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Universitt Potsdam

Karl Erich Grzinger

The names of God and the celestial


powers: their function and meaning in the
Hekhalot literature

rst published in:


Jerusalem studies in Jewish thought. - 6 (1987), 1-2, pp. 53 - 69
ISSN 0333-7081
Postprint published at the Institutional Repository of the
Potsdam University:
In: Postprints der Universitt Potsdam : Philosophische Reihe ; 21
http://opus.kobv.de/ubp/volltexte/2008/1869/
http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:kobv:517-opus-18695

Postprints der Universitt Potsdam


Philosophische Reihe ; 21
ISSN 1866-8380

Karl Erich

Grozinger

T H E NAMES OF GOD AND T H E C E L E S T I A L


POWERS: THEIR FUNCTION A N D MEANING
IN T H E H E K H A L O T L I T E R A T U R E
" N a m e s a n d adjurations are the t w o m a i n theurgic m e a n s f o u n d in the
H e k h a l o t literature applied in c o n n e c t i o n with the descent t o the Merkh a v a h a n d the i n v o c a t i o n of angels to c o m e d o w n t o earth a n d to reveal
secrets," says Ithamar G r u e n w a l d in his b o o k o n the M e r k a v a h literature. H e c o n t i n u e s and m a i n t a i n s , with G e r s h o m S c h o l e m , that "that
particular e l e m e n t in the H e k h a l o t Literature actually b e l o n g e d t o its
very heart a n d this a l m o s t f r o m its b e g i n n i n g . "

It is very seductive for the student of this literature to g o straight t o the


heart of these texts; but the danger of this a p p r o a c h is as great as the
danger of yeridat

merkavah

itself. I n d e e d , I feel as if I a m passing the

gates o f the H e k h a l o t , the watchers of the gates standing o n b o t h sides


prepared to t h r o w their iron axes at m y h e a d . I c a n o n l y h o p e that I m a y
present the p r o p e r n a m e s !
There is, first o f all, the m a i n gate g u a r d e d by t h o s e w h o d e m a n d that
we refrain f r o m a n overall v i e w of this text c o r p u s a n d , instead, take
apart its quite h e t e r o g e n e o u s strands o f tradition a n d separate the
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individual pieces o f tradition f r o m each o t h e r . T h e result is a c o l l e c t i o n


of partial a s p e c t s a n d c o n c e p t i o n s o f different g r o u p s o f mystics n o t ,
h o w e v e r , a u n i f o r m Weltanschauung

o f the H e k h a l o t mystics. I a p p r o v e

o f this c o n c e p t i o n w i t h o u t reservation, for the a c h i e v e d results speak for


themselves.
W h e n I nevertheless c h o o s e a different a p p r o a c h , it is because this
collection w h i c h we call the H e k h a l o t - t e x t s has c o m m o n traits which
c a n be better grasped by w a y of a n overall investigation. This a p p r o a c h
helps t o discern the c o m m o n t o p i c s a n d peculiarities o f the texts a n d t o
formulate the o b s e r v a t i o n s as a preliminary h y p o t h e s i s which m a y a l s o
be helpful for the analysis o f the c o m p e t i n g particular traditions. It is in
this sense that m y a r g u m e n t s s h o u l d be u n d e r s t o o d , a n d the f o l l o w i n g

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KARL ERICH G R O Z I N G E R

hypothesis considered: The majority of the Hekhalot-texts share a


specific and distinct onomatological system. This very distinct onomatology belongs originally only to a part of the transmitted traditions,
and appears to be superimposed on the others as a layer of
interpretation.
What I have said so far includes a first indication towards defining my
issue: I am not asking here what person or angel bears this or that name
in the particular pieces of tradition in order to separate them accordingly. The aim of my investigation is not concerned about the celestial
persons and the names attributed to them. I rather want to ask a far more
basic question: What is a name in the context of the Hekhalot-texts; what
is meant when the texts speak of the shemot, and what connotations are
linked with this word? It is obvious to everyone familiar with these texts
that this question is not a futile one, since a ' n a m e ' in the context of our
texts has a totally different connotation from what we mean by a ' n a m e '
in the modern social and legal sense.
It is necessary that as a first answer to the question posed I establish an
apparently banal fact which does not seem so obvious and superfluous to me namely that a name in the context of Hekhalot literature is
a longer or shorter succession of letters which d o not have to convey a
meaning in the sense of a conventional language. Let us refer for
instance to the names of G o d mentioned in the texts, composed of 42
letters , of 1 4 , 2 2 , 6, 7 or 3 letters, and to the many other uninterpretable nomina barbara or the long permutations of different letters, mostly
those of the Tetragrammaton. At times it also seems that instead of
' n a m e ' the texts read ot or otiot ('letter' or 'letters'). For instance in
phrases like weyazqir 'otiyot she~lo yitnazzeq* " H e should say letters
so that he will not be h a r m e d " we find in a comparable text both
' n a m e ' and 'letter' next to each other, as a kind of variant reading.
According to several text passages it can be concluded without d o u b t
that a single letter can be considered as the minimum of letters which can
pass for a name. The letters are the basic element in this thinking, the
names being 'only' components of them. This is the impression one gets
by sentences like these:
3

10

3 Enoch 13 (Odeberg p. 3 4 / 1 8 ; Schafer 897).

He wrote with his finger with a flaming style upon the crown of my
head the letters by which were created heaven and earth, the letters
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THE NAMES OF G O D

by which were created mountains and hills, the letters by which


were created planets and constellations, the lightnings etc...
Since the basic characteristics of such a name are conveyed in the series
of letters, it seems that the addition or omission of one letter is relevant
and meaningful even when a change of meaning in terms of conventional language is not perceptible. From that we realize that it is useful
and reasonable to define a celestial name simply by the number of its
letters, as in the previous mentioned examples.
The names thus depicted seem to have the further peculiarity of being
subject to permutability and changeability by means of gematria and
temurotP
This ontological capability of alteration grants them a
dynamic element, which is all the more important when one considers
the different powers of each distinct name, that is, that the permuting
change of the succession of letters causes at the same time a change of the
forces and powers which are dormant in the names. I shall specify this
further o n .
It is well known that in the so called 3 Enoch in particular, and
elsewhere as well, we often find 'etymologies' of the angel's n a m e s .
Those etymologies, however, are interpreted in one preconceived direction only; thus it becomes clear that the form of the etymology is used
only to show another, more fundamental, idea. The question raised
stereotypically in the texts reads as follows: Why is he called this and
that? The answer then denotes a function of the angel or, to be more
accurate, a mandate, an angel's domain of power and supremacy: e.g.,
Baraqi'el is placed over Baraq, Baradi'el over Barad, Layli'el over
Layla, etc. It has been often noted in the literature that the suitable
etymologies were not always given, which supports what has been said
so far, namely that the etymology is not the aim here, but only the
means.
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12

