KABBALA DENUDATA, THE KABBALAH UNVEILEDby Knorr Von Rosenroth
If, perhaps, we have detained the reader too long with
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Knorr von Rosenroth, the author of the celebrated "Kabbala Denudata,"—a book which, notwithstanding its immense learning and research, is almost as difficult to understand as it must have been to compile. Soon afterwards, the study of the Kabbalah declined as suddenly as it had formerly revived.
If, perhaps, we have detained the reader too long with this introductory matter, we trust to have indicated his kindly interest, if not his serious attention, for a subject, important theologically from its connection with the spiritual history of Israel; philosophically, as exhibiting one of the forms of Mysticism claiming kindred with the deepest philosophy; and historically, from its connection with Gnosticism, Alexandrian-Jewish, and Christian Theology, and some of the tendencies manifested during the Middle Ages. We proceed now to give as brief and as lucid an exposition of the system of the Kabbalah as we are able to do in our limited space.
We have before stated that the mysteries of the Kabbalah concerned two subjects, namely, the history of the creation and the Merkabah, or the mystery of the Divine apparition to Ezekiel. The reader will observe that these two subjects are cognate. They touch the question of God's original connection with His creatures, and that of His continued intercourse with them. It is the mystery of nature and that of Providence, specially of revelation, which are here treated; and the question, how the infinite God can have any connection with finite creatures, is attempted to be answered. It thus touches the deepest and most solemn problems. It is well known how the Gospel replies to these inquiries. God created all things out of nothing by Christ—in Him He condescends to hold intercourse with His creatures. Jesus Christ is the connecting link between God and us, and in every sense a Mediator. "All things were created by Him and for Him; and He is before all things and by Him all things consist." The answer which the Kabbalah returns to these questions is different in many respects. The Old Testament displayed a deep reverence for man, as made in the image of God, and even for nature, as the manifestation of the Deity. The Kabbalah goes further. It recognizes God only in His works—in every other respect He is inconceivable and unintelligible. There are different manifestations of the Deity, each of which is called "a world." But all these worlds are just the Divine pouring itself forth; hence, they are all analogous to each other. In each of these, the Divine Unity ultimately manifests itself as a Trinity, consisting of opposites, with a middle link of connection and reconciliation. Everything is Divine, and everything Divine manifests itself as a Trinity in Unity—such are the fundamental principles of the Kabbalah. They will become more plain as we proceed.
An excerpt from the Introduction:
I. THE first questions which the non-qabalistical reader will probably ask are: What is the Qabalah? Who was its author? What are its sub-divisions? What are its general teachings? And why is a translation of it required at the present time?
2. I will answer the last question first. At the present time a powerful wave of occult thought is spreading through society; thinking men are beginning to awake to the fact that "there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in their philosophy;" and, last but not least, it is now felt that the Bible, which has been probably more misconstrued than any other book ever written, contains numberless obscure and mysterious passages which are utterly unintelligible without some key wherewith to unlock their meaning. THAT KEY IS GIVEN IN THE QABALAH. Therefore this work should be of interest to every biblical and theological student. Let every Christian ask himself this question: "How can I think to understand the Old Testament if I be ignorant of the construction put upon it by that nation whose sacred book it formed; and if I know not the meaning of the Old Testament, how can I expect to understand the New?" Were the real and sublime philosophy of the Bible better known, there would be fewer fanatics and sectarians. And who can calculate the vastness of the harm done to impressionable and excitable persons by the bigoted enthusiasts who ever and anon come forward as teachers of the people? How many suicides are the result of religious mania and depression! What farragos of sacrilegious nonsense have not been promulgated as the true meanings of the books of the Prophets and the Apocalypse! Given a translation of the sacred Hebrew Book, in many instances incorrect, as the foundation, an inflamed and an ill-balanced mind as the worker thereon, what sort of edifice can be expected as the result? I say fearlessly to the fanatics and bigots of the present day: You have cast down the Sublime and Infinite One from His throne, and in His stead have placed the demon of...
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