Sheila A. Spector’s translation of the Sketch of Christian Kabbalism, by Francis Mercury van Helmont (1614-98), is the first English version of the foundational seventeenth-century treatise appended to Knorr von Rosenroth’s compendium, the Kabbala Denudata. After a survey of the historical context in general, Jewish and Christian Kabbalah in particular, and a brief biography of van Helmont, Spector’s introduction explains how the author adapted the original Jewish myth for Christian purposes. The bilingual text contains a facsimile of the original Latin on one side, facing the English translation on the other, with Van Helmont’s footnotes supplemented by the translator’s endnotes. The edition is essential for scholars, though of interest to the general reader as well.
Independent scholar Sheila A. Spector (Ph.D. 1976, University of Maryland), published the book-length bibliography Jewish Mysticism (Garland, 1984), and Glorious Incomprehensible”: The Development of Blake’s Kabbalistic Language, and “Wonders Divine”: The Development of Blake’s Kabbalistic Myth (both Bucknell UP, 2001).
Scholars interested in the history of religion, Christianity, Western esotericism, Jewish Studies, and Jewish and Christian Kabbalism, as well as comparative literature, the history of ideas, seventeenth-century studies. Also, the general reader interested in the occult.