Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla's Hermeneutics by Elke Morlok (Mohr Siebeck) Elke Morlok deals with the hermeneutics of R. Joseph Gikatilla, one of the most outstanding and influential kabbalists of medieval Jewish mysticism. His literary creativity falls onto the last decades of the 13th century, when very innovative ideas on kabbalah and its hermeneutics were developed and formulated for the first time. The author analyzes several key concepts throughout his writings such as his ideas on letter combination, symbol, memory, imagination and ritual and their varying functions within the hermeneutical and theosophic structures that underlie Gikatilla's approach. With the application of methods derived from modern theories on language and literature, she tries to create the basis for a fruitful encounter between medieval mystical hermeneutics and postmodern hermeneutical approaches. As Gikatilla incorporates two main trends of kabbalistic thinking during the medieval period, he was one of the most valuable sources for Christian thinkers interested in medieval kabbalistic thought.
The surge of creativity in different domains of speculation in the 13th century is an outstanding phenomenon in the history of Judaism. Among the fields that benefited most from this surge (in fact a form of renascence) is what may be called Jewish hermeneutics. The proliferation of new writing is also connected in part with the emergence of exegetical methods, used in order to adopt new forms of knowledge and sometimes to adapt them, mainly in a rhetorical manner, to the content of the sacred scriptures; I refer to discussions which describe in detail the various forms of interpretation in a reflective manner. These discussions are part of the rise of a new Jewish elite (which may be described as a secondary elite) which attempted to make Jewish audiences aware of previously unrecognized dimensions of meaning within the canonical corpora. The members of this elite were more interested than their predecessors in philosophy, Kabbalah, numerical speculations, astrology and magic, which were laid bare by what may be called eisegesis, namely the projecting of the new topics into the sacred text. In the early part of the 13th century a book appeared by R. Eleazar of Worms (active in South Germany), the Sodei Razei Semukhim, which deals with forty-eight methods. It was followed by the Sefer haHokhma (written in my opinion in the second part of the 13th century), which deals with seventy-three methods, and this in turn was succeeded by the various discussions on Pardes as an acronym for the names of four ways of interpretation among Kabbalists in Spain at the end of the century. In this period Jewish thinkers become conscious of the role played by exegetical rules, their ideas on concatenation and the way in which they are combined.
It would not be an exaggeration to see in the 13th century the most reflective period of biblical exegesis.
One of the thinkers who wrote on topics relating to hermeneutics is the outstanding Kabbalist Joseph ben Abraham Gikatilla of Medinat Celim in Castile. Though his theological position changed substantially during his lifetime, he remained concerned in many of his writings with questions concerning exegetical rules and the status of the interpreted text. Those two topics recur in a number of later Kabbalistic works as a result of the status his writings acquired in Kabbalistic literature. His special gift was an unusual skill in organizing the material systematically, together with an ingenuity in exegesis which contributed to the acceptance of his ways of thinking. His books were printed many of them more than once during the 16th century, and they are extant in a great number of manuscripts. Gikatilla is without a doubt one of the major Kabbalists ever to work in Spain.
Although Gikatilla's Kabbalistic writings have been widely studied in recent years, there is still neither an overall survey of the entire corpus nor a detailed study of the hermeneutical dimensions of his thought. The present monograph by Elke Morlok thus supplies a major desideratum. Her erudite and exhaustive research will help towards a better understanding of Gikatilla's thought against the background of his sources, Jewish, Greek and Hellenistic. By her examination of themes dealing with philosophy of language, especially that found in Neoplatonic writings, and by her tracing the transition of themes relating to the status of the text and its interpretation from earlier medieval sources to the 13th century, she has contributed not only to the specific topic she has investigated but also to our understanding of the development of Kabbalah in its first stages in Castile and to medieval hermeneutics in general. Moreover, in her skilful highlighting of the role played by Gikatilla's work in later discussions, especially in early Christian Kabbalah, Elke Morlok contributes to a better understanding of the dissemination of his thought in European culture.
Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla is beyond doubt one of the most colorful figures in Jewish mysticism. He was active in the second half of the 13th century, the precise moment in medieval Jewish history that witnessed an impressive proliferation of mystical activity in several geographical settings. Being among the most successful students of Abraham Abulafia in his youth, he later moved from the ecstatic stream of kabbalah to the theosophictheurgic stream. Like his contemporary and fellow student Moshe de Leon, Gikatilla started his career with a deep interest in Maimonidean philosophy and the mystical, techniques of the linguistic branch in kabbalah. However, at a certain point in his life he was more attracted by the sefirotic system and its understanding of the kabbalistic secrets. Being active during the "window of opportunities", the unparalleled renascence of Castilian kabbalah, Gikatilla witnessed a period, in which both systemic and historical developments coincided and buttressed each other in generating the unprecedented efflorescence2 in matters of Jewish mysticism. However, within this move from esotericism to exotericism we also observe some conservative stands regarding Jewish hermeneutics .
In several passages of Gikatilla's writings, we find for the first time systematic descriptions of hermeneutical rules. As hermeneutics is the point, where exegesis, linguistic and ontological realms meet, I intend to concentrate on this encounter in Gikatilla's works. In comparing the hermeneutic system underlying his texts in the different periods of his life, we might be able to find reasons for his shift from one branch of kabbalah to the other. How do hermeneutic rules and linguistic hierarchies influence his theological thought and what difference is to be found during the transition from the linguistic kabbalah of the names to the theosophic kabbalah of the sefirot? In a philological and phenomenological analysis of Gikatilla's writings and a comparison with other Jewish and non-Jewish writers, I try to understand Gikatilla's hermeneutical structures on the background of both classical philosophical elaborations on hermeneutical methods and religious conceptualizations on this issue in the works of Jewish and Christian authors from Late Antiquity to medieval times.
My historical assumption regarding the background for Gikatilla's work is that significantly different corpora interacted in a substantial manner during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Europe. The arrival of Greek philosophy in various forms and of Eastern traditions created speculative systems that attempted to integrate the varieties of neo-Aristotelian and Neoplatonic thought into theological concepts. Extratextual codes were considered essential for understanding the message of the text. In this period of Jewish mysticism, we observe a significant interaction between textual corpora from different religious, cultural and philosophical background — a kind of literary intercorporeality. My working hypothesis is that creative cultural ambiances produce similar phenomena even when there is no positive evidence of direct borrowing by the minority culture from the dominant one. How do these 'foreign' corpora and textual codes influence Gikatilla's hermeneutical systems in the different periods of his work? How does Gikatilla manage to integrate them into his changing hermeneutical system and what consequences does this have for the status of each factor in the hermeneutic triangle?
One of the most fascinating phenomenon in the works of Abulafia and Gikatilla is the deconstruction of the biblical texts into its smallest units, which served as the most important focal point for the mystical experience, in order to recreate a meaning sometimes infinite. The reconstruction of the letters into a new text and the meaning of this new text for the mystical encounter can be observed in both categories of Gikatilla's texts. The first kabbalist to use this technique was Abulafia's teacher R. Barukh Togarmi, who used it in order to reveal the static truths of the text, i.e. reality. In his commentary on Sefer Yetzirah (Ms Paris 770, fol. 1a-6b) he applied this technique in order to recreate the status of the biblical text before its permutation and descent into a lower level of existence. The aim of this "creative radicalism" based on the linguistic theories of Sefer Yetzirah is the penetration into the deeper levels of the Torah and the attainment of a mystical experience, an encounter with the "original" text and its author. With this method the hierarchical relation between text and reader changes, since at a certain stage the text ceases to be the nexus between reader and divine author. At this level, the mystic is transformed via his exegetical techniques into the mediator between text and author and incorporates the new, living expression of the divine revelation.
