Classic Kabbalah

The early or developmental phase of Kabbalah concluded towards the end of the thirteenth century. The culmination of the early phase was the publication of a number of classic works by R. Joseph ben Abraham Gikatilla (c. 1248-1305), R. Abraham Abulafia (c. 1240-1291), and the author or compiler of the Zohar, R. Moses of Leon (c. 1250-1305).

It was the Zohar that dominated Kabbalistic thinking, and still does to this day. The classic phase can be said to last until the major themes and ideas were summarised and reconciled in R. Moses Cordovero's (1522-1570) classic Pardes Rimmonim.

The next phase of Kabbalistic innovation was initiated by R. Isaac Luria (1534-1572) (briefly a pupil of Cordovero), and his interpreters such as Hayyim Vital (1543-1620). Again, Luria believed he was simply clarifying obscure material in the Zohar, but he did it in a way that set Kabbalah in a much more gnostic direction.

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