The Greek Qabalah

The Greek Qabalah
Kieren Barry
1999, Weiser Books
4.5 out of 5

The history of Kabbalah has been shrouded in a great deal of mystery for centuries, really since it emerged into the mainstream of Jewish thought in 13th century Europe. Numerous erroneous assumptions have been spread around in New Age and occult literature, such as the idea that the Hebrews introduced using letters as numbers, or that they originated gematria and other numerological techniques and the doctrine of emanations into Western thought. The facts, of course, are far different.

Barry convincingly proposes instead that the process was the reverse. Greek philosophy, especially the systems of Pythagoras, Plato (and his student Aristotle), Empedocles (the Elements), Ptolemy (astrology), the Gnostics (pre- and post-Christian), and Hermetics (Hellenized Egypt and the Near East), were the sources of these and other ideas no identified with Kabbalah in Judaic, Christian and Hermetic circles.

Barry’s work is scholarly and in-depth, with ample in-text citations and extremely useful bibliographies. What perhaps improves Barry’s work in this regard is that he does not visibly support any one religion or philosophy. Instead, he presents an objective and factual analysis of the history of these ideas and is not afraid to point out the flaws in certain works.

A final point of importance is that Barry’s writing style is clear and flowing. Many serious scholars have difficulty in this area, presenting history and philosophy in dry terms that make them tortuous to read.

All in all, Kieren Barry has provided historians and occultists alike with a valuable historical perspective on some of the most important ideas in Western history and in modern spirituality.

Published in: on September 12, 2007 at 11:51 pm  Leave a Comment