Shlomo Blickstein' has examined the influence which R. Barukh Togarmi' s enigmatic commentary on Sefer Yetzirah had on Gikatilla's early writings.2 He claims that Abulafia served as an important intermediary between Togarmi and Gikatilla. The hermeneutics of the ecstatic kabbalah, based on Hokhmat haTzeruf, or "wisdom of letter combination", might be described with Moshe Idel and Andreas Kilcher3 as horizontal hermeneutics,4 wherein the aim of interpretation is a syntactic, semiotic and rhetori cal organization of the textual elements. Gikatilla frequently uses the methods of Togarmi and Abulafia in his Ginnat 'Egon, which may be described as an extended version of Togarmi's treatise. In Gikatilla's early writings the method of Tzerufei 'Otiyyot is presented as a more mathematical recombinations of the divine name like Gematria, in order to gain direct access to the divinity. According to Ms Oxford 1822, there was a list of 75 different forms of Gematriot.6 Gikatilla definitely uses several of these methods, esp. the numerical value of words, the Millui, the method of and the addition of the 1000 as 1 to the total number. Several of those methods will be illustrated in the texts mentioned below.
In his later Sha 'ar haNiqqud Gikatilla associates the method of letter combination with the prophetic experience, which instructs the prophet in the secrets of the Torah. Here, the union with the divine name at the end of the combinatory technique is also conceived as a mystical ideal like in Abulafia's kabbalah. Another example of such a central position of letter combination with a wide-ranging Gematria in most varieties has been analyzed by Moshe Idel7 in an examination of the writings of R. Nehemia ben Shlomo haNavi, a contemporary of Eleazar of Worms. Eleazar uncovers through Gematria the mystical meditations on prayers, which may be evoked during the actual repetition of the words. According to Eleazar, the Gematriot connect the midrashic legends with the words of the biblical verses, and some reveal the mysteries of the world of the Merkavah and the angels, in this way.8 R. Nehemiah ben Shlomo haNavi, however, reflects the centrality of this technique outside the circle of Kalonymide esotericism in Worms, which embodies an important stream besides the Kalonymides that may have been influential on the kabbalah in Spain.
We may assume that despite the dramatic intellectual change brought about by adopting a different form of kabbalah, Gikatilla retained the mystical importance of letter combination as related to an ascending order of the ten sefirot. Like Abulafia, Gikatilla emphasizes the important role of the divine names. Though adopting the literary genre cultivated by the theosophical kabbalist, he nevertheless remained somehow faithful to an approach that can be found in ecstatic kabbalah. In Sha 'arei 'Orah we find the idea of letter combination in connection with the divine names, but this time he describes the rooms of the palace as hosting the secrets of the Torah — a vertical concept of hermeneutics in contrast to the horizontal one of ecstatic kabbalah. On the one hand the role of linguistic techniques seems to have become marginal and other concepts have replaced their role in the mystical encounter. But on the other hand, we still may find remnants of the linguistic kabbalah of Togarmi and Abulafia and observe their transformation into a broader hermeneutic system in Gikatilla's later work. There are many "hidden", implicit Gematriot in Sha 'arei 'Orah, which we may only understand with the help of their first, explicit appearance in Ginnat 'Egoz.9 I suggest that what we observe in Gikatilla's writings is a move from a kind of "microcosmic" use of Tzeruf 'Otiyyot as an exegetical technique in order to invite a mystical experience (Ginnat 'Egon) to a "macrocosmic" organizing principle of the whole text (Sha 'arei 'Orah). We could call this also a move from language to text — from linguistic technique to mystical handbook. I intend to examine how this transformation or "macrocosmization" of linguistic techniques works in detail and examine the changes we find in the hermeneutic hierarchy as a consequence of this transformation.
