Friday, January 20, 2012

Christian/Hermetic Kabbalah, the Christian Saviour and Truth

A couple of days ago, for the umpteenth time, a very "intense" interaction ensued between myself and an individual who, with the fiery zeal of evangelical missionaries, attempted to convince me that the "outmoded deity of the Jews," identified by the four letters of the Tetragrammaton (), was "superseded by Jesus" as expressed in the Hebrew name of the Christian saviour, i.e. the so called "Pentagrammaton" (). I certainly will not burden you with the full details of the altercation, but I thought that since this absurd notion is fairly widespread, I would add my voice to the many who have over the years attempted to set the record straight. The reason is that the mentioned Christian construct is not a Hebrew name, but a Renaissance invention.
Since this elucidation of necessity relates to fundamental doctrines of Christian/Hermetic Kabbalah, I wish to make it absolutely clear that it is not my intention to launch an offensive against the teachings of these traditions. That being said, it should be noted that the "Pentagrammaton" is an invention of the Christian Kabbalah during the Italian Renaissance. The Christian Kabbalists had a great admiration for the concept of the “Divine Name.” In this regard we might consider the teachings of Johannes Reuchlin, who was in fact personally responsible for reformulating the Ineffable Name, YHVH, “christianising” it YHShVH which is often pronounced Yehoshuah or Yeheshuah. It should be noted that there is really no name, divine or otherwise, comprising that spelling in Hebrew, hence it is curious how commonplace it is nowadays amongst Christians of the more fundamentalist mind set, to use this name so glibly and casually as a “genuine” reference to the Christian saviour.
It is certainly clear that over the past two thousand years, the whole of human civilisation has been impacted, sometimes for good and many times for ill, by the overemphasis on the figure of Jesus as “god incarnate,” as well as by the constant drive to “christianize” everything. Whatever Kabbalah may mean to you, I have not seen anywhere in primary Kabbalistic teachings any reference to the exclusiveness of Jesus as a global avatar figure, or to him having had any Kabbalistic mission. I have personally no problem with what people think of Jesus as a “Messianic figure,” since all so-called “believers” are perfectly entitled to their viewpoints applicable to themselves only, in exactly the same manner as those who do not subscribe to the “divinity,” or even the “messiahship” of the Christian saviour.
Johannes Reuchlin invented the YHShVH construct in an attempt to show the importance and divinity of Jesus in kabbalistic thinking. He maintained that human history is divided into three ages. Deriving his ideas about these ages from the Jewish concept of three world ages, these being the “ages” of “Chaos,” the “Torah” and the “Messiah,” and combining these with the teachings of the millennianist Joachim de Fiore, who also spoke of three “Ages” on earth, the first under the rule of the “Father,” the second under the rule of the “Son,” and the third under the “Holy Spirit,” Reuchlin linked his concept of “world ages” to “JHS,” a common abbreviation used in medieval Christian manuscripts in reference to the Christian saviour. To understand his fabrication of the name YHShVH, you need to know what the three “Ages” meant to Reuchlin. He claimed that in the first age, which is that of the Hebrew patriarchs, God revealed himself through the name Shadai; in the second age, considered the Mosaic period, God made Himself known through the Ineffable Name, YHVH; and in the third age, the Christian period which Reuchlin maintained to be the one of “redemption” and “grace,” God is revealing Himself through a five letter name, which is the name YHVH with the interpolated letter, Shin [], thus Yehoshuah which he claimed is the true name of Jesus. In fact, the letter Shin, according to Reuchlin, represents the Logos, the “Word” which became “Flesh” in the person of Jesus as God incarnate.
Due to these and other very fanciful notions regarding the letter Shin by Christian and Hermetic Kabbalists, this glyph has become rather controversial, especially as this letter was allotted a unique status of holiness, when Christian Kabbalists incorporated it into the Ineffable Name to create the Yehoshuah construct. One wonders if there was initially any other reason for the choice of this letter, beyond the fact that this glyph is “three-pronged” in shape (), which gave them lots of ideas about the “trinity”; that it represents “Fire;” and that, interpolated in the Tetragrammaton, it can be pronounced “Yehoshuah.” We are told the latter “is the esoteric name of the Messiah of the Jews and the Christ of the Christians,” the meaning of which is said to be “Jah liberates.” As it is, this construct does not have this purported meaning, and since it does not exist in Hebrew, it does not mean anything at all. The correct spelling of a personal name known to have the mentioned meaning is , which is correctly pronounced Yehoshuah, a fairly common Jewish Name. A “five-letter-name” it is, but not comprising the letters claimed by messers Reuchlin and company.
Now, regarding the special holiness assigned to the letter Shin, it should be noted that in Kabbalah all the Hebrew glyphs are “Holy.” The letter Shin is no more holy than any other Hebrew glyph. In fact, it is worth considering that the Hebrew letters comprise both “positive” and “negative” qualities, and this should be kept in mind when studying each letter-sign. In this regard, the letter Shin is termed “the symbol of Divine Power” as well as of “Corruption.” True, it is the initial of two very important Divine Names, i.e. Shadai (“All-sufficient Unlimited One”) and Shalom (“Peace”). To these we might add other significant concepts like Shechinah, Shabbat, etc., and we might also consider that the letter Shin, in representing Shadai, is the single letter shown on every Mezuzah placed on the doors of Jewish homes.
It is true that is known to be the symbol of “Divine Power,” mastery and peace, but it is equally clear that this letter also denotes corruption and Sheker (falsehood), thus being the initial of the name “Shatan” (Satan). In other words, Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism in general, recognise a dual principle in this glyph. For greater comprehension of this fact, we might consider the saga of the Hebrew letters passing before the Holy One, Who finally chose to create the universe by means of the letter Bet. About the letter Shin the Divine One said “True, you stand for (Shadai), Almighty, Who is the essence of Perfection, but for man, Divinity is interspersed with evil and deception. Inevitably, your neighbour (Kof) and (Resh) will draw you into a (Kesher), an alliance with them to establish (Sheker—“falsehood”) on earth.”
We are told that the three letters comprising “falsehood” appear at the end of the Hebrew alphabet, so that they are far removed from the central axis of the array of glyphs, i.e. the letter Mem representing stability. Furthermore, none of the milui, the full spellings, of each of the other letters comprise any of these three letters. We are further informed that “to counteract the dangerous shin with its potential power to ruin mankind, the Alef-Beis ends with the letter tav, which alludes to Emet, Truth.” In this regard, we should note that (Alef) is the beginning, (Mem) the centre, and (Tav) the end of the Hebrew Alphabet, and that the combination of these letters in that exact order reads (Emet—“Truth”).

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