By Michael D. Swartz

In exploring the social heritage 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 historic rabbis conjuring the angel referred to as Sar-Torah, the "Prince of the Torah." This angel endowed the rabbis themselves with fabulous reminiscence and talent in studying, after which taught them the formulation for giving others those presents. This literature, in accordance with Michael Swartz, offers us infrequent glimpses of the way historical and medieval Jews who stood outdoor the mainstream of rabbinic management considered Torah and formality. via shut readings of the texts, he uncovers unexpected dimensions of the classical Judaic suggestion 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 weird magical rituals for conjuring angels and ascending to heaven in addition to the authors' attitudes to authority and culture, exhibiting them to have subverted crucial rabbinic values whilst they remained beholden to them. the result's a ground-breaking research of the social and conceptual heritage of rabbinic Judaism and historic Mediterranean religions. supplying whole translations of the critical Sar-Torah texts, Scholastic Magic becomes crucial studying for these drawn to religions within the historical and medieval global, ritual reports, and well known religion.

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Extra info for Scholastic Magic: Ritual and Revelation in Early Jewish Mysticism

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The best and most up-to-date discussion of the issue, however is Martin S. ' New Perspectives on the Composition and Transmission of Early Rabbinic Tradition," Shofar 10 (1992): 53-72, which takes full account of the contemporary study of orality in traditional societies. 7 See Gerhardsson, Memory and Manuscript, 122-70; Dov Zlotnick, "Memory and the Integrityof the Oral Tradition, JANES 16-17 (1984-85): 229-41. There is also an account of the role of memory in rabbinic education in Nathan Morris, The Jewish School (London, 1937; reprint, New York: Jewish Education Committee Press, 1964), 112-45.

Neusner's studies are based on internal evidence, namely, the formal traits of mishnaic language. Because of the nature of the evidence and that particular program of research, these studies do not deal comprehensively with attestations in talmudic literature to mnemonic techniques. An early study that recognizes the mnemonic nature of rabbinic formulations is the highly influential work, originally published in 1924, of Marcel Jousse, The Oral Style, trans. Edgard Sienaert and Richard Whitaker (New York and London: Garland, 1990).

Jacqueline de Rommilly has shown that Greek intellectuals linked magic and rhetoric for similar reasons. See her Magic and Rhetoric in Ancient Greece (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975). 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 furĀ­ ther in Michael D.

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