Originally posted by lucifershammer
But more generally, a lot of early Christian thought into the Trinity (especially neo-Platinist/Christian thought) was in terms of emanations.
As I understand it, there were some who argued that the Trinity equated to the three pillars of the Tree of Life.
Also, the Gnostics were quite into the theology of emanation.
I'll have to know more about both Catholic mystical thought and Kabbalah before I can say if there are points of commonality.
I didn’t realize that. For some reason, Pseudo-Dionysus’s apophatic theology in “The Names of God,” comes to mind here too.
In Lurianic Kabbalah (which Aiden Steinsaltz said really has become the major theology for Judaism, at least since the 12th or 13th century), the whole cosmos (ha olam
) emanates from the Godhead (Ein Sof
, literally the “without end” )* in a descending series of sephirot
—actually, in a descending series of “worlds” or levels of existence, each being manifest according to the s'ferot. One of the burning theological questions of the Kabbalists was, “Where could there ever have been that God was not?” That is, how could there have been some nihil
that, as it were, stood vis-à-vis God, bounded the Ein Sof. Now, it needs to be realized—even in my simplistic notes here—that all of this is in a sense allegorical, symbolical, metaphorical. The first “act of creation” was the act of Ein Sof’s withdrawing from itself to create a space—a “nihil”—in which to emanate the or ein sof
, the “light of the infinite,” the original energy, which eventually takes form in forms. This “withdrawal” is called the tsimtsum
, or contraction. Underlying all of the cosmos are the ten s’pherot
, as “archetypal” manifestations of this energy (actually, to borrow looosely from string theory, these s'ferot could be though of as 10 basic strings, I suppose; though I don't know how far that analogy can be pushed).
Now, as I say all this, I keep hearing in my head the words of Paul—“I must be mad!”—to attempt such a simplistic presentation, from my own limited knowledge...
* Godhead in a sense similar, I think, to that of Meister Eckhart. Kabbalah is pretty monistic in outlook, and is the Jewish expression of the “perennial philosophy;” Ein Sof might be thought of as a more “active” Brahman.