Exotericism and Esotericism in Thirteenth Century Kabbalah

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Abstract

What follows is as much historiography as it is history, because the modern study of Kabbalah has a plot with its own personalities, internal developments and ideologies which have influenced how Kabbalah has been perceived historically. The study of Kabbalah in the last couple of centuries cannot be separated from significant social, political and cultural phenomena such as the enlightenment, romanticism and nationalism which, for ideological reasons have often been the cause of considerable distortions and bias in the way Kabbalah has been presented. Because of its mystical leanings, its particular world of images and language, and affiliation with eschatology, messianism and magic, Kabbalah has been the subject of much criticism which has led to misconceptions about its nature, purpose, essence, and place in the texture of Jewish life over the ages. Thus, the issue of how Kabbalah moved from the private to the public sphere, or whether it was esoteric or exoteric in the thirteenth century is involved and complex, and necessitates questioning the motives and methodologies of both the Kabbalists themselves as well as Kabbalah’s modern-day scholars.
Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)103-112
JournalEsoterica
Volume6
StatePublished - 2004

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