Hebrew University professor Gershom Scholem, who died in 1982, is regarded as the greatest Kabbalah scholar of the 20th century. His successor and critic is Idel, also a professor at Hebrew University and author of this densely written treatise. In contrast to recent efforts to make Kabbalah more accessible, Idel presents a highly specialized narrative in language that can be grasped by only a few learned scholars. Idel demonstrates his intellectual mastery of Kabbalah by citing both Jewish and Christian commentators from medieval to modern times. Many of his sources are obscure and abstruse. Seemingly in recognition of this limitation, Idel offers six appendices in which he tries to further explain the work of Abraham Abulafia, Isaac of Acre, Nahman of Braslav, Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola, among others. All of these thinkers, along with Idel, focus on the mystical aspect of the Bible as the major topic for analysis. Idel's writing is sprinkled with foreign words and phrases that are not translated, as well as English terms that require an academician's expertise: anagrammatic, renomadization, crisical, superarcanization, hypersemantic, theosophical-theurgical, historiosophical, floruit, astromagical, extradivine, imaginaire, intercorporal, ergetic, clinamenic, and so on. Kabbalah enthusiasts who emphasize its experiential rather than its intellectual aspects will be bewildered by this text, though some academic specialists may appreciate its dizzying breadth.
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Moshe Idel: Representing God
- Publication Date:
- 8 January 2015