“There can be little doubt in my opinion that the famous stanzas of the mysterious Book Dzyan on which Mme. H.P. Blavatsky’s magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine, is based owe something, both in title and content, to the pompous pages of the Zoharic writing called Sifra Di-Tseniutha. The first to advance this theory, without further proof, was L.A. Bosman, a Jewish Theosophist, in his booklet The Mysteries of the Qabalah (1916) p. 31. This seems to me, indeed, the true ‘etymology’ of the hitherto unexplained title. Mme Blavatsky has drawn heavily upon Knorr von Rosenroth’s Kabbala Denudata (1677-1684), which contains (vol. II, pp. 347-385) a Latin translation of the Sifra Di-Tseniutha. The solemn and magniloquent style of these pages may well have impressed her susceptible mind. As a matter of fact, H.P.B. herself alludes to such a connection between the two ‘books’ in the very first lines of Isis Unveiled (vol. I, p. 1) where she still refrains from mentioning the Book Dzyan by name. But the transcription used by her for the Aramaic title shows clearly what she had in mind. She says: “There exists somewhere in this wide world an old Book… It is the only copy now in existence. The most ancient Hebrew document on occult learning-the Siphra Dzeniuta-was compiled from it.” The Book Dzyan is therefore nothing but an occultistic hypostasy of the Zoharic title. This ‘bibliographical’ connection between fundamental writings of modern and Jewish theosophy seems remarkable enough.”
In the article about Alchemy I wrote that the upcoming religion of the Islam brought a saveguard for many western occultist that had to flee the rage of Christianity. After the destruction of Alexandria and in particular it’s libraries, many alchemists, hermeticists, gnostics, Jews, etc. fled to the regions where soon the prophet Mohammed would start his quest. The ‘pre-Muslims’ and later the Muslims treated the immigrants with respect and both parties learned a lot from eachother.
When the Muslims reigned southern Europe a fruitfull environment for mysticism and occultism existed in Spain. Muslims brought alchemical and hermetic texts that had come to them by the fleeing occultists of 1000 years earlier and translated them (back) in western languages.
Some searchengines give up highly of Sententia (note 17/5/07, “Sententia” was the name of my website ‘two names back’) when you search for “Kabbalah”, but so far there isn’t more about the subject than one book review. I have read various books about the subject in my time, but I definately don’t regard myself an expert. As a matter of fact, there is more that I don’t understand than what I do. Somehow Kabbalism keeps tickling my imagination, so I am again reading a book about it, called The Secret Doctrine Of The Kabbalah by Leonora Leet.
a word of advice: you may want to read my articles about “the philosophical renaissance in italy” and “the occult renaissance” first to put things in a wider perspective and for background information. also i have more articles about the jewish kabbalah which you may want to read first.
Never had I consulted so much literature for one article. First I thought that there was hardly any information about the Christian Cabala, but digging deeper I found out that there is quite some literature about the subject. Often as a (small) part of another investigation (such as Renaissance magic or Jewish Kabbala) but also as a separate subject. Unfortunately these books are not always too good and mostly virtually unavailable. Most literature I had to get from different libraries throughout the country and of course the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica in Amsterdam. At the bottom of this article you will find titles that I used and which you may want to look for. Often like with the Christian Cabalists themselves, older investigations are copied with mistakes and everything, but sometimes investigators of the Christian Cabala came to very different conclusions.