rabbinism, and now reappeared not by chance, at a time when Sadduceeism, the old enemy of Rabbinism, also reappeared, under the name of Karaism.

Is Sadduceeism still alive in Judaism today? How does it relate to Hasidism?

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