Ascensions on High in Jewish Mysticism

Pillars, Lines, Ladders
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224 pages

Ascensions on high took many forms in Jewish mysticism and they permeated most of its history from its inception until Hasidism. The book surveys the various categories, with an emphasis on the architectural images of the ascent, like the resort to images of pillars, lines, and ladders.

After surveying the variety of scholarly approaches to religion, the author also offers what he proposes as an eclectic approach, and a perspectivist one. The latter recommends to examine religious phenomena from a variety of perspectives. The author investigates the specific issue of the pillar in Jewish mysticism by comparing it to the archaic resort to pillars recurring in rural societies.

Given the fact that the ascent of the soul and pillars constituted the concerns of two main Romanian scholars of religion, Ioan P. Culianu and Mircea Eliade, Idel resorts to their views, and in the Concluding Remarks analyzes the emergence of Eliade's vision of Judaism on the basis of neglected sources.



Chapter 1: On Diverse Forms of Living Ascent on High in Jewish Sources

Chapter 2: On Cosmic Pillars in Jewish Sources

Chapter 3: The Eschatological Pillar of the Souls in Zoharic Literature

Chapter 4: Psychanodia and Metamorphoses of Pillars in Eighteenth-Century Hasidism

Chapter 5: The Neoplatonic Path for Dead Souls: Medieval Philosophy, Kabbalah and Renaissance

Concluding Remarks

Name Index

Subject Index

"His control of literature is impressive, and his proposal is suggestive. Throughout, Idel shows mastery of a very wide range of primary and secondary sources. Summing up: recommended."