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Christian Orthodoxy And Jewish Kabbalah: Russian Mystics In The Search For Perennial Wisdom

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Chapter Summary

In Russia, the eighteenth century was the age when all the most essential trends in Russian society emerged: ideals of liberalism, free-thinking, secularism, as well as the ideas of religious reform, but also of traditionalism and conservatism. The second half of the eighteenth century was an epoch when freemasonry permeated the whole of Russian society and gave rise to a Russian intelligentsia. The chapter shows that Russian Freemasons of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and their intellectual successors Russian philosophers and theologians who lived a century later turned to kabbalah in order to solve problems which they felt were not adequately elaborated in Christian Orthodox theology. Thus, kabbalistic concepts, they tried to overcome the difficulties of Christian dogmatics, e.g. the dogma of the incarnation, and in this case came to a Gnostic concept of the Savior.

Keywords: Christian Orthodox theology; gnosticism; hermeticism; Jewish mysticism; kabbalah; Masonic doctrine; Russian intelligentsia



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