Kabbalah in Italy, 1280-1510 A Survey Moshe Idel

Publication date:
17 May 2011
Yale University Press
512 pages: 235 x 156 x 35mm
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This sweeping survey of the history of Kabbalah in Italy represents a major contribution from one of the world's foremost Kabbalah scholars. The first to focus attention on a specific center of Kabbalah, Moshe Idel charts the ways that Kabbalistic thought and literature developed in Italy and how its unique geographical situation facilitated the arrival of both Spanish and Byzantine Kabbalah.

Idel analyzes the work of three major Kabbalists—Abraham Abulafia, Menahem Recanati, and Yohanan Alemanno—who represent diverse schools of thought: the ecstatic, the theosophical-theurgical, and the astromagical. Directing special attention to the interactions and tensions among these forms of Jewish Kabbalah and the nascent Christian Kabbalah, Idel brings to light the rich history of Kabbalah in Italy and the powerful influence of this important center on the emergence of Christian Kabbalah and European occultism in general.

Moshe Idel is Max Cooper Professor in the Department of Jewish Thought, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and senior researcher at the Shalom Hartman Institute. He has received many awards, including the National Jewish Book Award, for his previous books on Kabbalah. He lives in Jerusalem.

"In this volume by Idel, the leading contemporary scholar of Jewish mysticism, the main contours and personalities of this Italian tradition are very helpfully described for nonspecialist readers. This is a major contribution to the study of both the history of Jewish mysticism and mysticism more generally. All libraries serving religion and Judaica programs should purchase it."—S.T. Katz, Choice