Distinguishing the different Rabbis, Qabalists, & Poets in Neoplatonism

INTRODUCTION:

Embracing a 4,000 year old tradition is difficult enough, but the fluid transformation of  NAMEs in the Jewish tradition makes it much more difficult to keep track of the currents of thought developed by the various teachers and schools of  Qabalist, rationalist Rabbis, the various Pagan, Christian and Muslim scholars of Neoplatonism which contribute to the Theory of Unity (ARARITA) or the Esoteric tradition that Spirit is manifested in the Material World around us, nicknamed the Gnostic Qabalah.

With hopes it may prove useful to you as well, this essay consolidates an excel spreadsheet of links to the WIKI of Esoteric Thought  both to help identify the person and the theory as it develops over time.  While most are Jews, there are some Pagan Greeks and Muslim Philosophers included to flesh out the Gnostic and   Neoplatonism history, particularly as we bring the Wisdom of the  Pagan and Ancients through Spain and Italy  into Europe to end the Dark Ages.

Hebrew NAMEs are simply formatted as So & so, son of So & so, but as many of the available names are the same, sometimes they are augmented with a persons profession, hometown or unusual trait. So we might have Eleazar Ben Judah, or Eleazar son of Judah, also known as “Eleazar the Perfumer” and Eleazar Ben Judah Ben Kalonymus of Worms (Worms, Germany, not the creature). Isaac the Blind is an example of the last format. Most of the scholars in this index were, at one time or another, forced to flee one country for another, and many are referred to in different languages or dialects, which can make identification complicated. First there is the Hebrew name and it’s English equivalent, like Isaac the Blind AKA Rabbi Yitzhak Saggi Nehor, Isaac = Yitzhak. Then there is the two main Hebrew dialects, Ashkenazi in Northern Europe, Sephardic in Spain, the Middle East and Italy. This introduces the substitution of  the V sound for the B sound, such as Avraham for Abraham. Then we have the influence of Arabic on many names, where “Ben” becomes “ibn”, while still meaning “son of”, as in Isaac Ibn Sahula aka  Isaac Ben Solomon Abi Sahula. Finally, the cherry of confusion on top of our Qabalaistic Sunday, is the mangling of their names into Latin translations, like  Solomon ibn Gabirol AKA Avicebron, a corruption of Ibn Gibran.

Too often I would be researching a new link in the chain, only to discover very similar arguments or even imagery, and then look back through my Opus and discover it was the same Scholar under a different name. That was one of the main impetus for creating the OPUS WIKI, the SEARCH function allows one to quickly connect the dots in mystic philosophy even when the dot may be misnamed.

THE WORK:

Ancient and Medieval Times:

IN THE BEGINNING, there was Unity. That Unity condensed to create empty space and then filled that space with Creation, made from it’s own Self. That material Creation is unstable, and changes, and then melts back into the Unity eventually. The only way back is through.

Drawing on the Bible and it’s commentary, on the tales of Abraham, Moses, King Solomon and the influences of their conquerors, the Assyrian,  Zoroasterian , Babylonian, Chaldean and  Egyptians, the Judeans developed the Qabalistic view of Creation. It different from that of  Zoroaster and Mani in that it regarded the material world as a beautiful but broken vessel to be repaired, not a prison to be escaped. The conquest by Alexander the Great introduced the Wisdom of the Greeks, the Ancients like PythagorasSocratesEuclidPlato and  Aristotle.  Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scholars, on discovering this coherent and in some cases self evident logic and concepts, would struggle to reconcile these Greek ideas to their reveled religions.

Philo of Alexandria might well be considered the first to incorporate Neoplatonism, but a shadowy Mage about whom little is known, Hermes Trismegistus, will have more influence with his maxim “As Above, so Below”.  The Sage Hillel‘s philosophy shows little of this influence, but has as much to do in shaping the ideas of Jesus the Christ as the Essene Gnostic  Judeans and  Zoroaster.  As the Roman occupation leads to a series of rebellions, Josephus tells us of Rabbi Akiva  , reputed author of  the Sepher Yetzirah, or the Book of Formation, and martyr to the Son of the Star rebellion of Simon bar Kokhba. His student, the Yoshi or  Shimon bar Yochai survives, and this Wisdom is conveyed to RAV AKA Abba Arika in  Babylon.  Anan Ben David will argue this mystical approach against the more traditional Rabbis in Khazastan as founder of the Karaites.

This coincides with the rise of Islam, and the Houses of Knowledge established in Cairo, Baghdad, Damascus and el Andalus or proto-Spain. Gerber ,  Avicenna aka Ibn Sina , Averroes, and  Alhazen on the Muslim side, and Sa’adya Gaon,  Menahem  Ibn Saruq, the Negdilath aka Samuel Hanagid , and Solomon ibn Gabirol all struggle with  Aristotle‘s logic and   Plato‘s Ideal World of Forms.

When the Berber Muslims invade the last bastion of the  Umayyads in Spain, the diaspora increased, spreading the seeds of these ideas on the winds of chaos.  The fall of Constantinople drove Greek speaking Christians and Jews out of Turkey and into Europe, and with it the resources for the Florentine Platonic Academy. The Renaissance  had come to Italy.   This was followed in Spain  by the Christian invasion and expulsion of the Jews in 1492, followed by a similar expulsion of Muslims a generation later. Students and scholars fleeing war brought new ideas to formerly Dark Ages.  The first European style Universities will study the manuscripts of these scholars, as Albertus MagnusThomas AquinasPeter Abelard and Duns Scotus create a Christian slant on the Ancient Wisdom.

 

 

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