Kabbalistic Revolution, Kabbalistic Revolution, 0813568757, 0-8135-6875-7, 978-0-8135-6875-1, 9780813568751, , Jewish Cultures of the World, Kabbalistic Revolution, 0813568765, 0-8135-6876-5, 978-0-8135-6876-8, 9780813568768, , Jewish Cultures of the World, Kabbalistic Revolution, 0813573890, 0-8135-7389-0, 978-0-8135-7389-2, 9780813573892, , Jewish Cultures of the Worl
Kabbalistic Revolution

Reimagining Judaism in Medieval Spain
Hartley Lachter (Author)
260 pages, 1 figure, 6 x 9
Cloth, November 2014 $59.95   ADD TO CART
Web PDF, November 2014 $59.95   EBOOK VERSION AVAILABLE
epub, November 2014 $59.95   EBOOK VERSION AVAILABLE
Series: Jewish Cultures of the World
Subject Area:
Jewish Studies, History: World


The set of Jewish mystical teachings known as Kabbalah are often imagined as timeless texts, teachings that have been passed down through the millennia. Yet, as this groundbreaking new study shows, Kabbalah flourished in a specific time and place, emerging in response to the social prejudices that Jews faced.

Hartley Lachter, a scholar of religion studies, transports us to medieval Spain, a place where anti-Semitic propaganda was on the rise and Jewish political power was on the wane. Kabbalistic Revolution proposes that, given this context, Kabbalah must be understood as a radically empowering political discourse.  While the era’s Christian preachers claimed that Jews were blind to the true meaning of scripture and had been abandoned by God, the Kabbalists countered with a doctrine that granted Jews a uniquely privileged relationship with God. Lachter demonstrates how Kabbalah envisioned this increasingly marginalized group at the center of the universe, their mystical practices serving to maintain the harmony of the divine world. 

For students of Jewish mysticism, Kabbalistic Revolution provides a new approach to the development of medieval Kabbalah. Yet the book’s central questions should appeal to anyone with an interest in the relationships between religious discourses, political struggles, and ethnic pride. 


"This book is an exceptionally fresh and significant contribution. It is an important corrective to the tendency to sublimate social history to the history of ideas."
—Marc Michael Epstein, Vassar College

"Lachter's work is a compelling and important study of the manner in which Kabbalah responded to political and cultural pressures in Castile at a time of striking proliferation of kabbalistic literature."
—Jonathan Dauber, professor of Jewish mysticism, Yeshiva University

"A worthwhile and edifying contribution to contemporary scholarship on medieval Jewish mysticism."

Author / Editor Bio

HARTLEY LACHTER is the Phillip and Muriel Berman Professor of Jewish Studies and director of the Berman Center for Jewish Studies at Lehigh University. 

Table Of Contents


Introduction: Kabbalistic Writing in Late Thirteenth-Century Castile

1 Masters of Secrets: Claiming Power with Concealed Knowledge

2 Secrets of the Cosmos: Creating a Kabbalistic Universe

3 Secrets of the Self: Kabbalistic Anthropology and Divine Mystery

4 Jewish Bodies and Divine Power: Theurgy and Jewish Law

5 Prayer Above and Below: Kabbalistic Constructions of the Power of Jewish Worship


Postscript—Cultural Logics: Kabbalah, Then and Now



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