By Ithamar Gruenwald

It is a new and revised version of the e-book first released 1980. It includes new introductory and concluding chapters in addition to a Bibliography and up to date Index. additionally, tremendous corrections, updates, and adjustments were made within the unique textual content. The alterations problem issues of language and magnificence, they nuance the road of argumentation, they usually replace the dialogue of significant matters. the hot chapters fill a number of scholarly gaps that experience opened because the preliminary booklet of this publication in 1980. the recent Introductory bankruptcy explores new venues and concerns within the examine and evaluation of the Hekhalot literature and proper passages in apocalyptic literature, and this in mild of epistemological and ontological issues. The Concluding bankruptcy discusses the ritual praxis of the event of the Hekhalot mystics and its affitnity to magic, and this by way of new ways to ritual conception.

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Additional resources for Apocalyptic and Merkavah Mysticism (2nd Edition)

Sample text

The kind of attention we have given to the scriptural material indicates the direction that we should look in order to assess the uniquely innovative features of the Hekhalot hymns. This assessment links to a profound statement of religious faith and, thus, entails a unique epistemological stance. In this context, one may argue that the Hekhalot hymns explore new zones of maintaining religious experience. Where scriptural poetics exhausts its thrust as a major form of expressing religious belief and experiential possibilities, the Hekhalot writings open gates to mental activities in which different religious realms unfold.

McGinn, The Foundations of Mysticism: Origins to the Fifth Century, Vol. I (New York: Crossroad, 1991), p. 21. I refer to this work, because it contains an impressive survey of methodological issues. However, McGinn does not raise the issues specifically highlighted in the present discussion. 22 chapter 1 In this respect, we have to raise a crucial question: Is there a connection between the preparatory rituals and the epistemological status of the ensuing experience, and, if there is, how do we assess its essence?

However, the passage in Sefer Hekhalot, to which I refer below, is not necessarily magical. In any event, Betz’s detailed discussion of the ritual aspects of the Mithras Liturgy exposes an interesting spectrum of similarities between the rituals mentioned and prescribed in Hekhalot writings. It should be pointed out, though, that the main subject matter of the Mithras Liturgy is not mysticism in the visionary sense discussed here. It emphasizes the factor of “immortality” (ἀθανασία). The notion of the hostile and destructive look of the heavenly beings is a recurrent theme in the Hekhalot literature.

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