Sabbatian Hagiography and Jewish Polemical Literature

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Jonatan Meir’s article is devoted to the reactions of the contemporaries of Shabbetai and Nathan to their enterprise and demise. The article concentrates on the connection between Sabbatian hagiography, polemics and scholarship, and is based on extensive citations from an unknown manuscript. The disappearance” (the death) of Shabbetai Sevi was a moment of profound uncertainty for all involved. It was the moment of the formation of Sabbatian legends and the instant in which the praises of Shabbetai Sevi and Nathan of Gaza began to be spread. This period also saw the emergence of polemical literature. The majority of the population—including the Sabbatians themselves—had no idea what happened to Nathan of Gaza at the end of his life, nor indeed what had become of Shabbetai himself. This literature came to fill this lacuna. As an example of this type of literature, the article discusses the book Meora’ot Sevi (The Events of Shabbetai Sevi), or by its full name: Sippur H˛alomot Qes¸ Hapela’ot (The Tale of the Dreams of the End of Wonders), printed by Israel Jaffe in Kopust in 1814. The author draws on a recently-discovered manuscript that formed the basis for the printed book. The manuscript depicts a rather wild series of events by way of an alternative to Sabbatian hagiographical discourse, contrasting in particular with the traditions of the Sabbatians who followed their Messiah in his conversion to Islam.
Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)228-241
JournalEl Prezente - studies in Sephardic culture
StatePublished - 2019


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