14

15

The more the etymology is unsuitable and the interpretation is forced,


the more the true interest of these mystic exegetes becomes visible; they
want to point out that the name of a celestial power gives evidence of its
nature and mandate, a conception that was also known to Irenaeus of
Lyons. In attacking certain heretics who see in the different names
Sabaoth, Eloe, Elloeuth, Adonai and Jaoth the names of different
powers and gods, he maintains that all these names are different names
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KARL ERICH G R O Z I N G E R

o f the o n e a n d o n l y G o d w h i c h express H i s different aspects a n d


actions.

16

T h e late c o m m e n t a r y t o the list o f the 7 0 n a m e s o f M e t a t r o n

quoted by Joseph D a n

1 7

is a b s o l u t e l y right w h e n it says that every n a m e

- d e n o m i n a t e s " t h e task that M e t a t r o n performs w h e n he a s s u m e s this


n a m e . " T h i s c o n c e p t i o n o f the n a m e s o f the a n g e l s c a n g o s o far a s t o
m e a n that the thus called angelic figure is n o t h i n g else than the f u n c t i o n
expressed in its n a m e , a h y p o s t a s i s o f this f u n c t i o n . T h i s p h e n o m e n o n
a l s o pertains t o the celestial singers, a s I h a v e s h o w n e l s e w h e r e .

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The

n a m e itself e m a n a t e s the p o w e r a n d the dread the celestial o n e s , w h e n


they hear it, are smitten with horror a n d f e a r ,

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before H i m they tremble:

Shi'ur Qomah, Cohen, p. 256 (Schafer 972)

Because o f Y o u r N a m e the batallions o f fire quiver...


Because o f Y o u r N a m e the sea flees b a c k w a r d s . . .
A n d all t h e m w h o d w e l l o n high... a n d every [celestial] residence,
quiver a n d q u a k e b e c a u s e o f Y o u r N a m e .
T h e statement that the n a m e is n o t h i n g else but a functional c o n c e n tration o f p o w e r a p p l i e s a l s o t o the s o - c a l l e d nomina

barbara

or the

n a m e s c o m p o s e d o f o n e letter o n l y , for instance w h e n texts a p o s t r o p h i z e


certain n a m e s o r letters a s the p o t e n c y o f creation. These are "the letters
b y m e a n s o f w h i c h h e a v e n a n d earth have been c r e a t e d " ;

20

a n d in a n

apparently g n o s t i c n o t i o n , " F o r before all, Y o u r N a m e w a s e s t a b lished... the ' o f a n i m declare Y o u r N a m e p u r e , for Y o u r N a m e m a d e all
created b e i n g s . "

21

Faith in the specific f u n c t i o n o f p o w e r o f e a c h n a m e is

likewise expressed in the n e e d t o s h o w t h e respective proper n a m e s for


the p u r p o s e o f t h e d e s c e n t t o the M e r k a v a ,

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for t h e i n d u c t i o n o f the

vision of the M e r k a v a , a n d insight i n t o the T o r a h .


n a m e s are ascribed special qualities for p r o t e c t i o n
ful o p e r a t i o n s

25

24

23

Similarly, certain

a n d diverse s u c c e s s -

a n d , eventually, force the respective celestial h o l d e r s o f

authority t o fulfill diverse t a s k s .

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In a d d i t i o n t o the increasing a c c u m u l a t i o n o f n a m e s which are b e s t o w e d o n the traditional a n g e l s , there is a l s o a t e n d e n c y in the texts t o


give every single being o f the celestial w o r l d a n a m e . T h i s is particularly
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c o n s p i c u o u s in the Shi'ur Qomah ,

where n a m e s are given e v e n t o t h e

individual parts a n d m e m b e r s o f the corpus


other parts o f the M e r k a v a

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and treasure-vault o f n a m e s .

divinum

a s well as t o the

w h i c h s e e m s t o b e , in a d d i t i o n , a source
2 9

After all, the h e a v e n s themselves a n d the

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spirits of the stars have their n a m e s ;

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t h u s arises the impression of a

c o m p r e h e n s i v e o n o m a t o l o g i c a l c o n c e p t i o n which seeks to embrace all


celestial b e i n g s .
This o n o m a t o l o g i c a l c o n c e p t i o n , which evidently constitutes a totally
a u t o n o m o u s v i e w o f the celestial world, s e e m s in a large part of our texts
to have b e e n s u p e r i m p o s e d o n a n older traditional a n g e l o l o g y , leading
to the a m b i v a l e n c e of the p e r s o n a l and o n o m a t o l o g i c a l w a y s o f thinking
in our texts. T h i s process of s u p e r i m p o s i t i o n c a n be observed particularly well in the f o l l o w i n g small M e t a t r o n - p i e c e in the Re'uyot

Yehezqel:

Temirin 1, p. 128
T h e Prince dwells n o w h e r e but in Zebul...
A n d w h a t is his n a m e ? K i m o s is his n a m e .
R. Isaac said, M e ' a t a h is his n a m e .
R. Inyanei bar Sisson said, Bizbul is his n a m e .
R. T a n h u m the elder said, 'Atatyah is his n a m e .
Elazar N a d w a d y a s a i d , M i t a t r o n , like the n a m e of the P o w e r .
T h o s e w h o m a k e use o f the N a m e s a y , K a s Bas Bas K e b a s is his
n a m e , like the n a m e o f the Creator of the w o r l d .

