Christian Cyclopedia

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(Cabbala[h], Kabala, Kabbala[h], Qabbala[h]; Heb. “received or traditional lore”). System of Jewish theosophy that interpreted the OT by esoteric methods to reveal hidden doctrines. The interpretation was to some extent literal, allegorical, anagogical, and homiletical, but noted for permutation of letters and combination of numbers. In the course of its development it was influenced by various philosophies and religions including Gnosticism,* Neoplatonism,* and Pythagoreanism.*

Cabalism probably originated in Palestine; it experienced significant development in Babylonia (550 to 1000), moving to Eur. in the 9th and 10th centuries. Zohar (“brightness”; commentary on the Pentateuch), compiled by Moses de Leon (ca. 1250 to ca. 1305) of Granada, Sp., attributed in large part by him to Simeon* ben Yohai (bar Yochai; 2d c.), and pub. ca. 1300, was long regarded holiest of cabalistic writings.

Cabalism blossomed in the 16th c. and exerted marked influence also in the 17th and 18th c. in Palestine and Poland. Important Cabalists: Isaac ben Solomon Ashkenazi Luria,* Hayyim Vital (1543–1620). R. Lully,* Pico* della Mirandola and J. Reuchlin* were Christian scholars interested in Cabalism.

Cabalists tried to explain the nature of deity (En-Sof: “Infinite”) and its manifestations. They connected the finite universe with the infinite God through a system of emanations and tried to account for evil and achieve perfection of life.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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