Sefer Yesira 978-3-16-158795-5 - Mohr Siebeck
Religious Studies

A. Peter Hayman

Sefer Yesira

Edition, Translation and Text-Critical Commentary

[Sefer Yesira. Edition, Übersetzung und textkritischer Kommentar.]

unrevised e-book edition 2020; Original edition 2004; 2004. IX, 206 pages.

Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 104

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ISBN 978-3-16-158795-5
Published in English.
A. Peter Hayman provides the first comprehensive critical edition of a text which was a fundamental influence on Jewish thought in the medieval period and has continued to fascinate scholars and students of Judaism to the present day. With its English translation of the three earliest recensions and its commentary on the variant early texts of the work, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the growth and emergence of the Jewish mystical movement.
Sefer Yesira is a short, enigmatic text which has fascinated scholars since it first emerged into the light of day in the early tenth century. It was initially understood to be a philosophical text which had descended by oral tradition from Abraham himself. Consequently it was commented on by many of the major figures in the Jewish world in the early medieval period. Subsequently it was understood as a mystical text and became a crucial influence on the medieval mystical movement (the Kabbalah). More than seventy kabbalistic commentaries on it are known. It continued to be of interest to Christian kabbalists at the time of the Renaissance and to scholars of Judaism and mysticism to the present day. Peter Hayman's study provides the first comprehensive critical edition of this text. The texts of the earliest manuscripts of the three main recensions of Sefer Yesira (the Short, Long and Saadyan Recensions) are printed in synoptic columns with a critical apparatus, drawn from nineteen selected manuscripts, at the bottom of each column. There is an English translation of each of the recensions followed by a commentary discussing the variant readings of the manuscripts and the text of Sefer Yesira presupposed in the earliest commentaries on it. Both in the introduction and the commentary an attempt is made to reconstruct an early form of the text from which the later recensions have developed. There are four appendices setting out what parts of the text are attested in each of the manuscripts and in what order, a hypothetical reconstructed text and the text of the tenth century Vatican scroll of Sefer Yesira with the probable added material underlined. The introduction concludes with an attempt to outline how the text grew into the form which has come down to us from the medieval period.

A. Peter Hayman Born 1943; studied Theology at the University of Durham; 1968 PhD in Oriental Languages (School of Oriental Studies, University of Durham); Senior Lecturer in Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the University of Edinburgh.


The following reviews are known:

In: Revue des Etudes Juives — 166 (2007), S. 333–335 (Jean-P. Rothschild)
In: Bulletin of the Institute for — 33 (2006), S. 10 (Marvin Sweeney)
In: Journal for the Study of the OT — 29.5 (2005), S.192 (C.T.R. Hayward)
In: International Review of Biblical Studies — Vol.51 (2004/05), 1483
In: Judaica — Jg.61 (2005), H.2, S.171f (Tomasz Sikora)
In: New Testament Abstracts — Vol.49 (2005), H.2, S.438f
In: Revue de Théologie et de Philosoph. — Vol.137 (2005), H.3, S.283 (Jean Borel)
In: Salesianum — Jg.68 (2006), H.1, S.183f (Rafael Vicent)
In: Theologische Literaturzeitung — 132 (2007), S. 150–152 (Catherine Hezser)