Page 73 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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GRIES / A DECADE OF BOOKS ON KABBALAH
6 5
biography of Abulafia and the scope of his intellectual world,
as well as his immense influence beyond his lifetime, were not
fully known. M. Idel’s excellent doctoral thesis, which had been
available only to a few scholars, was enlarged and enriched by
his later studies. Three of Idel’s books which were recently pub­
lished by SUNY Press and which are concerned largely with
Abulafia are:
The Mystical Experience of Abraham Abulafia
(New
York, 1988);
Studies in Ecstatic Kabbalah
(New York, 1988); and
Language, Torah, and Hermeneutics in Abraham Abulafia
(New
York, 1988). The reader of Idel’s above-mentioned
Kabbalah:
New Perspectives
will find that the teachings of Abulafia play a
central role in the author’s new approach to old and new issues
in the study of Kabbalah.13 On the basis of various literary
sources Idel has constructed a magnificent edifice.
As already mentioned, the study of the Zohar stands at the
center of the scientific effort to explore the early stages of Kab­
balah. Without a doubt, the major contribution to this field is
J. Liebes’
Chapters in the Dictionary of the Zohar
(Jerusalem, In ­
stitute for Advanced Studies of the Hebrew University, 1976
[Hebrew]), consisting of the au thor’s doctoral thesis. Due to the
wide scope of this work, which investigates some of the most
important words and terms of the Zohar, we now have a reliable
concordance which has been enriched by additional thorough
research extending beyond the strictly philological aspects.
Thus, Liebes’ book serves the students of Kabbalah not only
as a dictionary, but also as a fine guide to a better understanding
of the major issues in the Zohar. These issues encompass the
nature, function and aspirations of man and the world of
Zoharic symbols, such as the depiction of the Divine spheres
in the shape of a tree
{liana,
in Aramaic).
ZOHARIC STORIES
The literary aspects of the Zohar were discussed at length,
for the first time, by M. Megged in his work
The Darkened Light
(Tel Aviv, Sifriyat Poalim, 1980 [Hebrew]). An edited version
of the au thor’s master’s thesis, the book is well intentioned.
However, it lacks a serious attempt to analyze the stories of
the Zohar and to enlighten us concerning their style, structure
13. See the index to Idel’s book
Kabbalah: New Perspectives,
p. 408, under
Abulafia.