Saint Peter known as Simon Peter, Simon, or Cephas, according to the New Testament, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, leaders of the early Christian Great Church. Pope Gregory I called him the "Prince of the Apostles". According to Catholic teaching, Jesus promised Peter in the "Rock of My Church" dialogue in Matthew 16:18 a special position in the Church, he is traditionally counted as the first Bishop of Rome—or pope—and by Eastern Christian tradition as the first Patriarch of Antioch. The ancient Christian churches all venerate Peter as a major saint and as the founder of the Church of Antioch and the Roman Church, but differ in their attitudes regarding the authority of his present-day successors; the New Testament indicates that Peter's father's name was John and was from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee or Gaulanitis. His brother Andrew was an apostle. According to New Testament accounts, Peter was one of twelve apostles chosen by Jesus from his first disciples.
A fisherman, he played a leadership role and was with Jesus during events witnessed by only a few apostles, such as the Transfiguration. According to the gospels, Peter confessed Jesus as the Messiah, was part of Jesus's inner circle, thrice denied Jesus and wept bitterly once he realised his deed, preached on the day of Pentecost. According to Christian tradition, Peter was crucified in Rome under Emperor Nero, it is traditionally held that he was crucified upside down at his own request, since he saw himself unworthy to be crucified in the same way as Jesus. Tradition holds, his remains are said to be those contained in the underground Confessio of St. Peter's Basilica, where Pope Paul VI announced in 1968 the excavated discovery of a first-century Roman cemetery; every 29 June since 1736, a statue of Saint Peter in St. Peter's Basilica is adorned with papal tiara, ring of the fisherman, papal vestments, as part of the celebration of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. According to Catholic doctrine, the direct papal successor to Saint Peter is the incumbent pope Pope Francis.
Two general epistles in the New Testament are ascribed to Peter, but modern scholars reject the Petrine authorship of both. The Gospel of Mark was traditionally thought to show the influence of Peter's preaching and eyewitness memories. Several other books bearing his name—the Acts of Peter, Gospel of Peter, Preaching of Peter, Apocalypse of Peter, Judgment of Peter—are considered by Christian denominations as apocryphal, are thus not included in their Bible canons. Peter's original name, as indicated in the New Testament, was "Simon" or "Simeon"; the Simon/Simeon variation has been explained as reflecting "the well-known custom among Jews at the time of giving the name of a famous patriarch or personage of the Old Testament to a male child along with a similar sounding Greek/Roman name". He was given the name כֵּיפָא in Aramaic, rendered in Greek as Κηφᾶς, whence Latin and English Cephas; the precise meaning of the Aramaic word is disputed, some saying that its usual meaning is "rock" or "crag", others saying that it means rather "stone" and in its application by Jesus to Simon, "precious stone" or "jewel", but most scholars agree that as a proper name it denotes a rough or tough character.
Both meanings, "stone" and "rock", are indicated in dictionaries of Syriac. Catholic theologian Rudolf Pesch argues that the Aramaic cepha means "stone, clump, clew" and that "rock" is only a connotation; the combined name Σίμων Πέτρος appears 19 times in the New Testament. In some Syriac documents he is called, in Simon Cephas. Peter's life story is told in the four canonical gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, New Testament letters, the non-canonical Gospel of the Hebrews and other Early Church accounts of his life and death. In the New Testament, he is among the first of the disciples called during Jesus' ministry. Peter became the first listed apostle ordained by Jesus in the early church. Peter was a fisherman in Bethsaida, he was named son of Jonah or John. The three Synoptic Gospels recount how Peter's mother-in-law was healed by Jesus at their home in Capernaum. 1 Cor. 9:5 has been taken to imply that he was married. In the Synoptic Gospels, Peter was a fisherman along with his brother and the sons of Zebedee and John.
