Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Early Mormonism and the Magic World View/Use of sources/Anthromorphism in Kabbalah

Table of Contents

Use of sources: Anthromorphism in Kabbalah?

A FairMormon Analysis of: Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, a work by author: D. Michael Quinn

The Claim

Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, page 298

  • The author claims that Moshe Idel wrote that the Zohar 'is manifestly anthropomorphic'.
  • The author claims that Gershom Scholem wrote of the Cabala's 'almost provocatively conspicuous anthropomorphism'

The References

Endnote 478 , page 569

  • Moshe Idel, Kabbalah: New Perspectives (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1988), 107, 112, 121-22, 127, 135.
  • Gershom Scholem, Kabbalah (New York: Quadrangle, 1974), 141.

The Problems

The author wants to attribute Joseph's idea of God having a physical human form (anthropomorphism) to the Jewish mystics who practiced Kabbalah. But, the author twists and distorts his source, which clearly states that the anthropomorphism of God is only allegorical in Kabbalah. From the first cited source:

"The latter [the lower sefirot] is an obvious anthropomorphic symbol, which in the Zohar refers to the second and lower divine head, that consisting of the Sefirah of Tiferet alone or of the Sefirot between Hokhmah and Yesod, whereas in the works of R. David [ben Yehudah he-Hasid, late thirteenth to early fourteenth centuries] it includes ten Sefirot or, as in the diagram, nine. In other contexts of R. David's thought, this configuration [of the diagram] is manifestly anthropomorphic; the fact that the concept appearing in the diagram differs from that of the Zohar does not obliterate its anthropomorphic character. . . . The process of [the mystical] visualization [of God] includes not only divine names, colors, and a circle or circles but also an anthropomorphic configuration symbolizing an aspect of the divine realm."[1]

From the second cited source:

Scholem notes that mystical descriptions of the body of God "[do] not imply that God in Himself possesses a physical form, but only that a form of this kind may be ascribed to 'the Glory.'”
And:
"Adam Kadmon in the form of concentric circles" that "rearranged themselves as a line, in the form of a man and his limbs, though of course this must be understood in the purely spiritual sense of the incorporeal supernal lights."[2]

Notes

  1. Moshe Idel, Kabbalah: New Perspectives (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1988), 107.
  2. William J. Hamblin, "That Old Black Magic (Review of Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, revised and enlarged edition, by D. Michael Quinn)," FARMS Review of Books 12/2 (2000): 225–394. [{{{url}}} off-site]; citing Gershom Scholem, Kabbalah (New York: Quadrangle, 1974), 17, 137.