Kabbalah: A Brief Introduction for Christians Unlike the faddish books that discuss Kabbalah as simply a “magical system,” this book discusses the evolution of Kabbalah from its origins in Judaism and gives Christian readers the vocabulary and tools to begin to understand this long-standing mystical tradition. It also explores the similarities and differences between Jewish and Christian mysticism, placing both in a larger and more comprehensive framework. Explore the kabbalistic Tree of Life to discover how God is expressed in the world around us.
According to Benz, Christian Kabbalah is the interpretation of Kabbalistic themes in the context of the Christian faith, or an interpretation of Christian doctrines utilizing Kabbalistic methods and concepts." He says its beginnings are generally traced back to Count Pico della Mirandola in the 15th century who, in 1486 at the young age of 23, became prominent with his "900 conclusions or theses on a Christian syncretism of all religions and sciences" which included the basic and controversial idea that esoteric Judaism is basically identical with Christianity.Read more ›
Benz's book as a good general introduction to the ORIGINS of Christian Kabbalah with a special informative emphasis on the Kabbalistic influences and adaptations of Christian theosopher Friedrich Christoph Oetinger (1702 - 1782) who also encountered, studied and wrote a book about Christian Kabbalism in what is called "The Kabbalistic Master Tablet of Princess Antonia of Wurtemberg". One gets info. related to Christian uses of Jewish Kabbalah prior to Eliphas Levi, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and other 19th century adaptations that contributed to contemporary hermetic qabalah. If one has read, like I have, Robert Wang's imbalanced book, The Rape of Jewish Mysticism by Christian Theologians: How the Modern Occult Movement Grew out of Renaissance Attempts to Convert the Jews (2001), Benz's book will help bring historical balance.
Christian Gnosis: From Saint Paul to Meister Eckhart -Wolfgang Smith formulates what he terms an "unexpurgated" account of gnosis, and demonstrates its central place in the perfection of the Christ-centered life. He observes, moreover, that the very conception of a "supreme knowing," as implied by the aforesaid sources, has a decisive bearing upon cosmology, which moreover constitutes the underlying principle upon which his earlier scientific and philosophical work-beginning with his ground-breaking treatise on the interpretation of quantum mechanics-has been based. The "fact of gnosis," however, has a decisive bearing on the theological notion of creatio ex nihilo as well, and it is this imperative that Smith proposes to explore in the present work.
What is thus demanded, he contends, is the inherently Kabbalistic notion of a creatio ex Deo et in Deo, not to replace, but to complement the creatio ex nihilo. This leads to an engagement with Christian Kabbalah (Pico de la Mirandola, Johann Reuchlin, and Cardinal Egidio di Viterbo especially) and with Jacob Boehme, culminating in an exegesis of Meister Eckhart's doctrine. The author argues, first of all, that Eckhart does not (as many have thought) advocate a "God beyond God" theology: does not, in other words, hold an inherently Sabellian view of the Trinity. Smith maintains that Eckhart has not in fact transgressed a single Trinitarian or Christological dogma; what he does deny implicitly, he shows, is none other than the creatio ex nihilo, which in effect Eckhart replaces with the Kabbalistic creatio ex Deo. In this shift, moreover, Smith perceives the transition from "exoteric" to "esoteric" within the integral domain of Christian doctrine. Wolfgang Smith brings to his writing a rare combination of qualities and experiences, not the least his ability to move freely between the somewhat arcane worlds of science and traditional metaphysics. Alongside Dr. Smith's imposing qualifications in mathematics, physics, and philosophy, we find his hard-earned expertise in Platonism, Christian theology, traditional cosmologies, and Oriental metaphysics. His outlook has been enriched both by his diverse professional experiences in the high-tech world of the aerospace industry and in academia, and by his own researches in the course of his far-reaching intellectual and spiritual journeying. Here is that rare person who is equally at home with Eckhart and Einstein, Heraclitus and Heisenberg!
Christian Kabbalah or Cabala "reinterpreted Kabbalistic doctrine from a distinctly Christian perspective, linking Jesus Christ, His atonement, and His resurrection to the TenSefirot", linking the upper three Sephirot to the hypostases of the Trinity and the last seven "to the lower or earthly world", or "would make Kether the Creator (or the Spirit), Hokhmah the Father, and Binah—the supernal mother—Mary", which "places Mary on a divine level with God, something the orthodox churches have always refused to do". Christian Cabalists sought to transform Kabbalah into "a dogmatic weapon to turn back against the Jews to compel their conversion—starting with Ramon Llull", whom Harvey J. Hames called "the first Christian to acknowledge and appreciate kabbalah as a tool of conversion", though Llull was not a Kabbalist himself nor versed in Kabbalah. Later Christian Cabala is mostly based on Pico della Mirandola, Johann Reuchlin and Paolo Riccio.
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.