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SEFER YETZIRAH

Bibliography

Compiled by Scott J. Thompson

[The following bibliography combines original scholarship and translation. It combines the substance of the annotated bibliography in Lazarus Goldschmidt's Sepher Jesirah: Das Buch der Schöpfung (1894), but has been chronologically arranged in the manner of Adolf Jellinek's Beiträge zur Geschichte der Kabbalah (1852) and updated. It does not purport to be complete and is always being revised.]

 

I. Texts of Sefer Yetzirah

II. English Editions of Sefer Yetzirah

III. Editions of the Sefer Yetzirah in Other Languages

IV. Commentaries on Sefer Yetzirah

V. Primary Sources in Translation

VI. Secondary Literature

 


Abbreviations

EJ: Encyclopaedia Judaica

OLB: Litteraturblatt des Orients

RABD: Rabbi Abraham ben David

REBY: Rabbi El'azar ben Yehudah

REBS: Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shelomoh

RYBY: Rabbi Yizhaq ben Yequthiël

RIL: Rabbi Isaac Luria

RMB: Rabbi Moses Botarel

RMBN: Rabbi Moses ben Nachman

RSA: Rabbi Saadia al-Fayyumi

RSD: Rabbi Shabbetai Donnolo

 

I. Texts of Sefer Yetzirah

1. Abrahami Patriarchae liber Jezirah, sive Formationis mundi, Patribus quidem Abrahami tempora praecedentibus revelatus, sed ab ipso etiam Abrahamo expositus Jsaaco, et per Profetarum manus posteritati conservatus, ipsis autum 72 Mosis auditoribus in secundo divinae veritatis loco, hoc est in ratione quae est posterior autoritate habitus. Vertebat ex Hebraeis et commentariis illustrabat Guillaume Postel. Paris 1552. 16° 84 SS.

2. Sefer Yetzirah, (editio princeps) with commentaries of RSA, RABD, RMBN, REBY and RMB; published by Ya'akov ben Naphtali Gazolo. Mantua, 1562, 4° 210 SS.

3. Jean Pistor. Liber de Creatione, Cabalistinis hebraeice Sepher Jezira autore Abrahamo (prepared by Reuchlin?), which is included in his work Artis Cabalisticae, Basiliae, 1587, 869-872.

4. Sefer Yetzirah, i.e. Liber Jezirah. Qui Abrahamo Patriarchae adscribitur, uno cum commentario Rabi Abrahm Filii Dior super 32 Simitis Sapientiae a quibus liber Jezirah incipit. Translatus et Notis illustratus a Joanne Stephano Rittangelio. Amsterdami 1642. 4° 208 SS.

5. Athanasius Kircher (according to Fürst and Steinschneider) has translated Sefer Yetzirah into Latin in his work Oedipus Aegyptiacus II, 1, Roma 1653. Goldschmidt says that he has only found fragments.

6. Sefer Yetzirah im Sifra DeTzeniuta, along with a forward by Moses ben Jacob Hagiz, published by Jacob ben Abraham. Amsterdam 1713. 12° 48 SS.

7. Sefer Yetzirah, along with commentaries by RABD, RMBN, AND RIL; published by Jonah ben Ya'akov Isaiah Ashkenazi, Constantinople 1719. 8° 52 SS. (Another version was published in 1724.)

8. Sefer Yetzirah, with commentaries by RSA, RABD, RMBN, REBY, RMB and RIL. Zolkiev 1745. 4°.

9. Sefer Yetzirah, with commentary by RMBN. Korec 1779. 4°.

10. Sefer Yetzirah, with a commentary by RYBY. Grodno 1797. 8°.

11. Sefer Yetzirah, punctuated text with commentaries by RABD, RMBN, REBS, REBY, RSA and RMB, edited by Menahem Mendel of Shklow. Grodno 1806. 4° 172 SS.

12. Sefer Yetzirah, with commentaries by RSA, RMBN, RMB, RABD, REBY and REBS. Wilna-Grodno 1820. 4°.

13. Sefer Yetzirah, Krokow 18... 4°.

14. Sefer Yetzirah, along with commentaries of RSA, RABD, RMBN, REBY and RMB, Prague 4°.

15. Sefer Yetzirah, along with commentaries of RABD, RMBN, RSA, REBY, RMB, RIL in REBS, published by Benjamin Bischko. 3rd Impression, Lemberg (Lvov, Ukraine) 1860. 4° 186 SS.

16. Sefer Yetzirah, with the commentary of REBS and a supercommentary entitled . ÂÏ"ÂÝÈÁ" by Isaac Cahne. Jerusalem 1874. 4° 186 SS.

17. Sefer Yetzirah, with commentaries by RSD, RSA, RABD, RMBN, RMB, REBY, RIL, RYBY, and REBS; the text has been printed in three recensions, edited by Samuel Loria, Warsaw 1884. 4° 148 and 64 SS.

18. An anonymous Latin translation of Sefer Yetzirah can be found in the National Bibliotheque in Paris, cod. hebr. No. 881,1.

19. Sefer Yetzirah, Lewin-Epstein Pub., Jerusalem, 1965.

20. Ithamar Gruenwald, "A Preliminary Critical Edition of Sepher Yetzirah" in Israel Oriental Studies 1 (1971): 132-177.

 

II. English Editions of Sefer Yetzirah:

David R. Blumenthal, "Sepher Yetzirah" in Understanding Jewish Mysticism: The Merkabah Tradition and the Zoharic Tradition, New York, KTAV Publishing House, 1978, pp. 13-46.

Peter Davidson [trans.], The Sepher Jetsirah, White County, GA, 1896.

Irving Friedman [trans. & comment.],The Book of Creation, New York: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1977.

Bill Heidrick, [ed.], Sepher Yetzirah, privately published by O.T.O., Berkeley, CA, 1980. "An adapted but complete version based on the Kalisch and Akiba-Stenring translations - with adjusted correspondences to conform with the researches of the Order of the Golden Dawn."

