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KABBALAH/QABBALAH/CABALA/QABALAH/KABBALAH MA'ASIT

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Author Topic: KABBALAH/QABBALAH/CABALA/QABALAH/KABBALAH MA'ASIT  (Read 1155 times)
Bianca
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« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2007, 08:56:12 am »








Kabbalah: Scholarship




 Claims for authority


Historians have noted that most claims for the authority of Kabbalah involve an argument of the antiquity of authority (see, e.g., Joseph Dan's discussion in his Circle of the Unique Cherub). As a result, virtually all works pseudepigraphically claim, or are ascribed, ancient authorship. For example, Sefer Raziel HaMalach, an astro-magical text partly based on a magical manual of late antiquity, Sefer ha-Razim, was, according to the kabbalists, transmitted to Adam by the angel Raziel after he was evicted from Eden.

Another famous work, the Sefer Yetzirah, supposedly dates back to the patriarch Abraham. This tendency toward pseudepigraphy has its roots in Apocalyptic literature, which claims that esoteric knowledge such as magic, divination and astrology was transmitted to humans in the mythic past by the two angels, Aza and Azaz'el (in other places, Azaz'el and Uzaz'el) who 'fell' from heaven (see Genesis 6:4) A similar belief prevails in Islam, where the angels are named Harut and Marut (see Qur'an, Ch. 2: 102).

The appeal to antiquity has also shaped modern theories of influence in reconstructing the history of Jewish mysticism. The oldest versions have been theorized to extend from Assyrian theology and mysticism. Dr. Simo Parpola, professor of Assyriology at the University of Helsinki, remarks on the general similarity between the Sefirot of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life and the Tree of Life of Assyria. He reconstructed what an Assyrian antecedent to the Sephiroth might look like,[4] and noted parallels between the characteristics of En Sof on the nodes of the Sefirot and the gods of Assyria. The Assyrians assigned specific numbers to their gods, similar to the numbering of the Sefirot. However, the Assyrians use a sexagesimal number system, whereas the Sefiroth is decimal. With the Assyrian numbers, additional layers of meaning and mystical relevance appear in the Sefirot.[citation needed] Normally, floating above the Assyrian Tree of Life was the god Assur (god), corresponding to the Hebrew Ay Sof, which is also, via a series of transformations, derived from the Assyrian word Assur.

Parpola re-interpreted various Assyrian tablets in terms of these primitive Sefirot, such as the Epic Of Gilgamesh. He proposed that the scribes had been writing philosophical-mystical tracts, rather than mere adventure stories, and concluded that traces of this Assyrian mode of thought and philosophy eventually reappeared in Greek Philosophy and the Kabbalah.

Skeptical scholars find attempts to read Kabbalah back into the pre-Israelite Ancient Near East, as Parpola does, to be implausible. They point out that the doctrine of the Sefirot started to seriously develop only in the 12th century CE with the publication of the Bahir, and that for this doctrine to have existed undocumented within Judaism from the time of the Assyrian empire (which fell from cultural hegemony in the 7th century BCE) until it "resurfaced" 1718 centuries later seems far-fetched. A plausible alternative, based in the research of Gershom Scholem, the pre-eminent scholar of Kabbalah in the 20th Century, is to see the Sefirot as a theosophical doctrine that emerged out of Jewish word-mythology of late antiquity, as exemplified in Sefer Yetzirah, and the angelic-palace mysticism found in Hekalot literature, and then fused to the Neo-Platonic notion of creation through progressive divine emanations.
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