By Yaacob Dweck
The Scandal of Kabbalah is the 1st ebook in regards to the origins of a tradition struggle that started in early glossy Europe and maintains to at the present time: the talk among kabbalists and their critics at the nature of Judaism and the which means of non secular culture. From its medieval beginnings as an esoteric type of Jewish mysticism, Kabbalah unfold in the course of the early smooth international and have become a primary characteristic of Jewish lifestyles. students have lengthy studied the innovative impression of Kabbalah, yet, as Yaacob Dweck argues, they've got misunderstood the nature and timing of competition to it.
Drawing on more than a few formerly unexamined resources, this publication tells the tale of the 1st feedback of Kabbalah, Ari Nohem, written by means of Leon Modena in Venice in 1639. during this scathing indictment of Venetian Jews who had embraced Kabbalah as an actual kind of historic esotericism, Modena proved the new origins of Kabbalah and sought to persuade his readers to come to the spiritualized rationalism of Maimonides.
The Scandal of Kabbalah examines the hallmarks of Jewish modernity displayed by means of Modena's attack--a serious research of sacred texts, skepticism approximately non secular truths, and self-consciousness concerning the past--and exhibits how those features and the later heritage of his polemic problem traditional understandings of the connection among Kabbalah and modernity. Dweck argues that Kabbalah was once the topic of serious inquiry within the very interval it got here to dominate Jewish lifestyles instead of centuries later as so much students have thought.
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Additional info for The Scandal of Kabbalah: Leon Modena, Jewish Mysticism, Early Modern Venice (Jews, Christians, and Muslims from the Ancient to the Modern World)
Seventy nine The scope of Scholem's historiographic imaginative and prescient was once matched or even surpassed by means of the ability of his prose. For all of the attacks on Scholem's narrative, either in his personal lifetime and within the many years given that his loss of life, his paintings endures in no small degree as a result of his skill to rework Kabbalah into literature. Scholem may perhaps were the best brain to review Kabbalah, yet he was once infrequently the 1st. In utilizing the background of Ari Nohem to problem Scholem's scholarly self-presentation, I desire to be transparent approximately what i'm really not doing: Modena was once now not Scholem in Baroque Venice. in a single of his overdue items, Scholem perceptively pointed to Reuchlin as his highbrow ancestor. eighty Scholem won't were a kabbalist, as he time and again insisted, yet like Reuchlin prior to him he was once essentially sympathetic to Kabbalah. For all his perception, Modena lacked such sympathy. This booklet is split into 3 sections: the 1st examines Modena as author; the second one, Modena as reader; and the 3rd, Modena as learn. bankruptcy 1 positions Modena's writing practices in the context of early sleek Venice, capital of Hebrew printing and middle of manuscript construction. Drawing on a variety of unexamined assets, this bankruptcy issues to the collaborative nature of Modena's writing. in the course of the reconstruction of Modena's dating together with his grandson Isaac Levi, who served as his amanuensis within the ultimate twenty years of his lifestyles, i find the writing of Ari Nohem because the made from their joint efforts, a operating dating that was once regular between intellectuals—Jewish and Christian—in northern Italy within the early 17th century. Chapters 2 and three research Modena as a reader of medieval Jewish texts, the Zohar and the consultant of the at a loss for words. bankruptcy 2 stories Modena's historicization of the Zohar because the paintings of Moses de Leon in medieval Castile instead of Simeon bar Yohai in Roman Palestine. Modena objected to the elevation of the Zohar as a resource of felony and cultural authority; his feedback of the traditional origins of the paintings was once an try to deflate its newly got prestige instead of a wholesale rejection of its contents. If Modena sought to counter the status of 1 medieval paintings, the Zohar, he additionally tried to revitalize that of one other, the advisor of the confused. bankruptcy three examines Modena's try to reclaim Maimonides from his kabbalistic critics and admirers. I argue that a lot of Modena's most crucial positions in Ari Nohem—his knowing of culture, his rejection of kabbalistic theology, and his assault on kabbalistic hermeneutics—were knowledgeable by means of his analyzing of Maimonides. Chapters four and five reconstruct Modena's reactions to 2 vital phenomena in early glossy Kabbalah: the renaissance in Safed and the learn of Kabbalah by way of Christians. bankruptcy four makes use of Ari Nohem to rfile the transmission of Kabbalah from Safed to Venice and examines Modena's indictment of this move of information and perform. I hint Modena's feedback via his response to the becoming cult of character round Isaac Luria and his unique reaction to 1 of the main major theological treatises composed in Safed, Moses Cordovero's Pardes Rimonim.