Secrets of the Cosmos : Kabbalah and Esotericism in Medieval Spain

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-12-31
  • Publisher: David Brown Book Co
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The latter part of the 13th century saw an unprecedented proliferation of kabbalisitic texts and ideas among the Jews of northern Spain, especially those living in Castile. The writings of kabbalists from this period became classics in the history of Jewish mystical literature, especially the Sefer ha-Zohar, or Book of Splendor, composed anonymously by a group of Castillian kabbalists in the 1280s and 90s, which eventually gained canonical status among Jews alongside the Bible and the Talmud. Renaissance thinkers were also deeply influenced by the Zohar and other kabbalistic texts composed during this extraordinary period. This book explores the development of Kabbalah in the late 13th century Spain, and reveals the ways that mysticism and discourse about ancient esoteric sciences regarding the nature of the cosmos, the mysteries of the Godhead, and the supernal origins of the soul, served as a vital contested site in the Middle Ages wherein Jews sought to reformulate their identity in contradistinction to and conversation with the Christian majority with whom they shared a jointly generated culture.

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