Isidor Kalisch[ trans. & notes], Sepher Yezirah. A Book on Creation or The Jewish Metaphysics of Remote Antquity, New York: L.H. Frank & Co. 1877 [AMORC, 14th edition, May 1978]. The same translation has been published in an ornate cloth edition with 12 point Monotype and Lombardic initials by Heptangle Books (Gillette, New Jersey), 1986.

Aryeh Kaplan [ trans. & comment.], Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation. In Theory and Practice, York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1990.

Harris Lenowitz[trans.], The Book of Creation (Sefer Yetzira) in Origins: Creation Texts from the Ancient Mediterranean, ed. & trans. H. Lenowitz and Charles Doria, Garden City, NY: Doubleday (Anchor Books), 1976, pp. 57-78.

Mirach [trans.], Sepher Yetzirah or Book of Formation [Mirach: "The home of the practical kabbalist"] on the internet at: <http://www.mirach.org.uk/>.

Phineas Mordell[trans. & comment.], The Origin of Letters & Numerals According to the Sefer Yetzirah, NY: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1914 (Reprint 1975). Mordell's translation of the Sepher Yetzirah (without commentary) also appears in The Secret Garden: An Anthology in the Kabbalah, ed. David Meltzer, NY: Seabury Press, 1976, pp. 39-45.

Knut Stenring [trans. & notes] , The Book of Formation (with intro. by A.E. Waite), London, 1923 [Reprinted by KTAV Publishing House, Inc., NY, NY.

Carlo Suarès [trans. & comment.], The Sepher Yetsira in The Qabala Trilogy, [trans. from the French by Micheline & Vincent Stuart] Boston & London: Shambhala , 1985, pp. 381-549. An early version of this work appeared in the journal Tree, ed.David Meltzer, Santa Barbara, CA: Christopher Books, Summer 1971, pp. 119-163.

Scott J. Thompson & Dominique Marson, Saadiah's Commentary on the Sepher Yetzirah [trans. from Mayer Lambert's French edition, Saadya's Commentaire sur le Sefer Yesira, Paris, 1891], San Francisco, 1985 [currently unpublished]

Scott J. Thompson, trans. & ed.,Sepher Yetzirah: Book of Creation, A Critical Edition consisting of a Hebrew-English interlinear translation with collated translations of six previous editions: Lenowitz, Friedman, Kalisch, Mordell, Stenring & Westcott, San Francisco, privately published, 1985.

W. Wynn Westcott [trans. & notes], Sepher Yetzirah: The Book of Formation [with The Fifty Gates of Intelligence and The Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom], New York: Samuel Weiser, 1877 [Reprinted 1980].

Work of the Chariot [trans.], Book of Formation, Hollywood, CA, 1970.

 

III. Editions of the Sefer Yetzirah in Other Languages:

E. Bischoff, Sefer Jetzirah [in German],

Duchess C. de Cimara, Sefer Yesira [in French], 1913.

Lazarus Goldschmidt [trans., intro. & notes.],Sepher Jesirah: Das Buch der Schöpfung, Frankfurt a.M., In Commission bei J. Kauffmann, 1894.

O. Griese, Sepher Yetzirah [in Czech], 1921.

Meyer Lambert [trans., intro. & notes], Saadya's Commentaire sur le Sefer Yesira, Paris, 1891(Contains an Arabic--Hebrew version based on the original manuscript).

Johann Friedrich von Meyer [trans. & notes], Das Buch Jezira: die älteste kabalistische Urkunde der Hebräer, [Nebst den zweyunddreyßig Wegen der Weisheit. Hebräisch und Teutsch. Mit Einleitung, erläuternden Anmerkungen und einem punktirten Glossarium der rabbinischen Wörter], Leipzig, C.H. Reclam, 1830.

Papus, Sefer Yesira [in French], 1888.

S. Savini, Sefer Yetzirah [in Italian], 1923.

B. Tennen, Sepher Yetzirah [in Hungarian], 1931.

 

IV. Commentaries on Sefer Yetzirah:

 

The 10th Century

1. Isaac ben Solomon Israeli (830-932). His Arabic commentary was composed in an astronomical-philosophical spirit and is to be found in the National Bibliotheque in Paris. It was translated into Hebrew by the famous translator Nahum ha-Ma'arabi; L. Dukes has published a fragment of the Hebrew translation in Kuntres HaMesoret (Tübingen, 1846), pp. 5-10. Compare with S. Fried, Das Buch über die Elemente, Leipzig, 1884, Chapters 8 & 9.

2. Saadia ben Joseph al-Fayyumi (891-941). His Arabic commentary on the Book Yetzirah, Tzafsor Ktaav AlMabadi was thought to have been lost [see S.L. Rapoport, Das Leben Sa'adjas Bikure ha'itim, 1829, N.N. 16,32); recently it was rediscovered and published along with a French translation by M. Lambert under the title: Commentaire sur le Sefer Yesirah, ou livre de la creation par le Gaon Saadja de Fayyoum, Paris, Bibliotheque de l'Ecole prat. d. Haut. Et. Fasc. 85, 1891. A Hebrew translation of this commentary by Moses ben Joseph can be found in the Staatsbibliothek of Munich (cod. hebr. 92, 19); A. Jellinek has published excerpts of this in OLB 1851 (p. 224) as have S. Munk, J. Derenbourg and others. [Excerpts from the English trans. on-line]

3. Aaron ben Joseph Sargado (890-960). Rabbi Moses Botarel has included many fragments from this commentary in his own commentary on Sefer Yetzirah.

4. Dunash ibn Tamim [Abu Sahl] (890-956). He wrote a philosophical commentary on the Book Yetzirah in Arabic which Abulafia cites. A Hebrew translation of the work can be found in manuscript form in the Königl. Bibliothek of Berlin (MSS. or. oct. 243,4) and in the National Bibliotheque of Paris (cod. hebr. 1048,2) and in the Bodleian Library (cod. hebr. 2250,2). It has also been identified as a commentary by Isaac Israeli, but this has been greatly disputed; see Munk, "Notice sur Aboul Walid," Journal Asiatique, 1850, Neubauer, Catalogue of Hebr. MSS., Oxford, No. 1118, Fürst OLB 1850, p. 787.

