By Michael D. Swartz
In exploring the social history of early Jewish mysticism, Scholastic Magic tells the tale of ways mind's eye and magic have been made to serve reminiscence and scholasticism. within the visionary literature that circulated among the 5th and 9th centuries, there are unusual stories of old rabbis conjuring the angel referred to as Sar-Torah, the "Prince of the Torah." This angel endowed the rabbis themselves with astounding reminiscence and ability in studying, after which taught them the formulation for giving others those presents. This literature, in line with Michael Swartz, provides us infrequent glimpses of ways historical and medieval Jews who stood open air the mainstream of rabbinic management considered Torah and formality. via shut readings of the texts, he uncovers unusual dimensions of the classical Judaic notion of Torah and the rabbinic civilization that cast them.
Swartz units the level for his research with a dialogue of where of reminiscence and orality in old and medieval Judaism and the way early academic and physiological theories have been marshaled for the cultivation of reminiscence. He then examines the bizarre magical rituals for conjuring angels and ascending to heaven in addition to the authors' attitudes to authority and culture, displaying them to have subverted crucial rabbinic values while they remained beholden to them. the result's a ground-breaking research of the social and conceptual heritage of rabbinic Judaism and old Mediterranean religions. delivering whole translations of the primary Sar-Torah texts, Scholastic Magic turns into crucial interpreting for these drawn to religions within the old and medieval international, ritual reports, and renowned religion.
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Additional info for Scholastic Magic: Ritual and Revelation in Early Jewish Mysticism
MENTALITIES OF ANCIENT JUDAISM 21 The study of the magical dimension of ancient Judaism is directly rele vant to its social history. Magic has been described both as an essentially antisocial activity and as something that reinforces the values of society. "71 Recently, scholars of ancient Greco-Roman magic have emphasized its subversive nature. 75 On the other hand, there are those who stress the role of tradition in the 71 Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (New York: Free Press, 1965), 60.
81 Jose Ignacio Cabezon, Buddhism and Language: A Study of Indo-Tibetan Scholasticism (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994). My thanks to Professor Cabezon for making portions of his study available to me in advance of publication. 82 The implications of rabbinic Judaism for the study of scholasticism are considered fur ther in Michael D. Swartz, "Scholasticism as a Comparative Category and the Study of Judaism," in Comparative Scholasticism and the Study of Religion, ed. Jose I. Cabezon (forthcoming).
It must be remembered that the heart was the seat of intellect for ancient Jews. , Julius Preuss's Biblical and Talmudic Medicine (New York: Hebrew Publishing Company, 1983), 104-5; Preuss notes rabbinic expressions (for example, b. Menah. 80b and Yeb. 9a: "He doesn't have a brain in his skull") that also ascribe intellectual function to the brain. That idea, however, is not found in our corpus. 2 34 CHAPTER 2 Sar-Torah tradition and its implications, it will be helpful to look at the place and nature of memorization in rabbinic civilization.