The Gospel of John depicts Peter fishing after the resurrection of Jesus, in the story of the Catch of 153 fish. In Matthew and Mark, Jesus called Simon and his brother Andrew to be "fishers of men". A Franciscan church is built upon the traditional site of Apostle Peter's house. In Luke, Simon Peter owns the boat that Jesus uses to preach to the multitudes who were pressing on him at the shore of Lake Gennesaret. Jesu
John the Evangelist
John the Evangelist is the name traditionally given to the author of the Gospel of John. Christians have traditionally identified him with John the Apostle, John of Patmos, or John the Presbyter, although this has been disputed by modern scholars; the Gospel of John refers to an otherwise unnamed "disciple whom Jesus loved", who "bore witness to and wrote" the Gospel's message. The author of the Gospel of John seemed interested in maintaining the internal anonymity of the author's identity, although interpreting the Gospel in the light of the Synoptic Gospels and considering that the author names Peter, that James was martyred as early as 44 AD it has been believed that the author was the Apostle John Christian tradition says that John the Evangelist was John the Apostle; the Apostle John was a historical figure, one of the "pillars" of the Jerusalem church after Jesus' death. He was one of the original twelve apostles and is thought to be the only one to have lived into old age and not be killed for his faith.
It is believed that he was exiled to the Aegean island of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. However, some attribute the authorship of Revelation to another man, called John of Patmos or to John the Presbyter. Orthodox Roman Catholic scholarship, most Protestant churches, the entire Eastern Orthodox Church attribute all of the Johannine literature to the same individual, the "Holy Apostle and Evangelist, John the Theologian", whom it identifies with the "Beloved Disciple" in the Gospel of John; the authorship of the Johannine works has been debated by scholars since at least the 2nd century AD. The main debate centers on who authored the writings, which of the writings, if any, can be ascribed to a common author. Orthodox tradition attributes all the books to John the Apostle. In the 6th century, the Decretum Gelasianum argued that Second and Third John have a separate author known as "John, a priest". Historical criticssometimes reject the view. Most modern scholars believe that the apostle John wrote none of these works, although some, such as J.
A. T. Robinson, F. F. Bruce, Leon Morris, Martin Hengel, hold the apostle to be behind at least some, in particular the gospel. There may have been a single author for the three epistles; some scholars conclude the author of the epistles was different from that of the gospel, although all four works originated from the same community. The gospel and epistles traditionally and plausibly came from Ephesus, c. 90–110, although some scholars argue for an origin in Syria. In the case of Revelation, most modern scholars agree that it was written by a separate author, John of Patmos, c. 95 with some parts dating to Nero's reign in the early 60s. The feast day of Saint John in the Catholic Church, which calls him "Saint John and Evangelist", in the Anglican Communion and Lutheran Calendars, which call him "John and Evangelist", is on 27 December, the third day of Christmastide. In the Tridentine Calendar he was commemorated on each of the following days up to and including 3 January, the Octave of the 27 December feast.
This Octave was abolished by Pope Pius XII in 1955. The traditional liturgical color is white. John is traditionally depicted in one of two distinct ways: either as an aged man with a white or gray beard, or alternatively as a beardless youth; the first way of depicting him was more common in Byzantine art, where it was influenced by antique depictions of Socrates. In Medieval works of painting and literature, Saint John is presented in an androgynous or femininized manner. Historians have related such portrayals to the circumstances of the believers for whom they were intended. For instance, John's feminine features are argued to have helped to make him more relatable to women. Sarah McNamer argues that because of John's androgynous status, he could function as an'image of a third or mixed gender' and'a crucial figure with whom to identify' for male believers who sought to cultivate an attitude of affective piety, a emotional style of devotion that, in late-medieval culture, was thought to be poorly compatible with masculinity.
Legends from the Acts of John contributed much to Medieval iconography. One of John's familiar attributes is the chalice with a snake emerging from it. According to one legend from the Acts of John, John was challenged to drink a cup of poison to demonstrate the power of his faith; the chalice can be interpreted with reference to the Last Supper, or to the words of Christ to John and James: "My chalice indeed you shall drink". According to the 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia, some authorities believe that this symbol was not adopted until the 13th century. Another common attribute is a scroll, in reference to his writings. In France the saint is symbolically represented by an eagle, one of the creatures envisioned by Ezekiel and in the Book of Revelation. John the Evangelist Churches dedicated to St. John the Evangelist Eagle of St. John Luke the Evangelist Mark the Evangelist Matthew the Evangelist "Saint John the Apostle." Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Answers.com St. John the Evangelist at the Christian Iconography web site Caxton's translations of the Golden Legend's two chapters on St. John: Of St. John the Evangelist and The History of St. John Port Latin
Evangelist portraits are a specific type of miniature included in ancient and mediaeval illuminated manuscript Gospel Books, in Bibles and other books, as well as other media. Each Gospel of the Four Evangelists, the books of Matthew, Mark and John, may be prefaced by a portrait of the Evangelist occupying a full page, their symbols may be shown with them, or separately. They are the only figurative illumination in the manuscript, they are a common feature in larger Gospel Books from the earliest examples in the 6th century until the decline of that format for illustrated books in the High Middle Ages, by which time their conventions were being used for portraits of other authors. They originate in the classical secular tradition of the author portrait, the only illustration in a classical manuscript used as a frontispiece. A few examples of Late Antique secular author portraits survive, rather more copies; some examples draw on the conventions of the Late Antique consular portrait, much used for the Emperors, who were consuls.
