The Emergence of the Kabbalah: Early Sefirotic Theosophy as a Response to Contemporary Theological Challenges

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Abstract

This study offers a fresh view on one of the fundamental problems concerning the history of Jewish thought and religious discourse, namely, the cause for the sudden appearance of the Kabbalistic theosophy of the sefirot in the turn of the 13th century. Based on testimonies of 13th-century Kabbalistic and non-Kabbalistic authors, I show that the wide reception and rapid development of the sefirotic system in this period were due to the fact that it provided theological solutions to two acute difficulties with which contemporary believers and theologians struggled: first, rejection of the notion of divine providence over individuals, and second, enhancement of the Jewish worship of divine mediators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalNumen
Volume87
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Jewish mysticism
  • Jewish theology
  • Kabbalah
  • Maimonides
  • angels
  • mediators
  • providence
  • sefirot

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Religious studies

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