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Donnolo's Sefer Ḥakhmoni: A Neoplatonic Interpretation of Sefer Yeṣirah

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Chapter Summary

Shabbetai Donnolo composed Sefer ῌakhmoni (SH) in 946, sixteen years after the composition of Sa´adiah's Tafsir Kitāb al-Mabādi and less then a decade before Dunash's commentary on Sefer Yeṣirah (SY). Both Sa´adiah and Dunash attribute to SY's letters, sefirot, and the creative processes in which they are involved a symbolic meaning aimed, particularly in the case of Sa´adiah, at obliterating the apparently emanationist character of the process of creation described in the text in favour of what they took to be the biblical-rabbinic notion of creatio ex-nihilo. In contrast, Donnolo inserts the events of creation as described in SY into a coherent Neoplatonic scheme in which the sefirot and the combinations of letters are involved in a sequence of actions in the metaphysical world which are the necessary premise for the creation of empirical reality and material existence.

Keywords: Dunash; Neoplatonic Interpretation; Sa´adiah; Sefer ῌakhmoni (SH); Sefer Yeṣirah (SY); Shabbetai Donnolo



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