Many, if not most Kabbalists view Jesus as a great prophet. A minority of Kabbalists feel Jesus might even be equal to Moses as a prophet. The issue of difference between the Kabbalist notion of Jesus and the Christian teaching, largely concerns the Christian dogma of Christ as "God the Son", or the physical manifestation of God in created form. Kabbalism maintains, and it seems they are entirely correct, that there is nothing in the Old or New Testament with this phrase or anything like it. Yes, scripture presents Christ as God's son, but this in no way relates to the assertion of "God the Son", logically or linguistically. In other words, the dogma has no basis in scripture. For those who wish to know where this dogma came from, please research the Councils of Nicea in the 4th Century AD, and the profound influence Constantine I had on the creation of the dogmatic "Holy Trinity" of Christian teachings. To put it bluntly, it isn't in scripture. To the Kabbalist, ideas about scripture, unsupported by scripture, should be discarded. Further, God is infinitely perfect, and everything God does is perfect from God's point of view. There is thus no reason for God to manifest in physical created form (as a man) or spirituous created form (Holy Spirit). Further, to the Kabbalist manifestation is a process specific to the first generation of angels. In addition, believing an infinitely perfect God to take physical form as a created being, is a hopeless contradiction. There are no contradictions in or about God. Finally, if there was ever any need for God to intercede in creation as it unfolds, in any way or form, this would reduce God to a being that is less than perfect. This is the ultimate error in understanding what God is. God is infinitely perfect...period!
So, where does Jesus fit in? To answer this question, we might tap information found in two recently discovered Gospels; The Secret Book of John and The Book of Judas, two of what are popularly identified as Gnostic Gospels. Second century Gnosticism is said to have been characterized by the notion of it being a “divine spark” which fell into our world after the passion of Jesus on the cross. This “divine spark” notion is an entirely Kabbalist concept dating back many millennia. It is probable the early Gnostics included some Kabbalists in their ranks, and absorbed much of their theosophy. Thus, using evidence from Gnostic gospels seems quite correct in the Kabbalist realm of theosophy. Keep in mind that Jesus is a New Testament prophet, and Kabbalist tradition focuses primarily on the Torah/Pentateuch, which are the first five books of the Old Testament. However, we are attempting to use Kabbalist theosophical methods to resolve the mysteries associated with traditional teachings of the New Testament, perhaps for the first time. Kabbalism allows the use of information found literally anywhere in the historical and/or scientific record that fits correctly into the Kabbalist epistemological scheme. Both of the above references seem to meet Kabbalist criteria for use, so let's use them in analysing the New Testament for correct understanding.
In the Secret Book of John, the generation of Angels, directly and indirectly out of the will of God, is relayed with considerable detail, a teaching that closely parallels the teaching of the Mansions of Angels found in Zohar. In John, the first Angel, closest to God and having the most divine-like attributes, is called Barbelo. The Kabbalist name for this first, most powerful angel is Saphia, and is said to have been manifested out of God‘s will, but is not a physical manifestation of God in the traditional Christian sense of meaning. Manifestation is purely a process by which the most divine of angels come into being. Returning to the Gnostic story, Barbelo is identified as “Forethought” and “First Image”, both essential to the intended development of creation as it unfolds. First Image includes the form of man. A second generation of angels, less divine than Barbelo, but containing most of Barbelo’s divine qualities, were next emanated through Barbelo’s being, indirectly out of God’s will. These include “Thought”, “First Knowledge”, “Imperishability”, “Eternal Life”, and “First Man”, all qualities essential to the unfolding and evolution of creation. These seem to also be the First Mansion Angels found in Zohar. First Man takes the image of Barbelo in reflection to her, so that the potential for Barbelo’s image to become an integral part of creation would be contained in every tiniest monad of created substance. It seems that “First Man” is precisely what traditional Judaism, and Kabbalism, call “Adam Kadmon”. Then, Barbelo gazed deeply into the pure, infinite light of God, and through her a spark of light was produced. This spark took the form of a reflection of First Image, not directly out of Barbelo’s being, but in parallel to it. This new angel seems to have been produced through indirect manifestation. The Secret Book of John identifies this being as the image of Christ, the Christian Messiah, and is given the name “Menogenes” , which means “first born son of God”. To the Kabbalist Christian, this would be the soul of Adam in the Book of Genesis. In the New testament, Christ asserts that he is the tenth rebirth of King David, and in the Old testament David is said to be the tenth rebirth of Adam. This identifies the transmigration of the soul of Christ. Although John goes on to describe the generations of angels that followed the emergence of Menogenes, let’s leave it with the angelic manifestation of the image of the Christ and turn to The Book of Judas.
