The Books of Contemplation: Medieval Jewish Mystical Sources

The Books of Contemplation: Medieval Jewish Mystical Sources

The Books of Contemplation: Medieval Jewish Mystical Sources

The Books of Contemplation: Medieval Jewish Mystical Sources

Synopsis

The earliest medieval Jewish mystical writings, or kabbalah, date from the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. This is the first book to focus on the most prodigious group active at that time the Circle of Contemplation.

The Circle of Contemplation generated a mystical theology that differs radically from mainstream kabbalistic theosophy. Two of this group's penetrating speculations on God and the origins of the universe are The Book of Contemplation and The Fountain of Wisdom. A meticulous and systematic study of these writings forms the core of this book.

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Excerpt

The Jewish mystical tradition constitutes a vast repository of texts. There has never been a comprehensive attempt to enumerate all of them. Undoubtedly, such an undertaking would yield thousands upon thousands of entries. Only a small fraction of these has ever been published. the majority of these treatises are extant in manuscripts, preserved in libraries and private collections, scattered throughout the world. To be sure, countless works have been lost owing to the vicissitudes of Jewish history.

Even smaller is the number of Jewish mystical writings that have been made accessible to an English-speaking audience. Accordingly, it is with great pleasure that I am able to present the core treatises of one of the pioneering groups of medieval Jewish mystical theologians, the "Circle of Contemplation."

Chapter One offers a historical overview of the Jewish mystical tradition, as well as a basic introduction to the key writings of the "Circle." Chapter Two contains critical editions and annotated translations of these significant works, based upon extensive manuscript research. Chapters Three through Five delve into the theological, philological, and historical dimensions of these texts.

Frequently, biblical passages are cited in these works. the translation is essentially my own and is based upon the Masoretic edition of the Hebrew Scriptures, in consultation with standard translations.

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