Examples of these, copied from the original, can be seen in the Chronography of 354. The Evangelist may be holding a book, but is not writing in it, he faces the front on a large throne, surrounded by an elaborate frame domed or pedimented; these frameworks are thought to draw from the style of the Scaenae frons, or elaborate proscenium structures of Roman theatres. The traditional symbols of the Evangelists were included in the images, or in the Insular tradition, either given their own additional images on a separate page, or used instead of an evangelist portrait; the symbols are: the Lion of Mark, the Eagle of John, the Ox or Calf of Luke and the Angel or Man of Matthew. All are shown with wings, as in the familiar winged lion used in the coat of arms of Venice, whose patron saint was Mark. Sometimes, as in the example from Lorsch, the symbols are shown dictating the text to the evangelist. Late Antique evangelist portraits show standing figures, as in the ivory panels of the Throne of Maximianus in Milan, but from the Insular art of the 7th to 10th centuries, evangelist portraits in manuscripts nearly always followed the seated classical models, showing the Evangelists at full-length, either looking out at the viewer or writing at a table or desk and seen at an oblique angle.
These were derived from unknown classical prototypes, similar to those in the Codex Amiatinus and Saint Augustine Gospels, though both of these types are rather different from the general types. A setting is provided for the figure. Details of the classical models, such as anachronistic scrolls and scroll-boxes, a small writing-stand with a single dolphin-shaped support, survive well into the Middle Ages, sometimes misunderstood by the artists concerned; because of the secular origins of the typology, haloes are less to be worn than in other types of image. The level of detail shown in the furniture and fittings is unusual for Early Medieval art. An arch behind the author with curtains hanging across it, in some examples close to the classical models is turned into a decorative framing device for the whole scene. Early Gospel Books had a elaborate and costly treasure binding or cover in metalwork with jewels and ivories; these most featured a central panel with Christ in Majesty including the Evangelists and/or their symbols in the corners.
Versions of the same composition appear in all media used for Early Medieval religious art, including wall paintings. The Tassilo Chalice is an 8th-century example of pure metalwork with five oval medallion portraits of Christ and the Evangelists round the cup; the early artists of the Insular period show evangelists from the front who appear to be standing, although a chair is drawn behind them. Insular depictions seem to show figures without chairs, who are standing. Most of Europe continued to use the seated model however seen in a three-quarters on view, with a cushion behind. Sometimes all four evangelists were combined on a page, sometimes around a Christ in Majesty. Standing portraits were usual, for wall and panel paintings with the Evangelists treated as, mixed with, other saints; the Gospel book as a medium for illustrated manuscripts declined in the West from the Romanesque period, with it the use of the Evangelist portrait. In the Eastern Orthodox world, the Gospel Book remained a primary focus for illumination, Evangelist portraits, derived from contemporary Byzantine versions, are represented among the earliest illuminations from the new Slav national traditions, such as the 11th-century Ostromir Gospels and the Khitrovo Gospels of about 1390 from Muscovy.
