A Jewish Gnostic

ELISHA BEN ABUYAH is one of the most intriguing personalities to be found in any literature. He was a learned man, a Rabbi, who in the prime of life had the courage to unlearn one of the most intricate and comprehensive systems of theology ever evolved by the ingenuity of man, in order to obtain empirical evidence of the Divine existence and activity. The difficulties of his self-imposed task as he faced them when the fires of youth were already extinguished would seem to have found expression in one of the very few of his sayings which have been preserved: “Elisha ben Abuyah said, If one learns as a child, what is it like? Like ink written on clean paper. If one learns as an old man, what is it like? Like ink written on blotted paper.”’