Thursday, January 27, 2011
Pico on Kabbalah
These are the very words of Esdras. These are the books of cabalistic wisdom. In these books, as Esdras unmistakably states, resides the springs of understanding, that is, the ineffable theology of the supersubstantial deity; the fountain of wisdom, that is, the precise metaphysical doctrine concerning intelligible and angelic forms; and the stream of wisdom, that is, the best established philosophy concerning nature. Pope Sixtus the Fourth, the immediate predecessor of our present pope, Innocent the Eight, under whose happy reign we are living, took all possible measures to ensure that these books would be translated into Latin for the public benefit of our faith and at the time of his death, three of them had already appeared. The Hebrews hold these same books in such reverence that no one under forty years of age is permitted even to touch them. I acquired these books at considerable expense and, reading them from beginning to end with the greatest attention and with unrelenting toil, I discovered in them (as God is my witness) not so much the Mosaic as the Christian religion. There was to be found the mystery of the Trinity, the Incarnation of the Word, the divinity of the Messiah; there one might also read of original sin, of its expiation by the Christ, of the heavenly Jerusalem, of the fall of the demons, of the orders of the angels, of the pains of purgatory and of hell. There I read the same things which we read every day in the pages of Paul and of Dionysius, Jerome and Augustine. In philosophical matters, it were as though one were listening to Pythagoras and Plato, whose doctrines bear so close an affinity to the Christian faith that our Augustine offered endless thanks to God that the books of the Platonists had fallen into his hands. In a word, there is no point of controversy between the Hebrews and ourselves on which the Hebrews cannot be confuted and convinced out the cabalistic writings, so that no corner is left for them to hide in. On this point I can cite a witness of the very greatest authority, the most learned Antonius Chronicus; on the occasion of a banquet in his house, at which I was also present, with his own ears he heard the Hebrew, Dactylus, a profound scholar of this lore, come round completely to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.
Indeed, even the most secret Hebrew theology at one time transforms holy Enoch into an angel of divinity, whom they call Metatron, and at other times it reshapes other human beings into other spirits.
19.2. I believe that the active intellect that is illuminating only in Themistius
is the same as Metatron in the Cabala.
10>13. Typhon in Orpheus and Samael in the Cabala are the same.
11>10. That which among the Cabalists is called Metatron
is without doubt that which is called Pallas by Orpheus, the paternal mind
by Zoroaster, the son of God by Mercury, wisdom by Pythagoras, the
intelligible sphere by Parmenides.
72 Kabbalistic Conclusions, own opinion
1. sephiroth et semot - similar to speculative and practical knowledge
2. Kabbalah corresponds to four divisions of philosophy
3. The knowledge that is the practical part of Cabala puts into practice all of formal metaphysics and lower theology.
4. Ensoph is not to be numbered with the other Numerations because it is the unity of those Numerations, removed and uncommunicated, not a coordinate unity.
11. The way (though the Cabalists leave it unspoken) in which rational souls are sacrificed to God by an archangel happens only by the soul's parting from the body, not the body's parting from the soul -- except accidentally, as it may in the death of the kiss, of which it is written: the death of his saints is precious in the sight of the Lord.
13. One who works at Cabala and mixes in nothing extraneous, if he stays long at the work, will die from binsica, and if he makes a mistake in the work or comes to it unpurified, he will be devoured by Azazel through the attribute of Judgement.
63. Aristotle/Maimonides interpreting mysteries
72. Just as the true astrology teaches us to read in the book of God, so Cabala teaches us to read in the book of the Law.
47 according to secret teaching of the wise hebrew cabalists (Copenhaver)
1. Just as a human being and lower priest sacrifices the souls of irrational animals to God, so Michael, a higher priest, sacrifices the souls of rational animals. [angel in priestly role]
2. There are nine hierarchies of angels...
28. By the flying fowl created on the fifth day we should understand the angels of the world who appear to humans, not those who do not appear except in spirit. (Recanati/Zohar)
30. No angel having six wings is ever changed.
magic, own opinion
9. "There is no science which gives greater proof of Christ's divinity than magic and Cabala"
Apology: distinction between "prima et vera Cabala" and "that part of Cabala which is a science and is not revealed theology"
This principle was very religiously observed among the ancient Hebrews, and for this reason, their secret doctrine, which contains an explication of the abstruse mysteries of the law, is called Cabala, which means Receiving, because they receive it from each other, not by writings, but by oral transmission. It is a doctrine which is clearly divine, and worthy of being shared with only a few; it is a very important foundation of our faith. (Quoted in McGinn via Google Books)