New Perspectives

Moshe Idel

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Moshe Idel is Max Cooper Professor of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem

"...brilliant..." - Jeremy Adler, Times Literary Supplement

"There can be no dispute about the importance and originality of Idel’s work. Offering a wealth of complementary insights to Gershom Scholem and his school, it will command a great deal of attention and serious discussion."—Alexander Altmann, Brandeis University


"A major intellectual achievement in both the history of religions and Judaica."—Ivan G. Marcus, Jewish Theological Seminary of America

"Idel’s comparative approach sets the study of Kabbalah and of Jewish mysticism in general on a wholly new track. This is clearly the most innovative work on the subject since Gershom Scholem’s classic, and it is equally readable."—Louis Dupré, Yale University

"This major reinterpretation of Jewish Kabbalah and mysticism offers new perspectives on its origin, development, and relationship to general mystical writing from antiquity to the modern era."—Library Journal

"Mr. Idel’s book is studded with major insights and innovative approaches to the entire history of Judaism, and mastery of it will be essential for all serious students of Jewish thought."—Arthur Green, New York Times Book Review

"Idel offers the first substantial scholarly attempt to reconsider and, when necessary, deconstruct Scholem’s hegemony in the field of Kabbalah scholarship. . . . Like Scholem before him, Idel has helped expand the study of Kabbalah. By opening up the boundaries marked by Scholem, he offers an enlarged ground for future scholars and mystics to explore and work within."—David Meltzer, Gnosis Magazine

"Moshe Idel’s original, scholarly and stimulating study of Kabbalah contains the promise of a masterwork."—Elie Wiesel, Boston University

"Idel has written a major contribution to the scholarly study of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) as well as to the wider academic study of mysticism. . . . The work is well written, the note copious, and the learning exhibited throughout highly distinguished."—Choice

"Idel has rescued much manuscript material from oblivion to produce a completely fresh way of looking at a subject on which the last word has been said neither by his predecessors not, judging by his references to the need for further study, by Idel himself."—Louis Jacobs, Journal of Jewish Studies

"Idel constantly challenges the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of Scholem’s interpretation of the Kabbalah. In a richly documented and densely written text, Idel offers alternative perspectives on the origins, development and principal concerns of Jewish mysticism. His mastery of the literary sources, most of which are preserved only in manuscripts, is unparalleled. Combined with intellectual virtuosity, the resulting work is impressive in scope and profound in significance."—Mark Verman, Shofar

"The sheer scholarship and insight of this work are remarkable. Jewish mysticism can no longer be studied, and Scholem can no longer be read, without this book."—David R. Blumenthal,

"Moshe Idel’s book can help the nonspecialist reader to reconsider the whole of Kabbalistic tradition in comparison with many aspects of contemporary thought."—Umberto Eco

"Moshe Idel’s examination of the Jewish mystical tradition challenges widely held perceptions of how modern Judaism developed and how its history has been written. By highlighting the tradition’s human dimensions, Kabbalah makes an esoteric body of thought accessible to scholars of religion and to general audiences as well."—Present Tense

"There is a lovely irony about Idel’s work. The revisions that he proposes in our understanding of the Kabbalah and in our understanding of Judaism bring to mind the work of . . . Gershom Scholem. In his boldness and his ambition, Idel is truly Scholem’s student. Like Scholem, he has set out to free the study of Judaism from the bonds of dogma."—Moshe Halbertal, The New Republic

"No one so far has ever mastered the deep knowledge of so much unpublished kabbalistic material as Moshe Idel, who happily combines broadness of information with broadness of mind and mastery over far more sophisticated methods of investigation than his predecessors."—Ioan P. Culianu, History of Religions

"Moshe Idel is one of the leading academic researchers
of kabbalah in our generation. Shahar Arzy is the head of
a computational neuropsychiatry lab and teaches at the
Hebrew University. The result of their joining forces is a
fascinating, unconventional, and important book that
attempts to explain the physiological background of certain
ecstatic phenomenon."—Shaul Stampfer, Hebrew University of Jerusalem 

Winner of the 1988 Present Tense/Joel H. Cavior Award given by Present Tense magazine for the best book related to a Jewish Subject in the Religious Thought category

Winner of the 1989 National Jewish Book Award in the Scholarship category given by the Jewish Book Council
ISBN: 9780300038606
Publication Date: September 10, 1988
464 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
Absorbing Perfections

Kabbalah and Interpretation

Moshe Idel; Foreword by Harold Bloom

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A Neurocognitive Approach to Mystical Experiences

Shahar Arzy and Moshe Idel

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