"Sefer Yetsirah and Jewish Mysiticsm Time Line

Compiled by Robert Zucker (c) All rights reserved.

"Sefer Yetzirah" Time Line Home Page

TIMELINE: 1-900AD | 1000-1500AD | 1600-1899AD | 1900-present
Time Line Home | Sefer Yetzirah Home

1AD-899 AD

1-69AD: Tannian (scribers, scholar)
"Ma'seh Merkahba" (Working of the Wheels) R. Johanan ben Zakkai
"Ma'seh Berashith" (Act of Creation) (follows R. Akiaba). Zakkai was the teacher of Rabbi Eliezer.

In 70 C.E. Oldest reference to the "Sefer Yetzirah" mentioned in the Talmud. Haggigah 12a "Ten agencies through which Gd created the world, vis, widsom, insight, cognition, strength, pwoer, inexorableness, justice, right, lore, mercy."

In 120-189, R. Judah the Prince, redactor of the "Mishnah" earliest period of the Talmud. From him, the Merkabah was given to R. Yochanam, redactor of the Jerusalem Talmud, then to his disciple R. Assi.

Through the combination of the Holy Name, the disciples of Judah the Prince used it to create a 3 year old calf on the eve of each Sabbath which they then ate.

The tradition reached R. Joseph and R. Sira (Zera), both of who knew the mysteries of the Merkabah.

It was then in the hands of the Talmudic sages and in use until the middle of the 5th century.
Reference to the "Sefer Yetzirah" mentioned in Sanhedrin 65b, 66b and 67.b in combination of Holy name, disciples of Judah the Prince, used to create a 3-yr old calf on eve of every Sabbath and ate it.' (Abelson)

In 120, R. Akiba ben Joseph, the pupil of R. Joshua ben Chananja, often mentioned as author of the "Sefer Yetsirah." He lived in time of Emporer Hadrian and lost his life in support of claims of Barchocheba, a false Messiah.

Others suggest that the book "Sefer Yetzirah" was written about 200AD. It is often mentioned as being written during period of 1st or beginning of 2nd c AD. (Graetz,104-110), in early centuries of the Christian Church, especially when ideas and views of Gnostics were in vogue. He later revokes opinion.

The written version has affinities with Babylonian, Egyptian and Hellenistic mysticism during the 2nd century BCE, when such a combination of influences was present. It became one of the most frequently and earliest published works of Jewish lore. was the first sytematic treastie of Jewish mysticism between the 3rd & 6th century. It's influences were late Hellenistic and possibly Neoplatonic mathematical mysticism combined with Rabbinic Merkabah theories.

The Book is said to be Abraham's meditations on the laws of creation immediately before his first revelation from Gd (Gen 12.1-3). It portray the origin of the universe in the combinations, reversals, and augmentations of the letters and symbols which underline all human speech.

About the same time the "Sefer Yetzirah: appeared, Talmudic stories about Rav Sira, Hanina and Oshaya's creations also circulated.

In 300-600 (3rd-5th century AD during the Geonic period, and the "Sefer Yetzirah"), "Sefer Yetzirah, in the Geonic period from 300-900 AD" may have also been written down. Sadaya (10thc) and Halevi (12thc) both said the treastie was "ancient." This was during the time of the Mishna or beginning of period of Talmud (Ginzberg, Epstein, Graetz).

6th Century

Earliest reference to the "Sefer Yetzirah" appears in the "Baraita di-Shemu'el" and in poems by Eleazar ha-Kalir. (Scholem, Kabblah," p.28)

Geonic Period was in 750 through 931when R. Akiba lived- during the post-Tamudic times

9th Century

Two versions of "Sefer Yetzirah" during this time. The original version was mixed with an early commentary referred to as ""Sefer Yetzirah" II." All commentaries written since the beginning of the 10th century are based on this commenary and not the original says several authors. At the turn of the ninth century, Baghdad Jews were in contact with Arabic philosophy, influenced by Greek rationalism.

882 (892)-942 Se'adia Ga'on of Fajum . He wrote "Letters of Our Father Abraham" his "Commentary on the "Sefer Yezirah." 1990 (died in 1983) published. The most indepth English study of each verse with Hebrew and English translations. Lists of editions, versions and commentaries. Reproduction of Gates and other.

Next: 1000-1500AD

© 2007-2011 Bob Zucker. EMOL.org All rights reserved. . No part may be copied, reproduced, republished or
digitally stored without permission from author.

Robert Zucker's "Spirit of Kabbalah (Qabalah)" copyright 1976Kabbalah Index

My Top Choice Sefer Yetzirah Books

These are the most popular, and available, books on Sefer Yetzirah. Although other editions have been printed by other authors, it is getting harder to find them.

The authoritative text on the study of the "Sefer Yetzirah" or Book of Formantion (Book of Creation). Kaplan's explanations are easy to understand and make sense. A must have manual for anyone ready to decifer this ancient manuscript.
• Paperback: 398 pages
• Publisher: Weiser Books; Rev Sub edition (May 1997)
• Language: English

Book of Formation or Sepher Yetzirah: Attributed to Rabbi Akiba Ben Joseph

by R. A. Gilbert (Foreword),
Arthur Edward Waite (Editor, Introduction),
sKnut Stenring (Translator)

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. Also unique in this translation is Stenring’s assignment of certain tarot cards to the paths on the Tree of Life. Several authors have done this before, but Stenring asserts that he arrived at his correspondences on his own. The introduction by Waite surveys the historical background of the Sepher Yetzirah translations and the import of this foundational Kabbalistic text.

About the Author
R. A. Gilbert's foreword provides background information on Waite's interest and involvement with Stenring's translation.
Knut Stenring was a Swedish Hebrew scholar. He published this work in 1923.

A selection from INTRODUCTION: The "Sepher Yetzirah," or "Book of Formation," is perhaps the oldest Rabbinical treatise of Kabalistic philosophy which is still extant. The great interest which has been evinced of 1ate years in the Hebrew Kabalah, and the modes of thought and doctrine allied to it, has induced me to translate this tractate from the original Hebrew texts, and to collate with them the Latin versions of mediaeval authorities; and I have also published An Introduction to the Kabalah which may be found useful to students. Three important books of the "Zohar," or "Book of Splendour," which is a great storehouse of Kabalistic teaching, have been translated into English by S. L. MacGregor Mathers, and the "Sepher Yetzirah" in an English translation is almost a necessary companion to these abstruse disquisitions: the two books indeed mutually explain each other.

Sepher Yetzirah (Paperback: 48 pages)
Publisher: Kessinger Publishing (December 30, 2005)
Language: English

Sepher Yetzirah (Kindle) (Format: Kindle Edition)
File Size: 226 KB
Print Length: 112 pages
Publisher: Oak Grove (March 20, 2008)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services

The Sepher Yetzirah
or Book of Creation

by Charles F. Horne (Editor)

Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Kessinger Publishing (December 30, 2005)
Language: English

More Sefer Yetsirah books