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The distinction a n d a u t o n o m y of the o n o m a t o l o g i c a l c o n c e p t i o n


b e c o m e particularly apparent where the n a m e s t h e m s e l v e s appear in the
texts as living, p o w e r f u l , magnificent a n d venerable b e i n g s , w h o are
granted v e n e r a t i o n a n d praise like a personal g o d , particularly t h r o u g h
the well k n o w n formula: Barukh

shem kevod

malkhuto.

Elsewhere I called those texts ' B a r u k h - S h e m - n a m e - l i t u r g i e s . '

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They

describe h o w the n a m e s of G o d flash from the throne o f glory, h o w they


are b e s t o w e d with praise a n d singing by the c r o w d o f singers present,
and h o w they, like the " s o n s of the k i n g s , " are escorted through the
h e a v e n s with a n escort of h o n o r :
Sefer Enoch, BHM II, S. 114, Schafer 71

T h e s e are the n a m e o f the H o l y O n e , blessed be H e , which g o o u t


with several c r o w n s o f fire... from before the throne of glory, and
with t h e m are a t h o u s a n d c a m p s of the S h e k h i n a , a n d myriads
over myriads of h o s t s of G e v u r a , w h o escort t h e m like a king... and
their light is like flash lights, like the appearance o f the H a s h m a l ;
a n d they venerate t h e m a n d call before them: H o l y , h o l y , h o l y [is
the L o r d of H o s t s ] (Isaiah 6:3)... T h e y roll t h e m through all

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KARL ERICH G R O Z I N G E R

h e a v e n s a n d h e a v e n s o f the height, like n o b l e a n d h o n o r a b l e s o n s


of kings.
A n d w h e n they lead t h e m back to the place of the throne o f glory,
all the H a y y o t o f the M e r k a v a h o p e n their m o u t h s with the praise
of the magnificence o f the n a m e o f the H o l y O n e , blessed be H e ,
a n d they call: Barukh

shem kevod

malkhuto

le-olam

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wa-ed.

C o n s i d e r i n g s u c h d e s c r i p t i o n s , o n e h a s t o realize that a n a m e within


the s c o p e o f H e k h a l o t - t e x t s is n o t a simple a p p e l a t i o n , nor a c o n v e n t i o n
for the p u r p o s e of n a m i n g a n d recognizing p e r s o n s , but that a n a m e
itself is a venerable bearer of p o w e r , indeed, it is a hypostasis o f inherent
p o w e r a n d f u n c t i o n . C o n s i d e r again the a b o v e - m e n t i o n e d q u o t e (n. 21).
F r o m the aforesaid it b e c o m e s clear w h y e v e n the slightest c h a n g e o f a
n a m e , or a n e n u m e r a t i o n o f t o o m a n y or t o o few n a m e s ,

3 4

c a n have

d a n g e r o u s c o n s e q u e n c e s , since through the c h a n g e of the series of letters


a new name comes into being

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a n d a n e w center of p o w e r is activated,

which eventually can b e c o m e d a n g e r o u s to the o n e w h o handles the


name.

3 6

F o r the o n o m a t o l o g i c a l l y thinking mystic, the n a m e s are cru-

cial, not the angel figures, the latter still b e l o n g i n g to the realm o f
thinking in p e r s o n a l c a t e g o r i e s . T h a t is w h y a central task o f the mystic
o n his h e a v e n l y j o u r n e y is t o learn the n a m e s up there a n d to teach t h e m
to the a d e p t s d o w n o n earth.
Typical o f this attitude is the f o l l o w i n g p a s s a g e o f the Schafer C o l l e c tion 337:
This is the n a m e w h i c h was revealed t o Rabbi A q i v a w h e n he
v i s i o n e d the M e r k a v a . A n d Rabbi A q i v a c a m e d o w n and taught it
to his disciples a n d s p o k e to them:
M y s o n s , be careful with this n a m e , it is a great n a m e , a n d e v e r y o n e
w h o uses it in fear a n d a w e , in purity, h o l i n e s s a n d humility, will
have plentiful offspring, success in all his p a t h s , a n d l o n g life.
Blessed art T h o u , O L o r d , w h o has sanctified us with H i s c o m m a n d m e n t s a n d c o m m a n d e d us t o sanctify His n a m e !

This task o f over h e a r i n g , a n d teaching w h a t o n e has heard o n the


heavenly j o u r n e y , a l s o pertains in a l m o s t the s a m e w o r d s t o the h e a v e n l y
hymns.

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T h e y , t o o , are bearers of celestial p o w e r a n d provide i n d i s p e n -

sable p r o t e c t i o n for the traveller t h r o u g h the h e a v e n s during his ascent

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THE NAMES OF G O D

a n d descent. T h a t the h y m n s possess this p o w e r partly due t o the


celestial n a m e s i n c o r p o r a t e d in t h e m can be surely c o n c l u d e d f r o m the
w o r d s o f R a b b i Yishmael:
Schafer 586
Every d a y I have p r a y e d e a c h o f the five prayers with their n a m e s ,
during the descent a n d the ascent, a n d all m y limbs b e c a m e
disburdened.
T h i s parallelism of n a m e a n d c h a n t i n g is certainly not accidental, and
it s e e m s that the structure o f litany of s o m a n y series of n a m e s takes this
nexus i n t o c o n s i d e r a t i o n . P r e s u m a b l y these name-litanies or even single
n a m e s h a d t o be c h a n t e d ,

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n o t least a s a kind o f a u t o s u g g e s t i v e t e c h -

nique, s o that the n a m e u n f o l d s its p o w e r through the l i t a n y .

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A c o n f i r m a t i o n of this p r e s u m p t i o n m a y be seen in the fact that the


n a m e o f G o d , like the celestial c h a n t i n g , m u s t be recited with all o n e ' s
might a n d with o n e v o i c e , una voce.

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O n e m a y refer here to the Latin

technical term for a n adjuration, incantatio,

expressing a similar idea.

