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The Origins of Jewish Mysticism

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The Origins of Jewish Mysticism Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The Origins of Jewish Mysticism offers the first in-depth look at the history of Jewish mysticism from the book of Ezekiel to the Merkavah mysticism of late antiquity. The Merkavah movement is widely recognized as the first full-fledged expression of Jewish mysticism, one that had important ramifications for classical rabbinic Judaism and the emergence of the Kabbalah in twelfth-century Europe. Yet until now, the origins and development of still earlier forms of Jewish mysticism have been largely overlooked.

In this book, Peter Schäfer sheds new light on Ezekiel's tantalizing vision, the apocalyptic literature of Enoch, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the writings of the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo, the rabbinical writings of the Talmudic period, and the esotericism of the Merkavah mystics. Schäfer questions whether we can accurately speak of Jewish mysticism as a uniform, coherent phenomenon with origins in Judaism's mythical past. Rather than imposing preconceived notions about "mysticism" on a great variety of writings that arose from different cultural, religious, and historical settings, he reveals what these writings seek to tell us about the age-old human desire to get close to and communicate with God.

Synopsis:

"The Origins of Jewish Mysticism is the culmination of a lifetime of scholarship by one of the most important figures in the field. Full of fresh and convincing interpretations, it is among the most significant works on Jewish mysticism to appear in decades."--Philip Alexander, University of Manchester

"With great acumen and ingenuity, Schäfer refutes the currently popular idea that there was an uninterrupted continuum from the earliest Jewish apocalypses and the Dead Sea Scrolls to the mystical Hekhalot literature of late antiquity. His book is a very sobering reminder that the origins of Jewish mysticism still remain by and large shrouded in darkness."--Pieter W. van der Horst, professor emeritus, Utrecht University

Synopsis:

The Origins of Jewish Mysticism offers the first in-depth look at the history of Jewish mysticism from the book of Ezekiel to the Merkavah mysticism of late antiquity. The Merkavah movement is widely recognized as the first full-fledged expression of Jewish mysticism, one that had important ramifications for classical rabbinic Judaism and the emergence of the Kabbalah in twelfth-century Europe. Yet until now, the origins and development of still earlier forms of Jewish mysticism have been largely overlooked.

In this book, Peter Schäfer sheds new light on Ezekiel's tantalizing vision, the apocalyptic literature of Enoch, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the writings of the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo, the rabbinical writings of the Talmudic period, and the esotericism of the Merkavah mystics. Schäfer questions whether we can accurately speak of Jewish mysticism as a uniform, coherent phenomenon with origins in Judaism's mythical past. Rather than imposing preconceived notions about "mysticism" on a great variety of writings that arose from different cultural, religious, and historical settings, he reveals what these writings seek to tell us about the age-old human desire to get close to and communicate with God.

About the Author

Peter Schäfer is the Ronald O. Perelman Professor of Jewish Studies and professor of religion at Princeton University. His books include "Jesus in the Talmud" and "Mirror of His Beauty: Feminine Images of God from the Bible to the Early Kabbalah" (both Princeton). He received a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2007.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments XI

