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Through a Speculum That Shines Paperback – December 14, 1997


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Through a Speculum That Shines + Essential Papers on Kabbalah (Essential Papers on Jewish Studies) + Zohar: The Book of Enlightenment (Classics of Western Spirituality)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Reprint edition (December 14, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691017220
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691017228
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #969,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Winner of the 1995 Sarah H. and Julius Kushner Award, National Jewish Book Council

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 1995

Winner of the 1994 Excellence in Book Publishing Award, American Academy of Religion

"Massive, magisterial. . . . Wolfson has amassed an impressive array of texts to establish the foundational importance of seeing God for Jewish mysticism . . . and his book formulates many questions that will undoubtedly occupy subsequent investigators as they grapple with the significance of its findings. . . . This book comprises a manifold contribution to our appreciation of Jewish mysticism and Jewish intellectual history in the Middle Ages."--Jeremy Cohen, American Historical Review

"Energy and excitement . . . burst forth from page after page of this remarkably wide-ranging yet tightly argued work. . . . Wolfson's work is scholarship in the grand tradition--sweeping in scope and references, precise in analysis and argumentation."--Everett Gendler, Theological Studies

"A learned, authoritative and scrupulously documented study of visionary experiences among medieval Jewish prophets and mystics."--Earle J. Coleman, Menorah Review

"Arguing that kabalistic experience is first and foremost a visual rather than an aural experience . . . Wolfson traces the subject in rich detail, from its biblical origins through the mystical sources of the talmudic and posttalmudic era. . . . With the publication of this major study, Wolfson has confirmed his position as one of the leading students of medieval Jewish mysticism."--Choice

From the Inside Flap

"Wolfson brilliantly shows that the visionary mode of religious experience is central to Jewish spirituality from antiquity through the late Middle Ages . . . . A landmark study from one of our most gifted scholars."--Elliot Ginsburg, University of Michigan

"The book is a dazzling accomplishment, a landmark study from one of our most gifted scholars."--Elliot Ginsburg, University of Michigan

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
While it is a challenging read, I found Speculum to be both a careful reading of the texts, and an excellent analysis of the issue at hand - vision in Jewish mystical texts. Fortunately (and quite surprisingly in this field), Wolfson neither glosses over anything, nor exaggerates anything. Rather, he presents it in a balanced, yet brilliant manner. If there was one book to read about Jewish mysticism, this is it.
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By Kenneth Goodall on January 20, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kabbalah is one of those mysticisms I had always wondered about. and wasn't able to get into, though I tried with Green. Didn't work. I can safely say that after trudging through hundreds of pages of "Through a Speculum That Shines" I have received much more than an inkling about a few medieval Jewish mystics and their joint effort, Zohar. Using impeccable scholarship as a ploy, Wolfson takes us into the inner sanctum of medieval hermeneutics in a homoerotic fellowship of scholars in 13th century Castile. He tickles my mind. Also recommended is the chapter on Wolfson in Kripal's Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom.
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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 5, 1996
Format: Hardcover
I rate this book a 10 in academic brilliance but only a 3
in presentation. There is no doubt that Dr.Elliot Wolfson
is a world class scholar in the field of Jewish Mysticism.
However I had to wind my way through extremely dense
scholarship to get at the material. I unfortunately
find this to be an annoying trait of most books in
this genre... Overall I rate this book highly and would
recommend it... but be prepared to invest the time and
effort...
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lissa Wolsak on November 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is one of the most sublime works of genius anywhere, of any epoch. The riches beyond are brought to you, then lovingly placed at eye level.
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Neal J. Pollock VINE VOICE on November 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book reminds me a lot of the works of Gershom Scholem and, to some degree, of Moshe Idel. It is a scholarly work and, thus, not easy reading. But, the author makes many interesting points and has some translations (perhaps, the best part for the more advanced student). Thus, it's more a book about Kabbalah than a book of Kabbalah. Nevertheless, a mystic needs to keep his/her feet on the ground as well as his/her head in the clouds. I find a mixture of theory and practice books is optimal for maintaining balanced growth and progress. A flavor of the book can be had by reading some quotations I've added to me collection: p. 326 "Mystical experience, like experience in general, is contextual. If that is the case, it follows that mystical visions will always be shaped, informed, and determined by one's institutional affiliations. The claim that vision is conditioned by pre-experiential criteria renders the very notion of an immediate visionary experience of God or things divine problematic, if not possible."

p. 328 "Indeed, within the midrashic imagination, broadly defined, there is no hard-and-fast line in the traditional vernacular of the rabbis separating text for exegesis, written from oral Torah. The blurring of boundaries is evident at both ends: the base text or revelation is thought to comprise within itself layers of interpretation, and the works of interpretation on the biblical canon are considered revelatory in nature. To cite Bruns* again, the rabbis `imagined themselves as part of the whole, participating in Torah rather than operating on it as an analytic distance..' Interpretation, therefore, can be viewed as an effort to reconstitute the original experience of revelation." * Hermeneutics Ancient and Modern Gerald Bruns Yale Univ. Press, CT, 1992 pp.
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