Mystifying Kabbalah: academic scholarship, national theology, and new age spirituality

Boaz Huss, Elena Lutsky (Translator)

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


"The book offers a study of the genealogy of the concept of "Jewish mysticism." It examines the major developments in the academic study of Jewish mysticism and its impact on modern Kabbalistic movements in the contexts of Jewish nationalism and New Age spirituality. Its central argument is that Jewish mysticism is a modern discursive construct and that the identification of Kabbalah and Hasidism as forms of mysticism, which appeared for the first time in the nineteenth century and became prevalent since the early twentieth, shaped the way in which Kabbalah and Hasidism are perceived and studied today. The notion of Jewish mysticism was established when western scholars accepted the modern idea that mysticism is a universal religious phenomenon of a direct experience of a divine or transcendent reality and applied it to Kabbalah and Hasidism. The term "Jewish mysticism" gradually became the defining category in the modern academic research of these topics. Mystifying Kabbalah examines the emergence of the category Jewish Mysticism and of the ensuing perception that Kabbalah and Hasidism are Jewish manifestations of a universal mystical phenomenon. It investigates the establishment of the academic field devoted to the research of Jewish mysticism, and delineates the major developments in this field. The book clarifies the historical, cultural, and political contexts that led to the identification of Kabbalah and Hassidism as Jewish mysticism, exposing the underlying ideological and theological presuppositions and revealing the impact of this "mystification" on contemporary forms of Kabbalah and Hasidism"--
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew York, NY
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages185
ISBN (Electronic)0190086971, 0190086998, 9780190086961
ISBN (Print)0190086963
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameOxford studies in western esotericism
PublisherOxford University Press


  • Mysticism -- Judaism -- History
  • Cabala


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