Page 69 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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GRIES / A DECADE OF BOOKS ON KABBALAH
61
History
(New York, New York University Press, 1987). Scholem’s
ideas were ably presented but were not examined on the basis
of any new analysis of the Kabbalistic sources used by Scholem,
or on the basis of any new material.3 Recently, a major con­
tribution was made to the ongoing discussion of Scholem’s work
in M. Idel’s
Kabbalah: New Perspectives
(New Haven & London,
Yale University Press, 1988). Idel broadened the scope of the
critical discussion of Scholem’s work, which was first initiated
by Schweid. He went further and contributed a new presen­
tation of established themes in the study of Kabbalah, such as
Devekut and Unio Mystica, and dealt with such additional sub­
jects as mystical techniques, theurgy and hermeneutics. His
work is bound to stimulate a fresh concern with Kabbalah on
the part of scholars in the fields of religion and Jewish studies,
as was pointed out by A. Green in his review of the book.4
Various recent writings by Idel and others5 will hopefully help
in reconstructing the role of Kabbalah in Jewish history and
will encourage scholars to make the study of Kabbalah a central
subject in comparative religious studies and the sociology of
religion.
Another attempt to view the different stages of Kabbalah was
J. Dan’s
Jewish Mysticism and Jewish Ethics
(Seattle, University of
Washington Press, 1986). Here the author tried to combine his
own approach and that of I. Tishby to Jewish ethical literature
(Sifrut ha-Musar)
with Scholem’s method and analysis of Jewish
Mysticism.
3. See M. Idel, “ ‘One from a Town, Two from a Clan’, the Question o f the
Diffusion o f Lurianic Kabbalah and Sabbatianism: a Reexamination,” a paper
presented at a conference in honor o f Prof. J. Katz and his book
Tradition
and Crisis
at Harvard University, Fall 1989, p. 38, note 7; see also Idel’s
remark, ibid., pp. 48-49 , note 73.
4. See A. Green, “Theurgy and Ecstasty,”
The New York Times Book Review,
Oc­
tober 30, 1988, pp. 32—33.
5. Several reviews o f Scholem’s work appeared already during his lifetime. The
first sharp attack on his concept o f Jewish history was B. Kurzweil’s
The
Struggle Over the Values of Judaism
(Jerusalem & Tel Aviv, Schocken, 1970
[Hebrew]). Later, there appeared D. Biale’s
Gershom Scholem: Kabbalah and
Counter-History
(Cambridge, MA & London, Harvard University Press, 1979).
This book, which contributes important insights concerning the intellectual
and spiritual sources o f Scholem’s approach, was criticized by J. Dan for
lacking any analysis o f Scholem’s vast studies o f Kabbalistic texts. See his
review in
Kiryat Sefer
54(1979), pp. 358—362.