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Elia Hayyim Ben Binyamin Of Genazzano, Prisca Theologia, And The Two Ancient Paths To Metempsychosis

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Chapter Summary

The thought of Rabbi Elia Hayyim ben Binyamin of Genazzano concerning the question of the transmigration of souls provides an interesting glimpse into the ratio-mystical kabbalah of the Italian Renaissance and the question of the place of philosophy and other forms of "alien" knowledge in relation to the 'received' secret traditions of the Jews. For Genazzano, two valid lines of transmission stand open for the reception of the truth claim of the doctrine of gilgul. The first is philosophically bent, stemming from the ruminations of the patriarch Abraham and leading into the philosophies of the nations of the world, while the second is based on the reception of the direct command of God himself and manifests itself in its true form in kabbalistic books such as the Midrash Ruth, Recanati's writings, and Genazzano's own Iggeret Hamudot.

Keywords: Elia Hayyim ben Binyamin of Genazzano; gilgul; Italian Renaissance; Jewish mystical tradition; kabbalists; Metempsychosis; Midrash Ruth; philosophical thought; Prisca theologia



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