In medieval Jewish mysticism there is an intense interaction between linguistic mystical techniques and the status of the biblical text. The mutability and accommodation of Torah play a significant role and may be described in four categories: astrological, eschatological, Neoplatonic and combinatory. Naturally, we hardly find pure forms of these categories, but it is possible to associate Gikatilla's early, non-symbolic work with the first category and his later work with the last. In modern scholarship the best-known type of Torah-mutability has related to certain forms of the theory of Shmittot and Yovelim, namely cosmic circles of seven thousand and forty-nine thousand years. Like Moshe de Leon in his early 'Or Zaru 'a Gikatilla combines in his Ginnat 'Egoz these astrological concepts of order with linguistic theories derived from Sefer Yetzirah. I am inclined to attribute this combination to a philosophical trend within Jewish mysticism which has been deeply influenced by Pythagorean thought. On the other hand, the Neoplatonic and the combinatory forms with their ideas of processio and reversio are indebted to the strong Neoplatonic influences during the Middles Ages and also found their way into kabbalistic thought. The latter concepts provide the basis for Gikatilla's description of the Torah in the introduction to Sha 'arei 'Orate as a woven tapestry of sacred names. The words as symbolic forms are woven into a metonymic chain, the right knowledge of which reserve the function and the aim of the vertical hermeneutics taught within the kabbalistic lexicographic texture. In other words, the archetypal signs are presented as a universal subtext in which all legible things can be deciphered. This theory is described as the concept of the Torah, linguistic elements of which contain all ten divine names, which each point to one of the ten sefirot. All sefirot, i.e. names, depend on the Tetragrammaton, and on each of the ten divine names numerous cognomina depend, referring to angelic powers. Each of these cognomina organizes other linguistic elements, referring to mundane affairs, in the biblical text. This linguistic pyramid, with the Tetragrammaton above and all regular words below, assumes a certain transformation of the fewer, higher elements into lower ones. This process is also described by the metaphor of the lower as the garment of the higher. This means that the semantics of the different parts of the Torah are to be understood as informed by a strictly hierarchical structure. The semantic order of the Torah therefore parallels the ontic structure of reality in its entirety. The parallel to the linguistic processio as described in the introduction to Sha 'arei 'Orah may be found in Gikatilla's description of the removal of the royal garment (Gate 5), illustrating the return of the mystic to the one root, the Tetragrammaton. Here the linguistic journey from common words to the divine name parallels the ontic reversio of the Neoplatonic thinkers. We could therefore say that Gikatilla, in his late period, has associated the Neoplatonic model with a form of combinatory model. As described above, the Torah is described as a map of signs representing the whole spectrum of being. This is made possible by assuming a web of relations on the linguistic level that reflects the ontological. The intellectual approach to the unknowable, supra-rational divine by stripping away attributions may have its roots in Neoplatonic sources also. However, Gikatilla combines this apophatic ascent with a cataphatic, linguistic descent. These corresponding movements enable the mystic to acquire positive knowledge of the ontological realm with the help of Gikatilla's linguistic theory. Gikatilla thus deals with dynamic processes, ascending and descending, putting the biblical text at the center of his theology. His cataphatic use of language puts special emphasis on the inner form of the biblical terms and provides a positive assertion of the divine world. However, Gikatilla does not discuss in detail the process of transformation from the higher linguistic elements into the lower ones. The roots of what he calls the "weaving of the biblical text", his theory of anamnesis, the linguistic hierarchy as an emanational process and Gikatilla's symbolism have to be examined in the light of their Platonic and Neoplatonic sources, namely Proclus and his commentaries on Plato's Cratylus and Parmenides,6 his Hymns and other Neoplatonic works. The idea of the text as a woven fabric also appears in the Hekhalot literature and the Church Fathers.? Origen in particular seems to have had a deep impact on Gikatilla's concept of Torah and the divine throne. The context of Origen's statement in Contra Celsum is the magic use of the divine name in ancient Jewish tradition. Although Gikatilla criticizes the use of the divine name as a magical tool, he himself proposed the use of the Tetragrammaton as a magic formula during prayer. In his new definition of Kawwanah as the intentionality and function of the divine name in the mystic's prayer, he presents the magic potentiality of the name following the concept of Kawwanah of Hasidei Ashkenaz.
