Kabbalah in Italy, 1280-1510: A Survey

Kabbalah in Italy, 1280-1510: A Survey

by Moshe Idel


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This sweeping survey of the history of Kabbalah in Italy represents a major contribution from one of the world's foremost Kabbalah scholars. The first to focus attention on a specific center of Kabbalah, Moshe Idel charts the ways that Kabbalistic thought and literature developed in Italy and how its unique geographical situation facilitated the arrival of both Spanish and Byzantine Kabbalah.

Idel analyzes the work of three major Kabbalists—Abraham Abulafia, Menahem Recanati, and Yohanan Alemanno—who represent diverse schools of thought: the ecstatic, the theosophical-theurgical, and the astromagical. Directing special attention to the interactions and tensions among these forms of Jewish Kabbalah and the nascent Christian Kabbalah, Idel brings to light the rich history of Kabbalah in Italy and the powerful influence of this important center on the emergence of Christian Kabbalah and European occultism in general.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300126266
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 05/17/2011
Pages: 512
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Moshe Idel is Max Cooper Professor in the Department of Jewish Thought, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and senior researcher at the Shalom Hartman Institute. He has received many awards, including the National Jewish Book Award, for his previous books on Kabbalah. He lives in Jerusalem.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Introduction 1

1 Kabbalah: Introductory Remarks 19

2 Abraham Abulafia and Ecstatic Kabbalah 30

3 Abraham Abulafia's Activity in Italy 40

4 Ecstatic Kabbalah as an Experiential Lore 52

5 Abraham Abulafia's Hermeneutics 64

6 Eschatological Themes and Divine Names in Abulafia's Kabbalah 77

7 Abraham Abulafia and R. Menahem ben Benjamin: Thirteenth-Century Kabbalistic and Ashkenazi Manuscripts in Italy 89

8 R. Menahem ben Benjamin Recanati 106

9 Menahem Recanati as a Theosophical-Theurgical Kabbalist 117

10 Menahem Recanati's Hermeneutics 128

11 Ecstatic Kabbalah from the Fourteenth through Mid-Fifteenth Centuries 139

12 The Kabbalistic-Philosophical-Magical Exchanges in Italy 154

13 Prisca Theologia: R. Isaac Abravanel, Leone Ebreo, and R. Elijah Hayyim of Genazzano 164

14 R. Yohanan ben Yitzhaq Alemanno 177

15 Jewish Mystical Thought in Lorenzo il Magnifico's Florence 192

16 Other Mystical and Magical Literatures in Renaissance Florence 202

17 Spanish Kabbalists in Italy after the Expulsion 212

18 Two Diverging Types of Kabbalah in Late-Fifteenth-Century Italy 219

19 Jewish Kabbalah in Christian Garb 227

20 Anthropoids from the Middle Ages to Renaissance Italy 236

21 Astromagical Pneumatic Anthropoids from Medieval Spain to Renaissance Italy 269

22 The Trajectory of Eastern Kabbalah and Its Reverberations in Italy 287

Concluding Remarks 293

Appendix 1 The Angel Named Righteous: From R. 'Amittai of Oria to Erfurt and Rome 315

Appendix 2 The Infant Experiment: On the Search for the First Language in Italy 324

Appendix 3 R. Yohanan Alemanno's Study Program 340

Appendix 4 Magic Temples and Cities in the Middle Ages and Renaissance: Mas'udi, Ibn Zarza, Alemanno 344

Notes 349

Bibliography 467

Index of Manuscripts 477

Index of Titles 480

Index of Names 486

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