5. Jacob ben Nissim of Keirouan (d. 1106/1107). His commentary is in the Staatsbibliothek of Munich (cod. hebr. 92,20). M.H. Landauer has published excerpts from the introduction (OLB 1845, p. 562 ff.) and L. Dukes has published an excerpt in Kuntres HaMesoret (Tübingen, 1846); S. Munk ("Notice sur Aboul Walid," Journal Asiatique 1850) and Castelli (Comm. of S. Donnolo, p. vi) have argued that this commentary belongs to Isaac Israeli; but this cannot be accepted because Sachs (OLB 1850, p. 166) has reported that the Munich Codex contains four commentaries: those of Saadia, Jacob ben Nissim, Sabbatai Donnolo and Isaac Israeli. See Fürst's notes to his translation of the treatise (OLB 1850), M. Steinschneider, Catalog der Münchener Handschriften (No. 92, 20) and M.H. Landauer OLB 1846, p. 2ff. Sachs has described this commentary as a supercommentary to Saadia which seems to be incorrect. The Book Yetzirah can only be understood, says Jacob b. Nissim, by those with a philosophical training. He says that he felt called to write his commentary to correct the errors and omissions in Saadia's work, though he pays tribute to Saadia's eminence. [Goldschmidt's judgment on this score appears to have been superseded. According to Schlomoh Zalman Havlin in EJ [9: 122-1223] : "Similarly, a commentary to the Sefer Yezirah was thought to be his [Jacob b. Nissim]; it has been proved, however, that the basis of that commentary is by Isaac b. Solomon Israeli and it was written apparently by Dunash ibn Tamim of Kairouan."]

6. Hai ben Sherira Gaon (969-1038). Numerous fragments of his commentary have been included in RMB; Jellinek has collected these and published them separately [OLB 1851, pp. 546-556].

7. Shabbetai ben Abraham Donnolo (913-c. 982). His commentary entitled Sepher Hakhmoni appears to have had a wide circulation and was frequently cited. D. Castelli has published this work along with a detailed introduction under the title: Il commento di Sabbatai Donnolo sul Libro della creazione. [Pubblicato per la prima volta nel testo ebraico con note critiche e introduzione, Firenze, 1880].

 

The 11th Century

8. Eliyahu ben Menahem ha-Zaken (1000). His commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah is often cited by Rabbi Moses Botarel.

9. Judah ben Barzillai of Barcelona (1130). His commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah is more comprehensive than all of the rest. It was published by S.J. Halberstamm under the title Commentar zu Sefer Jezira von R. Jehuda b. Barsilai aus Barcelona. Published for the first time from a single MS. in Padua with introduction, scholarly comments, and supplementary notes by Prof. Dr. J. Kauffmann, Berlin, 1885. Regarding this work, the editors of EJ [10:342] have said the following under the entry for Judah ben Barzillai: "One important aspect of Judah's commentary on Sefer Yezirah is that in it he quotes extensively from the Ishrun Maqalat ("Twenty Tractates") of Al-Mukammis. Since only a small portion of this work has been published, Judah's summaries are the major source of Al-Mukammis' teachings. Among Judah's own philosophical contributions were his polemics against dualistic and trinitarian doctrines (Commentary on Sefer Yezirah, 75, 175), and especially against Christian allegorism (ibid., 77). Even when not polemicizing, he tried to interpret all of Scripture with a view to removing doubts about God's total spirituality. Among other philosophic doctrines he held that the revelations received by the prophets were emanations of the Divine Spirit, the first created being, to which Scripture also refers as the "glory of God" (ibid., 16, 119, 174). At the end of his commentary Judah reproduced a considerable portion of one early Hebrew translation (no longer extant) of about half of Saadiah's Commentary on Sefer Yezirah (see H. Malter, Saadiah Gaon. His Life and Works (1921), 355-8)."

 

The 12th Century

10. Judah ben Samuel Halevi (1068-1118). A philosophical interpretation of the Sefer Yetzirah is to be found in his Sepher ha-Kuzari, Part IV, paragraph 25 [Kitab al Khazari, trans. Hartwig Hirschfeld, London: George Routledge & Sons, 1906, pp. 228-239].

11. Abraham ben Meïr ibn Ezra (1092-1167). Partial explanations of the Book Yetzirah are contained in his commnetary to the Torah (Exodus III, 15), though Abulafia [in the forward to his Otzar Eden HaGanuz] attributes a separate Yetzirah commentary to ibn Ezra, and says that it is primarily philosophical and only slightly kabbalistic. Abulafia also mentions ibn Ezra's commentary in a letter to his brother, see R. Kirchheim (OLB 1846, p. 666). In his supercommentary, Samuel Motot also mentions that ibn Ezra is to have written a special commentary on the Yetzirah.

12.Moses Maimonides (1135-1204). According to Heilpern [Sefer HaDorot], Maimonides is supposed to have written a commentary on the Book Yetzirah; more is not known. Reggio's assertion that the Sepher Yetzirah was not known in Maimonides's time is false. According to Koch, Isaac bar Sheshet (p.2), Maimonides said: "the Sepher Yetzirah and all similar writings deserve to be burned."

13. Abraham ben David (Dior) of Posquieres (d. 1198). R. Hayyim Vital has already indicated that the commentary printed with the name RABD is really not from him. In recent times, scholars have disputed the authenticity of this commentary, and most are of the opinion that it does not belong to RABD, since the year 5190 or 1430 is mentioned in the book's forward. Jellinek is of the opinion [OLB 1851, p. 425] that the entire passage where this date appears is from another hand; at any rate, the commentary is from the school of RABD. The actual commentator may have been a German rabbi, R. Joseph ha-Arukh who lived during that period.

