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MOLITOR, JOSEPH FRANZ:

German Christian cabalist; born June 8, 1779, in Ober Ursel, in the Taunus; died in Frankfort-on-the-Main March 23, 1860. Early in life he interested himself in the philosophy of Kant, Fichte, and Schelling, writing under the influence of the last-named's teachings "Ideen zu einer Künstlichen Dynamik der Geschichte" (1805). In the same year he published his "Ueber den Wendepunkt des Antiken und Modernen," which shows the influence of Baader's theosophy. "Ueber die Philosophie der Modernen Welt" came out in 1806. About this time Prince von Dalberg founded an institution for the uplifting of Judaism, and Molitor became teacher there. Becoming interested in the various phases of Judaism, he began the study of Hebrew and Aramaic, then Talmud, and later, actuated by an insight into the Cabala he had received from the Jewish cabalist Metz in 1813, he turned his attention to the study of the Zohar, to which henceforth he devoted himself entirely. He wrote the first volume of his "Philosophie der Geschichte oder über die Tradition" in 1824, as a result of his cabalistic studies. The second volume (1834) contains a compendium of the Cabala and a reference to the need of divine revelation. This was followed by a third volume (1839), containing a general account of paganism, Christianity, and Judaism, and a discussion of the Jewish laws of impurity. The fourth volume of this work, published in 1853, shows the relation of the Cabala to Christianity. The fundamental object of this work is to show the superiority of cabalistic mysticism over that of the Christian, and that Christianity is Judaism obscured by a false mysticism.

Bibliography:
  • Allg. Deutsche Biog., s.v.;
  • La Grande Encyclopédie, s.v.;
  • Allg. Zeit. 1860, Supplement to April 21;
  • J. E. Erdmann, Grundriss der Gesch, der Philologie, 3d ed., vol. ii., pp. 506 et seq.
S. S. J. L.
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