Item description for The Impact of the Kabbalah in the 17th Century: The Life and Thought of Francis Mercury Van Helmot, 1614-1698 (Brill's Series in Jewish Studies, 9) by Allison P. Coudert...
"If he had lived among the Greeks, he would now be numbered among the stars." So wrote Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in his epitaph for Francis Mercury van Helmont. Leibniz was not the only contemporary to admire and respect van Helmont, but although famous in his own day, he has been virtually ignored by modern historians. Yet his views influenced Leibniz, contributed to the development of modern science, and fostered the kind of ecumenicalism that made the concept of toleration conceivable. The progressive nature of van Helmont's thought was based on his deep commitment to the esoteric doctrines of the Lurianic Kabbalah. With his friend Christian Knorr von Rosenroth, van Helmont edited the Kabbala Denudata (1677-1684), the largest collection of Lurianic Kabbalistic texts available to Christians up to that time. Because the subject matter of this work appears so difficult and arcane, it has never been appreciated as a significant text for understanding the emergence of modern thought. However, one can find in it the basis for the faith in science, the belief in progress, and the pluralism characteristic of later western thought. The Lurianic Kabbalah thus deserves a place it has never received in histories of western scientific and cultural developments. Although van Helmont's efforts contributed to the development of religious toleration, his experience as a prisoner of the Inquisition accused of "Judaising" reveals the problematic relations between Christians and Jews during the early-modern period. New Inquisitional documents relating to van Helmont's imprisonment will be discussed to illustrate the difficulties faced by anyone advocating philo-semitism and toleration at the time. AQ Y CF Y PF N FB Y NFB Y
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Allison P. Coudert is Professor of Religious Studies at Arizona State University. She is author of The Impact of the Kabbalah in the Seventeenth Century: The Life and Thought of Francis Mercury van Helmont, 1614-1698. Jeffrey S. Shoulson is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Program in Judaic Studies at the University of Miami. He is author of Milton and the Rabbis: Hebraism, Hellenism, and Christianity.
Allison P. Coudert has an academic affiliation as follows - Arizona State University.
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The Impact of the Kabbalah in the 17th Century Nov 6, 2009
If it is possible to draw parallels between periods, the seventeenth century has much in common with our own. Like ours it was a time of tremendous confusion, bitter conflict, profound questioning, and the rejection of traditional values. But the values that are breaking down in our time - the belief in progress, trust in science, faith in education, commitment to tolerance, and respect for the individual - are paradoxically the very values that appeared in embryonic form during the seventeenth century. Reading about the past cannot provide solutions to present problems, but to know how human beings once lived and thought and to understand the ambitions, fears and beliefs that motivated their actions throws light on our own behavior, if only by way of contrast.
These are the subjects explored in this volume. Since the unifying link between them all is Francis Mercury van Helmont, the book begins and ends with him.
Additional reference: The Alphabet of Nature: By F.M. Van Helmont (Aries Book Series)