Locating numerous editions of "Sefer Yetzirah" Book of Formation
By R. Zucker
(Editor's Note: I am finishing a new book on the legends and history of Kabbalah and the Book of Creation that will be published soon and available on Amazon. These are some of the pages that will be included. If interested, please email [email protected] to be informed when the book is ready.)
For many years I've searched for as many of the Hebrew versions of "Sefer Yetzirah" (also as "Sefer Yesirah") that I could find, other than the popular English translations ones used by Aryeh Kaplan and other modern authors.
Like most people, I've used Kaplan (and Suarez) versions and relied on their Hebrew script. But, since there are so many variations of this manuscript, it's been difficult to compare their version with any others.
In the 1970s while working at the University of Arizona library, I came across a yellowing, brittle, Hebrew edition of "Sefer Yetzirah," printed in the late 1880s (1889 Warsaw edition or 1860 Lvov edition, with the major commentaries and two separate versions of the text). All of it was in Hebrew.
I used this text as my main reference over the decades. Since this Polish edition had been the authoritative text of its time, I preferred its Hebrew version.There are differences in words, order and correspondences between Kaplan and this edition.
This edition is published by Harav Moshe Tzuriel. The book has 496 pages and hard binding. I bought a copy last year and have used it entirely in my studies. It contains commentaries from Ramak, Ramban, R. Yitzchak Sagi Nahor and R. D'man Akko.
The book contains "Sefer Chomonei" Shabbati Donnolo's text, a Commentary on Sefer Yetzirah" by Hafari Itzach; "Ma'aseh Berashit," chapters on the 231 gates and more.
When I discovered 30 years later that I could own a brand new reprint I was ecstatic! It completed my "Sefer Yetzirah" collection. Or so I thought until I came across more Hebrew editions. All of these, and other books, are at great prices and even discounted. See a list of reprinted copies of the text and commentaries of the Book of Creation in Hebrew.
The most often used reference to better understand the concepts of the Sefer Yetzirah was published in the 12th century as the "Commentary on Sefer Yetzirah" (Perush al Sefer Yetsirah from Sodei Razia (Razyya), by Eleazar of Worms. See some Free downloads of Sefer Yetzirah
Other Hebrew editions of "Sefer Yetzirah" (Yesirah)
The following books, printed in Hebrew, are harder to find. They are reprints of the original manuscripts used during the medieval ages.
Sefer Yetzirah - (Book of Formation)
Sefer Yetzirah - Ohr Yakar (Ramak)
Sefer Yetzirah / Book of Formation - Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
Sefer Yetzirah HaShalem [new edition] - (Book of Formation)
Gan Naoul - Rabbi Avraham Abulafia
Otzar Eden Ganuz - Rabbi Avraham Abulafia
Quotes from commentaries of famous rabbis, found in works by Kaplan, Scholem and others, were previous impossible to see in the original Hebrew.
Editions of SEFER YEZIRAH
The of the three main sources of the SEFER YETZIRAH that are still used today the first two were originally written down in the 10th century. The Gra Version became popular in the 18th Century. All subsequent versions are based on either of these four and have been reproduced for centuries.
(1) the Saadia Gaon version– the most popular;
(2) the short version first used by Dunash ben Tamin;
(3) the Gra version (from 18th century Gaon of Vilna)
10th century. COMMENTARY ON THE SEFER YETZIRAH by Judah ben Barzillai of Barcelona (Bargeloni), a Catalan Talmudist. It was later published in 1885 by Z.H. Halberstam as PERUSH SEPHAR JEZIRA in Hebrew, then in 1971 and again in 2007. 365 pages. 10th century, a commentary on the long version of SEFER YETZIRAH written by Shabbathai Donnolo.
10th century a COMMENTARY ON THE SEFER YETZIRAH, by R. Eleazar of Gerimza (Worms). Fragments published in Mantua in 1562. Complete edition published at Prezemysl, 1889 and in 2004, Hebrew, in Israel.
Commentary on Sefer Yetzirah, by Azriel of Gerona
COMMENTARY ON SEFER YEZIRAH" R. Joseph ben Shalom Ashkenezi.
Commentary on Sefer Yezirah by ibn Malka. 1877 SEPHER YEZIRAH, A BOOK ON CREATION; OR THE JEWISH METAPHYSICS OF REMOTE ANTIQUITY, " with English translation. Preface, Explanatory Notes and Glossary by Rev. Dr. Isidor Kalisch.
1881 SEFER YETZIRAH [Book of Creation] & Saadia's Commentary (excerpts) [From Saadia ben Joseph (al-Fayyumi), Commentaire sur le Séfer Yesira ou Livre de la Création par Le Gaon Saadya de Fayyoum, trans. & ed., M. Lambert, Paris, Emile Bouillon, Editeur, 1891]; translated into English from the French & Hebrew by Scott Thompson and Dominique Marson, San Francisco, 1985.] Walter Benjamin Research Syndicate.
