"Sefer Yetsirah and Jewish Mysiticsm Time Line
Compiled by Robert Zucker (c) All rights reserved.
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.'
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
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
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).
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
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
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.
© 2007-2011 Bob Zucker. EMOL.org All rights reserved. . No part may be copied, reproduced, republished or
digitally stored without permission from author.
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
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.
by W. Wynn Westcott (Author)
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
Sepher Yetzirah (Paperback: 48 pages)
Publisher: Kessinger Publishing (December 30, 2005)
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
by Charles F. Horne (Editor)
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Kessinger Publishing (December 30, 2005)