Description : Gershom Scholem was the master builder of historical studies of the Kabbalah. When he began to work on this neglected field, the few who studied these texts were either amateurs who were looking for occult wisdom, or old-style Kabbalists who were seeking guidance on their spiritual journeys. His work broke with the outlook of the scholars of the previous century in Judaica—die Wissenschaft des Judentums, the Science of Judaism—whose orientation he rejected, calling their “disregard for the most vital aspects of the Jewish people as a collective entity: a form of “censorship of the Jewish past.” The major founders of modern Jewish historical studies in the nineteenth century, Leopold Zunz and Abraham Geiger, had ignored the Kabbalah; it did not fit into their account of the Jewish religion as rational and worthy of respect by “enlightened” minds. The only exception was the historian Heinrich Graetz. He had paid substantial attention to its texts and to their most explosive exponent, the false Messiah Sabbatai Zevi, but Graetz had depicted the Kabbalah and all that flowed from it as an unworthy revolt from the underground of Jewish life against its reasonable, law-abiding, and learned mainstream. Scholem conducted a continuing polemic with Zunz, Geiger, and Graetz by bringing into view a Jewish past more varied, more vital, and more interesting than any idealized portrait could reveal. —from the Foreword by Arthur Hertzberg, 1995
Description : Over the centuries, the messianic tradition has provided the language through which modern Jewish philosophers, socialists, and Zionists envisioned a utopian future. Michael L. Morgan, Steven Weitzman, and an international group of leading scholars ask new questions and provide new ways of thinking about this enduring Jewish idea. Using the writings of Gershom Scholem, which ranged over the history of messianic belief and its conflicted role in the Jewish imagination, these essays put aside the boundaries that divide history from philosophy and religion to offer new perspectives on the role and relevance of messianism today.
Description : Rabbi Greenstone's valued work, The Messiah Idea in Jewish History, offers a detailed survey, from Biblical times down to the religious reform movements and Zionism of the late 19th century, of messianic beliefs in Judaism. As Greenstone's introduction mentions: "The belief in the coming of the Messiah, the treasured hope of the Jew throughout all the centuries of misery and persectuion, is regarded by most Jewish thinkers as a dogma of Judaism." The author pays special attention to Talmudic and Midrashic sources, to the work of philosophers and Kabbalists, as well as the historical conditions, to elucidate the influences messianism had on Jewish society over the centuries.
Description : A richly detailed account of the only messianic movement ever to engulf the entire Jewish world. The twentieth century produced a galaxy of extraordinary Jewish historians. Gershom Scholem stands out among them for the richness and power of his historical imagination. Born in Berlin in 1897, Scholem became a Zionist as a young student in a revolt against his family's bourgeois and assimilated life. He learned Hebrew and studied Kabbalah, the world of mystical teachings that had become marginalized--indeed stigmatized--within the mainstream rationalist Jewish tradition. In 1923, Scholem emigrated to Palestine and eventually joined the faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, publishing groundbreaking studies in the field of Jewish mysticism. In the 1930s, Scholem's scholarship turned to an obscure kabbalist rabbi of seventeenth-century Turkey, Sabbatai Ṣevi, who aroused a fervent following that spread over the Jewish world after he declared himself to be the Messiah. The movement suffered a severe blow when Ṣevi was forced to convert to Islam, but a clandestine sect survived. A Bollingen Foundation grant enabled Scholem to complete the original Hebrew edition of his biography in 1957. Bollingen also supported R. J. Zwi Werblowsky's masterful English translation. A monumental and revisionary work of Jewish historiography, Sabbatai Ṣevi stands out for its combination of philological and empirical authority and for its passion. It is widely esteemed as one of Scholem's masterworks. The author himself always regarded the Princeton/Bollingen edition as a highlight of his scholarship.
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Description : This challenging book develops two main themes: the substitution of dialogue for the one-sided ëmission to the Jewsí, and the communion of Jews and Christians in the one Messiah. Without compromising the Christian position, the author sets out to show how much Christians have to learn from Jews before they can hope to communicate their own faith that Jesus is the Christ.