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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-J054-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 13, 2024, from

Article Summary

Kabbalah is the body of Jewish mystical writings which became important at the end of the twelfth century in Provence and has been taken up with varying degrees of enthusiasm in an attempt to explore the esoteric side of Judaism. There are two main forms of Kabbalah: one which concentrates on gaining knowledge of God through study of his name, and a theosophical tradition that approaches God through his impact on creation. On both accounts God is linked to the world through ten Sefirot, hypostatic numbers which mediate between the Infinite and this world and thus (among other functions) help to explain how a being who is entirely ineffable can produce so much variety as is observed in nature. God’s willingness to relate to the world gives his creatures the possibility of personal knowledge of him, although this can be acquired only through difficult and strenuous spiritual exercises. The variety of works which the Kabbalists produced are a blend of philosophical and mystical ideas which attempt to explore the inner meaning of faith and represent a creative and influential stream that both draws upon and contributes to Jewish philosophy.

Citing this article:
Leaman, Oliver. Kabbalah, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-J054-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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