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Guardians of the Gate: Angelic Vice Regency in Late Antiquity (Brill's Series in Jewish Studies)

1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-9004109094
ISBN-10: 9004109099
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Editorial Reviews


' important contribution to the comparative study of western religion in late antiquity, which leaves us with a better understanding of Merkavah mysticism, Mandaeism, and Gnosticism, and the connections between them' James R. Davila, Journal for the Study of Judaism, 2000.

About the Author

Nathaniel Deutsch, Ph.D. (1995) in History of Judaism/History of Religions, University of Chicago, is Professor of Religion at Swarthmore College. He has published on African American religions, Mandaeism, Gnosticism, and Judaism, including The Gnostic Imagination: Gnosticism, Mandaeism, and Merkabah Mysticism (Brill, 1995).

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Product Details

  • Series: Brill's Series in Jewish Studies (Book 22)
  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Brill Academic Pub (January 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9004109099
  • ISBN-13: 978-9004109094
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,992,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By benjamin on January 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I used this book for an independent study I did about year ago on Hekhalot and Merkavah mysticism. (A rough outline: Hekhalot and Merkavah mysticism is a religious movement that took place within the world of Rabbinic Judaism beginning somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd century. Its main focus is the ascent of a rabbi to the highest heaven so that he can worship God with the angels and perhaps even see God, which in some sources gives him a certain power to affect change here on earth.)
This book focuses on the relationship between Judaism, Mandaeism, and Gnosticism as a way of painting a more detailed picture of Hekhalot and Merkavah mysticism. Deutsch uses a "comparative approach" to studying the texts produced by these different groups; the result is that Hekhalot and Merkavah mysticism looks quite syncretistic. Such an approach certainly gives insight, but it also causes a bit of confusion about the nature of Hekhalot and Merkavah mysticism.
Firstly, the benefits of using such an approach is that it paints a picture with wide brush strokes: the reader is likely to get good idea of major religious trends within the world of antiquity. Deutsch has three appendices that deal with Islam, Christianity, and Hermeticism that further illustrate what seems to be a general religious idea - that there are mediators between God and humanity that are above man but nonetheless divine. (Anyone familiar with the Christological controversies in the early centuries of Christianity will find much here that parallels those debates.)
These broad strokes also imply that there was a large amount of syncretism between different religious groups, with ideas from completely different religions permeating each other.
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