In the West the portraits continued to be found in Bibles, more as the picture within a historiated initial at the start of each Gospel. Other books sometimes contained them as well. Similar compositions began to be used for other saint-authors for St Jerome, shown in a book-lined study with his symbol, a lion, dozing at his feet. St Gregory the Great may be shown with a dove, representing his inspiration from the Holy Spirit, whispering in his ear. Calkins, Robert G. Illuminated Books of the Middle Ages. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1983. Nordenfalk, Carl. Cetic and Anglo-Saxon Painting: Book illumina
Paul the Apostle
Paul the Apostle known as Saint Paul and known by his Jewish name Saul of Tarsus, was an apostle who taught the gospel of Christ to the first-century world. Paul is considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age and in the mid-30s to the mid-50s AD he founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe, he took advantage of his status as both a Jew and a Roman citizen to minister to both Jewish and Roman audiences. According to writings in the New Testament and prior to his conversion, Paul was dedicated to persecuting the early disciples of Jesus in the area of Jerusalem. In the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles, Paul was traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus on a mission to "arrest them and bring them back to Jerusalem" when the resurrected Jesus appeared to him in a great light, he was struck blind, but after three days his sight was restored by Ananias of Damascus and Paul began to preach that Jesus of Nazareth is the Jewish Messiah and the Son of God. Half of the book of Acts deals with Paul's life and works.
Thirteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament have traditionally been attributed to Paul. Seven of the Pauline epistles are undisputed by scholars as being authentic, with varying degrees of argument about the remainder. Pauline authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews is not asserted in the Epistle itself and was doubted in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, it was unquestioningly accepted from the 5th to the 16th centuries that Paul was the author of Hebrews, but that view is now universally rejected by scholars. The other six are believed by some scholars to have come from followers writing in his name, using material from Paul's surviving letters and letters written by him that no longer survive. Other scholars argue that the idea of a pseudonymous author for the disputed epistles raises many problems. Today, Paul's epistles continue to be vital roots of the theology and pastoral life in the Catholic and Protestant traditions of the West, as well as the Orthodox traditions of the East.
Paul's influence on Christian thought and practice has been characterized as being as "profound as it is pervasive", among that of many other apostles and missionaries involved in the spread of the Christian faith. Martin Luther's interpretation of Paul's writings influenced Luther's doctrine of sola fide, it has been popularly assumed that Saul's name was changed when he became a follower of Jesus Christ, but, not the case. His Jewish name was "Saul" after the biblical King Saul, a fellow Benjamite and the first king of Israel. According to the Book of Acts, he was a Roman citizen; as a Roman citizen, he bore the Latin name of "Paul"—in biblical Greek: Παῦλος, in Latin: Paulus. It was typical for the Jews of that time to have one Hebrew, the other Latin or Greek. Jesus called him "Saul, Saul" in "the Hebrew tongue" in the book of Acts, when he had the vision which led to his conversion on the Road to Damascus. In a vision to Ananias of Damascus, "the Lord" referred to him as "Saul, of Tarsus".
When Ananias came to restore his sight, he called him "Brother Saul". In Acts 13:9, Saul is called "Paul" for the first time on the island of Cyprus—much than the time of his conversion; the author indicates that the names were interchangeable: "Saul, called Paul." He thereafter refers to him as Paul Paul's preference since he is called Paul in all other Bible books where he is mentioned, including those that he authored. Adopting his Roman name was typical of Paul's missionary style, his method was to put people at their ease and to approach them with his message in a language and style to which they could relate, as in 1 Cor 9:19–23. The main source for information about Paul's life is the material found in Acts. However, the epistles contain little information about Paul's pre-conversion past; the book of Acts recounts more information but leaves several parts of Paul's life out of its narrative, such as his probable but undocumented execution in Rome. Some scholars believe Acts contradicts Paul's epistles on multiple accounts, in particular concerning the frequency of Paul's visits to the church in Jerusalem.
Sources outside the New Testament that mention Paul include: Clement of Rome's epistle to the Corinthians. Paul was born between the years of 5 BC and 5 AD; the Book of Acts indicates that Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, but Helmut Koester takes issue with the evidence presented by the text. He was from a devout Jewish family in the city of Tarsus, one of the largest trade centers on the Mediterranean coast, it had been in existence several hundred years prior to his birth. It was renowned for its university. During the time of Alexander the Great, who died in 323 BC, Tarsus was the most influential city in Asia Minor. Paul referred to himself as being "of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; the Bible reveals little abou
Church of St. Trophime, Arles
The Church of St. Trophime is a Roman Catholic church and former cathedral located in the city of Arles, in the Bouches-du-Rhône Department of southern France, it was built between the 12th century and the 15th century, is in the Romanesque architectural tradition. The sculptures over the church's portal the Last Judgement, the columns in the adjacent cloister, are considered some of the finest examples of Romanesque sculpture; the church was built upon the site of the 5th-century basilica of Arles, named for St. Stephen. In the 15th century a Gothic choir was added to the Romanesque nave. 250 According to legend, Trophimus of Arles becomes the first bishop of Arles. 597. Augustine of Canterbury returns to Arles after converting the King and principal members of the court of England to Christianity, is consecrated as bishop of the Church of England by Virgilius of Arles, vicar of the Holy See in Gaul. 1152:. Raimon de Montredon organizes the transfer of the relics of St. Trophime from the basilica of St. Stephen in Alyscamps to the new cathedral of St. Trophime.
