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by Joseph Dan

This book describes the history of Jewish mysticism, introducing the wide-ranging and varied mystic writings known collectively as the Heikhalot and the Merkavah literature, with its description of mystic spiritual elevations, and meetings between the mystics and superior beings and even with God. Explains Jewish mysticism's relationships to parallel streams of thought, both within and outside Judaism. The Jewish Thought Series from Israel s MOD Books, now distributed exclusively by Jewish Lights. A part of Israel's Broadcast University Series, each book is written by leading experts and authors in their respective fields. They are published jointly by Tel Aviv University, the Chief Education Office of the IDF, and IDF Radio.
Download The Ancient Jewish Mysticism epub
ISBN: 9650506780
ISBN13: 978-9650506780
Category: Religion
Subcategory: Judaism
Author: Joseph Dan
Language: English
Publisher: Gefen Books (December 1, 1990)
Pages: 227 pages
ePUB size: 1641 kb
FB2 size: 1710 kb
Rating: 4.1
Votes: 262
Other Formats: lrf azw rtf lrf

If the topic interests you, read this book slowly, savor and process the information it offers. Joseph Dan offers a careful summary of some of the major themes in early Jewish mystical writings - hechalot, merkavah, chanoch-metatron, sar hatorah, Sefer Yetzirah. Dan offers enough quotations (in English translation) from the writings themselves to bring to life his summaries. He also responds to the quotations, sometimes offering several interpretations of them, sometimes evaluating them from a moral or intellectual perspective. He does not shy away from the weird or the unsettling aspects of the tradition, but takes it as a whole.
I originally read a library copy, but am going to buy my own!
A previous reviewer seemed to take issue with Dan's description of Sefer Yetzirah as a primarily philosophical, rather than a mystical text. I have worked as a professional philosopher for many years now, and I have to say I agree with Dan! As respect for Greek philosophy declined among Jewish intellectuals, they paid less and less attention to the main philosophical themes in Sefer Yetzirah, and more to the hints of mysticism it offers.
This is a top book on under graduate studies in Kabbalah Mysticism, Thank you Joseph Dan.
This book is a great introduction to the early Jewish mystical traditions found in various forms of literature written between the 3rd and 7th centuries, particularly in the Hekhalot and Merkavah tractates. Dan is from the Gershom Scholem school of thought and therefore he does a lot of textual - followed by historical - analysis. He also does a nice bit of comparative study between Christian and Gnostic thought whenever there are similarities. Dan also analyzes several major themes among these works, such as Messianism.
The mystical literature of this era ranges from the pseudo-biblical apocalypse (such as the Book of Zerubabbel), to the magical (parts of Hekhalot writings), to short treatises whose purpose is not yet entirely known, despite their vast influence (Sefer Yetzirah, Shi'ur Qomah). Several of these writings are really heretical/heterodox when compared to the Talmud, and Dan makes note of this.
It is interesting to note that Dan views Sefer Yetzirah as being primarily a philosophical text that was supposed to fill in the gaps in the biblical account of creation, NOT as a magical or meditative text.
As great as the content of this book may be, however, this is absolutely the worst print job i have ever seen in any book in my whole entire life. Each page looks like it was copied on bad, bad copy machine. Perhaps in the future they can correct this.
Nonetheless, I still recommend this book to those interested in the history and development of Jewish mysticism, as well as its later manifestations in the medieval Kabbalah.