The n a m e a s a celestial b e i n g , as a h y p o s t a s i s o f p o w e r and as an


instrument for theurgy a n d p r o t e c t i o n is, as has b e e n indicated a b o v e , at
the s a m e time the highest step a n d the main substance o f revelation,
because of its d e e p significance for the mystic. With these mystics, the
revelation o f n a m e s , or the T o r a h as the revelation o f n a m e s , actually
replaced the revelation o f the written a n d the oral T o r a h . This fact is
expressed m o s t clearly b y the w e l l - k n o w n Torah-tradition chain of the
M i s h n a h , w h i c h acquires the f o l l o w i n g f o r m here.
Schafer 397
T h i s is H i s e m i n e n t n a m e , which w a s given to M o s e s at Sinai from
the lips o f the faithful and h u m b l e G o d .
A n d f r o m the lips of M o s e s it w a s given to J o s h u a a n d from
J o s h u a t o the Elders a n d from the Elders to the P r o p h e t s , a n d
f r o m the P r o p h e t s t o the m e n of the G r e a t A s s e m b l y a n d from
t h e m t o Ezra, a n d f r o m Ezra t o Hillel and f r o m Hillel o n w a r d H e
w a s h i d d e n until R. A b b a h u c a m e .

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A c c o r d i n g l y , for these mystics the election o f Israel from all n a t i o n s is


n o t based u p o n the p o s s e s s i o n o f the Written or the Oral T o r a h , but o n
the revelation of the N a m e of G o d a n d , a c c o r d i n g l y , o n the privilege t o

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KARL ERICH G R O Z I N G E R

be permitted t o utter this N a m e . C o n s i d e r for instance this blessing in


our texts:
Schafer 384
Blessed art T h o u O L o r d , our G o d , K i n g o f the w o r l d , w h o h a s
sanctified us with H i s c o m m a n d m e n t s a n d has c h o s e n us from all
n a t i o n s a n d has revealed H i s secrets t o us and has taught u s , t o
k n o w His e m i n e n t a n d aweful N a m e .

4 2

U n t i l n o w it has b e e n the T o r a h which w a s regarded as the totality and


all e m b r a c i n g source of w i s d o m ; n o w it is the n a m e s .
W h o e v e r k n o w s a n d utters t h e m is i m m e d i a t e l y granted the highest
w i s d o m ; h i s heart will be e n l i g h t e n e d , a n d he sees the M e r k a v a .

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M a n is

granted revelation w h e n he c h a n t s G o d ' s N a m e s , as is explicitly stated in


the f o l l o w i n g passage:
Schafer 676
While praising Y o u r N a m e the secrets o f w i s d o m will be revealed,
a n d w h i l e c h a n t i n g the praises o f Y o u r N a m i n g , the secrets o f
secrets a n d the g a t e s o f insight will be o p e n e d .

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It is, therefore, h a r d l y p o e t i c diction o n l y , w h e n the praise o f G o d ' s


N a m e is m e n t i o n e d s o often in our texts. M o r e o v e r , the still c o m m o n
Barukh Ha-Shem

s e e m s s u d d e n l y t o acquire a m o s t concrete sense in this

light.
O n the w h o l e , it s e e m s that the highest k n o w l e d g e o f m a n in this world
is n o t the k n o w l e d g e o f G o d , but the k n o w l e d g e of the celestial n a m e s ,
particularly those of Met a t r o n and G o d . T h e first m a n to w h o m this
highest k n o w l e d g e o f G o d ' s or Metatron's n a m e was granted is, besides
the transformed E n o c h - M e t a t r o n himself, M o s e s , the p r o t o t y p e o f all
Merkava-mystics.

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O n his j o u r n e y t h r o u g h the h e a v e n s he w a s permit-

ted t o hear things w h i c h n o t even the H a y y o t h a - q o d e s h were a l l o w e d t o


hear. H e was pe rmitted t o hear h o w M e t a t r o n exclaimed the secret
N a m e of G o d in the presence of G o d , a n a m e which as it seems
revealed the i n n e r m o s t nature o f d e i t y .

46

T h e possibility of attaining the k n o w l e d g e o f G o d by k n o w i n g H i s


N a m e s e e m s for the H e k h a l o t mystic to be f o u n d e d o n a real resemb l a n c e , if n o t o n a n identity, of G o d a n d H i s N a m e . H o w else s h o u l d o n e

[60]

THE NAMES OF G O D

understand a litany like the f o l l o w i n g , in which the N a m e of G o d is


awarded the s a m e attributes as the divinity itself:
Schafer 392
Y o u are p r e c i o u s a n d Y o u r N a m e is precious
Y o u are powerful a n d Y o u r N a m e is powerful
Y o u r are f l a m i n g a n d Y o u r N a m e is flaming
Y o u are s w e e t a n d y o u r N a m e is sweet...
Y o u are bearing a n d Y o u r N a m e is b e a r i n g . . .

46

It is p o s s i b l e , p e r h a p s , t o g o o n e step further and t o determine for G o d


the s a m e fact I h a v e stated already for the celestial n a m e s in general,
n a m e l y that t h e y are actually n o t h i n g else t h a n a h y p o s t a s i s of the p o w e r
they represent. T h a t w o u l d m e a n that the G o d o f these mystics is strictly
speaking n o t h i n g else t h a n the h y p o s t a s i s o f H i s o w n N a m e . H e a n d H i s
N a m e are o n e .

4 7

I n d e e d , in o n e c a s e , this e q u a t i o n is expressed quite in

detail:
M a ' a s e M e r k a v a , S c h o l e m 28; Schafer 588
H e is H i s N a m e

a n d H i s N a m e is H e

H e is in H i m s e l f

a n d H i s N a m e is in H i s N a m e

c h a n t i n g is H i s N a m e

a n d H i s N a m e is c h a n t i n g .