Another important influence may be Origen's description of a Jewish tradition in his lost Commentary on Psalms, now preserved in the Philokalia. Origen mentions an ancient Jewish esoteric biblical interpretation, which compares the Bible to a house in which all the rooms are locked. The hermeneutic solution consists in finding the right key9 to the different rooms, as the keys have been mixed up. This tradition seems to have played an important role in Gikatilla' s hermeneutic constellation as described at the beginning and the end of Sha'arei `Orah. Whereas in the linguistic kabbalah the "key" is incorporated in an overall exegetical technique that opens the deeper levels of the text, in the sefirotic kabbalah the hermeneutic concept of "key" illustrates how different keys open different rooms. In the latter, therefore, the reader is more dependent on the instructions given in the text.
Closely connected to the "key"-concept is the use of the Greek loan-word icon (sign) in Gikatilla's work. Like his master, Abulafia, Gikatilla establishes a close connection between this term and his theory of esotericism and exotericism, namely his theory of symbolism. I would like to dwell on the Greek sources of the term and its function in the various cultural traditions. A further question is directed towards the influence of this term on Gikatilla's use of the concept at the different periods of his literary production. The idea of "sign" expresses the fact that in kabbalistic literature language is not just a means to convey a message, but is also part of the message itself. This is particularly true of Gikatilla, who emphasizes the divine nature of Hebrew on the one hand and writes an influential book on kabbalistic symbolism on the other. This nexus between symbolic interpretation and the vision of language as non-conventional is part of a broader phenomenon in Jewish mysticism. We could call this phenomenon "relating the unlimited semiosis to the special nature of Hebrew". In this move, the biblical figures were understood as symbols of the various divine powers. Thus, in order to move from the signifiant to the signifié the mystic has to rely either on a word, which will point alone to the higher entity it symbolizes or on smaller linguistic units with such a function. Another possibility is that the mystic is dependent upon a concept that emerges from the various contexts of this word. In some cases, the concrete entity no longer exists, and the significative function, the word, has taken over the representation here below. Thus a whole literary universe, mostly a biblical one, once conceived as symbolically signifying the corresponding theosophical powers and processes, is now approachable only by means of its linguistic designators, whose valence was determined by the theosophical knowledge of the kabbalist. For this reason, I consider the meaning and use of Siman to be crucial for the understanding of the literary universe of Gikatilla and his contemporaries.
In the following pages, I intend to deal with one of the most fascinating interpretations of the biblical text in kabbalistic and philosophic thought: the Torah as a woven texture or fabric.
R. Joseph Gikatilla describes in his introduction to Sha'arei Orah and at the end of this treatise the Torah as a woven structure, a texture. Where does this idea stem from? What does it connote? How does this topic evolve in Platonic and Neoplatonic thought, and in the writings of the Church Fathers, in particular Origen? Which traditions of Late Antiquity does Gikatilla refer to and how does he develop them? Since we do not find in the Hebrew word 'Arigah a natural connection between weaving and writing, we have to consider the Latin wore textus, which derives from the art of weaving (texere, textura, textilis) and its development in Antiquity, the early Middle Ages and finally the Renaissance.
In a first step I want to examine the Platonic notion of texture, weaving and web as found mainly in the Timaeus, Cratylus, Politicus and Sophist. Does Plato always use the same verb for the activity of weaving or is more than one root used for the same act? Does the context of weaving change within the Platonic corpora? Is there a difference between the ontological and the linguistic realms and their being woven? How are the two realms interrelated?
In the next stage I proceed to Neoplatonism and in particular to Proclus. How does he develop Plato's thought, esp. in his commentaries on the works mentioned above, and what changes or additions can be observed in his writings? How does Origen's teacher, Plotinus, refer to the topic and how does he regard the metaphor of weaving?
