Origins of the Kabbalah

Origins of the Kabbalah

Origins of the Kabbalah

Origins of the Kabbalah

Synopsis

About Gershom Scholem: [Scholem's] work on Jewish mysticism, messianism, and sectarianism, spanning now half a century, constitutes . . . one of the major achievements of the historical imagination in our time. I would contend that it is of vital interest not only to anyone concerned with the history of religion but to anyone struggling to understand the underlying problematics of the human predicament.--Robert Alter, Commentary He [Scholem] labors the wealth, even the scandal, of the past in order to multiply options of survival. No great textual scholar, no master of philology and historical criticism commands a technique at once more scrupulously attentive to its object and more instinct with the writer's voice. That voice reaches out and grabs the layman.--George Steiner, The New Yorker One of the most important scholars of our century, Gershom Scholem (1897- 1982) opened up a once esoteric world of Jewish mysticism, the Kabbalah, to concerned students of religion. The Kabbalah is a rich tradition of repeated attempts to achieve and portray direct experiences of God: its twelfth- and thirteenth-century beginnings in southern France and Spain are probed in Origins of the Kabbalah, a work crucial in Scholem's oeuvre. The book is a contribution not only to the history of Jewish medieval mysticism but also to the study of medieval mysticism in general and will be of interest to historians and psychologists, as well as to students of the history of religion.

Excerpt

It is idle to question which of a great scholar's great works is his greatest. in the case of Gershom Scholem, also the opera minora, articles, and essays were “great.” But three works stand out not only by virtue of their size, but also by virtue of their impact. Each exhibits different qualities. Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (1st ed. 1941) is the first great and still classic attempt to view the whole history of Jewish mysticism in one wide sweep, combining synthetic power with analytical precision and attention to philological detail. Sabbatai Sevi: the Mystical Messiah (original Hebrew ed. 1956; revised English version 1973) became a best seller not only because of the fascination with its exotic subject matter. Rarely before had such erudition, quantity and breadth of the sources, minute textual analysis, and profound historical insight been brought to bear on a relatively short—but nevertheless bizarre, spectacular, and, withal, significant—episode in Jewish history (and the history of messianic movements in general for that matter). Yet in many ways Ursprung und Anfange der Kabbalah (1962) is the most impressive of all, for here Scholem dealt with a major yet enigmatic phenomenon in the history of Jewish spirituality. the very specific form of Jewish mysticism (or mystical theosophy) known as Kabbalah appeared suddenly, as if out of the blue, in the late Middle Ages. What were . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.