48

Here, the e q u a t i o n o f n a m e a n d c h a n t i n g c a n p e r h a p s be u n d e r s t o o d
in the f o l l o w i n g sense: G o d manifests H i m s e l f as a s o u n d i n g or c h a n t e d
n a m e ; or e v e n m o r e , H e H i m s e l f is a s o u n d i n g n a m e ; a c h a n t e d s u c c e s sion of letters o f letters,

o n e s h o u l d bear this in m i n d b y m e a n s o f

w h i c h h e a v e n a n d earth c o u l d be created!
If m y o b s e r v a t i o n s s o far are correct, w e have the right to say that in
the H e k h a l o t texts we face the forerunners o f the later mysticism of
language o f the k a b b a l a , t o w h i c h G e r s h o m S c h o l e m dedicated his great
essay " D e r N a m e G o t t e s u n d die Sprachtheorie der K a b b a l a . "

49

In c o n c l u s i o n , I w o u l d like t o refer t o a p o i n t w h i c h m a y be interpreted in the light o f m y a r g u m e n t s . T h e fragm ents a n d splinters o f


tradition o f the Hekhalot-literature tell a b o u t celestial p o w e r s w h o s e
authority falls o n l y a little b e h i n d the a u t h o r i t y o f the supreme G o d h e a d , a n d w h o are e v e n ascribed a share in the w o r k o f c r e a t i o n , as in the
case of A n a f i ' e l .

50

Primary a m o n g t h e m is E n o c h - M e t a t r o n

who,

according to several texts, h a s b e e n e n d o w e d with extraordinary fullness


[61]

KARL ERICH G R O Z I N G E R

of power. The depicted onomatological

theology could

evidently

express this fullness of p o w e r a d e q u a t e l y o n l y by stating that the highest


deity gives s o m e o f its o w n n a m e s a w a y because the participation in
G o d ' s N a m e is participation in G o d ' s p o w e r , a n d thus in the deity itself.
Therefore the fullness o f p o w e r o f M e t a t r o n expresses itself a b o v e all in
the fact that he o b t a i n s s e v e n t y n a m e s f r o m the seventy n a m e s of G o d ,

5 1

or in a s o m e w h a t different diction that the N a m e of G o d is


d o r m a n t in h i m , or that his n a m e is like the N a m e o f his L o r d .

52

It s h o u l d

n o t then surprise us that this finds its m o s t concrete and logical e x p r e s s i o n in the n a m e Adonay

Ha-QatanP

The onomatologically thinking

mystic w o u l d hardly find this n a m e offensive, as in his l a n g u a g e it


expresses w h a t is described in a n g e l o l o g i c parlance as the e n t h r o n e m e n t
of Metatron.

54

E v e n the n a m e o f Anafi'el, w h i c h is quite unsuitable as apt e t y m o l o g y


a n d e q u a t i o n with the n a m e o f G o d , h a d t o s u b m i t to this w a y o f
thinking in a very forcible interpretation, as d e m o n s t r a t e d by J o s e p h
Dan.

5 5

Finally, let us recall that t h o s e angels w h o s e n a m e s bear e l e m e n t s

o f Y H W H , are in o n e case characterized as m o r e powerful a n d superior


to o t h e r a n g e l s w h i c h lack this e l e m e n t .

56

In view o f this, I suggest that

we a l s o have t o consider the c o m p o s i t i o n o f n a m e s with the e l e m e n t E L ,


w h i c h thus a p p e a r s n o t o n l y as a n i m i t a t i o n o f traditional angel's n a m e s ,
but a l s o as a n o n o m a t o l o g i c a l p r o g r a m .
Let m e n o w recapitulate briefly the results o f m y study:
1.

In the H e k h a l o t - t e x t s there is a distinct layer of w h a t m a y be

called a n o n o m a t o l o g i c a l tradition.
2.

T h i s o n o m a t o l o g i c a l tradition represents an a u t o n o m o u s t h e o -

logical s y s t e m , w h i c h is c o n s i d e r a b l y different from the traditional


a n g e l o l o g y a n d t h e o l o g y , the latter still thinking in personal categories.
3.

In the majority o f our texts the n e w Weltanschauung

and theology

is n o t expressed in i n d e p e n d e n t treatises, b u t frequently as a layer of


interpretation s u p e r i m p o s e d o n the older theological and a n g e l o l o g i c a l
texts h e n c e the often very c o n t r a d i c t o r y i m a g e presented by the texts.
4 . _ W i t h this n e w o n o m a t o l o g i c a l

t h e o l o g y , the

Hekhalot-texts

b e c o m e the still u n s y s t e m a t i c forerunners o f the later kabbalistic t h e o r y


o f l a n g u a g e , in s o far a s t h e o l o g y a n d a n g e l o l o g y are b e c o m i n g o n o m a t o l o g y , as the n a m e is d i v i n e , p o w e r f u l , d y n a m i c , a m e a n s o f revelation
a n d , at the s a m e t i m e , its c o n t e n t ; finally it is ready for use by the mystic.

[621

THE NAMES OF G O P

If, considering these findings, the repeatedly discussed q u e s t i o n o f the


o r t h o d o x y o f these t e x t s

57

is p o s e d , we c a n state that at least here the

faith in a p e r s o n a l deity is c o n s i d e r a b l y s h a k e n , especially where the


participation in G o d ' s N a m e m e a n s a participation in G o d ' s p o w e r a n d
perhaps e v e n in H i s essence.
1.

2.

I. Gruenwald, Apocalyptic and Merkavah Mysticism, (Leiden/Kdln, 1980),


p. 105f; cf. G. Scholem, Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism and Talmudic Tradition, (New York, 1960), p. 75.
Cf. J. Dan, "Anafi'el Metatron we-Yoser Bereshit," Tarbiz 52(1982/3):
447-457; idem, "The Seventy Names of Metatron," Proceedings 8th World
Congress of Jewish Studies. (1982), Div. C, p. 19-23; A. Goldberg, "Einige
Bemerkungen zu den Quellen und den redaktionellen Einheiten der
Grofien Hekhalot," FJB (1973): 1-49; P. Schafer, "Die Beschworung des
Sar Ha-Panim," FJB 6 (1978): 107-145; idem, "Prolegomena zu einer
kritischen Edition und Analyse der Merkava Rabba," FJB 5 (1977): 65-98;
but idem, "Engel und Menschen in der Hekhalot-Literatur," Kairos 3-4
(1980): 201-225.