Finally we must examine Gikatilla's use of these traditions and his interpretation of them in the exegesis of the biblical text. Which realms are connected by the term "weaving" in his different writings and how does he combine them? What role do they play in his change from the ecstatic to the theosophic-theurgic stream of kabbalah? How must we integrate the different metaphors of weaving in his hermeneutical system and what is their meaning for the hermeneutic triangle?
I have tried to analyze Gikatilla's eclectic attitude towards hermeneutics by a comparative approach, via ancient classical sources, medieval Jewish writings and modern theories of language. From a philological and a phenomenological perspective I have studied in detail his employment of Pythagorean, Neoplatonic and Aristotelian concepts within his changing hermeneutical system, which may account for his smooth absorption into the writings of Renaissance thinkers such as Pico della Mirandola and Johannes Reuchlin. We also find echoes of Gikatilla's ideas in postmodern literary thought, as presented in the work of Eco, Derrida, Bloom, Iser and Steiner, either through the medium of Scholem's research on the material or through the incorporation into Western philosophy of his thought (the latter effected through the Christian kabbalah).
In Gikatilla's early works the influence of specific Pythagorean ideas on number and universe can be seen as an influential factor on his concept of letter and point. His "numerical approach" to language in combination with techniques of letter combination derived from Hasidei Ashkenaz created a unique concept of prophecy and magic. The manipulative activities of the mystic on single letters or even on vowel points allows for the re-creation of a new, linguistic universe maintained by the movements of the vowels. Within this intellectual universe, the mystic can enter into the center of cosmic motion and perform acts of magic on the ontological realms which depend on that system of language, i.e. its "inner point". This "inner point" is conceived as the vocalization point of the Hebrew language, which has now become available for the mystic. The notion of sound as creating a space for the mystical encounter seems to be already influential in ancient Jewish tradition as reported by Origen, and is further developed in Gikatilla's theosophical system.
In the second stage of his literary creativity, Gikatilla seems to turn to Neoplatonic concepts of hermeneutics, such as processio and reversio. I have tried to analyze in detail the integration of such structures into Gikatilla's hermeneutical system within a comparative methodological approach.
The intracorporal influences from and on other Jewish authors and the intercorporal exchanges with non-Jewish literature, ancient and medieval, created in Gikatilla's hermeneutical structure a unique symbiosis of different cultural and religious trends with various perspectives. However, he localized his hermeneutic approach within the Jewish tradition by putting the hermeneutical system in a performative ritual context.
Gikatilla's innovative ideas on the mystic's apotheosis into the Merkavah of the divine entity are often described in terms of the semantic field of light, or light of the garment. The luminous "envelope" surrounds the kabbalist in his ascent during prayer and creates the "space" for the mystical experience, during which the mystic himself is transformed, or self-transformed into a vessel for the divine influx. Such an experience may be illustrated as the entrance into one's "personal" paradise while still alive. The intellectualization of Jewish traditional attitudes towards the fulfilling of the commandments allows in Gikatilla' s earlier works for an immediate experience of the divine, an interweaving of the two separate ontological realms with a presentation of the mystic as the "gardener of Eden". Gikatilla's reference to erotic imagery for the description of the encounter between human and divine within his later literary period indicates his move from the intellectual to the practical aspects of his hermeneutics. The contextualization of the mystical experience within the Jewish community, or the mystic's union with his wife as a talismanic act, illustrates the change in his writings of the hermeneutical concepts.
In Sha 'arei 'Orah, Gikatilla's application of Platonic and Neoplatonic concepts is integrated into the daily Jewish ritual; without the actual performance of the commandment according to its "outer forms" the mystical experience may never be achieved and entrance to the "inner palaces" may be denied. Initiation into such processes is closely linked with Jewish tradition, both esoteric and exoteric. The indispensable instruction of the reader into such "techniques" of either intellectual (Ginnat 'Egoz) or ritual activities (Sha 'arei 'Orah) restricts the application of Gikatilla's "integrative hermeneutics" exclusively to Jewish readers who possess knowledge of the correspondences between text/ritual and sefirotic realm.
