Origins of the Kabbalah

Origins of the Kabbalah

edited by R. J. ZWI WERBLOWSKY
translated from the German by ALLAN ARKUSH
Copyright Date: 1962
Pages: 504
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  • Book Info
    Origins of the Kabbalah
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2042-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Sources
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Editor’s Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    R. J. Zwi Werblowsky
  5. Author’s Preface to the First (German) Edition
    (pp. xv-2)
    Gershom Scholem
    (pp. 3-48)

    The question of the origin and early stages of the Kabbalah, that form of Jewish mysticism and theosophy that appears to have emerged suddenly in the thirteenth century, is indisputably one of the most difficult in the history of the Jewish religion after the destruction of the Second Temple. Just as indisputably, it is one of the most important. The significance acquired by the kabbalistic movement within the Jewish world was so great and its influence at times so preponderant that if one wishes to understand the religious possibilities inherent in Judaism, the problem of the specific historical character of...

    (pp. 49-198)

    The BookBahir,whose few pages seem to contain so much that is pertinent to the mystery of the origin of the Kabbalah, has the form of a midrash, namely, a collection of sayings or very brief homiletical expositions of biblical verses.¹ These are not set forth according to any particular organizational principle. Thus the book is devoid of a literary structure. Furthermore, as we shall see, it is only with the greatest reservations that one can speak of a uniform development of thought in the various paragraphs of the text. Everything seems to have been jumbled together haphazardly. Utilizing...

    (pp. 199-364)

    We have hitherto been concerned with the analysis of the oldest literary document of the Kabbalah, which made its appearance in Provence. We must now turn to the other side of the problem and ask: What do we know about the first personalities whom the kabbalists regarded as their earliest masters? Here, too, the paths of research are intricate and at times even thorny. Complete writings and other documents that could take us with certainty to the period before 1200 have not been preserved. On the other hand, we are no longer facing the vacuum that prevailed until now in...

    (pp. 365-476)

    The first recognizable group of kabbalists crystallizing in Spain had its center during the first half of the thirteenth century in Gerona, a small Catalan city situated between Barcelona and the Pyrenees. At that time Gerona harbored a sizable Jewish community, the second largest in the land after Barcelona. Its importance emerges quite clearly from the documents relating to the history of the Aragonese Jews in the thirteenth century to be found in the well-known publications of Régné and Baer. The political conditions of the time were such that the region situated on both sides of the Pyrenees, up to...

  10. Index
    (pp. 477-488)