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Through a Speculum That Shines: Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism

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Through a Speculum That Shines: Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A comprehensive treatment of visionary experience in some of the main texts of Jewish mysticism, this book reveals the overwhelmingly visual nature of religious experience in Jewish spirituality from antiquity through the late Middle Ages. Using phenomenological and critical historical tools, Wolfson examines Jewish mystical texts from late antiquity, pre-kabbalistic sources from the tenth to the twelfth centuries, and twelfth- and thirteenth-century kabbalistic literature. His work demonstrates that the sense of sight assumes an epistemic priority in these writings, reflecting and building upon those scriptural passages that affirm the visual nature of revelatory experience. Moreover, the author reveals an androcentric eroticism in the scopic mentality of Jewish mystics, which placed the externalized and representable form, the phallus, at the center of the visual encounter.

In the visionary experience, as Wolfson describes it, imagination serves a primary function, transmuting sensory data and rational concepts into symbols of those things beyond sense and reason. In this view, the experience of a vision is inseparable from the process of interpretation. Fundamentally challenging the conventional distinction between experience and exegesis, revelation and interpretation, Wolfson argues that for the mystics themselves, the study of texts occasioned a visual experience of the divine located in the imagination of the mystical interpreter. Thus he shows how Jewish mystics preserved the invisible transcendence of God without doing away with the visual dimension of belief.

Synopsis:

"Wolfson brilliantly shows that the visionary mode of religious experience is central to Jewish spirituality from antiquity through the late Middle Ages . . . . A landmark study from one of our most gifted scholars."--Elliot Ginsburg, University of Michigan

"The book is a dazzling accomplishment, a landmark study from one of our most gifted scholars."--Elliot Ginsburg, University of Michigan

Synopsis:

A comprehensive treatment of visionary experience in some of the main texts of Jewish mysticism, this book reveals the overwhelmingly visual nature of religious experience in Jewish spirituality from antiquity through the late Middle Ages. Using phenomenological and critical historical tools, Wolfson examines Jewish mystical texts from late antiquity, pre-kabbalistic sources from the tenth to the twelfth centuries, and twelfth- and thirteenth-century kabbalistic literature. His work demonstrates that the sense of sight assumes an epistemic priority in these writings, reflecting and building upon those scriptural passages that affirm the visual nature of revelatory experience. Moreover, the author reveals an androcentric eroticism in the scopic mentality of Jewish mystics, which placed the externalized and representable form, the phallus, at the center of the visual encounter.

In the visionary experience, as Wolfson describes it, imagination serves a primary function, transmuting sensory data and rational concepts into symbols of those things beyond sense and reason. In this view, the experience of a vision is inseparable from the process of interpretation. Fundamentally challenging the conventional distinction between experience and exegesis, revelation and interpretation, Wolfson argues that for the mystics themselves, the study of texts occasioned a visual experience of the divine located in the imagination of the mystical interpreter. Thus he shows how Jewish mystics preserved the invisible transcendence of God without doing away with the visual dimension of belief.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction3
Ch. 1"Israel: The One Who Sees God" - Visualization of God in Biblical, Apocalyptic, and Rabbinic Sources13
Ch. 2Vision of God in Mystical Sources: A Typological Analysis52
Ch. 3Visionary Ascent and Enthronement in the Hekhalot Literature74
Ch. 4Theories of the Glory and Visionary Experience in Pre-Kabbalistic Sources125
Ch. 5Haside Ashkenaz: Veridical and Docetic Interpretations of the Chariot Vision188
Ch. 6Visionary Gnosis and the Role of the Imagination in Theosophic Kabbalah270
Ch. 7The Hermeneutics of Visionary Experience: Revelation and Interpretation in the Zohar326
Conclusion393
Appendix: Manuscripts Cited399
Select Bibliography of Primary Sources Cited401
Select Bibliography of Secondary Sources Cited409
Index439

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691017228
Author:
Wolfson, Elliot R.
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Location:
Princeton
Subject:
Judaism - General
Subject:
Judaism
Subject:
Judaism - History
Subject:
Mysticism
Subject:
Judaism - Hasidism
Subject:
Jewish - General
Subject:
Jewish
Subject:
Jewish studies
Subject:
European History
Subject:
Religion
Subject:
Mind, Body & Spirit
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
November 1997
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Pages:
464
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 23 oz

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Related Subjects


Religion » Judaism » General
Religion » Judaism » History
Religion » Judaism » Jewish History
Religion » Western Religions » Mysticism

Through a Speculum That Shines: Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism New Trade Paper
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$61.75 In Stock
Product details 464 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691017228 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "Wolfson brilliantly shows that the visionary mode of religious experience is central to Jewish spirituality from antiquity through the late Middle Ages . . . . A landmark study from one of our most gifted scholars."--Elliot Ginsburg, University of Michigan

"The book is a dazzling accomplishment, a landmark study from one of our most gifted scholars."--Elliot Ginsburg, University of Michigan

"Synopsis" by , A comprehensive treatment of visionary experience in some of the main texts of Jewish mysticism, this book reveals the overwhelmingly visual nature of religious experience in Jewish spirituality from antiquity through the late Middle Ages. Using phenomenological and critical historical tools, Wolfson examines Jewish mystical texts from late antiquity, pre-kabbalistic sources from the tenth to the twelfth centuries, and twelfth- and thirteenth-century kabbalistic literature. His work demonstrates that the sense of sight assumes an epistemic priority in these writings, reflecting and building upon those scriptural passages that affirm the visual nature of revelatory experience. Moreover, the author reveals an androcentric eroticism in the scopic mentality of Jewish mystics, which placed the externalized and representable form, the phallus, at the center of the visual encounter.

In the visionary experience, as Wolfson describes it, imagination serves a primary function, transmuting sensory data and rational concepts into symbols of those things beyond sense and reason. In this view, the experience of a vision is inseparable from the process of interpretation. Fundamentally challenging the conventional distinction between experience and exegesis, revelation and interpretation, Wolfson argues that for the mystics themselves, the study of texts occasioned a visual experience of the divine located in the imagination of the mystical interpreter. Thus he shows how Jewish mystics preserved the invisible transcendence of God without doing away with the visual dimension of belief.

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