If not otherwise stated, all quotations are from P. Schafer et al., Synopse zur
Hekhalot-Literatur
(Tubingen, 1981); 516: "This is the venerable and
awful name: 'BG YT' etc. ... these are the handed down 42 letters of the
Shem ha-meforash." Cf. 571.565; L. Blau, Das altjiidische Zauberwesen
(Budapest, 1898), p. 143:7 letters, 8 , 9 , 1 2 , 1 4 , 1 8 , 2 0 , 2 4 , 2 5 , 2 7 , 3 7 , 4 9 , 1 0 0
letters; and p. 144f, where he cites the 8th Book of Moses (F. Dieterich,
Abraxas, p. 200): "I invoke thee iyeyo etc. (75 vowels) the Great Name"; see
also below, n. 48; and M. Gaster, The Sword of Moses (London, 1896), p. 10:
"When comparing the ancient tradition with the new texts of Hebrew
literature, there can no longer be any doubt that the Name of forty-two, or
more or less, elements could not have been originally anything else but
words consisting of that number of letters..."; Blau, op. cit. p. 145.
4. 513.
5.
499,960.
6. 960,564,565; for five letters, cf. Gruenwald (above, n. 1), p. 176; 37,28,16
and 15 times the two letters YH, 491.
7. 49 Iff.
8. 561.
9. 564, 565; cf. 568, 841.
10. 364, 389, 637, 473, 421; cf. L. Blau (above, n. 3), p. 119, regarding the
prohibition to erase single letters of the Name, and cf. p. 104.
11. 637.
3.

[63]

KARL ERICH G R O Z I N G E R

12. Here, one should mention again the theories of letters and numbers of
Marcus the Gnostic (Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses I, 14, 2), which Moses
Gaster noted in 1892 as a gnostic parallel for Shi'ur Quomah in which the 12
limbs of the "soma tes Aletheias" are inscribed with the 24 letters of the
Greek alphabet in the manner known as the AT-BaSH from the Hebrew
sources; cf. M. Gaster, Das Schiur Komah, MGWJ(1892), now in Studies
and Texts, (New York, 1971) pp. 1330-1353; cf. G. Scholem, Gnosticism, p.
37 and M.S. Cohen, The Shi'ur Qomah (New York-London, 1983), p. 24f.
The latter's discredit of this reference might be debated in the light of the
above findings, as here too, with Marcus, there is a counting of letters to
define names: the Universe is a name of 30 letters, likwise the Bythos,
Aletheia with twelve times two, the first Tetras has 24, the name of Arretos
has seven, Sige five, Aletheia seven and Christus six: "But when the name of
six letters was revealed, and when this one, who has in himself the six and
the 24, became flesh... then [mankind] lost in the knowledge of him their
ignorance and came from death to life, because this name became a path for
them, leading to the father of truth," Adv. Haer I 15, 2.1; and cf. F.
Dornseiff, Das Alphabet in Mystik und Magie (Leipzig-Berlin, 1925 repr.
Leipzig, 1980), pp. 6Iff., who refers to the common custom in the Magic
Papyri to give the number of letters of a magic name, for instance in the 8th
Book of Moses: "dein siebenbuchstabiger Name nach der Leiter der sieben
Klange," p. 37.
13. In particular, the aforementioned alterations of the letters of the Tetragrammaton; and cf. further 513: "And this is the Name of fourteen letters,
that is the one behind the Mezuza, opposite [the words] wehaya (Deut.
11:13): KWZW BM [W] KSZ [KWZW] [Temura for YHWH 'LHNW
Y H W H , cf. Trachtenberg, Jewish Magic and Superstition (New York,
1974), p. 92] and he goeth forth in fourteen ways in particular (biferat) and
by arithmetic [you get] the general of it (kelilotaw)... and you should be an
expert to give the general of it, from which ta'am and from which miqra he
will bring them forth in 72 ways...;" cf. BHM2, p. 114. The different forms
of names seem to be accordingly a result of the midrash ha-torah, an art
that was taught to Moses by Yefefiya, cf. Ma'ayan Hokma, BHM 1, p. 61;
cf. M. Idel, "Tefisat ha-torah be-sifrut ha-hekhalot we-gilguleha baqabbala," Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought (1981):28; J. Dan, "Hadre
merkava," Tarbiz 47 (1977/8):53, notes an identity of midrash shir hashirim, shi'ur quoma and the highest experience of the mystic before the
throne of God; and that shir ha-shirim, particularly in its physical descriptions, is nothing else than the names of God. This connection of highest
mystic experience and the exegesis-like combination of different letters into

[64]

THE NAMES OF G O D

names appears twice in Hekhalot Zutarti in a hymn describing this climax


of the mystic life: G. Scholem, Gnosticism, p. 78 (Schafer 349/361; R.
Elior, Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought, Suppl. 1 (1982): 24-27:

14.

15.
16.
17.
18.

19.
20.
21.

22.

He invited Man... to enable him...


To ascend on high...
to contemplate the splendor
to dwell with the crown
to praise the glroy
to say praise
to combine letters
to say names.
One may recall here the Marcosian system of generation of letters: "L'element 'delta' a en lui-meme cinq lettres, a savoir le 'delta' lui-meme, F'epsilon', le 'lambda', le 'tau' et F'alpha'; ces lettres, a leur tour, s'ecrivent au
moyen d'autres lettres, et ces dernieres, au moyen d'autres encore. Si done
toute la substance du 'delta' s'etend ainsi a Finfini du fait que les lettres ne
cessent de s'engendrer les unes les autres et de se succeder, combien plus
grand encore sera l'ocean des lettres de l'Element par excellence! Et si une
seule lettre est a ce point immense, vois quel 'abfme' de lettres suppose le
Norn entier, puisque, d'apres l'enseignement du 'Silence' de Marc, e'est de
lettres qu'est constitue le Pro-Pere."; Irenaeus, Adv. haer. I, 14,2, translation of A. Rousseau and L. Doutreleau, Sources Chretiennes, Irenee de
Lyon (Paris, 1979).
31, 34, 18, 25, 28, 40, 42, 43, 62, 178, 180, 230, 388.
I thank J. Libes for this parallel; cf. below n. 35.
J. Dan, "The Seventy names" (above, n. 2).
K.E. Grozinger, Musik und Gesang in der Theologie der fruhen jiidischen
Literatur (Tubingen, 1982), p. 283 ff.; idem, "Singen und ekstatische
Sprache in der fruhen jiidischen Mystik," JSJ 11 (1980): 66-77.
625.
Cf. above 3 Enoch 13, and Schafer 1 6 , 5 9 , 4 7 3 , 6 3 7 , 8 3 7 , 8 9 7 , 7 9 , 6 2 9 , 4 2 9 ,
8 3 2 , 4 2 1 , 166; also cf. 60,587,497; Bate Midrashot, 2, p. 355; B. Ber. 55a.
Shiur Ha-Qoma, M.S. Cohen, p. 256; cf. Dornseiff, Das Alphabet, (above,
n. 12), p. 40f: "denn das All ist aus dem Alpha herausgekommen und wird
zu dem Omega zuruckkehren," from the gnostic Books of Jeu, V. Macdermot's translation in Nag Hammadi Studies XIII (Leiden, 1978), p. 177.
219: "R. Yishma'el said: When arriving and standing in front of the gate of
the first palace, take two seals in your two hands, one of TWTRWS'Y
YH WH Eloqe Yisrael and one of Surya the Prince of the Presence. The one
of TWTRWS'Y YH WH show to those standing to the right, and the one of