I have tried to analyze how Gikatilla's transition from the ecstatic school of kabbalah to the theosophic-theurgic school came about with the change from Pythagorean and Aristotelian to Neoplatonic hermeneutics. In a detailed philological and phenomenological study of certain key-concepts in Gikatilla's changing hermeneutical structure, we observe how he introduced into his writings Neoplatonic concepts such as those of "imagination", "memory" and "symbol", and how he incorporated them into his theosophic-theurgical traditions on the divine sefirot. It is important to note that we still find traces of his former hermeneutical approach with its linguistic techniques, now however transported to another level, as for instance where ideas on letter combination are shifted to the level of the names or the text itself. One of the most attractive conceptualizations of his later writings is the metaphor of the text as a woven structure, which allows for an "integrative hermeneutics", the creation of a new narrative within his theosophic system.
I have also attempted in my analysis of Gikatilla's theory of hermeneutics to highlight his various concepts of hermeneutical rules usually described in Jewish texts as the levels of PaRDeS. However, this topic needs to be dealt with in detail and will be an interesting subject for further studies on Gikatilla.
In Gikatilla's intellectual system we find an inherent openness towards other philosophical and theological schools, which may explain why his writings proved to be among the most influential in medieval and Renaissance thinking. Jewish writers such as Moshe Cordovero and Joseph Angelet, and Christian thinkers such as Pico della Mirandola and Christian Knorr von Rosenroth incorporated his systematic mapping of the sefirotic world in their writings. Although Cordovero, in Pardes Rimmonim, and Rosenroth,1 in Kabbala Denudata, change the organizing principle of the material according to the alphabetical order, a substantial part of their contents is derived from Gikatilla's work, esp. Sha'arei 'Orah, sometimes even taken verbatim. The idea of the text as a "texture", or even a "living texture" with all its implications from classical writings can be a promising topic for further research on Jewish, Christian, and Muslim writings from various periods. Not only does the metaphor of the textual web originate in the Latin tradition, with the obvious correspondence between text and texere; it is to be found also in medieval, non-scholastic sources such as those of Gikatilla with their specifically Jewish character. Gikatilla's concepts of hermeneutics within this comparative framework, may serve as a foundation for the analysis of other medieval and Renaissance writings, whose authors may either have had direct access to his works via the Latin translations of Ginnat 'Egon and Sha 'arei 'Orah or via the reverberations of his thought in the writings of such as Alemanno, Pico, Reuchlin, Cordovero and Knorr von Rosenroth.
The efforts of many Christian kabbalists to translate or initiate translations of Gikatilla's writings into Latin show the attractiveness of Gikatilla's theories to Christian thinkers. However, Jewish thinkers of this period were also highly interested in Gikatilla's thought, as can be seen in the various commentaries on Sha'arei 'Orah. Pico della Mirandola was well acquainted with Gikatilla's thought as a consequence of his studies with Yohanan Alemanno. He promoted enthusiastically the translation of Sha'arei `Orah by Paulus Ricius, which was printed 1515 in Augsburg under the title of Portae Lucis.
Chaim Wirszubski has highlighted the influence of Gikatilla on Pico's Conclusiones. Due to its lexicomorphic structure and its canonization during the early modern period, Portae Lucis has to be counted among the most significant books for the development of Christian kabbalah, which in turn exercised a profound influence on the development of Western thought. Gikatilla's writings were listed among the most prominent kabbalistic works in Johannes Reuchlin's De arte cabalistica and the broader consequences of their impact on Christian and Jewish writers during and after the Renaissance still need to be explored in detail.
