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I have seen quoted in the name of Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), also spelled Marcellus Ficin, that all nations of the world worship a God whose name is spelled with four letters. Does anybody know where this might occur in Ficino's writings and if there has been any discussion of Ficino's assertion? The source where I saw this quoted was in The Concilliator by Rabbi Manasseh ben Israel of Amsterdam (1604-1657), see here on Google Books.

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The source is Marsilio Ficino (1433–99)'s edition (Latin translation and comemntary) of Plato's dialogues.

See Platonis Opera (1517 ed), Liber XXIII : "Argumentum Marsilii Ficini in Cratylum", where Ficino consider :

quod omnes gentes atque linguae praecipuum dei nomen quatuor solum pronunciant literis. [...] Hinc Aegyptii quê nos deû theut nominant [...] Graeci theos : Arabes alla. [...] Sed cur voluit deus quatuor ubiqi litteris invocari. [why people of all nations and languages assert that the name of God has only four letters.]

The reason, according to Ficino, is because God himself has four aspects, essence, being, power and action, or because there there are four triplicities in the celestial signs (i.e., the division of the zodiac into earth, air, fire and water signs), and four elements in the sublunar world.


For a later discussion, see John Dee (1527–1608/09); see :

You can consider all the tradition of Renaissance magic and Heremticism, the syncretist tradition that starts from Ficino, Pico della Mirandola and the Corpus hermeticum (translated into Latin and edited by Marsilio Ficino before 1500) and flows, via the Platonic Academy of Florence, into the works of John Dee and the Cambridge Platonists : Henry More and Ralph Cudworth (which, according to Wiki Menasseh Ben Israel met during his stay in England), and into the vast alchemical literature which was familiar also to Newton.

See :

  • Do you know of any later discussions concerning Ficino's assertion? – Reb Chaim HaQoton Sep 7 '18 at 11:46

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