1178:. The Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Frederick Barbarossa, is crowned at St. Trophime Cathedral by the archbishop of Arles. 1365:. Following the precedent of Frederick Barbarossa, Emperor Charles IV is crowned king of Arles at St. Trophime Cathedral. 1445 to 1465 The Romanesque abside of the church is replaced by a Gothic choir. 1801: When the Bishopric moved to Aix-en-Provence, St. Trophime was reclassified as a simple parish church. 1882: Raised to the level of a minor basilica by Pope Leo XIII. 1981: Classified a UNESCO world heritage site, as part of the Arles and Romanesque Monuments group. At the time the Cathedral was built, in the late 11th century or early 12th century, Arles was the second-largest city in Provence, with a population of between 15,000 and 20,000 people, it had a busy port on the Rhône, two new cities, on either side of the old Roman town, surrounded by a wall. It was at least formally independent as the Kingdom of Arles, it had attracted many religious orders, including the Knights Hospitalier, the Knights Templar and mendicant orders, which had built a number of churches within the town.
The apse and the transept were built first, in the late 11th century, the nave and bell tower were completed in the second quarter of the 12th century. The Romaneque church had a long central nave 20 meters high; the windows are high up on the nave, above the level of the collateral aisles. Though notable for its outstanding Romanesque architecture and sculpture, the church contains rich groups of art from other periods; these include several important carved Late Roman sarcophagi, reliquaries from various periods, Baroque paintings, with three by Louis Finson. Trophime Bigot is represented, there are several Baroque tapestries, including a set of ten on the Life of the Virgin; the church has been used to hold items from other churches or religious houses in the region that were dispersed in the French Revolution or at other times. The west portal is one of the treasures of Romanesque sculpture, presenting the story of the Apocalypse according to St. John, the Gospel of St. Matthew. Christ is seated in majesty with the symbols of the Evangelists around him.
The Apostles are seated below him. To the left of the portal, a procession of chosen Christians is going to heaven, while to the right sinners are being cast into hell; the decoration of the portal includes a multitude of Biblical scenes. On the lower level, separated by pilasters and columns of dark stone, are statues of saints connected with the history of Arles; the bases of the columns beside the portal are decorated with statues of lions and Delilah, Samson and the Lion. The cloister was constructed in the second half of the 12th century and the first half of the 13th century. For the use of the Canons, the priests who managed the church property. Under a reform instituted by Pope Gregory, the Canons were required to live like monks, with a common dormitory and cloister within the cathedral enclosure, separated by a wall from the city; the refectory, or dining hall, was built first, next to the church, along with a chapter house, or meeting room, for the canons. The dormitory for the canons, a large vaulted room on the east side of the cloister, was built next.
Work on the cloister began with the northern gallery the eastern gallery, which were finished around 1210-1220. Work stopped. Soon after the construction of the east and west galleries, the city began to decline; the Counts of Provence moved from Arles to Aix, the center of church authority moved to the papal palace in Avignon, in 1251 Charles of Anjou suppressed the movement of the leaders of Arles for more independence. In 1348, The Black Death drastically reduced the population of all of Provence; the southern and western galleries of the cloister were not built until the 1380s and 1390s, they were built in a diffe
Merkabah/Merkavah mysticism is a school of early Jewish mysticism, c. 100 BCE – 1000 CE, centered on visions such as those found in the Book of Ezekiel chapter 1, or in the heikhalot literature, concerning stories of ascents to the heavenly palaces and the Throne of God. The main corpus of the Merkavah literature was composed in the period 200–700 CE, although references to the Chariot tradition can be found in the literature of the Chassidei Ashkenaz in the Middle Ages. A major text in this tradition is the Maaseh Merkavah; the noun merkabah/merkavah "thing to ride in, cart" is derived from the consonantal root r-k-b with the general meaning "to ride". The word "chariot" is found 44 times in the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible – most of them referring to normal chariots on earth, although the concept of the Merkabah is associated with Ezekiel's vision, the word is not explicitly written in Ezekiel 1. However, when left untranslated, in English the Hebrew term merkabah/merkavah relates to the throne-chariot of God in prophetic visions.
