Late Judeo-Aramaic: The Language of Theosophic Kabbalah

in Aramaic Studies
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Abstract

From Antiquity to the modern era, Aramaic co-existed with Hebrew as a language of Jewish literary production, and for certain types of writing, especially on topics associated with a degree of esotericism such as magic, prophetic revelation and mystical speculation, it often asserted itself as the preferred language long after Aramaic had ceased to function as a spoken vernacular. This article considers the possible reasons for this preference. It focuses on the Zohar, which established Aramaic as the language of theosophical mysticism in thirteenth-century Castile, and traces the linguistic impact of this work on subsequent schools of Kabbalah.

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