The Christian Use of Jewish Numerology

Will C. Varner | May 13, 2010

A book called the Zohar emerged during the Middle Ages, giving rise to a Jewish form of mystical speculation known as the “Cabala” and creating strong interest in the system’s mystical teachings in both Jewish and Christian circles. During the Renaissance, Pico, Reuchlin, and Ricci led in applying the Zohar’s mystical teachings to the OT in defense of Christian doctrines such as that of the Trinity. The Cabalistic doctrine of emanations provided a solution to the tension between the doctrines of God’s transcendence and His immanence. Another exegetical method of the Cabalists was gematria, a system for discovering secret truths from the OT through various techniques of assigning numerical value to letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Christians should resist the temptation of using Cabalistic means for discovering truth from the Bible, because it deviates so widely from the grammatical-historical method of exegesis.

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