On the Authorship of the Zohar

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2/03 On the Authorship of the Zohar

Several people have written asking me for my views on the authorship of the Zohar:

I am a philosopher, not a historian, and I don't feel I have anything original to contribute to the question of the authorship of the Zohar. I am willing to accept the scholarly consensus that it was written rather than "discovered" by Moses de Leon in the 13th century, but that it contains images, concepts and ideas, that are much older. I believe that there is a gnostic influence on the Kabblah, but I have also read scholars who hold that Gnosticism itself has ancient Jewish origins. Yehudah Liebes has written that the Zohar indeed absorbed many non-Jewish ideas, but I regard that as a strength rather than an indication of its lack of authenticity. I believe that the world is in one great intellectual and spiritual conversation and am more interested in following its thread than in articulating the boundaries of various spiritual practices and ideas.

In the end the question of the authorship and date of the Zohar really doesn’t much matter to my faith or appreciation of the Kabbalah, precisely because the whole “Jewish authenticity” issue is one that I no longer regard as important, or ethically justifiable. My concern about those who defend an early date for the Zohar is that they may do so out of an ideological commitment rather than a dispassionate examination of the historical data, but my mind remains open on the issue.

Sanford Drob

The Lurianic Kabbalah is treated in detail in Sanford Drob's Symbols of the Kabbalah and Kabbalistic Metaphors .

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All material on New Kabbalah website (c) Sanford L. Drob, 2001-4.


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