Biblical Myth and Rabbinic Mythmaking

By Michael Fishbane | Go to book overview
Save to active project

13 Conclusions

In this Part we have considered aspects of a third level or dimension of myth in Judaism: the first being the inheritance of the Hebrew Bible, a product of ancient Israel and its wider Near Eastern context; the second being the inheritance of the Midrash and the Talmud, the product of rabbinic Judaism and its diverse historical conditions; and the third being the inheritance of any number of mystical tracts, and particularly the book of Zohar, an heir of these prior layers of tradition and their transformation. In every sense is the Zohar a kind of 'renaissance': at once an ingathering of earlier sources and their bold revivification. 1 There are no breaks in this chain, but rather continuities and innovation: different orientations to reception, renovation, and reformation. The old biblical fragments of myth were repeatedly reused and recontextualized, as were the midrashic teachings that took them over and revised them. In these cases, myth was found in Scripture (both directly and through exegesis); but Scripture itself was not myth.

This underscores what is truly new about myth and the Zohar. As a commentary on Scripture, the book of Zohar attempts to read and disclose the hidden myth formulated in the words of the Torah and other passages from the sacred canon. That is to say, the myth itself, as an inward and spiritual reality of divine Being, is unsayable and unknowable on its own terms; and only becomes knowable and sayable in the terminology of Scripture—when this is properly understood. One might thus fear that this refraction is a double distortion: first, because of its distillation through human language; and, second, because of its dependence on the human imagination and the vagaries of exegetical insight. But the fact that the Torah is deemed to be an aspect of Divinity itself; and that Moses is a perfect 'man of God', who has received the divine Wisdom in the mirror of his pure consciousness, betokens trust that the supernal truths have been transmitted through his wisdom and may be known by his true disciples. 2 The core of this truth is the myth of God's manifestation of His Being in a series of gradations and forms; and just this is encoded in the language of Scripture.

-301-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Biblical Myth and Rabbinic Mythmaking
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 461

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?