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Huck  Huck is offline
Join Date: 02 Jul 2003
Location: Germany
Posts: 2,682

Originally posted by kwaw
Later than I thought, thanks for the info, still pre-kabbalah and pre-tarot. I think the coal/fire metaphor is probably linked to the attribution of shin to fire in the SY, which is further connected in the zohar but really seems to come together in the Lurianic tradition.

The question of dating these associations is of course relevant, but fairly impossible for me as I don't have the language skills or necesary access to primary texts. The fire attribution is well established through the SY, and the link between fire and judgement is an old one; however Judgement is linked to other letters as well, Zayin for example. The coal/flame metaphor I think doesn't reach full meaning until under Luria. The ToL pillar attributions of course cannot be earlier than Luria. The Shin as logoi, spirit and symbol of christ is right there among the earliest texts of the Christian cabala; however I think the theology of the name goes back much further and is pre-kabbalistic in origin - at the back of mind I vaguely recall a reference to the theology of the name discussed by the early church fathers, Origen or Clement, I think - but I will have to check on that. Also I vaguely recall a reference among the greek texts of the Christian gnostics about the theology of the name - but again am maybe confused and need to check. It is possible some of the christian gnostic sects, as the jewish gnostics, did have a sort of mystical letter tradition (as per the SY, but using Greek script rather than Hebrew).

There are 23 references to 'coal[s]' in the King James version of the bible - 20 in the OT, and 3 in the NT:

Leviticus 16:12
2 Samuel 22:13
1 Kings 19:16
Psalms 18:8, 18:12, 18:13, 120:4, 140:10
Proverbs 25:22, 26:21
Song of Songs 8:6
Isaiah 44:12, 44:19, 47:14, 54:16
Lamentation 4:8
Ezekiel 1:13, 10:2, 24:11
Habakkuk 3:5
John 18:18, 21:9
Romans 12:20

Hi Kwaw,

in my bible translation (German) the term is translated occasionally as "coal" (Kohle in German), but mostly with other terms related to fire. It doesn't seem to be fixed as that, what we understand with Kohle. Perhaps they have the understanding of Holzkohle (wood coal) ... the existence of lots od "Kohle" and its very early use seems to be doubtable.

Luria for instance didn't write about his teachings ... it was his pupils, who had promised silence, but started to lay down their knowledge 20 years after his death.
I would think, that already "enough" is written to the very stretched exegesis to letter symbolism, what is really missing - and you gives me right, when you say " .... but fairly impossible for me as I don't have the language skills ..." - is the "simple" embedding in time and development. Why is it impossible ... cause nobody (or only few) has taken it up as a theme for themselves (at least in the surrounding of people, who developed a favour of this letter exegesis).

The information situation is not that bad ... Scholem already had done a lot about it. Also you find lots in these splendid Jewish dictionaries, from which some are rather large and exhaustive in their presentations and offer more to read than you can do in some years.

Fixing oneself on these letter exegesis ... I would say, you're in danger of overconcentration ... Concentration is okay, when you've already studied the whole body a little bit, for instance its context in time as part of a strong religious development in Jewish development between 1500 - 1750 and a Spanish preparation 300 years long before .... also the context of kabalism as part of a broader and general neoplatonism following the Roman world ...
cause you then know, what you're talking about, but without it you're simply nagging it to not understandable pieces, jumping from one shortsighted enlightment to the other. This letter is this and that and finally the whole world without limitation, any few strokes are in danger to compress the whole mystery of existence ... all together in the black hole of overinterpretation ...
a good way to be not understood by others and finally becoming rather boring.
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