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Kabbalah in Italy, 1280-1510: A Survey by Moshe Idel

By Moshe Idel

This sweeping survey of the background of Kabbalah in Italy represents a huge contribution from one of many world's most efficient Kabbalah students. the 1st to concentration consciousness on a selected heart of Kabbalah, Moshe Idel charts the ways in which Kabbalistic notion and literature built in Italy and the way its targeted geographical state of affairs facilitated the coming of either Spanish and Byzantine Kabbalah.Idel analyzes the paintings of 3 significant Kabbalists—Abraham Abulafia, Menahem Recanati, and Yohanan Alemanno—who characterize various colleges of concept: the ecstatic, the theosophical-theurgical, and the astromagical. Directing specified realization to the interactions and tensions between those different types of Jewish Kabbalah and the nascent Christian Kabbalah, Idel brings to gentle the wealthy historical past of Kabbalah in Italy and the robust effect of this crucial middle at the emergence of Christian Kabbalah and ecu occultism regularly.

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The earlier texts are not concerned with the secrets of the canonical texts, nor are their secrets described as being received from a human teacher as part of a longer tradition. The dominant feature of the Heikhalot texts is personal epiphanies experienced by the great masters; long-term transmission is marginal. In contrast, comprehensive secrets and exegesis are formal traits of medieval Jewish mystical literature. 17 The only common denominator of all the major forms of Kabbalah is the emphasis on received tradition.

Both are exegetical literatures, although the texts interpreted are not always the same. The first Kabbalists, like the medieval German Hasidim, were attracted by the seminal and enigmatic Sefer Yetzirah, by the Heikhalot literature, and by various liturgical topics. 16 To be sure, the exegetical nature of these mystical texts is paralleled in other forms of Jewish medieval writing, such as Jewish philosophy. However, unlike these genres, the texts constituting Kabbalah and the esoteric literature of Hasidei Ashkenaz and those of R.

Shlomo ibn Adret, whose ban of Abulafia was so effective that it succeeded in wiping out this form of Kabbalah from Spanish soil and thus shaped to a certain degree the spiritual physiognomy of Spanish Kabbalah. In sum, not only did the components of ecstatic Kabbalah stem from trends of thought that emerged outside Spain, but this lore was divorced from the developments of Spanish Kabbalah and did not affect it. 27 A comparative analysis of the phenomenological structure of ecstatic Kabbalah and Spanish theosophical Kabbalah may help us to see the basis for this hostility more clearly.

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