or, The Religious Philosophy of the Hebrews
by Adolphe Franck
translated by I. Sossnitz
[1926, not renewed]
This is a scholarly study of the origin and evolution of the Kabbalah. Originally published in French in 1843, with a second French edition in 1889, this book traces the origins of the philosophical concepts of the Kabbalah to the ancient Zoroastrians. Franck goes into fascinating detail about the doctrine of the Kabbalah, as expressed in the Sepher Yetzirah and the Zohar. He uses internal evidence to trace the origins of these texts many centuries prior to their first known publication in the thirteenth century C.E.
Franck carefully compares the philosophy of the Kabbalah with Greek philosophy, the Alexandrians, Philo, and the Gnostics, and concludes that, although there are similarities, none of them can claim to be the source of the Kabbalah. However, he does find many more similarities with the ancient Zoroastrian beliefs. By this process of elimination, he comes to the conclusion that the doctrines of the Kabbalah had their origin during the Babylonian exile circa 500 B.C.E., which was also the time when Zoroaster was active in the same geographical region. This thesis is worth considering, and potentially adds more weight to the already numerous contributions of Zoroastrianism to world culture.
--John Bruno Hare
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Diagram of the Sephiroth
Summary of Contents
Preface to the English Translation
Preface to the German Translation of the First French Edition
Foreword to the Second French Edition
Preface of the Author
Chapter I. The Doctrine Contained in the Kabbalistic Books. Analysis of the Sefer Yetzirah
Chapter II. Analysis of the Zohar. Allegorical Method Of The Kabbalists
Chapter III. Analysis of the Zohar. The Kabbalists' Conception of the Nature of God
Chapter IV. Analysis of the Zohar. The Kabbalists' View Of The World
Chapter V. Analysis of the Zohar. View of the Kabbalists on the Human Soul
Chapter I. Systems Which Offer Some Resemblance to the Kabbalah. Relation of the Kabbalah to the Philosophy of Plato
Chapter II. Relation of the Kabbalah to the Alexandrian School
Chapter III. Relation of the Kabbalah to the Doctrine of Philo
Chapter IV. Relation of the Kabbalah to Christianity
Chapter V. Relation of the Kabbalah to the Religion of the Chaldeans and Persians