Menasseh ben Israel, Compendium Kabbalae

  • R. H. Popkin
  • J. Van Den Berg
Part of the Archives Internationales D’Histoire des Idées / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 119)


In 1982, R.H. Popkin discovered a manuscript in the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, entitled ‘Menassis ben Israel Compendium Kabbalae’ (shelf-mark 17.30.Aug.4). It contains a short survey of traditional as well as typically ‘kabbalistic’ concepts. That, indeed, Menasseh ben Israel is the author, appears from a reference on f. 5ro to one of Menasseh’s works in this form: ‘ut Quaest. III Exod. demonstravimus’1. The fact that it was written in Latin makes it probable that it was composed for the benefit of some of Menasseh’s Christian relations, among whom there was a lively interest in the Kabbala. On f. 10ro the reader is addressed as ‘benevole lector’, which suggests that the tract was written for wider circulation. The manuscript is not in Menasseh’s handwriting; so it must be a copy, probably a contemporary one. We may assume that it was not destined for publication, since it does not appear in Menasseh’s list of works in preparation, published in the Vindiciae Judaeorum (1656)2. There is a slight possibility, that the ‘Compendium Kabbalae’ conceals itself behind one of the following titles of ‘Books ready for the Presse’: Thilosophia Rabbinica’ or ‘De disciplinis Rabbinorum’.


Early Modern Period Slight Possibility Propositum Servantur Responsum Contineant Evident Mistake 
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  1. 1.
    See Menasseh ben Israel, Conciliator, Francofurti 1633, 103.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    L. Wolf, Menasseh ben Israel’s Mission to Oliver Cromwell, London 1901.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. H. Popkin
    • 1
  • J. Van Den Berg
    • 2
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.University of LeidenThe Netherlands

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