The Art of Mystical Narrative: A Poetics of the Zohar

ISBN : 9780199948635

Eitan Fishbane
416 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Sep 2018


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In the study of Judaism, the Zohar has captivated the minds of interpreters for over seven centuries, and continues to entrance readers in the modern day. Yet despite these centuries of study, very little attention has been devoted to the literary dimensions of the text, to formal appreciation of its status as one of the great works of religious literature.

The Art of Mystical Narrative offers a critical approach to the Zohar story, seeking to explore the interplay between fictional discourse and mystical exegesis. Eitan Fishbane argues that the narrative must be understood first and foremost as a work of the fictional imagination, a representation of a world and reality invented by the thirteenth century authors of the text. He claims that the text functions as a kind of dramatic literature, one in which the power of revealing mystical secrets is demonstrated and performed for the reading audience. The Art of Mystical Narrative offers a fresh, interdisciplinary perspective on the intersections of literary and religious studies.


Chapter 1: Voice, Gesture, and Drama
Chapter 2: Encounters Along the Way
Chapter 3: The Play of Borders and Genre: Between Exegesis and Fiction
Chapter 4: Magical Realism and the Fantastic
Chapter 5: Narrative Ethics
Chapter 6: The Zoharic Frametale in Context: Correlations and Implications
Bibliography of Works Cited

About the author: 

Eitan P. Fishbane is Assistant Professor of Jewish Thought at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

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