Are there some Kabbalistic concepts that are studied today in Jewish circles that originate from Christianity /Christian theology?

Has there been any study of the relationship between the two, and the direction of influence?

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    Maybe you could give some examples of what you're saying. What kabbalistic concepts do you think might have stemmed from Christian theology? Have you considered that maybe these Christian concepts actually stemmed from kabbalah?
    – ezra
    Oct 28, 2016 at 3:17
  • How could someone prove this?
    – Double AA
    Oct 28, 2016 at 3:43
  • I've considered that it could have gone both ways. I was wondering if there's been any study of which way it has gone.
    – Mark A.
    Oct 28, 2016 at 4:32
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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/44617/8775, chayas.com/AntiRAMBAM.pdf, yahadut.org.il/ZOHAR/MILHAMOT-HASHEM.PDF, mesora.org/toharhayihud.pdf. This is a very controversial topic. Obviously those who subscribe to particular beliefs, claim that they are legitimate Jewish view, and that any similar beliefs in other religions got them from Judaism, not vice versa. Opponents of the beliefs, however, would use their mysterious origins, and questionable status as proof for illegitimacy.
    – mevaqesh
    Oct 28, 2016 at 4:58
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    A professor of history who has studied this topic informed me that a good place to start finding the answer is Gershon Scholem's Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism. Reading it has clarified alot for me so I'm putting it out there as an answer since that book is one long answer to this question.
    – Mark A.
    Nov 6, 2016 at 6:25

1 Answer 1


Gershom Scholem and other scholars have linked the development of Kabbalah in the 13th century to earlier pre-christian Gnostic ideas. To quote from the "Origins of Kabbalah":

Certain fundamental characteristics of Gnosticism are nevertheless fully congruent with the kind of mysticism we find in the Merkabah writings: the possession of a knowledge that cannot be acquired by ordinary intellectual means but only by way of a revelation and mystical illumination; the possession of a secret doctrine concerning the order of the the celestial worlds and the liturgical and magical-theurgical means that provide access to it.

... The central teaching of Gnosticism consists of methodical instructions for the ascent of the soul from the earth through the spheres of the hostile planet-angels and rulers of the cosmos to its divine home. ... The fact remains that precisely these ideas were affirmed in the heart of an esoteric discipline within the Jewish tradition.

There are many concrete examples of shared Gnosticism, such as the concept of the רקיע שביעי, and the ogdoad.

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    As far as I know the discovery of the Nag hammadi library deepened our understanding of Gnosticism well beyond scholem's knowledge. Consequently many of his assumptions relating to Gnostic influence on kabbalah, have been questioned.
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 22, 2016 at 7:00
  • @mevaqesh - Thanks for your comment regarding the Nag hammadi library. Being a non expert who has read primarily Scholem, if you could add an answer based on later evidence that would be very interesting. There do seem to be quite a lot of glaring similarities. Dec 22, 2016 at 8:58
  • @nbubis Unfortunately, I do not have the requisite knowledge to write an answer.
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 22, 2016 at 9:05
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – ray
    Dec 22, 2016 at 18:32

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