Abbreviations XIII

Introduction 1

Mysticism 1

Jewish Mysticism 9

1 Phases of Jewish Mysticism 9

2 Unio mystica 17

Origins 20

The Origins of Jewish Mysticism 23

Chapter 1: Ezekiel's Vision: The Cosmos as Temple 34

Chapter 2: Enoch and His Circle: Ascent to Heaven 53

The Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 1-36) 53

The Testament of Levi67

Similitudes of Enoch (1 Enoch 37-71) 72

2 Enoch 77

Chapter 3: Enoch's Companions: From the Community to the Individual 86

Apocalypse of Abraham 86

Ascension of Isaiah 93

Apocalypse of Zephaniah 99

Apocalypse of John 103

Chapter 4: Qumran: Communion with the Angels 112

A Community of Priests 113

Communion with the Angels in the Holy War 116

Liturgical Communion with the Angels 122

The Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice 130

The Self-Glorification Hymn 146

Summary 151

Chapter 5: Philo: The Ascent of the Soul 154

Philo's Concept of God 155

Body and Soul, Senses and Mind 160

The Soul's Vision of God 164

Chapter 6: The Rabbis I: Approaching God through Exegesis.175

Reading and Expounding the Torah 176

The Cycle of Seven Stories 185

1 Yohanan b Zakkai and Eleazar b Arakh: Teacher and Student 186

2 Chain of Transmission 195

3 Four Entered a Garden 196

4 Parable of the King's Garden 203

5 Parable of the Middle Course 206

6 Ben Zoma and Creation 207

7 Creation 209

Summary 210

Chapter 7: The Rabbis II: The Merkavah in Context 214

Yerushalmi 214

Bavli 222

Chapter 8: The Merkavah Mystics 243

Hekhalot Rabbati 244

1 The Gedullah Hymns 245

2 The Qedushah Hymns 254

3 The Ten Martyrs Narrative 256

4 The Apocalypses 257

5 Qedushah Hymns and Hymns of Praise 259

6 The Ascent Accounts 268

Hekhalot Zutarti 282

1 §§ 335-374: Ascent Accounts 283

2 §§ 375-406: Metatron 294

3 §§ 407-427: The Test of the Mystic and His Ascent 298

4 §§ 489-495: The Book of the Mysteries of the Divine Names 304

5 §§ 498-517: The Magic of the Name 305

Shi'ur Qomah 306

3 Enoch 315

1 Ishmael's Ascent 316

2 Enoch Is Metatron 318

Summary 327

Chapter 9: Conclusions 331

Ezekiel and the Ascent Apocalypses 331

Hekhalot Literature 339

Qumran 348

The Rabbis 350

Philo 352

Mysticism 353

Bibliography 357

Source Index 373

General Index 391

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691142159
Author:
Schafer, Peter
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Author:
Schfer, Peter
Subject:
Judaism - History
Subject:
Religion
Subject:
Jewish studies
Subject:
Mind, Body & Spirit
Subject:
Judaism-Kabbalah and Mysticism
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20110231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
416
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 21 oz

Related Subjects

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Religion » Judaism » Kabbalah and Mysticism

The Origins of Jewish Mysticism New Trade Paper
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Product details 416 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691142159 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "The Origins of Jewish Mysticism is the culmination of a lifetime of scholarship by one of the most important figures in the field. Full of fresh and convincing interpretations, it is among the most significant works on Jewish mysticism to appear in decades."--Philip Alexander, University of Manchester

"With great acumen and ingenuity, Schäfer refutes the currently popular idea that there was an uninterrupted continuum from the earliest Jewish apocalypses and the Dead Sea Scrolls to the mystical Hekhalot literature of late antiquity. His book is a very sobering reminder that the origins of Jewish mysticism still remain by and large shrouded in darkness."--Pieter W. van der Horst, professor emeritus, Utrecht University

"Synopsis" by , The Origins of Jewish Mysticism offers the first in-depth look at the history of Jewish mysticism from the book of Ezekiel to the Merkavah mysticism of late antiquity. The Merkavah movement is widely recognized as the first full-fledged expression of Jewish mysticism, one that had important ramifications for classical rabbinic Judaism and the emergence of the Kabbalah in twelfth-century Europe. Yet until now, the origins and development of still earlier forms of Jewish mysticism have been largely overlooked.

In this book, Peter Schäfer sheds new light on Ezekiel's tantalizing vision, the apocalyptic literature of Enoch, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the writings of the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo, the rabbinical writings of the Talmudic period, and the esotericism of the Merkavah mystics. Schäfer questions whether we can accurately speak of Jewish mysticism as a uniform, coherent phenomenon with origins in Judaism's mythical past. Rather than imposing preconceived notions about "mysticism" on a great variety of writings that arose from different cultural, religious, and historical settings, he reveals what these writings seek to tell us about the age-old human desire to get close to and communicate with God.

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