14. Isaac ben Abraham the Blind of Posquieres. His commentary is cited by Hayyim Vital in the latter's work Etz Hayyim [The Tree of Life]. It has been preserved in the Bodleian Library (cod. hebr. 2456, 12) and the Bibliothek of Leyden (cod. hebr. 24,16). With regard to a second MS., see OLB 1844, p. 481.

15. 'Azriel ben Shlomoh (1160-1238). His commentary, as far as Goldschmidt is aware, has not been preserved. Abulafia says of him: 'His traditions are many and mysterious." See also Ezra and Moses ben Nahman.

 

The 13th Century

16. Ezra ben Solomon (d. 1238 or 1245). Student of R. Isaac the Blind and teacher of RMBN. With regard to his commentary, which has not been preserved, Abraham Abulafia says: "His tradition is infrequent and faithful." Jellinek [in Beth ha-Midrash III, p. xxxix] maintains that the aforementioned 'Azriel and this Ezra are one and the same person. Were there even two persons with this name, Jellinek still believes that he has 'sufficiently proved' [Beiträge II, p. 32ff.] that they constitute only one person for literary history, since the same writings are ascribed to one and then the other. [Compare this with OLB 1851, p. 561]. M.H. Landauer [OLB 1845, p. 196] has also maintained that there is 'definite critical proof' that Ezra is a shortened form of 'Azriel. Goldschmidt agrees with Zunz that Ezra and Azriel are two different persons and should be distinguished in the literature as well since Abulafia distinguishes between them. In his commentary on the Torah, Recanati says: "RABD transmitted it (the Kabbalah) to his son Isaac the Blind, and the latter transmitted it to his two students, R. Ezra, who composed a commentary on the Song of Songs, and R. Azriel, who in turn transmitted it to RMBN."

17. Isaac ben Solomon ibn Sahula (1204-1268). According to Dr. A. Berliner, his commentary has been preserved in the Casanatense "and other places."

18. Isaac ben Abraham ibn Latif (1220-1290). M.H. Landauer says of ibn Latif [OLB 1845, p. 228] that he attempted to analyze the Sefer Yetzirah philosophically in his other writings, but Landauer cites no sources.

19. Perez ben Isaac ha-Cohen. He partially explains the Book Yetzirah in his work Maarekhet Elohut. He also quotes from a commentary by himself on the book. See Wunderbar [OLB 1848, p. 737].

20. Moses ben Nahman of Gerona (1194-1267). One of the commentaries bearing his name is the most often printed. A. Jellinek (Beiträge zur Geschichte der Kabbala I, p. 9; II, p. 49; OLB 1851, p. 562) maintains that this commentary belongs to a teacher of RMBN, Rabbi Azriel ben Menahem, who according to Jellinek is identical to Ezra. In another passage [OLB 1851, p. 426], Jellinek notes Cordovero's doubt and adds that this "critical doubt concerning the authenticity of Nahman's Yetzirah commentary is highly unjustified, since the content and form accord with Nahman's spirit."

21. Eleazar ben Yehudah of Worms (d. 1238). The commentary printed by him is only an excerpt. The entire commentary exists only in MS. and is in the Bibliotheques of Rome and Florence [see Luzzatto OLB, 1847, p. 343; and Castelli, Comm. of S. Donnolo, p. iv]. His commentary owes much to RSD. At the end of the Florentine MS. is the following: "End of the Book Yetzirah and the Commentary of the scholarly doctor Shabbatai ben Abraham, which was transmitted to me by my father and Rabbi Yehudah Hasid ben Rabbi Samuel; I, Eleazar, have also added supplementary notes." Goldschmidt says that he has seen a separate edition of this commentary in a book catalogue, but doubts that it is complete.

22. Yehudah ben Samuel ha-Hasid (d. 1226). His commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah is mentioned by Abulafia, with the remark that it follows the commentary of Donnolo.

23. Baruch Togarmi. Abraham Abulafia ascribes to his teacher, Baruch, a commentary on Sefer Yetzirah which is full of gematria, notarikon, and letter permutation. Fragments of this work have been preserved in the Bodleian Library (cod. hebr. 1598, 3). His book Maftehot ha-Kabbalah exists in MS. in the National Bibliotheque in Paris (cod. hebr. 770,1). To Goldschmidt's remarks here can be added those of Gershom Scholem in his entry on "Baruch" in EJ [4:267] "Baruch Sheli'ah-Zibbur Togarmi, as is suggested by his cognomen Togarmi, was a cantor of eastern origin. He wrote a treatise, extant in several manuscripts (Paris, Oxford, New York), called Maftehot ha-Kabbalah ("The Keys to Kabbalah"), which contains a short, factually complete commentary on the Sefer Yezirah, identical with the one described by Abraham Abulafia in his Ozar Eden Ganuz as being by his master, Baruch (no surname). In the early 14th century, Isaac b. Samuel of Acre quotes a Baruch Togarmi in Me'irat Einayim in such a way as to suggest a scholar who lived at least one generation earlier. He says, "I saw written in the name of Baruch Togarmi" and ends with the eulogy for the dead. The three quotations display the same characteristic of short allusions to kabbalistic secrets through wordplay as the above-mentioned treatise, Maftehot. This is significant for the early history of the Abulafian current in the Kabbalah. . ."

24. Abraham ben Samuel Abulafia (1240-after 1291). In 1289, he wrote a commentary entitled Gan Na'ul, which is an arbitrary kind of work, but it does contain useful interpretations. He has discovered Pythagorean numerical relationships and letter permutation in the text. In the forward to his Ozer Eden, he enumerated twelve different commentaries on the Sepher Yetzirah, all of which he used. This commentary can be found in the Munich Staatsbibliothek (cod. hebr. 58,4) and the Bodleian Library (cod. hebr. 1911, 6). Rittangel has given excerpts from this in his own commentary.

