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Paperback The Heart and the Fountain: An Anthology of Jewish Mystical Experiences Book

ISBN: 0195139798

ISBN13: 9780195139792

The Heart and the Fountain: An Anthology of Jewish Mystical Experiences

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Book Overview

Joseph Dan is one of the world's leading authorities on Jewish mysticism. In this superb anthology, Dan not only presents illuminating excerpts from the most important mystical texts, but also delves into the very meaning of mysticism itself. Dan takes readers through the historical development of Jewish mysticism, from late antiquity to the modern period. He explores the Kabbalah, the esoteric tradition that delves into the secrets delivered by God...

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Illuminating

Too frequently in this day and age, when the word "mysticism" is used, what comes to mind is either New Age razzamatazz or Christian unitive experiences such as those described by John of the Cross or Theresa of Avila. The first trivializes mysticism, the second reduces it to but one kind of experience. In either case, a long, hallowed, and cross-cultural relationship with God is distorted.Joseph Dan's new anthology on Jewish mysticism is a gem. In its 50-page Introduction--which by itself is worth the price of the book--he carefully points out that there's more to mysticism than merely unitive experiences, carefully distinguishes the mystical from the religious (without implying that one is "better" than the other), and explores the relationship between mysticism and language. More specifically, in regards to the Jewish mystical tradition, Dan points out that it's as foolish to identity Kabbalah with Jewish mysticism (a near-ubiquitous confusion) as it is to identify Sufism with Islamic mystical experience. Different historical periods and different temperaments have given rise to a variety of Jewish mystical approaches. The virtue of this excellent anthology is to allow these different voices to speak. Dan offers selections in chronological order, ranging from the earliest Temple writings through the medieval Zohar to modern Hasidism to contemporary Israeli poetry-mysticism. A beautiful, revelatory book, both for those who know nothing about the Jewish mystical tradition and for those looking for a convenient compendium. Enthusiastically recommended.
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