The Book of Judas covers a lot of astounding topics, but the one that concerns us here relates to Jesus and his soul. In a private meeting with Jesus, Judas is asked to say from where Jesus comes. Judas identifies Jesus as having his origin in the “house” of Barbelo. Thus, it seems Judas realized Jesus did not have a created, spirituous soul, but rather had the soul of a powerful angelic being, the origin of which is very, very close to God. The “house” of Barbelo seems to be what Kabbalism calls the First Mansion of Angels. Regardless, this places the soul of Jesus in the highest of angelic locations. Having a near-divine angelic soul would account for Jesus’ abilities as a healer and progenitor of miracles. This would also account for why the teachings of Jesus have resulted in Christianity becoming the most popular religion in the modern world. The words of Jesus have certainly stood the test of time.
Modern Kabbalists acknowledge the power of Jesus’ teachings, as well as his documented miracles and healings. They also feel that Jesus was trying to bring Judaism back to the “old ways” of practices common to all Jews prior to the enforced Roman Imperial orthodoxy of Herod, a tradition continued by Jesus‘ brother James who was the High Priest of the Temple for nearly 20 years before his murder by Roman assassins ~66 AD. But, Kabbalists stop short of elevating their view of Jesus’ soul on a level equal to, if not synonymous with Elohim, whom they believe is the Holy Being who uttered “Let there be Light“ (Logos) in the creation story and made the bodies of Adam and Eve. To them, identifying Jesus as equal to or perhaps synonymous with Elohim is going more than a little too far.
Might Jesus be a Son of God to Christian Kabbalists? Quite possibly. Jesus’ mother, Mary, was of Essene descent, and all first born males of Essene parenthood were raised to be Rabbi. Once they achieved rabbinical status, they were referred to as “a son of God”. It is written that Jesus was about 12 years old when he was proclaimed to have knowledge of a Rabbi by the Priests of the Temple in Jerusalem. This was an exceptionally young age to have sufficient knowledge of the Torah to qualify for rabbinical consideration, let alone be given such theological status. It is written that Jesus literally astounded the priests with his knowledge and understanding of Torah. To modern Kabbalists, Jesus must have been something special in order to qualify as having the knowledge of a Rabbi at such a tender age. This, in conjunction with the documented miracles, healings, and historical impact of Jesus’ teachings, makes him a great prophet, perhaps as great as Moses. A son of God, perhaps, by Essene tradition. But, the Son of God? No! To the Kabbalist Jews, it is a theosophical stretch; possible but highly improbable.
But for Kabbalist Christians, no such theosophical barriers exist. For Kabbalist Christians, Jesus is not just a Son of God, Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus brought with him a new commandment, that we should do unto others as we would have others do unto us. We should be nice to each other and treat all humanity as brothers and sisters. This 11th commandment, if you will, also constitues a new covenant. This does not mean that all the prior covenants of Adam, Noah, Moses, and Abraham no longer mattered. Rather, it was meant that this final covenant would take precidence over those that came before. If we all acted according to the 11th commandment, nothing else would matter. Thus, the 11th commandment should be the foundation of the Kabbalist Christian doctrine.
1. The Holy Bible : Authorized King James Version; Harper and Brothers Publishing
2. The Secret Book of John; “The Other Bible”; Harper Collins Publishers, New York. 1984
3. Kasser, Meyer, & Wurst (editors), The Gospel of Judas; National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C. 2006
4. LeLoup, Jean-Yves (translator); The Gospel of Mary Magdalene; Inner Traditions International, Rochester, Vermont. 2002
5. Jacobovici, Simcha, and Pellegrino, Charles; The Jesus Family Tomb; Harper Collins Publishers, San Francisco. 2007
6. Tabor, James D.; The Jesus Dynasty; Simon and Schuster, New York. 2006
7. Eisenman, Robert; James the Brother of Jesus; Penguin Books, New York. 1997