[65]

KARL ERICH GROZ1NGER

Surya the Prince of the Presence show to those standing to the left.
Immediately Dahabi'el the Prince, who is the head of the gate of the first
palace... and Tofi'el the Prince... seize you, from your right and one from
your left until they guide you and deliver you... to Tofihi'el the Prince who is
the head of the gate of the second palace..."; a.cf. 236. 413-417. 229. 204.
586. One can find a similar procedure in the Books of Jeu, for instance ch.
39: "When you come forth from all these places, say these names which I
have said to you, with their seals, so that you are sealed with them. And say
the names of their seals while their cipher is in your hand, and the watchers
and the ranks and the veils are drawn back until you go to the place of their
Father," Nag HammadvStudies XIII, ed. McL. Wilson (above, no.21), p. 89
and cf. pp. 90,119 ff. 127 ff.; cf. P. Schafer, "Engel und Menschen" (above,
n. 2); K.E. Grozinger, Musik und Gesang, (above, n. 18), p. 308f.
23. 302-303, 586, 568-569, 570; cf. Schafer, "Prolegomena ... (above n. 2)
24. 566, 568, 569, 499; cf. above, n. 8.
25. 337, see below; a name for everything, even reviving the dead, 512,511;
against forgetfulness, 336, 340; and particularly the Harba de-Moshe
606ff., and cf. Sefer ha-Razim, ed. M. Margalioth (Tel Aviv, 1966).
26. 8 2 6 - 8 2 7 , 6 2 3 , 5 0 1 .
27. 948-951,480-482,483,695ff;cf. M.S. Cohen, The Shi'ur Qomah (above, n.
12), p. 99ff., where he points to the appellative of Isis as myrionymos or
polynomos. Cohen believes that "The motivating factor in the development
of these traditions is probably the assumption that the magnificence of the
divine calls for a surfeit of names." In my opinion, here it is more the
intrinsic logic of the onomatologic thinking that must give the pleroma of
names to the supreme Godhead, as is the above cited (n. 14) Marcosian
reasoning: "Et si une seule lettre est a ce point immense, vois quel 'abime' de
lettres suppose le Nom entier, puisque... c'est de lettres qu'est constitue le
Pro-Pere." The assignment of specific names to specific limbs of the Shi'ur
Qomah should then be seen in a functional coordination of the name and
the respective limb (i.e every limb has the power of its name), rather than in
the urge to have to assign a plethora of names to a single deity, as Cohen
believes (p. 102).
28. 629ff, 59, 373, 78; BatM2, p. 354. M. Idel (above, n. 13) even observes a
kind of identity or at least extreme closeness of the names and Shi'ur
Qomah, pp. 39-40.
29. 57, 78, 79; BatM 2, p. 355.
30. 66, cf. Odeberg, 3 Enoch (New York, 1973), p. 25 of the index, s.v. heaven;
cf. the fragment of a Midrash Ma'ase Bereshit in MS Paris, Bibl. Nat. Hebr
711, p. 2b, published in Ozar Nechmad, 3 (Wien, 1860), p. 59; Arugat

[66]

THE NAMES OF G O D

Ha-bosem, 2, ed. E.E. Urbach (Jerusalem, 1947), pp. 184,187; K.E. Grozinger, "Ich bin der Herr dein Gott, FJSt 2, (Frankfurt a M.), p. 288; and
Mahzor Vitry, Horowitz, 1922/3, pp. 323, 325, 324; Grozinger, op. cit., p.
290.
31. Temirin 1, (Jerusalem, 1972); P.S. Alexander, "The Historical Setting of the
Hebrew Book of Henoch," JJS 28 (1977): 156-180;cf. Scholem, Gnosticism,
p. 46, 47: "We may, accordingly, speak of two stages through which the
traditions concerning the seven heavens have gone. The first knows nothing
of Metatron and, forming a part of teachings not confined to the esoterics
alone, do not mention secret names that may have magical connotations.
The second stage, however, introduces these magical elements and puts
Metatron in the place of Michael." That there is a step-for-step superimposition of the onomatology on non-onomatologic texts seems again to be
corroberated by an observation of Cohen: "It should be noted that the
assignment of names to the divine limbs is characteristic only of section D ,
the text ascribed to R. Ishmael, and section F, the text attributed to R.
Nathan. The Aqiban text has no names for the limbs." Shi'ur Qomah, p.
103.
32.
33.
34.
35.

K.E. Grozinger, Musik (above, n. 18), p. 323ff.


