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Beholders of Divine Secrets
Mysticism and Myth in the Hekhalot and Merkavah Literature
Beholders of Divine Secrets
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Vita Daphna Arbel - Author
Price: $71.50 
Hardcover - 262 pages
Release Date: October 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5723-0
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5723-8

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Price: $31.95 
Paperback - 262 pages
Release Date: October 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5724-9
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5724-5

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A wide-ranging exploration of the Hekhalot and Merkavah literature, a mystical Jewish tradition from late antiquity, including a discussion of the possible cultural context of this material's creators.

Beholders of Divine Secrets
provides a fascinating exploration of the enigmatic Hekhalot and Merkavah literature, the Jewish mystical writings of late antiquity. Vita Daphna Arbel delves into the unique nature of the mystical teachings, experiences, revelations, and spiritual exegesis presented in this literature. While previous scholarship has demonstrated the connection between Hekhalot and Merkavah mysticism and parallel traditions in Rabbinical writings, the Dead Sea Scrolls, apocalyptic, early Christian, and Gnostic sources, this work points out additional mythological traditions that resonate in this literature. Arbel suggests that mythological patterns of expression, as well as themes and models rooted in Near Eastern mythological traditions are employed, in a spiritualized fashion, to communicate mystical content. The possible cultural and social context of the Hekhalot and Merkavah mysticism and its composers is discussed.

“…wide-ranging and absorbing study … [Arbel] avoids universalizing religious or mystical experience. Her work is grounded in the specificity and complexity of the tradition, and in the difference between and mutual implication of text and vision … It opens up a whole new field of comparative inquiry, and provides a much more comprehensive view of the experience of the mystics than is commonly granted.” — Studies in Religion

"Exceptionally clearly written and organized. The Mesopotamian traditions that Arbel compares to ancient Jewish mysticism are widely known, yet a study such as this has never been attempted. Anyone interested in the social setting of biblical religion will find this work fills an important piece of the puzzle." — Pinchas Giller, Professor of Jewish Thought, University of Judaism

Vita Daphna Arbel is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of British Columbia.


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Table of Contents

Preface

Abbreviations

Introduction

1. The Hekhalot and Merkavah Literature and Its Mystical Tradition

2. Hekhalot and Merkavah Mysticism

3. Mythical Language of Hekhalot and Merkavah Mysticism

4. Mystical Journeys in Mythological Language

5. The Concept of God: Mystical and Mythological Dimensions

6. Literary, Phenomenological, Cultural, and Social Implications

Notes

Bibliography

Index of Passages Discussed

Index of Authors

General Index



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