25. Eleazar Ashkenazi is mentioned by Abulafia as the author of a commentary on Sefer Yetzirah. Nothing more is known about him.

26. Eleazar ha-Darshan Ashkenazi, who is not to be confused with the forgoing Eleazar, since Abulafia distinguishes between them. Regarding this commentary, Abulafia says: "I've heard that Rabbi E. ha-D. is to have brilliantly explained the Sefer Yetzirah, yet I've been unable to grasp ahold of it." This commentary can be found in MS. in the Munich Staatsbibliothek (cod. hebr. 30). Delitzsch has falsely attributed it to R. Eleazar of Worms.

27. Isaac Bedarshi. Abulafia says that this is the best of the unmystical commentaries. He also wrote a treatise on the 231 gates (of letter combinations) of the Sefer Yetzirah in alphabetical order.

28. Pseudo-Saadia. The commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah was considered genuine until recently, even though it mentions men such as ibn Ezra who lived later. The work pesents Saadia as a fantastic kabbalist. The sharp-witted critic, S.L. Rapoport, was the first to prove that Saadia did not write it. Jed. Bedarshi had already written in a letter, which refers to Saadia, that this commentary can by no means be attributed to the Gaon. The discovery of the genuine Saadia commentary strengthened this argument, and it has since become unanimous. M.H. Landauer reports [OLB 1845, p. 214] that the word Perush printed under Saadia's name exists in MS. in Munich, and he has 'definite proof' that it is really from a student of REBY. According to Guggenheimer [OLB 1848, p. 289ff.], this Munich Codex is not identical to the printed editon. It is remarkable that there are still a few who believe Saadia to be the author of this book. In the forward to his own edition of Sefer Yetzirah [p.8], I. Kalisch states, "But although the commentator Saadiah was a sober minded scholar in a superstitious age, a good Hebrew grammarian, a renowned theologian, and a good tranlator of the Hebrew language, his ideas and views were, nevertheless very often benighted."

29. Elhanan ben Yaqar of London (1240). See G. Vajda, ed. Kevez al Yad, 6, 1966, pp. 145-197; see also Scholem, Origins of the Kabbalah, trans. A. Arkush, Princeton, 1987, p.34, footnote 57. Goldschmidt was unaware of this commentary.

 

The 14th Century

30. Judah ben Nissim ibn Malka (mid-14th century). His Arabic commentary was cited by Samuel Motot and ibn Ezra (see S. Munk, Notice sur R. Saadia, p. 16); it can also be found in MS. in the National Bibliotheque in Paris (cod. hebr. 764,3). H. Hirschfeld has presented an excerpt from this commentary in his Arabic Chrestomathy in Hebrew Characters (1892), 19-31. George Vajda has written on Judah b. Nissim in EJ [11: 827], and from this entry we can cite the following remarks on Judah's Uns al-Gharib ["Familiarity with the Unfamiliar"] which contains the commentary on Sepher Yetzirah: "[T]he deductions which Judah drew from the unknowability of God are similar to the Kabbalah. In fact, the author was familiar with the Kabbalah and referred to it; although, besides the Sefer Yezirah, he cites only the Bahir and the Razi'el, it has been possible to establish that he availed himself of the kabbalists of Gerona (Azriel, Jacob b. Sheshet Gerondi, and Nahmanides), even of the Zohar, and perhaps also of Joseph ibn Waqar. Nevertheless, he did not consider the teachings of the Kabbalah superior to those of philosophy, but rather identified the Kabbalah with philosophy."

31. Joseph the Arukh. See M. Steinschneider's catalogue of the Munich Hebrew MSS (115,3), as well as Abraham ben David.

32. Meir ben Solomon ibn Sahula (1260?, perhaps 1251-after 1335). Gershom Scholem mentions the following in his entry on this kabbalist in EJ [14: 657-658]: "He began writing this commentary [on Nahmanides's commentary on the Bible] in 1320, but by 1325 he had only completed the part on Genesis. During that year he began a commentary on Sefer Yezirah which he completed in 1331, after a delay of some years. The preface to this commentary is a lengthy commentary on Midrash Shimon ha-Zaddik, a kabbalistic book of the circle of Sefer ha-Iyyun. The commentary on Sefer Yezirah is a severe criticism of Nahmanides' comments on the first chapter of Sefer Yetzirah. It also contains a long passage on the mystical account of creation."

 

The 15th Century

33. Joseph ben Shalom Ashkenazi. His commentary is cited by Aaron Alrabi in his supercommentary to Rashi (see L. Zunz, Zur Geschichte u. Lit., p. 250).

34. Samuel ben Sa'adiah ibn Motot (active c. 1370). He wrote a commentary entitled Ó··ÝÈ·Â (Meshovev Netivot) which is no longer known. It does exist in MS. in the National Bibliotheque in Paris (cod. hebr. 769, 1; 824, 9; 842,2). In his entry in EJ [8: 1189-1190], G. Vajda adds that Samuel "advanced greatly the thesis of the correspondence between the microcosm (body and soul of man) and the macrocosm."

35. Moses ben Jacob [of Kiev?] (1449-1520). His commentary on the Sepher Yetzirah, entitled ¦ÂÝÌ [Ozar ha-Shem] is purely kabbalistic. It was printed for the first time in Korec. 1797.

36. Moses Boterel of Spain. He wrote his commentary in 1409 at the behest of a Christian scholar, Maestro Juan, and used many kabbalistic writings. This commentary is very important for the textual history of the book since it cites a great number of authors and their works, who would otherwise be unknown. In general, Botarel is himself unknown in Jewish literature, though quotes found in his commentaries have made him notorious. See Jellinek [OLB 1846, p. 187ff].

 

The 16th Century

37. Moses ben Jacob ibn Shushan. The Märzbacher catalogue (Munich 1888) cites a commentary in MS. by Shushan which was composed in 1511. [This may be identical to the Moses ben Jacob listed above.****]

38. Isaac Luria (1534-1572). His commentary on the first chapter of Sefer Yetzirah, with a kabbalistic treatment, was printed at the end of the Warsaw edition.

