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Mysticism and Sacred Scripture$
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Steven T. Katz

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780195097030

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195097030.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 June 2021

The Book of Zohar and Exegetical Spirituality

The Book of Zohar and Exegetical Spirituality

(p.101) 4 The Book of Zohar and Exegetical Spirituality
Mysticism and Sacred Scripture

Michael Fishbane

Oxford University Press

The book of Zohar is the masterpiece of Jewish mysticism. Ostensibly a commentary on the Torah, it pulses with the desire for God on virtually every page. One may even say that the commentary is carried by this desire and that its protean creativity is primarily motivated by a longing to experience the divine realities uncovered by mystical interpretation. Toward this end the full range of tradition is activated, which runs from late antiquity to the 13th century, when the book of Zohar appeared in Castile. Recovering theosophical truths in the teachings of the Torah, the mystics ascend exegetically to God. This process invites attention. This chapter argues the exegetical spirituality made manifest in the Zohar is a complex fusion of myth and ritual. First, and most important, the seekers' quest for divine truth is bound up with the myths of God imagined through the work of exegesis—an achievement that puts him in mind of the hidden mysteries, and in connection with them. In turn, these esoteric myths are enacted in liturgical recitation and mystical contemplation for the sake of God and man. The circularity of this spirituality is as paradoxical as it is profound: a search for certainty through the theological myths of the exegetical imagination.

Keywords:   Jewish mysticism, exegesis, mystics, God, divine truth, Zohar

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