However, Reuchlin refers explicitly to Ginnat 'Egoz as a pivotal source for his knowledge of kabbalistic thinking, esp. of the techniques of letter combination. Given Reuchlin' s reference to writings of Gikatilla of both periods, the ecstatic and the theosophic, we should consider him as one of the main transmitters of Jewish kabbalistic ideas of early modern times. The fact that Gikatilla served as a representative of the two major trends in medieval Jewish mysticism: the ecstatic-prophetic kabbalah of his former teacher Abraham Abulafia and the theosophic-theurgic school as exemplified in Sha'arei 'Orah, gave Reuchlin valuable insights into the broader development of innovative kabbalistic ideas during the second half of the 13th century. Reuchlin's special interest in the linguistic techniques of letter combination and the "path of the names" reflects the appeal of Gikatilla's concepts for non-Jewish thinkers and their echo in various circles at the time. The power of language or even the single letter as a tool for both magical exercises and as a decisive factor for a system of correspondences between the human and the divine realm has proved to be a unique component of Gikatilla' s thought and the foundation of his construction of new narratives.
A very promising field for further research into the influence of Gikatilla's thought on both the early modern and the postmodern periods in Western thought will be the analysis of the Latin translation of his Ginnat 'Egoz as Hortus Nucis by Egidio da Viterbo, preserved in Ms Paris Regia 527. We should assume that Reuchlin owned a copy of this translation. According to Ms British Library 11416, this text, together with a Latin version of Sefer Yetzirah, was translated for him. Another Renaissance thinker, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, had in his possession at least the third part of Ginnat' Egoz, entitled Liber Secretorum Punctationis, translated, according to Ms Vat. ebr. 190, 90b-120a, by Flavius Mithridates. This manuscript also contains a Latin version of Gikatilla' s Sha'arei Tzedeq.
Johannes Buxtorf explains in his Lexicon Chaldaicum, Talmudicum et Rabbinicum (Basel 1640, p. 328) that for Reuchlin Ginnat 'Egoz was one of the most powerful books of the kabbalistic tradition. However, the incorporation of parts of Gikatilla's thought into the writings of Buxtorf still awaits a detailed analysis.
I have tried, in discussing the philosophical concepts which may have influenced Gikatilla's methods of letter combination during his ecstatic period to open up a further field of comparative research on Jewish and Christian versions of these hermeneutical techniques during the Renaissance. As a first step, the Latin versions of Ginnat 'Egoz and Sha 'arei 'Orah should be compared with their Hebrew originals, so as to analyze the derivations of the Latin translations and their specific Christian approach. Having examined the specific Jewish nuances of the linguistic techniques within Gikatilla's hermeneutical framework, we can discuss the specifically Christian conceptualizations of these methods. With the emphasis on the ritual performative aspect in Gikatilla's hermeneutic approach, we have an important point of encounter for our comparison with other, non-Jewish thought in the history of Western philosophy from the Renaissance on.
Another promising aspect for further studies could be the evaluation of Gikatilla's concepts of language with respect to modern literary theories such as those represented by Derrida, Eco, Steiner, Bloom and Iser. These writers do not only owe their "kabbalistic" heritage to the translations of Scholem and other kabbalah scholars. We should rather search for kabbalistic "infiltrations" into Western thought from the Renaissance on, which in modern days are not categorized as specifically "kabbalistic", but have been absorbed into modern theories of language. In view of Gikatilla's early incorporation into the thinking of such writers as Pico and Reuchlin, it is possible that his ideas may have had a far greater impact on modern thought than may hitherto have been assumed. One reason for his acceptance in Christian circles may have been his application of Pythagorean, Neoplatonic and Aristotelian concepts in his hermeneutical systems, although these, as I have tried to illustrate, are based on ancient Jewish sources. As a further step, we may compare his specific notion of these structures with modern approaches in the field of linguistic and literary theories, esp. with regard to the performative aspect of language. His integrative approach to hermeneutics may serve as a potential source for further studies on those parts that were incorporated in his dynamic system of analogies between language and reality, letter and ritual, the divine and the human realm, in both Jewish and non-Jewish texts from different epochs.
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