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Antinomianism in the Sabbatian and Frankist movements

The Sabbatian and Frankist movements are often described as "antinomian" - which seems, as it is generally used in this context, to refer not to an idea that there is no distinction between good and evil (ie that the categories do not refer to any real distinction) but to an idea that, although there is such a distinction, there are occasions when it is necessary to transgress.

R. Brzustowicz

There are three aspects of antinomianism.

  1. The first requires the transcending (overcoming) of different fundamental for the "established" religions oppositions of good-evil, sacred-prophane, virtue-sin, etc.
  2. The second one requires (in some cases) to prefer evil to good (but for the highest Good), prophane to sacred, etc.
  3. In some cases the antinomianism expresses itself in the elimination of regular prohibitions because of the coming of the sacred/messianic time of freedom from all mundane prohibitions (e.g. Sabbatai Zevi ate fat of kidneys to show the coming of the Messianic aeon which is free from any prohibition of the Torah of the profane aeon).

All these kinds of antinomianism (especially types 1 & 3) are typical for mystical traditions of all cultures (Tantric yogins and mahasiddhas, Sufi, Taoists, Zen monks, Sabbatianism, etc.). But it seems to me that Oriental religions (because of their predominantly mystical characters) treat antinomianism much better and milder than the Western/Mediterranean religions: for the Eastern people antinomianism is a sign of mystical progress of the holy practitioners and for the Westerners it is just a heresy.

Evgueni Tortchinov

Jacob Frank
Sabbatai Zevi


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content by Evgueni Tortchinov and R. Brzustowicz
html by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 17 October 1998
most recent update 13 August 2001