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Visual Kabbalah in the Italian Renaissance

The Booklet of Kabbalistic Forms

In: The Vatican Library Review
Authors:
J.H. Chajes University of Haifa Department of Jewish History Israel Haifa

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https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7890-1333
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Eliezer Baumgarten University of Haifa Department of Jewish History Israel Haifa

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https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4041-6911
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Abstract

The Booklet of Kabbalistic Forms—a name we have given to this anonymous and untitled treatise—is a unique work in the kabbalistic library. The Italian kabbalist responsible for its first iteration assigned great value to the images he found in the kabbalistic works circulating in his environment. The most striking aspect of the Booklet is the diverse range of schematic images that have been gathered together, all representations of the divine world culled from the repertoire of ca. 1500 Italian Jewish Kabbalah. Rather than seeking to establish a “correct” visual representation of the sefirotic Divine, the “forms” collected in the Booklet were treated as images that bore meanings pertinent to all manner of kabbalistic mysteries. The present article introduces this singular work, followed by a critical edition and an English translation.

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