THE ALPHABET OF CREATION by Ben hahn

THE ALPHABET OF CREATION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Ben Shahn, the American Expressionist (more naturalistic than abstract) presents here a translation-with-drawings of an Aramaic allegory. The work, about 40 pages long, and part of the Sefer Ha-Zohar or Book of Splendor, is redolent with mystic revelation and rooted in both Gnostic and Rabbinical literature. It begins: ""26 generations before the creation of the world, the 22 letters of the alphabet.... gathered around about God and one after another spoke and entreated, each one, that the world be created through him."" 20 of them present petitions, but all are found wanting: each letter contains something good, something bad, for either the present or the future.... The meaning? As with most sacred texts, the wisdom is all in the mystery, the charm all in the style. Philosophically a decided dualism is implied in the characteristic opposition and reconciliation between the worlds of light and the worlds of darkness.

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 1963
Publisher: antheon