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The Kabbalistic anthropology :
Adam Kadamon and theosis

Kabala is the mystic tradition within Judaism.  Kabala (Qabala)  means  "what has been handed down”, the ”faith that has been handed down once and for all” i.e. Tradition. In the Indian tradition it corresponds to Smriti or what is remembered. The word Kabala is derived from the Hebrew "kabel" which means "to receive." Kabbah (Muslim Kabbah came from it) means revelation.  Kabala simply means revelations of God.  It originally applied only to the Oral Law "received" after the destruction of the Second Temple, in the form of the Talmud.    The idea is that just as there is a written scripture  the "Torah",  ( Pentateuch   to which commentaries were added such as  Talmud, Mishnah, etc.),  there is also a transmitted interpretation on the hidden secrets within the torah.  This is  handed down by word of mouth and is known as Kabala.  Since the dispersion of the Jews all over the world, attempts have been made to write these down.  Though it was fully developed in the Middle Ages, the first seeds of a mystical trend began to emerge in the talmudic literature, written well after the destruction of the Second Temple--from 150 A.D. to 600 A.D.
One of the problems  with tradition is that it is prone to corruption and variations with time and space.  Anything that is transmitted by word of mouth is bound to get corrupted by additions and interpretations and interpolations. Hence we have varying traditions in it.   Thus there are several variations in the Kabalistic anthropology.  

The Cosmic Adam – First Man, who is the first appearance of comprehensible reality that emanated from the incomprehensible Ultimate Reality of Godhead, represents Cosmos.  In the early Christian thinking this represents the Son - the word who became flesh.  In Kabala He is represented as a Man who exists in four dimensions.  A reflection of this is seen in Rg Veda  Purusha Suktha. (which came into existence during the second and third century AD under the influence of St.Thomas Churches that existed all over India) as the 90th Suktam of its 10th mandalam, with 16 mantrams.  It describes Parama Purusha, Purushottama, Narayana, in his form as the ViraaT Purusha. - the source of all creation.

This  great  being Purusha has thousands  of heads,
Thousands of  eyes, and thousands of legs.
He manifests  the world. 
He stands beyond  the measures.

Out of the sacrifice of this Purusha came the cosmos.  Love means sacrifice.  Out of love He created.  All creations involves love and that involves sacrifice.  There is a cross in all creation.

The whole creation is this Purusha,
 that which was and that which is to be
Act 17:28  for 'In him we live and move and have our being';

This Purusha exists in four dimensions.
There are various beings in all the four dimensions which form the cosmic Purusha. 

The Four Worlds of the Kabballah:

Sepher Yetzirah or the "Book of Creation." is the canonical text for the later Kabalistic movement which developed  the workings and the origin of the universe. It described the sefirot or "emanations," the ten so-called "manifestations of God."    .                         

An understanding of the Kabballah traditions gives the background information for the Biblical understanding of Cosmos and God. It talks about four worlds of existence that have emanated from Ein-Sof (the unknowable God) who dwells in darkness and who cannot be known.  These are:


The Divine or Archetypal World.

The Yod of Tetragrammaton.

Secret Name: AB - Father

Element - Fire. 

Atziluth is the highest plane of Creation. It is the well spring from which everything emerges. It is difficult for the Human mind to comprehend the workings or the ideas that are associated with such high realms of consciousness. The very essence of pure thought and to some extent the very mind of the Creator may be glimpsed briefly in the Realm of Atziluth.

Atziluth is administered by the Highest of Beings - the Cherubim. They would appear to be extremely close to the Mind of God, in fact closer than any others.   Thought and is the backdrop for all that is. Without the Divine influence of Atziluth nothing is  Atziluth represents the ideas that are in the mind of God.

Atzilut, the "World of Emanation" or "Nearness (to the Godhead)", also called the Image and the Heavenly man (Adam Kadmon), is the Divine Reality; the Sefirot or attributes of the Godhead. They are the direct emanation from the En Sof, and hence most intimately connected to the absolute Deity, perfect and immutable.   [C.D.Ginsburg, S.A.Cook, "Kabbalah", Encyclopeadia Britannica, 11th ed. 1911, vol xv, pp.620-1].

