The Rape of Jewish Mysticism by Christian Theologians

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9780971559103: The Rape of Jewish Mysticism by Christian Theologians

The Rape of Jewish Mysticism by Christian Theologians is the extraordinary story of how, from the fourteenth century on, Christian theologians used the essence of Jewish mysticism to prove the divinity of Christ and how that effort resulted in Christian Kabbalah, in Rosicrucianism, and in all aspects of the Western occult movement as it is known today. Topics include the different kinds of Kabbalah and their roots, as well as the interaction between Jewish and Christian Mysticism, and what each contributed to the other. Dr. Wang's most recent book details the real sources, sacred and mundane, of a remarkable and little-understood chapter in the history of Western culture.

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From the Publisher :

At a time when so many are aware that Madonna is studying the Kabbalah, it may come as a surprise that the core of modern Christian mysticism stems from the Kabbalah and earlier efforts by Christian theologians to convert the Jews to Christ.

Dr. Wang's remarkable book stems from nearly a decade of research into the origins of western occultism. How could it have happened, he asks, that Jews and their religion were detested yet essential elements of their mystical tradition and language were freely embraced as embodying an immutable truth?

Robert Wang found the answer in a remarkable Christian claim that Jewish Kabbalah, which developed slowly out of Merkabah mysticism, from about the sixth through the thirteenth centuries, is not truly Jewish at all, but is derived from an earlier tradition that confirms the truth of Christianity. Perhaps, he notes, even more remarkable is the assertion that even the Hebrew language is not unique to the Jewish culture, but is the original language given by God to mankind. Dr. Wang documents in this carefully researched and supported work that the Jews were considered to be merely caretakers of a tradition of Kabbalah and of the "original" Hebrew language of which they spoke a distorted version and they could never really understand because these mysteries were truly comprehensible only in terms of Christianity.

Dr. Wang’s outrage at this history, and hence the book’s title, stems in large measure from the fact that to most Medieval and Renaissance Christians the Jews were simply the hated enemy, whose conversion was a primary goal. It was no less great a Christian of the thirteenth century than Louis IX (later to be canonized Saint Louis), who said that the best way for a layman to debate with a Jew was to run him through with a sword.

Dr. Wang shows that to Louis and to others, harassment of Jews, those held responsible for the death of Jesus Christ, was an act of sincere piety and how it was an especially sweet victory for Renaissance Christian theologians to find in the most sacred documents of this enemy, the Kabbalah, not only a confirmation of the errors and blasphemy of Judaism, but a proof positive of the truth of Christianity.

Wang documents how Christians had tried for centuries to find corroboration of the divinity of Jesus in the Old Testament, and how they looked hopefully into every complex passage which referred to a messiah with the fresh zeal of medieval thought. But that finally it was Renaissance theologians who found, in the texts of Jewish Kabbalah, "indisputable" proof of all aspects of the Christian faith.

The Rape of Jewish Mysticism shows that the Renaissance truly believed that its achievements were ultimate, and that it had surpassed the artistic and philosophical creations of the ancient world. Dr. Wang shows how this somewhat hubristic turn of thought encouraged a few Christian philosophers of the Renaissance to pursue a distortion of Jewish principles that turned into Christian Kabbalah and set the stage for later ideas. Indeed, the primarily Christian occult movements of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries are, without apology to Jewish mysticism, dependent upon Hebrew God Names and upon invocations in a little-understood Hebrew language.

Dr. Wang's book serves not only to unravel the origin of much of Western occultism, it lays bare the sorid history of how the Jewish Kabbalah was usurped by Christians and used against the Jews.

From the Author :

Many years ago, a friend returned from Paris with a number of books in French on the topic of the "Magical Kabbalah." I was especially struck by one illustration which showed Christ as a lamb. The figure was haloed and carried a long cross above which was, in Hebrew letters, one of the 72 names of God.

Seeing these names, which are among the most sacred of all elements of Jewish mysticism, in a Christian context was odd and disconcerting. And as I skimmed this text I recalled the dry comment of one historian of modern occultism that the members of many organizations have been sworn to strictest secrecy and then entrusted with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

Thus, curiosity about one illustration brought me onto a circuitous path of research which has taken almost a decade. The result is my thesis that the western occult movement grew out of medieval attempts of the Catholic church to convert the Jews.

It is for this reason that I have chosen the assertive title "The Rape of Jewish Mysticism." I wish to document the fact that the response of Christian scholars, from the twelfth century on, to their encounter with the Kabbalah, which is certainly the essence of Jewish mysticism, has been disingenuously, if not preposterously, self-serving.

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