Jewish Studies

Hekhalot Literature in Context

Between Byzantium and Babylonia
Ed. by Ra'anan Boustan, Martha Himmelfarb and Peter Schäfer

[Hekhalot Literatur im Kontext. Zwischen Byzanz und Babylon.]

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ISBN 978-3-16-152575-9
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Published in English.
Hekhalot literature, the earliest expression of Jewish mysticism, emerged in Palestine and Babylonia in late antiquity (ca. 500–900 C.E). In the present volume, an international team of experts explores the literary formation, cultural meanings, religious functions, and textual transmission of this literature.
Over the past 30 years, scholars of early Jewish mysticism have, with increasing confidence, located the initial formation of Hekhalot literature in Byzantine Palestine and Sasanian or early Islamic Babylonia (ca. 500–900 C.E.), rather than at the time of the Mishnah, Tosefta, early Midrashim, or Palestinian Talmud (ca. 100–400 C.E.). This advance has primarily been achieved through major gains in our understanding of the dynamic and highly flexible processes of composition, redaction, and transmission that produced the Hekhalot texts as we know them today. These gains have been coupled with greater appreciation of the complex relationships between Hekhalot writings and the variegated Jewish literary culture of late antiquity, both within and beyond the boundaries of the rabbinic movement. Yet important questions remain regarding the specific cultural contexts and institutional settings out of which the various strands of Hekhalot literature emerged as well as the multiple trajectories of use and appropriation they subsequently travelled. In the present volume, an international team of experts explores—from a variety of disciplinary perspectives (e.g. linguistics, ritual and gender studies, intellectual history)—the literary formation, cultural meanings, religious functions, and textual transmission of Hekhalot literature.
Survey of contents
Ra'anan Boustan: Introduction
I. The Formation of Hekhalot Literature: Linguistic, Literary, and Cultural Contexts
Noam Mizrahi: The Language of Hekhalot Literature: Preliminary Observations – Peter Schäfer: Metatron in Babylonia – Michael D. Swartz: Hekhalot and Piyyut: From Byzantium to Babylonia and Back – Alexei Sivertsev: The Emperor's Many Bodies: The Demise of Emperor Lupinus Revisited – Klaus Herrmann: Jewish Mysticism in Byzantium: The Transformation of Merkavah Mysticism in 3 Enoch – David M. Grossberg: Between 3 Enoch and Bavli Hagigah: Heresiology and Orthopraxy in the Ascent of Elisha ben Abuyah – Moulie Vidas: Hekhalot Literature, the Babylonian Academies and the tanna'im
II. The Transmission and Reception of Hekhalot Literature: Toward the Middle Ages
Peter Schäfer: The Hekhalot Genizah – Gideon Bohak: Observations on the Transmission of Hekhalot Literature in the Cairo Genizah – Ophir Münz-Manor: A Prolegomenon to the Study of Hekhalot Traditions in European Piyyut
III. Early Jewish Mysticism in Comparative Perspective: Themes and Patterns
Reimund Leicht: Major Trends in Rabbinic Cosmology – Rebecca Lesses: Women and Gender in the Hekhalot Literature – Andrei A. Orlov: »What is Below?« Mysteries of Leviathan in the Early Jewish Accounts and Mishnah Hagigah 2:1 – Michael Meerson: Rites of Passage in Magic and Mysticism – Annette Yoshiko Reed: Rethinking (Jewish-)Christian Evidence for Jewish Mysticism

Ra'anan S. Boustan Born 1971; 2004 PhD from Princeton University; 2004–06 Assistant Professor of Early Judaism at the University of Minnesota; 2006–10 Assistant Professor of Ancient and Jewish History at the University of California, Los Angeles; 2010–17 Associate Professor of Ancient and Jewish History at the University of California, Los Angeles; 2009–12 Director at the Center for the Study of Religion; since 2017 Research Scholar in the Program for Judaic Studies at Princeton University.

Martha Himmelfarb Born 1952; PhD from the University of Pennsylvania; currently William H. Danforth Professor of Religion, Princeton University, Princeton.

Peter Schäfer Geboren 1943; 1968 Promotion; 1973 Habilitation; 1983–2008 Professor für Judaistik an der Freien Universität Berlin; 1998–2013 Ronald O. Perelman Professor of Jewish Studies und Professor of Religion an der Princeton University; 2014–2019 Direktor des Jüdischen Museums Berlin.


The following reviews are known:

In: Revue d'histoire et de Philosophie Religieuses — 94 (2014), S. 350–351 (Ch. Grappe)
In: Theologische Literaturzeitung — 140 (2015), S. 477–479 (Beate Ego)
In: Vigiliae Christianae — 69 (2015), S. 105 (Johannes van Oort)
In: Judaica — 71 (2015), S. 268–269 (Matthias Morgenstern)
In: New Testament Abstracts — 58 (2014), S. 205
In: Salesianum — 76 (2014), S. 537–538 (Rafael Vicent)
In: Association Jewish Libraries Newsletter — 2014, Heft 1, S. 25 (Pinchas Roth)