From Metaphysics to Midrash

9780253350886: Hardback
Release Date: 9th July 2008

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 368

Series Indiana Studies in Biblical Literature

Indiana University Press

From Metaphysics to Midrash

Myth, History, and the Interpretation of Scripture in Lurianic Kabbala

Hardback / £34.00

In From Metaphysics to Midrash, Shaul Magid explores the exegetical tradition of Isaac Luria and his followers within the historical context in 16th-century Safed, a unique community that brought practitioners of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam into close contact with one another. Luria's scripture became a theater in which kabbalists redrew boundaries of difference in areas of ethnicity, gender, and the human relation to the divine. Magid investigates how cultural influences altered scriptural exegesis of Lurianic Kabbala in its philosophical, hermeneutical, and historical perspectives. He suggests that Luria and his followers were far from cloistered. They used their considerable skills to weigh in on important matters of the day, offering, at times, some surprising solutions to perennial theological problems.

Introduction: Kabbala, New Historicism, and the Question of Boundaries
The Lurianic Myth: A Playbill
1. Genesis
"And Adam's Sin Was (Very) Great": Original Sin in Lurianic Exegesis
2. Exodus
The "Other" Israel: The Erev Rav (Mixed Multitude) as Conversos
3. Leviticus
The Sin of Becoming a Woman: Male Homosexuality and the Castration Complex
4. Numbers
Balaam, Moses, and the Prophecy of the "Other": A Lurianic Vision for the Erasure of Difference
5. Deuteronomy
The Human and/as God: Divine Incarnation and the "Image of God"

Shaul Magid is Jay and Jeannie Schottenstein Chair in Jewish Studies and Professor in Religious Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Shaul Magid's From Metaphysics to Midrash is a theoretically sophisticated and textually nuanced exploration of what is unquestionably the most complex body of Jewish mystical literature. . . . The author is to be congratulated for producing a study of a 16th—century phenomenon that will resonate deeply with scholars who have explored the issues of alterity, identity and difference, gender construction, and the problem of embodiment.

Elliot R. Wolfson
New York University

A pioneering foray into Lurianic biblical exegesis; nothing like it has been attempted in English before.

Alan Cooper
Jewish Theological Seminary

Shaul Magid has written a bold . . . book. . . . From Metaphysics to Midrash is rich in intriguing discussions about the boundaries between Jews and non-Jews, good and evil, God and man from the perspective of Lurianic Kabbalah’s interpretation of Scripture.Vol. 28, No. 1 Fall 2009

Michael Nutkiewicz
Religious Studies Program,University of New Mexico