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Kabbalah & The Church Fathers

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Kabbalah and the "Church Fathers"

By Dr. James Trimm

It is important to note that a similar system existed among the Ante-Nicene "Church Fathers" as well. The earliest mention of the term "trinity" in the "church fathers" is from a second century Christian named Theophilus (116-181 C.E.). Theophilus writes:

In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, Are types of the trinity [triad], of God, and His Word and His Wisdom.
(Theophilus; Epistle to Autolycus, II, xv)

Now it is important to recognize that this earliest Christian use of the term "trinity" identifies the three as "God", obviously the Father; "His Word" obviously the Son, and "Wisdom" obviously the Holy Spirit. This apparent identification of the Holy Spirit with a personification of Wisdom is very significant.

"Wisdom" is grammatically feminine in Hebrew and Aramaic (as is Holy Spirit). "Wisdom" is personified as "she" throughout Proverbs 8. "Wisdom" is also one of the members of the Kabbalistic trinity. "Wisdom" (Sophia) was a title of the Heavenly Mother or Holy Spirit in the Gnostic trinity. And finally, Philo identifies "Wisdom" as the "Mother of the Word."

The early "church Fathers" of Christendom also seem to have had some concept that the members of their trinity were in some way emanations. For example the second century writer Athenagoras wrote concerning the Holy Spirit:

…we assert [the Holy Spirit] to be an effluence of God, flowing from Him… like a beam of the sun.
(Athenagoras; A Plea for Christians, x)

Like the Rabbis of the Targums and Talmud, the "church fathers" saw more than one YHWH apparent in such passages as Gen. 19:24:

And YHVH rained brimstone and fire upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah, from YHVH, from the heavens. (Original Bible Project preliminary edition)

As has already been shown, the Rabbis of the Targums identified the other YHWH here as the "Word of YHWH" and the Nazarenes mentioned in Sanhedrin 38b seem to have applied it to the Messiah and contextually Philo (based on his allegory on Gen. 18) seems to have identified this other YHWH as the "Word." Now early Christians had a similar interpretation. Ireanaeus, who wrote around 185 C.E. writes:

And again, referring to the destruction of the Sodomites, the Scripture says:

"Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven."
(Gen. 19:24)

For it here points out that the Son, who had also been talking with Abraham, had received power to judge the Sodomites for their wickedness.
(Ireanaeus; Against Heresies 3:6:1)

Philo and Kabbalah

By Dr. James Trimm

Philo also maintained a similar esoteric system to that of the Nazarenes and of the Kabbalists. Philo believed that the essence of God was unknowable to man, but that man could know God thru his emanations.

Philo writes:

...Every man in regard of his intellect is connected with Logos, being an impression of, or a fragment or emanation of that blessed nature...
(Philo; On Creation LI (146))

Philo gave a very detailed description to the Word (Logos). To Philo the Word was the creator:

As therefore the city, when previously shadowed out in the mind of architectural skill had no external place, but was stamped solely in the mind of the workman, so in the same manner neither can the world which existed in ideas have had any other local position except the Logos which made them...
(Philo; On Creation V (20))

Philo taught that the Word (Logos) was the shadow of God and that man was made in the image of the Word (Logos):

...But the shadow of God is his Word, which he used like an instrument when he was making the world.
(Philo; Allegorical Interpretation III XXXI (96))

...For God does not seem to have availed himself of any other animal existing in creation as his model in the formation of man; but to have been guided, as I have said before, by his own Word alone...
(Philo; On Creation XLVIII (139))

Most astonishingly, Philo identifies the Word of God as God's "first-born son!":

...For God, like a shepherd and king, governs (as if they were a flock of sheep) the earth, and the water, and the fire, and the air and all the plants, and living creatures that are in them, whether mortal or divine; and he regulates the nature of the heaven, and the periodical revolutions of the sun and moon, and the variations and harmonious movements of the other stars, ruling them according to law and justice; appointing as their immediate superintendent, his own right Word [Logos], his first-born son, who is to recieve the charge of this sacred company, as the lieutenant of the great king;...
(Philo; On Husbandry XII (45))

Philo also taught that "Wisdom" is the "Mother of the Word [Logos]" Philo also identified the three angels which appeared to Abraham in Gen. 18 as "God, the creative power"; "Lord, the ruling power"; and "the Word [Logos]." Not only did Philo teach that God' first-born son is the "Word" and that "Wisdom" is his mother, Philo also clearly taught the concept of a Trinity. He refers to God as ...the Lord of three natures...(Philo; On the Change of Names II, 11)

Elsewhere Philo writes:

...it is reasonable for one to be three and for three to be one, for they were one by a higher principle... ...he makes the appearance of a trinity [triad]... He cannot be seen in his oneness without something [else], the chief Powers that that exist immediately with him... the Creative, which is called "God" and the Kingly, which is called "Lord"... [Abraham] begins to see the sovereign, holy, and divine vision in such a way that single appearance appears as a trinity [triad], and the trinity [triad] as a unity.
(Philo; Questions on Genesis, IV, 2)

 

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