39. Moses ben Jacob Cordovero (1522-1570). According to L. Goldschmidt, Cordovero's commentary has not been preserved. He refers to Fürst [Bibl. Iud. I, p. 187]. An explanation of the book's first "Mishna" can be found in Moses Cordovero's Pardes Rimonim (part I, Chapter I). Cordovero also interprets the Sefer Yetzirah in his Shiur Komah.

40. Solomon ben Simon Turiel. This commentary has been preserverd in MS. in the Bodleian library (cod. hebr. 2455,1).

41. Guillaume Postel (1510-1581). His notes and explanations of the Latin translation of the Sefer Yetzirah appeared in Paris in 1562.

 

The 17th Century

42. Jean Stephen Rittangel (1606-1652). His commentary in Latin and Hebrew focuses entirely upon the first paragraph. It is 'purely kabbalistic' and, according to Goldschmidt, 'worthless'.

 

The 18th Century

43. Elijah ben Solomon of Vilna (1720-1797). His commentary on the Lurianic recension is 'purely kabbalistic' [Goldschmidt]. It was printed along with the Mantua recension, and many errors slipped into the first edition which were corrected in the later edition (Warsaw, 1884).

 

The 19th Century

44. Joseph Edels. His commentary Birkat Yosef was published in Salonica in 1831.

45. Meir ben Moses Kornik. His explorations of the Sefer Yetzirah's first and last paragraphs was published in Dyrhenfurt, 1812.

 

The 20th Century

46. Carlo Suarès [trans. & comment.], The Sepher Yetsira in The Qabala Trilogy, [trans. from the French by Micheline & Vincent Stuart] Boston & London: Shambhala , 1985, pp. 381-549. An early version of this work appeared in the journal Tree, ed. David Meltzer, Santa Barbara, CA: Christopher Books, Summer 1971, pp. 119-163.

47. Aryeh Kaplan [ trans. & comment.], Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation. In Theory and Practice, York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1990.

 

V. Primary Sources in Translation:

Willis Barnstone, ed., The Other Bible: Ancient Esoteric Texts from the Pseudoepigraha, Dead Sea Scrolls, Early Kabbalah, Nag Hammadi & Other Sources, San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1984.

T. Carmi, The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse, Middlesex, England, Penguin Books, 1981.

Joseph Gikatilla, Gates of Light (Sha'are Orah), trans. Avi Weinstein, San Francisco, Harper Collins Publishers, 1994.

Kenneth Guthrie, ed. & trans., The Neoplatonic Writings of Numenius, Lawrence, Kansas, Selene Books, 1987.

Kenneth Guthrie, ed. & trans., Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library, Grand Rapids, MI, Phanes Press, 1987.

Judah Hallevi, Kitab Al Khazari, trans. Hartwig Hirschfeld, London, George Routledge & Sons, Limited, 1906, [esp. pp. 228-241].

The Holy Scriptures: A Jewish Bible According to the Masoretic Text [Hebrew-English], Tel-Aviv, Sinai Publishing House, 1977.

Iamblichus (pseudo.), The Theology of Arithmetic, trans. Robin Waterfield, Grand Rapids, MI, Phanes Press, 1988.

Aryeh Kaplan, trans. & comment., The Bahir, New York, Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1979.

H.G. May & B.M. Metzger, The Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, NY, Oxford University Press, 1965.

David Meltzer, ed., The Secret Garden: An Anthology in the Kabbalah, New York, Seabury Press, 1976.

Nichomachus of Gerasa, Introduction to Arithmetic, trans. M.L. D'Ooge (1926), Chicago, University of Chicago/Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1952, pp. 811-848.

Philo, The Works of Philo, trans. C.D. Yonge, Peabody, Mass., Hendrickson Publishers, 1993.

Proclus, The Elements of Theology, trans. & comm. E.R. Dodds, Oxford, C larendon Press, 1963.

_____, The Platonic Theology, trans. Thomas Taylor, Kew Gardens, N.Y., Selene Books, 1985.

_____,Commentaries on the Timaeus of Plato, trans. Thomas Taylor (1820) [Reprint: East Sussex, England, Chthonios Books, 1989].

Johann Reuchlin, On the Art of the Kabbalah (De Arte Cabalistica), trans. Martin & Sarah Goodman, NY, Abaris Books, 1983,

Helmut Ritter & Martin Plessner, trans., "Picatrix" Das Ziel des Weisen von Pseudo-Magriti, London, The Warburg Institute/University of London, 1962.

James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library, trans. Members of the Coptic Gnostic Library Project of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1977.

 

VI. Secondary Literature:

Alexander Altmann, ed., Jewish Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1967.

_____________, Studies in Religious Philosophy and Mysticism, Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 1969.

Leo Baeck, "Ssefer Jezira," in Aus Drei Jahrtausenden, Tübingen, J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1958, pp. 256-271. [Part One was originally printed in MGWJ, LXX: 1926 and Part Two appeared in MGWJ, LXXVIII: 1934.]

Norman Bentwich, Hellenism, Philadelphia, The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1919.

Joseph L. Blau, The Christian Interpretation of the Cabala in the Renaissance, Port Washington, N.Y, Kennikat Press, Inc., 1944.

_________, The Story of Jewish Philosophy, New York, Random House, 1962.

Chayim Bloch, The Golem: Mystical Tales from the Ghetto of Prague, Blauvelt, NY, Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1972.

Harold Bloom and David Rosenberg, The Book of J, New York, Random House (Vintage Books), 1990.

Ben Zion Bokser, From the World of the Cabbalah: The Philosophy of Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague, New York, Philosophical Library, 1954.

E.A. Wallis Budge, Amulets and Superstitions, New York, Dover Publications, Inc., 1978.

