Professor Emeritus at C.S.U.L.B., Dr. Robert Eisenman, best selling author of the books, James the Brother of Jesus, The New Testament Code, The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered, and The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians, is well aware of the heated controversy that has always surrounded Kabbalah, and now the Kabbalah Centre.
When he first tried to present his compelling research on the Dead Sea Scrolls showing that the idea of ‘the Tzaddik’ and therefore ideas found in the Kabbalah dated back to the earliest pre-Christian Movements in Palestine, Eisenman excitedly called up the leading scholar on Kabbalah in Jerusalem at the time, Gershom Scholem.
So what happened when the Professor tried share these things with Scholem?
“He hung up the phone,” Eisenman recalled, “saying in a very annoyed manner, ‘There is no Tzaddik-idea in the Second Temple Period’! These were his very words, even though there patently and obviously was. This was how German scholarship and, for that matter, Establishment scholarship in Jerusalem generally dealt with anyone outside their inner circle who might have ideas, material, and evidence that didn’t agree with their ideas and their own research.”
It turned out that Professor Eisenman had found irrefutable evidence concerning a key concept belonging to the Zohar in Dead Sea Scroll material dating back to the Second Temple Period. It concerned the idea of the “Tzaddik” or “Righteous One.” In the Zohar, the Tzaddik or Righteous One is called “the Pillar of the Earth” and “the Foundation that upholds the World”. This means that it is upon the merit of the Righteous One that the World endures. The same term and idea from the Zohar is how the Dead Sea Scrolls refer to their leader “the Teacher of Righteousness” and gospels like the Gospel of Thomas referred to James, Jesus’ brother, the leader of the earliest pre-Christian movement and perhaps even the Community of the Scrolls — to say nothing of some gospels, Jesus himself.
“Gershom Scholem did not want to hear anything about these things when I called up to discuss them with him. So he simply hung up the phone contemptuously and flat out denied that there was such a thing as the idea of ‘the Tzaddik’ and ‘Righteous One’ in the Second Temple Period at all or that it, for that matter, could even exist in the Dead Sea Scrolls, when it did. His response was ridiculous, certainly not the response one would expect from such a world-renowned scholar.”
The similarities do not stop there.
I asked the professor about parallels to the recent controversy surrounding the Kabbalah Centre. “While I am not an expert on the subject, what I very much admire about the Kabbalah Centre is that they are doing exactly the same kind of or very similar work to the founders of the Essene and Palestinian Messianic Movement, which as it went overseas later became Christianity. This early Movement was led by James, the brother of Jesus. Their mandate was to reach out to both Jews and the Gentile world by way of a Jewish intellectual and mystical Movement. Well, this is exactly what the Kabbalah Centre seems to to me to have been doing”
Eisenman then shared his opinion on the Centre’s efforts to distribute the Zohar throughout the world. The Professor said, “I am very much impressed by the fact that the Kabbalah Centre shares the Zohar with the general public. This, to me, is healthy.”
Dr. Eisenman acknowledged that opposition to “Kabals,” “Kabbalistic ideas,” and Kabbalah by a few has been a recurring trademark.
“There has always been anti-kabbalistic sentiment throughout the centuries. Even the word “kabal” with its negative connotations was generated by this process. Where ever you look in history you will find groundless attacks against Kabbalah. Moses Chaim Luzzatto was excommunicated. The philosopher Baruch Spinoza was treated the same way by the Establishment of his day a little earlier. He was excommunicated. Today he is considered one of the greatest philosophers in history. Secular German Jewish scholars like Heinrich Graetz who spoke with ill will of Kabbalists, were also always usually too quick to condemn.”
This, according to Eisenman, could explain the recent negative press. “From my personal perspective, this could be the underlying cause for the current controversy surrounding the Centre. My dealings with the Centre have always been forthright, fair and positive.”