The Sefirot are arranged in three pillars, the Pillar of Mercy (Hesed) on the left, the Pillar of Judgment or Severity (Gevurah) on the right, and the Pillar of Balance or Compassion or Beauty (Tifaret) in the middle; which together constitute the Divine supervision of the lower worlds


The Archangelic or Creative world.

The First Hek  of Tetragrammaton.

Secret Name: Seg

Element - Water. 

The world of Briah is the world of early Creation. The Archangels form the governing and ordering body. Briah is most commonly associated with the Element of Water. It is in Briah that the Mighty Archangels appear to establish the Will of God. Briah is where the plans are made and the "blueprints" are drawn. Briah, the "World of Creation" is also called "the Throne" ten sefirot being further from the En Sof then the sefirot of the universe of Atzilut, are of a more limited potency, although their substance is still of the purest nature and without any admixture of matter. The angel Metatron inhabits this world. He constitutes the world of pure spirit and is the garment of Shaddai, i.e. the visible manifestation of the Divine. He governs the visible world, preserves its harmony, and is head of myriads of angels [C.D.Ginsburg, S.A.Cook, Kabbalah, p.621].

The world of Beriah is described in the Zohar as consisting of seven higher heavens or firmaments which emanate from the seven lower sefirot of Atzilut, and are beyond the traditional seven heavens to which the stars and planets are fixed [Paul Krzok, "The Cosmological Structure of the Zohar", p.32 The Hermetic Journal, no.20, Summer 1983)]. This is also the world of the angels centered around the throne of God.

In the Lurianic tradition this is the world where the tzimtzum is first felt, and hence individual beings are able to exist. (Jacob Immanuel Schochet, Mystical Concepts in Hassidism Kehot Publication Society, Brooklyn New York, 1979, p.110)

Beriah is identified with the Sefirah Binah  this is region from which the divine soul (Neshamah) is derived.

3.  YETZIRAH (Formation)

Olam ha-Yetzirah.

The Angelic or Formative world. 

The World of thought.

The Vau of Tettragrammaton.

Secret Name: Mah

Element - Air

Yetzirah is the World of Formation. This is the realm of logic and intelligence. The intellectual world represented by the Element of Air.

Yetzirah is the world of Angelic Choirs. Here are the Seraphim and the Elohim. Choirs of Angels bring the resources that are needed to bear for completion in Assiah.

Yet they are still non-material. This is the abode of the angels, who are wrapped in luminous garments. The myriads of angels are divided into ten ranks, according to the  ten sefirot, and each angel is set over a different part of the universe, and derives his name from the element or heavenly body he guards [C.D.Ginsburg, S.A.Cook, Kabbalah, p.621].

This region is interpreted in the Zohar as the world of the lower heavens, consisting of the seven plantery firmaments [Paul Krzok, "The Cosmological Structure of the Zohar", p.32 The Hermetic Journal, no.20, Summer 1983)]. The pseudo-epigraphical Massekhet Atzilut (early 14th Century), places the Archangel Metatron and the angels centered around him are placed in the world of Yetzirah rather than Beriah [Scholem, Kabbalah, pp.118-9].


Olam ha-Assiah

The Material world.

The Physical world.

The Final Heh of Tettragrammaton.

Secret Name: Ben

Element - Earth.

Assiah is the world of action. this is the material world in which the results of the efforts of God become material. The Ideas that were started in Atziluth reach manifestation in Assiah.

The physical universe and Malkuth are the representation of Assiah. The four Elements are the primary building blocks and are present in the physical sense in Assiah.

This is the region of are the grossest sefirot, consisting of material substance. There are ten degrees, each lower than the other. Alternatively, there are seven earths (the highest presumably being the earth of human beings, i.e. the physical universe) one beneath the other, and beneath the lowest of them, seven hells, again arranged in sequence. In contrast to Christianity, the souls of sinners are there not only to be punished but also to be purified, before ascending, the exception being the hell of Abadon, where the soul are apparently destroyed. [Paul Krzok, "The Cosmological Structure of the Zohar", The Hermetic Journal, no.20, Summer 1983) pp.33-4].

