The Italian humanist Giovanni Pico della Mirandola was among the first of many Renaissance Christian thinkers to become interested in Jewish mysticism. David Navarro reviews a recent collection of essays on the subject:
As a humanist, Pico was exposed to ideas about magic and astrology, both of which were mainstream subjects in natural philosophy. Kabbalah was one of the movements Pico became involved with in order to prove the truth of Christianity. His main contribution is “to have conveyed to the Christian world a specific interpretation of the Jewish Kabbalah, and have given rise to a real and proper independent discipline that many imitators would have rendered more distant from its Jewish origin.” . . .
[The scholar] Moshe Idel examines . . . the strategy applied by Pico to bend Christianity to some central aspects of Kabbalah. The different Jewish esoteric doctrines represented a challenge to understanding the core of Jewish mysticism, and spread through various Jewish mystics during the 15th century in the Italian kingdoms. Pico’s methods for combining the hermeneutic strategies he acquired from these different movements are explained [by Idel], showing his approach to the use of Kabbalah in order to prove Christ’s messianic role and “convince Jews as to the correctness of Christian theology.”
Read more at Sephardic Horizons
More about: Christianity, Humanism, Italian Jewry, Italy, Kabbalah, Pico della Mirandola, Renaissance