Philip S. Alexander

in The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies

Published in print December 2004 | ISBN: 9780199280322
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology


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Few fields, if any, in the study of Judaism have been dominated by one man as Gershom Scholem has dominated mysticism. For present purposes the most important item in Scholem's massive oeuvre is his Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism. This article is divided into two parts. First, following broadly Major Trends, it surveys briefly the detailed phases in the history of Jewish mysticism, noting specific areas where Scholem's views have been supplemented, corrected, or contested. Second, it considers overarching questions regarding the tradition as a whole — the limits and the nature of Jewish mysticism, methodology, and mysticism's place in Judaism — which Scholem's work provokes, in order to assess the extent to which Scholem's paradigm still holds, and to get some idea of where the subject may be going.

Keywords: Judaism; Jewish mysticism; Gershom Scholem; Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism

Article.  12969 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Philosophy of Religion

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