The cosmos is represented in the form a tree called Treee of  Life. Since Man was created as a projection of  God the Tree of Life with the ten sefiroth could represent Man. 

"Adam Kadmon" can be translated as "The Projection of Man." Because man is made in God's likeness, and Man is really the temple of God we should expect such a similarity in the structure and design of the temple.  As such Kabbalah insists that the temple itself is in the form of man as indicated previously.  The symbol of the Tree of Life is also understood to represent the spiritual projection/emanation of YHWH Elohim. This very ancient, the symbol stands at the core of Jewish mysticism. Its dynamics therefore underlie the Hebrew, the Christian, and the Muslim scriptures

Without going into details let me just graphically indicate how the Kabballistic Tree of Life with the ten sefiroth could represent Man.  Those who are familiar with the Chakra of Hinduism will see the similarity here. 

Man exists in all four dimensions


Just as the material dimensions are manifested in different forms – as the body consists of head, neck,arms, body, navel, legs connected to the mind sensation through the five senses, other dimensions are also complex with corresponding communication links to higher dimensions of existence.  Thus the simplistic classification of Body, Soul and Spirit should be taken only as a broad classification.

The Kabbalistic  souls 

In the (13th Century)  Zoharic tradition we have a sequence of increasing levels of consciousness or stages of spiritualization and transcendence in the following order: personality/physical consciousness (nefesh), spiritual/moral consciousness (ruah), and Divine consciousness (neshamah). In the  (16th century) Lurianic tradition, we have the lower self or "animal soul" (nefesh behemis), then the middle self or intellect (ruah), and finally the higher or divine self (neshamah).  Two higher principles were added to these three levels. In Hawaiian occultism,  every person possesses three souls: a "spirit that remembers" (unihilipi = nefesh or subconscious), a "ghost that talks" (uhane = ruah or ego), and an "utterly trustworthy parental spirit" (Aumakua = neshamah or superconscious)

"The nefesh remains for a while in the grave, brooding over the body; the ru'ah ascends to the terrestrial paradise in accordance with its merits; and the neshamah goes directly back to its native home"

Some Kaballists postulates even seven souls, each of which after the death has different journeys and ends.

In the same way, just as the spirit of God has seven Spirits, human spirit also consists of seven spirits.  Thus even though for classifications we define Mind, Body and  Soul each part is more complex.  This complexity extends at all levels that the whole cosmos is part of God’s body.  This is emphasized by Jesus in asserting that the Church  is the body of Christ.


Following the Kabalistic understanding of cosmos, cosmic person and of man early Christian Church interpreted the salvation as a progressive sanctification from the material level of human existence  to the divine level in the Atziluth.

Psa 8:3  When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast established;

Psa 8:4  what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him?

Psa 8:5  Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor.

Psa 8:6  Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet,

Man according to this understanding was made a divine being – a little less than God.  His place is near the Kether – the Crown.  However due to the fall Man lost than level and caused himself to be creatures of material realm (Assiah) like the animals and the plants.  Hence he is kept under the authority and supervision of Angels that exists in the spiritual and mental realm (Briah and Yetzira) until he is redeemed.  Salvation is this process of redemption.  In order to achieve this Jesus himself enters into Assiah

Heb 2:5  For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.

Heb 2:6  It has been testified somewhere, "What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou carest for him?

Heb 2:7  Thou didst make him for a little while lower than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honor,

Heb 2:8  putting everything in subjection under his feet." Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.

Heb 2:9  But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for every one.

Heb 2:10  For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering.

Heb 2:11  For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

In the above passage the author of Hebrew quotes Psalms but refers “lower than angels” instead of “lower than God”  thereby indicating the present status of man below that of angels.  But verse 11 asserts that man is of the same origin as Jesus – Both emanating from God.  While Jesus is called the Only begotten Son (monogenes) of the Father, Adam is called son (huios) of God.

Luk 3:38 ( the son) of Enos, (the son) of Seth, (the son) of Adam, (the son) of God.

Joh 1:14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

Joh 1:18  No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.

Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Joh 3:17  For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

  There is a difference in category but they are both of the same origin.  It is in this context that the Eastern  Churches talk about the process of progressive sanctification as theosis or deification.