Walter Burkert, Greek Religion, trans. John Raffan, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1985.

__________, Lore and Science in Ancient Pythagoreanism, trans. E.L. Minar, Jr., Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1972.

John Burnet, Early Greek Philosophy, New York, Meridian Books, 1975.

William Chomsky, Hebrew: The Eternal Language, Philadelphia, The Jewish Publication Society, 1957.

Henry Corbin, Avicenna and the Visionary Recital, trans. Willard R. Trask, Irving, Texas, University of Dallas/Spring Books, 1980.

William H. Crook, The Manual Formation and Early Origin of the Hebrew Letters and Points. Demonstrated and Explained. Also an Elucidation of the So-called Arrow-headed or Cuneiform Characters, London, Francis & John Rivington, 1846.

Franz Cumont, Astrology and Religion Among the Greeks and Romans (1912), New York, Dover Publications, Inc., 1960.

Joseph Dan (ed. & intro.), The Early Kabbalah, trans. Ronald C. Kiener, New York, Paulist Press, 1986.

Gustav Davidson, A Dictionary of Angels, New York, Macmillan (The Free Press), 1967.

W.D. Davies and Louis Finkelstein, The Cambridge History of Judaism, Volume One: Introduction; The Persian Period, Cambridge, England, Cambridge University Press, 1984.

David Diringer, The Alphabet: Key to the History of Mankind, New York, Philosophical Library, 1948.

Jean Doresse, The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics, Rochester, Vermont, Inner Traditions International, Ltd., 1986.

Franz Dornseiff, Das Alphabet in Mystik und Magie, Leipzig & Berlin, B.G. Teubner, 1925.

G.R. Driver, Semitic Writing: From Pictograph to Alphabet, London, The British Academy, (Oxford University Press) 1948.

Johanna Drucker, The Alphabetic Labyrinth: The Letters in History and Imagination, London, Thames & Hudson, 1995.

Israel Efros, Studies in Medieval Jewish Philosophy, New York & London, Columbia University Press, 1974. [Esp. "The Philosophy of Saadia Gaon" (pp. 3-137) and "Some Aspects of Yehudah Halevi's Mysticism" (pp. 141-154)].

Marcus Ehrenpreis, "Die Entwicklung der Emanationslehre in der Kabbala des XIII. Jahrhunderts" (Inaug. Dissert.), Frankfurt a.M., J. Kauffmann'sche Buchhandlung, 1896.

Encyclopaedia Judaica(eds in chief: C.Roth, G. Wigoder, et al.), 16 vols, Jerusalem, and Macmillan, New York, 1971-1972.

Perle Epstein, Kabbalah: The Way of the Jewish Mystic, New York, Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1978.

Antoine Fabre d'Olivet, The Hebraic Tongue Restored: And the True Meaning of the Hebrew Words Re-established and Proved by their Radical Analysis, trans. Nayán Louise Redfield, New York, Samuel Weiser, Inc., (reprint 1978).

Adolphe Franck, The Kabbalah: The Religious Philosophy of the Hebrews, trans. I. Sossnitz, (New York, 1926), [Reprinted: Secaucus, N.J., The Citadel Press, 1979].

Salomon Fried,[Sepher ha-Yesodot] Das Buch über die Elemente. Ein Beitrag zur jüdischen Religionsphilosophie des Mittelalters von Isaak b. Salomon Israeli nach dem aus dem Arabischen ins Hebräische übersetzten Texte von Abraham b. Samuel Halevi Ibn Chasdai, [Inaug. Diss.], Leipzig, Buchdruckerei von W. Drugulin, 1884.

Louis Ginzberg, "Sefer Yezirah" in The Jewish Encyclopaedia, Vol. XII, col. 606-612, 1906.

Peter Gorman, Pythagoras: A Life, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979.

Heinrich Graetz, History of the Jews (Vols. II & III), Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society of America, 1894.

Ithamar Gruenwald, Apocalyptic and Merkabah Mysticism, Leiden/Köln, E.J. Brill, 1980.

______________, From Apocalypticism to Gnosticism, Frankfurt a.M., Verlag Peter Lang, 1988.

W.K.C. Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy: Vol. I: The Earlier Presocratics and the Pythagoreans, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1962.

Julius Guttmann, Philosophies of Judaism, New York, Schocken Books, 1973.

G.W.F. Hegel, Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie II [G.W.F.Hegel, Werke in zwanzig Bänden, Bd. 19], Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp Verlag, 1977 [esp. 'Dritter Abschnitt: Neuplatoniker,' pp. 403-489; Sepher Yetzirah is discussed briefly in the section 'Kabbalistische Philosophie,' pp. 426-428.

__________, Lectures on the History of Philosophy, 2: Plato and the Platonists, trans. E.S. Haldane and Frances H. Simson (1894), Lincoln, Nebraska, University of Nebraska [Reprint], 1995. [esp. 'Section Three, Third Period: The Neoplatonists,' pp. 374-453. Sepher Yetzirah is discussed under 'Cabalistic Philosophy,' pp. 394- 396.]

S.K. Heninger, Jr., Touches of Sweet Harmony: Pythagorean Cosmology and Renaissance Poetics, San Marino, California, The Huntington Library, 1974.

Alexander & Nicholas Humez, Alpha to Omega: The Life & Times of the Greek Alphabet, Boston & London, David R. Godine Publisher, 1983.

Moshe Idel, Golem: Jewish Magical and Mystical Traditions on the Artificial Anthropoid, Albany, New York, State University of New York, 1990.

________, Kabbalah: New Perspectives, New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1988.

________, "The Magical and Neoplatonic Interpretations of the Kabbalah in the Renaissance," in Essential Papers on Jewish Culture in Renaissance and Baroque Italy, ed. David B. Ruderman, New York, New York University Press, 1992, pp. 107- 169.

________, The Mystical Experience in Abraham Abulafia, Albany, New York, State University of New York, 1988.

Georges Ifrah, From One to Zero: A Universal History of Numbers, trans. Lowell Blair, NY, Viking Penguin, 1985.