It is most associated with the vision in Ezekiel chapter 1 of the four-wheeled vehicle driven by four hayyot, each of which has four wings and the four faces of a man, lion, ox, eagle. According to the verses in Ezekiel and its attendant commentaries, his vision consists of a chariot made of many heavenly beings driven by the "Likeness of a Man"; the base structure of the chariot is composed of four beings. These beings are called the "living creatures"; the bodies of the creatures are "like that of a human being", but each of them has four faces, corresponding to the four directions the chariot can go. The faces are that of a lion, an ox and an eagle. Since there are four angels and each has four faces, there are a total of sixteen faces; each of the hayyot angels has four wings. Two of these wings spread across the length of the chariot and connect with the wings of the angel on the other side; this creates a sort of ` box' of wings. With the remaining two wings, each angel covers its own body.
Below, but not attached to, the feet of the hayyot angels are other angels that are shaped like wheels. These wheel angels, which are described as "a wheel inside of a wheel", are called "ophanim" אופנים; these wheels are nearby and along its perimeter. The angel with the face of the man is always on the east side and looks up at the "Likeness of a Man" that drives the chariot; the "Likeness of a Man" sits on a throne made of sapphire. The Bible makes mention of a third type of angel found in the Merkabah called "seraphim" angels; these angels appear like flashes of fire continuously descending. These seraphim angels power the movement of the chariot. In the hierarchy of these angels, seraphim are the highest, that is, closest to God, followed by the hayyot, which are followed by the ophanim; the chariot is in a constant state of motion, the energy behind this movement runs according to this hierarchy. The movement of the ophanim is controlled by the "Living creatures", or Hayyot, while the movement of the hayyot is controlled by the seraphim.
The movement of all the angels of the chariot is controlled by the "Likeness of a Man" on the Throne. Mark Verman has distinguished four periods in early Jewish mysticism, developing from Isaiah's and Ezekiel's visions of the Throne/Chariot, to extant merkabah mysticism texts: 800–500 BCE, mystical elements in Prophetic Judaism such as Ezekiel's chariot Beginning c. 530s BCE 300–100 BCE, Apocalyptic literature mysticism Beginning c. 100 BCE 1–130s CE, early Rabbinic merkabah mysticism referred to in exoteric Rabbinic literature such as the Pardes ascent. 1–200 CE, continuing till c. 1000 CE, merkabah mystical ascent accounts in the esoteric Merkabah-Hekhalot literature The earliest Rabbinic merkabah commentaries were exegetical expositions of the prophetic visions of God in the heavens, the divine retinue of angels and heavenly creatures surrounding God. The earliest evidence suggests that merkabah homiletics did not give rise to ascent experiences – as one rabbinic sage states: "Many have expounded upon the merkabah without seeing it."One mention of the merkabah in the Talmud notes the importance of the passage: "A great issue—the account of the merkavah.
The sages Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai and Rabbi Akiva were involved in merkabah exegesis. Rabbi Akiva and his contemporary Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha are most the protagonists of merkabah ascent literature; the Talmudic interdictions concerning merkabah speculation are numerous and held. Discussions concerning the merkabah were limited to only the most worthy sages, admonitory legends are preserved about the dangers of overzealous speculation concerning the merkabah. For example, the secret doctrines might not be discussed in public: "Seek not out the things that are too hard for thee, neither search the things that are above thy strength, but what is commanded thee, think thereupon with reverence. It must be studied only by exemplary scholars: "Ma'aseh Bereshit must not be explained before two, nor Ma'aseh Merkabah before one, unless he be wise and understands it by himself." Further commentary notes tha