Moshe Idel - Johannes Reuchlin Kabbalah Pythagorean Philosophy and Modern Scholarship (194.0 Kb)
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Various philosophies left their imprint on the different forms of Kabbalah. The impact of Neoplatonism and Neoaristotelianism is best known, though some traces of the impact of Stoicism and Atomism can also be discern in the vast Kabbalistic literature. Pythagorean philosophy is perhaps the third in its importance, from the point of view of the themes it impacted on Kabbalah. Though there are some examples of mentioning Pythagoras in medieval Jewish literature, this is a rare phenomenon. Iamblichus wrote his book as an intro... More >>>
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Various philosophies left their imprint on the different forms of Kabbalah. The impact of Neoplatonism and Neoaristotelianism is best known, though some traces of the impact of Stoicism and Atomism can also be discern in the vast Kabbalistic literature. Pythagorean philosophy is perhaps the third in its importance, from the point of view of the themes it impacted on Kabbalah. Though there are some examples of mentioning Pythagoras in medieval Jewish literature, this is a rare phenomenon.
Iamblichus wrote his book as an introduction to a large multivoluminous treatise on Pythagoreanism, which he apparently never finished in its entirety. As we know such a Pythagorean reform never took place in a pure manner because Neoplatonism, though inspired from time to time by Pythagorean themes, succeeded and Iamblichus was in fact one of those who had a share in this success. However, his attempt to bring back Pythagoras's philosophy is of a certain importance for our subsequent discussions. This may be also the case with the other figure that drew from Neo-Pythagorean sources, and even save some pieces of Iamblichus's book on Pythagoreanism from oblivion, the Byzantine 11th century scholar Michael Psellus. We may summarize the different surges of Pythagoreanism in antiquity and Middle Ages, as strongly connected to an earlier floruit of some forms of Platonism. This is also the case in the Renaissance. After Ficino's introduction of the various forms of Platonism and Neoplatonism, the Pythagorean elements that were components of these literatures, gelled as a theory that contends to stand for itself, as Reuchlin would assume.
Moshe Idel is a Romanian born historian and philosopher of Jewish mysticism. He is Emeritus Max Cooper Professor in Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and a Senior Researcher at the Shalom Hartman Institute.
Born in Targu Neam, Romania, in 1947, Idel was a precocious child, with a passion for reading which made him read all the books in the town, cooperative, then High school Library, in addition to buying more books with the money earned by singing at weddings. Although the Holocaust did not directly affect the Jewish population of Targu Neam, they were affected by the so-called "population displacements". In 1963 he migrated with his family to Israel.
Enrolled at the Hebrew University, he studied under Gershom Scholem. After earning his doctorate with a thesis on Abraham Abulafia, he eventually succeeded Scholem to the chair of Jewish Thought. He has served as visiting Professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, UCLA, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania and the College de France.
Idel has undertaken a systematic revision of the history and analysis of Jewish mysticism. His explorations of the mythical, theurgical, mystical, and messianic dimensions of Judaism have been attentive to history, sociology, and anthropology, while rejecting a naive historicist approach to Judaism. His 1988 work, Kabbalah: New Perspectives (Yale University Press), is said to have revolutionised Kabbalah studies.His historical and phenomenological studies of rabbinic, philosophic, kabbalistic, and Hasidic texts have transformed the understanding of Jewish intellectual history and highlighted the close relationship between magic, mysticism, and liturgy.
In 1999, Idel was awarded the Israel Prize for excellent achievement in the field of Jewish philosophy, and in 2002 the EMET Prize for Jewish Thought. In 2003, he received the Koret Award for Jewish philosophy for his book Absorbing Perfections. He has been conferred honorary doctorates by the universities of Yale, Budapest, Haifa, Cluj, Iasi and Bucharest.