Deification is the process of becoming “as much as possible like and in union with God” -- a “participation through grace in that which surrounds the nature of God.” It was realized perfectly and fully in the Incarnation of the Son of God, in Whom “generic” human nature was deified. This nature of man had been established in the Creation for communion with God, but it was “darkened by its existential condition subsequent to Adam’s sin.” Deification is the restoration of the intended communion between God and man, beginning with the human life and death of Christ. Thus, Deification describes the Eastern understanding of salvation in Christ. It lies behind the Christology of Athanasius, the Cappadocian Fathers, Cyril of Alexandria, John of Damascus, etc. “God became man, that man might become divine.”

At the Council of Nicaea, the confession of the Son as homoousios  (one in essence) with the Father declares that fellowship with Christ must be understood as communion with God, i.e., as Deification.

Likewise, at the Council of Constantinople, the confession of the Holy Spirit as divine was also required, since “deification of man as sanctification is rooted in the work of the Holy Spirit.” If the Spirit was not true God, then “man would be neither sanctified nor deified.” “(Theosis,” The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, edited by Alexander P. Kazhdan, et al. (1991): 2069) 

 2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

The Greek word for "changed" is "metamorphoo" which is a transfiguring, a change such as Jesus underwent on the Mount of Transfiguration. The "Doxa Kuriou" the Glory of the Lord is what man is changed into, following Paul’s understanding wherein he notes "auton eikona metamorphoumetha" which is changed from glory to glory into the same image

Deification means we are to become more like God through His grace or divine energies. In creation, humans were made in the image and likeness of God (Gen.1:26) according to human nature. In other words, humanity by nature is an icon or image of deity: The divine image is in all humanity. Through sin, however, this image and likeness of God was marred, and we fell.

When the Son of God assumed our humanity in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, the process of our being renewed in God's image and likeness was begun. Thus, those who are joined to Christ through faith in Holy Baptism begin a re-creation process, being renewed in God's image and likeness. We become, as St Peter writes, 'partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet. 1:4).

Because of the Incarnation of the Son of God, because the fullness of God has inhabited human flesh, being joined to Christ means that it is again possible to experience deification, the fulfillment of our human destiny. That is, through union with Christ, we become by grace what God is by nature-we 'become children of God' (John 1:12). His deity interpenetrates our humanity.

And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. (Jesus--John 17:22-23, New American Bible)

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.  For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, "Abba, Father!"  The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. (St. Paul--Romans 8:14-17, New American Bible)

His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power.  Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come  to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire. (St. Peter--2 Peter 1:3-4, New American Bible)

He was made a sharer in our mortality.  He made us sharers in His deity. (St. Augustine)

Man's life is a strenuous and endless ascent toward God, that is, deification. (St. Gregory of Nyssa, taken from Achieving Your Potential in Christ: Theosis by Anthony Coniaris)

We have become like Christ, for Christ became like us.  We have become gods through Him, for He became man for us. (St. Gregory Nazianzen, Achieving Your Potential in Christ: Theosis by Anthony Coniaris)

We know our God from His energies, but we do not claim that we can draw near to His essence, for His energies come down to us, but His essence remains unapproachable. (St. Basil the Great, Achieving Your Potential in Christ: Theosis by Anthony Coniaris)

"God became man so that men might become gods."  “The Word was made flesh in order that we might be enabled to be made gods .... Just as the Lord, putting on the body, became a man, so also we men are both deified through his flesh, and henceforth inherit everlasting life “

Ephraim the syrian
"He gave us divinity. We gave him humanity."

"But he himself that justifies also deifies, for by justifying he makes sons of God. 'For he has given them power to become the sons of God' [John 1: 12]. If then we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods

  C. S. Lewis,
"The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were "gods" and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him--for we can prevent Him, if we choose --He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said. "

Rom 6:5  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

1Jo 3:2  Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

The picture of the saints forming the body of Christ and the Church as an organism forming the bride of Christ who will ultimately united with Christ is the picture given here.  So our relationship with God as New Man is like the relationship between the husband and wife.  United, made whole, but distinct in personality.

Mat 19:5  and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?

Co 11:2  I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband.

Rev 19:7  Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;

 Mat 19:5  and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?