Zohar and Iamblichus

Yehuda Liebes

Abstract


The Zohar, the Cabbalistic Bible, has a special theory concerning magic. Magic, which for the Zohar is the essence of idolatry, is depicted there as identical in its form with Cabbalistic mystical theurgy, but directed not towards God but towards evil demons. This theory has been labeled in research Hermetic and Neo-Platonic, but only in general terms. This article makes a further step and finds a parallelism between a paragraph in the Zohar and a paragraph in On the Mysteries of Iamblichus, the Neo-Platonic philosopher. The two paragraphs expound the above theory in similar terms, and also cite as their source a similar authority, namely eastern sages or Chaldaean prophets. This parallelism may establish a literary connection between the Zohar and Iamblichus, who may be related also in other respects.

Keywords


Zohar, Cabbala, Iamblichus, Hermeticism, Neo-Platonism, magic, idolatry, Moshe Idel

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