“And They Shall Be One Flesh”: On The Language of Mystical Union in Judaism

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In “And They Shall Be One Flesh”: On the Language of Mystical Union in Judaism, Adam Afterman offers an extensive study of mystical union and embodiment in Judaism. Afterman argues that Philo was the first to articulate the notion of unio mystica in Judaism and is the source of the henōsis mysticism in the later Neoplatonic tradition. The study provides a detailed analysis of the Jewish medieval trends that developed different forms of mystical union and mystical embodiment through the divine name and spirit. The book argues that the development of unitive mysticism in Judaism is the fruit of the creative synthesis of rabbinic Judaism and Hellenistic and Arab philosophy, and a natural outcome of the theological articulation of the idea of monotheism itself.

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Biographical Note

Adam Afterman, Ph.D. (2008), The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is Associate Professor in Jewish Mysticism and Philosophy and Acting Chair of the Department of Jewish Philosophy and Talmud at Tel Aviv University. He has authored studies on Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism and medieval Jewish philosophy.

Review Quotes

"In this work Afterman (Jewish mysticism and philosophy, Tel Aviv Univ., Israel) focuses on a central issue in the study and interpretation of Jewish mystical texts (Kabbalah): Did Jewish mystics have unitive experiences (unio mystica) with the divine—experiences like those of Christian, Muslim, and Hindu mystics, among others—or did they have relational, not unitive, experiences due to the presuppositions of Jewish theology?...Though not original in conception, this is a masterful survey of arcane but important Kabbalistic texts. It is a valuable addition to the literature due to its learned exposition of a wide array of classical mystical texts." -S.T. Katz, Boston University, CHOICE, February 2017, Vol. 54, No. 6

“Overall, this book will play a crucial role in future scholarly thought about mystical union in Judaism and it is highly recommended for all those interested in Jewish and cross-cultural mysticism, as well as medieval Jewish thought more generally.” -Joel Hecker, H-Judaic, H-Net Reviews, September, 2017

Table of contents

Acknowledgments
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: From Philo to Plotinus: The Emergence of Mystical Union
Chapter 3: Unio Mystica and Ancient Jewish Mysticism
Chapter 4: Platonic and Aristotelian Traditions of Union
Chapter 5: “As Light Unites With Light”: The Language of Union in Jewish Neo-Platonism.
Chapter 6: The Language of Union in the Writings of Moses Maimonides and Moses Nachmanides
Chapter 7: Mystical Union in Early Kabbalah
Chapter 8: Mystical Union in the Ecstatic Kabbalah of Abraham Abulafia
Chapter 9: Language and Images of Mystical Union in the Kabbalah of R. Isaac of Acre
Chapter 10: “Single Unification, Single Bond”: The Language of Union and Unity in the Zohar
Chapter 11: From Kabbalah to the Renaissance and Hasidism: A Brief Overview
Chapter 12: Concluding Remarks
Primary Sources
Bibliography
Index

Readership

All interested in medieval Jewish mysticism and philosophy/theology. Those interested in the intersection of mysticism and philosophy; Jewish and comparative mysticism; Jewish thought from the Bible to Scholem and Buber.

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