Date of Graduation
Master of Arts in History (MA)
Freddy C. Dominguez
Richard D. Sonn
Second Committee Member
Italian Renaissance, Italian Renaissance Humanists, Higher Knowledge, Jewish History, Occult History
The Italian Renaissance was to many of its contemporaries a golden age. It was unarguably a phenomenal time in European history. The sharing of intellectual ideas and innovations during this period permanently changed the world. Knowledge was spread across Europe at an unprecedented pace and intellectual minds were greatly expanded from both new and old discoveries. During this period, classical works were fortuitously unearthed and swiftly consumed for their hoary wisdom and guidance. Among these works were found ancient productions related to various occult ideas and practices such as alchemy and magic. A subset of the prominent group of Italian Renaissance Humanists that arose during this period became interested in these esoteric ideas and were inspired by their discovery to search for other extant ancient works that may help lead them to their spiritual goal of Higher Knowledge. In this search, some Christian scholars encountered what they believed to be ancient works belonging to a mystical branch of Judaism. The vast majority of these works were written primarily in the Hebrew language which meant that in order for Christians to have access to these compositions, they had to engage with and rely on Jews as exegetes, language tutors, and translators. This led to an unprecedented phenomenon in European history: small groups of Jewish and Christian scholars developed unusual intellectual relations and mutual dependencies as a result of a quest for spiritual knowledge through a Jewish mystical tradition called Kabbala. This phenomenon of non-Jews engaging Jewish Kabbalists for study and direction in the practice of Kabbala became an unbroken historical thread that has lasted from the period of the Italian Renaissance to today.
Dannenfelser, G. L. (2019). Kabbala, Christians, and Jews: An Examination of the Rise and Fall of Peculiar Relationships that Developed Between Christian Elites and Jewish Scholars in Renaissance Italy. Theses and Dissertations Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/etd/3295