1887 SEFER YETZIRAH, THE BOOK OF FORMATION WITH THE FIFTY GATES OF INTELLIGENCE END THE THIRTY-TWO PATHS OF WISDOM,” translated from the Hebrew by W. Wynn Westcott, M.B., J.P., supreme Magus of the Rosicrucian Society of England. Samuel Weiser, 1 BB7, 1 B93, 19BO. Follows Golden Dawn.
1889 SEFER RAZYA HASHALEM (Book of Secrets) by R. Eleazar of Gerimza (Worms), extracts from Shabbathai Donnolo’s commentary, a study on creation processes through the Hebrew alphabet (SEFER ALEF-BAYT), the Gates, the names of Metatron, the soul, and the golem. Reprinted in 2004, Hebrew, in Israel.
1891 COMMENTAIRE SUR LE SEFER YEZIRAH PAR LE GAON SAADYA, Lambert, Paris. Arabic edition, French translation.
1912 THE ORIGIN OF LETTERS AND NUMBERS ACCORDING TO THE SEFER YETZIRAH, by Phineas Mordell, from the "Jewish Quarterly Review," April 1912. 1914 “The Origins of Letters and Numerals According to the Sefer Yetzirah,” by Phineas Mordell.
1923 BOOK OF FORMATION OR SEPHER YETZIRAH: ATTRIBUTED TO RABBI AKIBA BEN JOSEPH, by Arthur Edward Waite (Editor, Introduction), Knut Stenring (Translator) and R. A. Gilbert (Foreword). Stenring has made a word-for-word translation from several texts, choosing only those parts which he believed to be authentic. He reveals the text’s secrets in his diagrams, tables, and extensive notes. His "Master Key to the Theoretical and Practical Kabala" is a diagram of the correspondences between the English and Hebrew alphabets and is not found in other translations of the Sepher Yetzirah. The introduction by Waite surveys the historical background of the Sepher Yetzirah translations and the import of this foundational Kabbalistic text. Knut Stenring was a Swedish Hebrew scholar.
1930 DES BUCH JEZIRE by Johann Friedrich von Moyer, Leip.
1941 SEFER YETZIRAH, THE BOOK OF CREATION verse by verse analysis by Dr. M. Doreal, Brother of White Triangle, Inc.
1970 THE BOOK OF FORMATION (SEFER YETZIRAH), by Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph, translated from the Hebrew with Annotations by Knut Stenring, including the 32 Paths of Wisdom, their Correspondence with the Hebrew Alphabet end the Tarot Symbols, with on introduction by Arthur Edward Waite. KTAV Publishing House, Inc., NV.
1970 Book of Formation (Sefer Yetzirah: Letters of Our Father Abraham. Jewish Mysticism 1970, English, edited, 1971.
1971 A Preliminary Critical Edition of Sefer Yetzirah by Ithmar Gruenwald, Israel. Oriental Series, 1 (1971), p. 13-77. 1977 SEFER YETZIRAH: THE BOOK OF CREATION: IN THEORY AND PRACTICE, By Aryeh Kaplan. This is the most authoritative text on the study of the "Sefer Yetzirah" or Book of Formation (Book of Creation). Kaplan's explanations are easy to understand and make common sense. Hebrew with English translations in great detail and insight. A must-have manual for anyone ready to decipher this ancient manuscript. Paperback: 398 pages. Publisher: Weiser Books; Rev. Sub edition (May 1997). Language: English.
1977 BOOK OF CREATION by Irving Friedman, Samuel Weiser, NV.
1975. SEFER YETZIRAH Broy, Guilded Press. 2nd edition, 1976.
1975 SEFER YETZIRAH, THE MAGIC OF FORMATION, by Robert E. Zucker. Independent study for the University of Arizona.
1981 THE SEPHER YETSIRA, INCLUDING THE ORIGINAL ASTROLOGY ACCORDING TO QABALAH AND ITS ZODIAC by Carlo Suarez, Translated from the French by Michelinee and Vincent Stuart. Shamabala (BM525 A419 S9 13). Sefer Yetzirah (The Book of Formation) Commentary on Sefer Yetzirah by Dr. David Blumenthal from “Understanding Jewish Mysticism.” SEFER YETZIRAH Bibliography by William Benjamin. Compiled by Scott J. Thompson [The following bibliography combines original scholarship and translation. It combines the substance of the annotated bibliography in Lazarus Goldschmidt's SEPHER JESIRAH: DAS BUCH DER SCHÖPFUNG (1894), but has been chronologically arranged in the manner of Adolf Jellinek's BEITRÄGE ZUR GESCHICHTE DER KABBALAH (1852) and updated
DON KARR: NOTES OF EDITIONS OF THE SEFER YETZIRAH (pdf) http://www.digital-brilliance.com/kab/karr/syie.pdf 1991, 1994; updated 2001-2007.
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