Adolph Jellinek, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Kabbala, Vol. I, Leipzig, 1852.

Aryeh Kaplan, Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide, NY, Schocken Books, 1985.

__________, Meditation and Kabbalah, York Beach, Maine, Samuel Weiser, Inc.,1982.

Paul Kraus, Jabir Ibn Hayyan: Contribution a l'Histoire ds Ideés Scientifique dan l'Islam, Vol. II: Jabir et la Science Grecque, Le Caire impremerie de l'institut Francais d' Archéologie Orientale, 1942.

Lawrence Kushner, The Book of Letters: A Mystical Alef-bait, New York, Harper & Row, 1975.

Elisaeus Landau, Synonyma für Gott: in der neu-hebräischen Litteratur (Inaug. Dissert.), Zürich, Universität Zürich, 1888.

G.R.S. Mead, Fragments of a Faith Forgotten. The Gnostics: A Contribution to the Study of the Origins of Christianity, New Hyde Park, New York, University Books, 1960.

________, Simon Magus (1892), [Reprint: Chicago, Ares Press, 1985].

Hans Christian Meiser, Gnosis: Texte des Geheimen Christentums, Munich, Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, 1994.

David Meltzer, ed., Tree: 2 (Yetzirah), Summer 1971, Santa Barbara, CA, Christopher Books, 1971.

Philip Merlan, From Platonism to Neoplatonism, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1960.

_________, "Zur Zahlenlehre im Platonismus (Neuplatonismus) und im Sefer Yezira" in the Journal of the History of Philosophy, Vol. III, 2 (1965), pp. 167-181.

F.J. Molitor, Philosophie der Geschichte oder Über die Tradition, Vol. I, Frankfurt a.M., Verlag der Hermannschen Buchhandlung, 1827.

Isaac Myer, Qabbalah. The Philosophical Writings of Solomon Ben Yehudah Ibn Gebirol or Avicebron [1888], [Reprint: San Diego, Wizards Bookshelf, 1988].

Dominic J. O'Meara, Pythagoras Revived: Mathematics and Philosophy in Late Antiquity, Oxford University Press, 1989.

Charles Poncé, Kabbalah: An Introduction and Illumination for the World Today, San Francisco, Straight Arrow Books, 1973.

Gilles Quispel, "The Birth of the Child: Some Gnostic and Jewish Aspects," in Jewish and Gnostic Man [Eranos Lectures 3], Dallas, Texas, Spring Publications, Inc., 1973.

Peter Schäfer, The Hidden and Manifest God: Some Major Themes in Early Jewish Mysticism, trans. Aubrey Pomerance, Albany, NY, State University of New York Press, 1992.

Leo Schaya, The Universal Meaning of the Kabbalah, trans. Nancy Pearson, Secaucus, N.J., University Books, Inc., 1971.

Denise Schmandt-Besserat, "The Earliest Precursor of Writing," in Scientific American (June 1978), pp. 50-59.

Gershom Scholem, "Das Ringen zwischen dem biblischen Gott und dem Gott Plotins in der alten Kabbala," in Über einige Grundbegriffe des Judentums, Frankfurt a.M., Suhrkamp Verlag, 1970.

____________, " The Idea of the Golem," in On the Kabbalah and its Symbolism, trans. Ralph Manheim, New York, Schocken Press, 1969, pp. 158-204.

____________,Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism and Talmudic Tradition, New York, 1960.

____________,Judaica 3: Studien zur jüdischen Mystik, Frankfurt a.M., Suhrkamp Verlag, 1970.

____________,Kabbalah, New York, Quadrangle/New York Times Book Co., 1974.

____________,"Merkabah Mysticism and Jewish Gnosticism" in Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, New York, Schocken Press, 1941, pp. 40-79.

____________," The Name of God and the Linguistic Theory of the Kabbalah," trans. Simon Pleasance,

____________, Origins of the Kabbalah, trans. Allan Arkush, ed. R.J. Werblowsky, Princeton University Press, 1990.

____________, "Three Types of Jewish Piety," in Jewish and Gnostic Man [Eranos Lectures 3], Dallas, Texas, Spring Publications, Inc., 1972.

____________,Von der mystischen Gestalt der Gottheit: Studien zu Grundbegriffen der Kabbala, Frankfurt a.M., Suhrkamp Verlag, 1977.

T. Schrire, Hebrew Magic Amulets, New York, Berman House, Inc., Publishers, 1966.

M. Moïse Schwab, Vocabulaire de l'Angelologie, Paris, Imprimerie Nationale [Librairie C. Klincksieck], 1897.

R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, A Study of Numbers: A Guide to the Constant Creation of the Universe, Rochester, Vermont, Inner Traditions International, Ltd., 1986.

George Steiner, After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation, London, Oxford University Press, 1975.

Gedaliahu G. Stroumsa, "Aher: A Gnostic," in The Rediscovery of Gnosticism, Vol. II: Sethian Gnosticism, ed. Bentley Layton, Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1981.

Stan Tenen, "The God of Abraham: A Mathematician's View," in Gnosis [No. 28, Summer 1993], San Francisco, Lumen Foundation. [Also in Torus: Journal of the Meru Foundation (Vol. 2, No. 3).

________, "The Hebrew Letters: Tefillin in Hand: An Introduction to the Work of the Meru Foundation," Sharon, Massachusetts, The Meru Foundation, 1994.

Joshua Trachtenberg, Jewish Magic and Superstition: A Study in Folk Religion, New York, Atheneum, 1984.

Thomas Whittaker, The Neo-Platonists: A Study in the History of Hellenism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1901.

C.Anne Wilson, "Jabirian Numbers, Pythagorean Numbers and Plato's Timaeus," in Ambix, Vol. 35, Part I, March 1988, pp. 1-13.

Zvi Chaim Zalb, Gimatria and Notricon, Jerusalem, 1955.


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