Giordano Bruno and the Kabbalah: Prophets, Magicians, and Rabbis

Giordano Bruno and the Kabbalah: Prophets, Magicians, and Rabbis

Giordano Bruno and the Kabbalah: Prophets, Magicians, and Rabbis

Giordano Bruno and the Kabbalah: Prophets, Magicians, and Rabbis


Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), a defrocked Dominican monk, was convicted of heresy by the Roman Catholic Inquisition and burned at the stake in Rome. He had spent fifteen years wandering throughout Europe on the run from Counter-Reformation intelligence and eight years in prison under interrogation.

The author of more than sixty works on mathematics, science, ethics, philosophy, metaphysics, the art of memory and esoteric mysticism, Bruno had a profound impact on Western thought. Until now his involvement with Jewish mysticism has never been fully explored. Karen Silvia de León-Jones presents an engaging and illuminating discussion of his mystical understanding and use of Jewish and Christian Kabbalah, theology, and philosophy, including the famous Hermetica, and especially his exploration and use of magic to reveal the mysteries of the universe and the divine.


On February 17, 1600, an excommunicated, defrocked monk from the Dominican monastery in Nola was burned alive at the stake in Rome. the name of this man imprisoned, charged, and sentenced to death for heresy by the Roman Catholic Inquisition was Giordano Bruno.

Little is known about the early life of Bruno, other than the information he provided in his Inquisition depositions. Most of his biography is reconstructed backward, from his sensational death to his rather humble origins. Bruno was born in 1548, in the small town of Nola, in the Italian region of Campania, of obscure parents —Giovanni Bruno and Fraulisa Savolino — who named him Filippo (Giordano is his religious name). Even from a young age Bruno distinguished himself by attracting the interest of the Inquisition. As early as 1566, as a novice in the Dominican monastery of his home town, young Bruno was accused of holding heretical opinions. the exact charges are of Arianism, iconoclasm, and possession of heretical books (in this case, editions of Erasmus). Many scholars attribute Bruno’s flight in 1576 from the monastery in Nola to this first run-in with Counter Reformation Intelligence. Flight from the restrictive life of the Dominican Order turned into fifteen years of wandering throughout Europe.

In exile Bruno wrote the bulk of his numerous works, which span the intellectual interests of the sixteenth century: from mathematical and scientific . . .

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