The Messianic Idea in Judaism

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The Messianic Idea in Judaism

Post by arnoldo » Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:31 pm

The Messianic Idea in Judaism by Gerschom Scholem

What is surprising, however, indeed astoundingly so, is the nature of the
spiritual world that the Sabbatians should have stumbled upon in the
course of their search through the Bible for “the mystery of the
Godhead” which exilic Judaism had allowed to perish, for here we are
confronted with nothing less than the totally unexpected revival of the
religious beliefs of the ancient Gnostics, albeit in a transvalued form.

The Gnostics, who were the contemporaries of the Jewish Tannaim of
the second century, believed that it was necessary to distinguish between
a good but hidden God who alone was worthy of being worshiped by the
elect, and a Demiurge or creator of the physical universe, whom they
identified with the “just” God of the Old Testament. In effect they did
not so much reject the Jewish Scriptures, whose account of events they
conceded to be at least partly true, as they denied the superiority of the
Jewish God, for whom they reserved the most pejorative terms.
Salvation was brought to mankind by messengers sent by the hidden
God to rescue the soul from the cruel law or “justice” of the Demiurge,
whose dominion over the evil material world, as testified to by the Bible,
was but an indication of his lowly status. The hidden God Himself was
unknown, but he had entrusted Jesus and the gnostic faithful with the
task of overthrowing the “God of the Jews.” As for the claim of both
Jews and orthodox Christians that the God of Israel who created the
world and the transcendent God of goodness were one and the same, this
was a great falsehood which stood in the way of true gnosis. This kind of
“metaphysical anti-Semitism,” as is well known, did not vanish from
history with the disappearance of the gnostic sects, but continued to
reassert itself within the Catholic Church and its heretical offshoots
throughout the Middle Ages.

“The mystery of the Godhead” which Sabbatianism now “discovered”
and which it believed to be identical with “the mystery of the God of
Israel” and “the faith of Father Abraham,” was founded entirely on a
new formulation of this ancient gnostic paradox. In the version made
current by Cardozo it was expounded as follows:

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