Outlines of the Historical Study of Jewish Esotericism and Mysticism
A uniqe characteristic of Jewish thought is the belief that one of the meaningful components of the essence of Jewish culture is the existence of a layer of esoteric truth within it. This conception is evident since the Tanaitic period, but its roots may be found in the Second Temple period. This layer contains cosmogony and cosmology, theology and the knowledge of the divine realms ("work of Genesis" and "work of the celestial chariot"). To these main subject others are usually added – magic, apocalypticism, messianism and mysticism. The thinkers who contributed to this layer of religious thought insisted that the truth revealed in their writings is ancient tradition, reflecting eternal divine truth, rather than the result of original experience or reflection. Many of the scholars who dealt with subject tended to accept this claim, at least in part, and described the various chapters in it as differing only in style and external expression. The historical approach to the study of Jewish esotericism differs from this attitude by emphasizing the dynamism, the turning-points. The innovations, the diversity, the conflicts, schisms and controversies which characterize this layer in Jewish religious culture, striving to understand each writer and each work as individual expressions which reflect unique attitudes, based on specific ideological, social and historical circumstances. These unique expressions create in their totality the dynamic fabric of Jewish esotericism and mysticism.
Introduction: The Thematic and Chronological Boundaries and the Structure of the Study
I. The Middle Ages
II. The Early Circles of Kabbalists
Chapter One: History and Historiography of Jewish Mysticism
I. The Need for a History of Mysticism and Esotericism
II. Between History and Faith
III. Between History and "Comparative Religion"
IV. "Religion", "Law" and "Language".
V. The Temptations of Apologetics
VI. "External Influences": Hellenism, Islam and Modernity
VII. The Complexity of Contacts with Christianity
VIII. Mysticism: The Contingental Approach
Part I: The Beginnings of Esotericism and Mysticism in the Second Temple Period
Chapter Two: The "End of Prophecy" and Its Impact on the History of Jewish Thought
I. The Problem of "Beginning"
II. The Traditions Concerning the End of Prophecy
III. Why did Prophecy End? The Scholarly Debate
IV. Religious Authority and the Language of Prophecy
V. Responses to the Absence of Prophecy
VI. The End of Prophecy and the Biblical Canon
VIII. Divine Revelations and the "Bat Kol"
IX. Autonomous Revelation: Rationalism
X. Esoteric Tradition: The Kabbalah
Chapter Three: The Period of the Second Commonwealth and Hellenistic Civilization: New Worlds
I. Esotericism in Jewish Culture in the Second Commonwealth Period
II. The Study of Judaism in the Hellenistic Period
III. The Names of God and the Names of the Angels
IV. The Celestial World and the Next World
V. Apocalyptic Literature and Messianism
VI. Spiritual Ascensions and Journeys to the Celestial Realms
VII. Dualism and the Powers of Evil
Chapter Four: The Septuagint and the Change in the Concept of God
I. Is the Septuagint the Bible?
II. The Letter of Aristeas
III. The Message of the Letter and the Biblical Canon
IV. The Septuagint as Divinely-Inspired Exegesis
V. The Names of God in the Septuagint
VI. Jewish Attitudes towards the Septuagint
VII. Between Semantic and Semiotic Texts
Chapter Five: Angels in Pseudepigraphic Literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls and Early Christianity
I. The Names of Angels in the Hellenistic Period
II. Characteristics and Functions of Angels
III. Angels, the Devil and the Divine Chariot in the Book of Adam and Eve
IV. The "Prayer of Joseph", the Angel Israel and the Image of Jacob
V. Angels and Prayer in the Dead Sea Scrolls
Chapter Six: The Beginnings of Apocalyptic Literature in the Pseudepigrapha, The Dead Sea Scrolls and Early Christianity
I. The Meanings of "Apocalypse"
II. Enoch Literature, the Celestial World and the Throne of Glory
III. The Book of Daniel
IV. The Apocalypse of the Beasts, The Book of Jubilees and the War of the Sons of Light
V. The Vision of Ezra
VI. The Apocalypse of Abraham
VII. The Apocalypse in the Testament of Moses
VIII. The Apocalypse of Elijah
IX. The Vision of Baruch
X. The Apocalypse of John
Chapter Seven: Enoch, Fallen Angels and the Beginning of the Concept of Evil
I. Enoch Son of Jared and Early Enoch Literature
II. The Book of Watchers and the Powers of Evil
III. The Struggle Against Evil Powers
IV. Fallen Angels as Humans
V. Allegorical Conceptions of the Fallen Angels
IV. The Roots of Evil and Its Characteristics
VII. Shemhaza, Azael, Sataniel, Blial, Mastema
Part II: Esotericism and Mysticism in Talmudic and Midrashic Literature
Chapter Eight: Midrash - Divine Presence in Language and Text
I. The Uniqueness of Midrash
II. The Midrash as a Problem
III. Midrash and Exegesis
IV. Christian Exegesis
V. "The Ways of the Aggadah"
VI. What is not a Midrash?
VII. Midrash and the Conception of Divine Language
VIII. Midrash and Prophecy
IX. Midrash and Divine Law
X. Midrash: "The Medium is the Message"
XI. Jewish and Christian Languages
XII. The Denial of the Disciplines
Chapter Nine: The Sages Who Entered the Pardes and the Beginning of Jewish Esotericism
I. History of the Study of the Pardes Narrative
II. Analysis of the Sources and Defining the Problem
III. Rabbi Akiva, Origen and the Song of Songs
IV. Alternative Interpretations
Chapter Ten: The Problem of "Gnosticism" and Its Relation to the History of Jewish Mysticism
I. Gnosis and the Legend of the "Third Religion"
II. Critical Approaches and New Conceptions
III. Gnostics, Mandeans and Manichaeans
IV. Are there Characteristics Common to "Gnostic" Writings?
V. Gnosticism and Judaism
VI. The Evil Demiurge
VII. Yaldabaoth and the Relationship between the God of Israel and the Gnostic Demiurge
Chapter Eleven: The Shekhinah and the Concept of God in Rabbinic Literature
I. The Shekhinah: "Myth" and "Symbol"
II. Two Languages Describing God
III. The Shekhinah Replacing the Temple
IV. Israel and the Shekhinah, the Exile of the Shekhinah
V. The Shekhinah in the Works of the "Descenders to the Chariot"
VI. The Ascension of the Shekhinah in the Third Book of Enoch