They have... books with these terrible, awe-inspiring Names... they know that the use of these mysterious Names, without due and careful preparation, brings with it calamity and premature death.
-from the introduction
How much ancient wisdom was lost in the medieval years! here laments Moses Gaster, one of the most prominent Jewish theologians and folklorists of the late 19th century. In 1896, he translated a fragmentary relic of Gnostic literature, a manuscript concerned with the many secret names of God believed by Kabbalists to wield enormous magical power, but in the discussion that here precedes the translation, Gaster acknowledges that this document only hints at the texts that may be lost forever. It remains a tantalizing peek into archaic occult mysteries.
Jewish scholar MOSES GASTER (1856-1939) was born in Romania but emigrated to England, where he lectured at Oxford University. His wrote numerous books of theology, folklore, history, and literature, including History of Rumanian Popular Literature (1883) and five-volume Sephardic prayer book (1901-6).