Secrets without Mystery

Esotericism in Early Jewish Mysticism

In: Aries
Raʿanan Boustan UCLA

Search for other papers by Raʿanan Boustan in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):


This paper explores the rhetoric of secrecy in Hekhalot literature, a corpus of Jewish mystical and magical writings from late antiquity. I argue that the essential relationship between secrecy and mystery that characterizes the tradition of “western esotericism” does not obtain for Hekhalot literature. Instead, the discourse of esotericism in Hekhalot literature relates to restricted knowledge of proper ritual speech and action (“secrets”), rather than to paradoxical truths about the divine (“mysteries”).

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 171 35 4
Full Text Views 222 8 0
PDF Views & Downloads 77 21 1