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Kabbalah in Italy, 1280-1510A Survey$
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Moshe Idel

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780300126266

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300126266.001.0001

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Prisca Theologia

Prisca Theologia

R. Isaac Abravanel, Leone Ebreo, and R. Elijah Hayyim of Genazzano

(p.164) 13 Prisca Theologia
Kabbalah in Italy, 1280-1510

Moshe Idel

Yale University Press

This chapter focuses on the emergence of Christian Kabbalah, with its missionary goals, and how it prompted a more negative attitude toward Jewish Kabbalah among several Jewish authors. One topic central to the understanding of Kabbalah in this period, which preoccupied many Renaissance scholars, was the concept of prisca theologia, the belief in the existence of an “ancient theology” whose basic tenets manifested themselves in various religious and philosophical doctrines under different nomenclatures. This chapter analyzes several statements that reveal a concordance between Jewish and other forms of traditions, and discusses the significance of that concordance. This discussion establishes the likelihood that Jews were acquainted with Christian discussions stemming from Renaissance sources, integrated them, and adapted them to their own purposes.

Keywords:   missionary goals, Christian Kabbalah, negative attitude, Jewish Kabbalah, Jewish authors

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