Cf. 57, 636, 79, 841; BatM 2, p. 350 f.
205; cf. 586, 568, 570.
424. It is worth noting that Irenaeus, too, knew of changes of only a single
letter in a name to express a different active power in God: "En effet, le mot
Eloe, en hebreu, signifle le 'vrai Dieu'; Elloeuth, en hebreu, signifie ce qui
contient toutes choses'. Le mot Adonai" designe T'lnnommable' et l"Admirable'; avec un double delta et une aspiration, c'est-a dire sous la forme
Haddonai, il designe 'celui qui separe la terre d'avec les eaux pour que
celles-ci ne puissent plus envahir la terre'. De meme Sabaoth, avec un o long
dans la derniere syllable, signifie 'celui qui veut'; avec un o bref, c'est-a-dire
sous la forme Sabaoth, il designe 'le premier del'. De meme encore, le mot
Jaoth signifie la mesure fixee d'avance', tantis que le mot Jaoth signifie
'celui qui fait fuir les maux'", Adv. Haer. II, 35, 3, A. Rousseau and L.
Doutreleau (above, n. 14).
4

36. 4 7 0 , 2 0 5 , 3 1 9 .
37. 106; cf. Grozinger, Musik, (above, n. 18), pp., 308-315.
38. This might even be concluded from the parallelism of the tradition by Hai
Gaon, MGWJ 37, p. 23: "the one who wishes to envision the Merkava...
puts his head between his knees and whispers many chants and praises
toward the earth" and the one in HZ, Schafer 424: "everyone who wishes
to study this Mishnah and wants to read(lefaresh) the name as it is written

[67]

KARL ERICH G R O Z I N G E R

39.

40.
41.
42.
43.
44.
45.

(be-ferusho) should put his head between his knees... and whisper to the
earth."
Cf. Cohen, Shi'ur Qomah, p. 69: "It seems, from all this, that the Shi'ur
Qomah was composed as a mystic meditation (incantation would be,
perhaps, too strong a term) on the Deity, the recitation of which was meant
to yield practical physical and metaphysical results... The Shi'ur Qomah is
thus at once liturgy and theurgy..."
306, 334, 168, 564; Griinwald, "Qeta'im," Tarbiz 38 (1969): 365.
Cf. 341, 340, 598, 676.
Cf. 392, 393, 469, 470.
302f. 404, 318, 651, 279, 310. cf. 656.
Similar statements: 580, 571, 564; the ability to name the angels itself is
regarded as wisdom, 581.
Cf. the discussion of the "Moses-Apokalypse" in my "Ich bin der Herr dein
Gott" (above, n. 30), p. 134ff.

46. The complex interrelation between this scene in the Shi'ur Qomah pieces in
Merkava Shelema, pp. 39b-40 (Schafer 957-961; 729; Cohen, Shi'ur
Qomah, Sect. Jx, p. 230-31), and the traditions in Schafer 396ff, 389-390,
473,733-736,385,486 need further investigation. It seems however that the
Shi'ur Qomah pieces are mainly a combination of traditions about the
name of Metatron that was given to Moses (cf. 473-474), and of the
tradition pertaining to the heavenly liturgy in which Metatron utters the
name of God (389-390) with the effect that the differentiation between the
names of God and those of Metatron were (intentionally?) blurred.
47. Cf. Cohen, Shi'ur Qomah, Sect. Lx, p. 243.
48. Cf. the above cited 972 and 557: "for His Name is in His strength and His
strength is in His name, He is His might and His might is He, and His Name
is in His Name ASB WGG..." Also R. Elior stated in her edition of Hekhalot
Zutarti (above, n. 13), p. 5, that the Deity in Hekhalot Zutarti is not
conceived as an idea but as a series of names, and that the essence of the
Deity is identical with its Name. A similar idea is found in the so-called 8th
Book of Moses, Dieterich, Abraxas, p. 194, in which the Name and the
Deity likewise seem identical: "Stored up in it [i.e. in this book] is the
powerful name, which is Ogdoas God, who orders and administrates
everything; under his command are the angels, archangels, demons, demonesses and all that is below in creation. There are four names at hand, the
one with nine letters and the one with 14 letters and the one with 26 letters
and the one here...
The one of nine letters; aeeeeioyo and the one of 14 letters: ysaysiayeiaoys,
the one of 26 letters:... (?)"; cf. Scholem's discussion on the Hebrew variant
of the Ogdoas in Gnosticism, p. 65ff., particularly pp. 69, 70.
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THE NAMES OF G O D

Judaica, 3, (Frankfurt a.M., 1970).


Cf. J. Dan, "Anafi'el, Metatron..." (above, n. 2), pp. 447-457.
74, 76 MS V 228; 4, 5, 78, 400; cf. 279, 387, 473.
4-5, 400, 7 0 6 , 8 8 5 , 8 8 6 , 2 4 4 , 4 6 , 1 3 ; cf. 26; Re'uyot Yehezqel, BatMl, pp.
132, 133; Temirin 1, p. 128, see above; B.San. 38b; cf. P.S. Alexander
(above, n. 31), pp. 164. 167.
Adonay ha-qatan 295.405; YWY 15, BatM2, p. 352; H 73; cf. Gruenwald, Apocalyptic, p. 196f; H. Odeberg, 3 Enoch, Introd.p. 188-192, transl.
p. 33, n. 5: "The ascribing to Metatron of the Name YH WH ha-QATAN is
very near to ascribing to him an intermediary Function of Deity. But it here
denotes his Function of being God's representative. As this representative
the Most High has conferred upon him part of His essence which is in His
name." One should note here the distinctive onomatology of the gnostic
Evangelium Veritatis, cf. the translation of J.E. Menard, Nag Hammadi
Studies II (Leiden, 1972), p. 65: "Or le Norn du Pere est le fils. C'est Lui qui,
dans le Principe, a donne nom a celui qui est sorti de Lui, qui etait lui meme,
et II l'a engendre comme Fils. II lui a donne Son nom, qui est le Sien
propre..." German translation by H.M. Schenke in W.C. van Unnik,
Evangelien aus dem Nilsand (Frankfurt a.M., 1960), p. 183.
Cf. for example 295.405. A different parlance for the same idea seems to be
that God gives participation in His brilliance and beauty, 735, 398, 958,
385; Cohen, Shi'ur Qomah, p. 230.
See above, n. 50.
13, 240-241, 46, 47; cf. Scholem, Gnosticism, pp. 71, 133.
Cf. for example G. Scholem, ibid. p. 10: "The texts of Merkabah mysticism
that have so far come to our knowledge also display what I have called an
orthodox Jewish tendency, and are in no way heretical... These mystical
aspects, however, do not detract from the basic fact that the theology
presented, or rather implied, here does not conflict with the biblical concept
of God..."

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