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The Scandal of KabbalahLeon Modena, Jewish Mysticism, Early Modern Venice$
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Yaacob Dweck

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691145082

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691145082.001.0001

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A Jewish Response to Christian Kabbalah

A Jewish Response to Christian Kabbalah

Chapter Five A Jewish Response to Christian Kabbalah
The Scandal of Kabbalah

Yaacob Dweck

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines Modena's outrage at the appropriation of Kabbalah by Christians, particularly Pico della Mirandola. It looks at Modena's effort to separate Christian Kabbalah from Jewish theology and to redefine Kabbalah as a uniquely Jewish realm of thought. Modena objected to Christian Kabbalah for a variety of reasons similar to his opposition to Jewish Kabbalah: it was a recent innovation, and the attempt to argue for its antiquity defied both reason and textual evidence. In the very same passages, however, Modena objected to Christian Kabbalah for the simple fact that it was Christian. Ultimately, in criticizing Christian Kabbalah as a perversion of a specifically Jewish set of esoteric secrets, Modena adopted a protectionist and proprietary attitude toward a form of knowledge and set of practices he had spent considerable energy criticizing and had otherwise rejected.

Keywords:   Pico della Mirandola, Christian Kabbalah, Jewish theology, Jewish Kabbalah

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