Kabbalah developed initially within the Christian culture of medieval Europe. For some of this background see Early Kabbalah.

Christian attitudes to Jews were highly ambivalent. They were simultaneously valued for the skills they brought into the community (finance, trade, medicine, literacy, translation) and subjected to appalling and arbitrary episodes of violence. See Antisemitism in Europe (Middle Ages). A seminal event was the Alhambra Decree in 1492 which lead to the expulsion of Jews from Spain, at which point there were few significant Jewish communities remaining in Europe, and the development of Kabbalah moved to the Middle East.

Christians began to take an interest in Kabbalah during the humanist atmosphere of the Renaissance. This lead to the phenomenon of Christian Kabbalah.

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