Alchemy of the Word: Cabala of the Renaissance
Alchemy of the Word is a study of the literary, philosophical, and cultural ramifications of Cabala during the Renaissance. Important intellectual figures from 1490 to 1690 are considered, including Agrippa, Dee, Spenser, Shakespeare, Browne, and Milton; Cabala’s more recent impact is also discussed. Cabala, a hermeneutic style of Biblical commentary of Jewish origin, is based on the notion that, along with an inscribed Decalogue, Moses received a secret, oral supplement that provides a symbolic, allegorical, and moral qualification of the literal law of religion.
Building on the work of Gershom Scholem, Joseph Blau, Harold Bloom, François Secret, Michel de Certeau, and Arthur Waite, Beitchman takes a fresh look at the “mystical” text through the lens of postmodernist theory. In a model developed from Deleuze-Guattari’s “nomadology” to explore issues related to the Zohar, he shows that Cabala was a deconstruction of Renaissance authority. Like deconstruction, Cabala presents familiar material from novel and sometimes provocative perspectives. It allows space for modifiability, tolerance and humanity, by widening the margins between the letter of the law and the demands of an existence whose rules were so rapidly changing.
An exercise in the literary analysis of “sacred texts” and an examination of the mystical element in literary works, Alchemy of the Word is also an experiment in new historicism. It shows how the reincarnation theories of F. M. Van Helmont, which impacted heavily on the seventeenth century English cabalistic circle of Henry More and Ann Conway, demonstrate at once the originality and boldness of Cabala, but also its desperation, constituting a theoretical parallel to the continental “acting out” of the Sabbatian heresy. Because of the debacle of the Sabbatian apostasy (conversion to Islam), Cabala subsequently declined in importance as a religious devotion, becoming either a matter of cults and heterodoxies or being sublimated into literary theory and practice.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
In the Beginning
Scholem and Benjamin
The Two Sources of Morality and Religion
Losing the Reader
Exile and the Bride of Sabbath
Lilith and the Shekinah
Cabala and the Medieval Manichees
Cabala as Beginning
The Paradox of Secrecy
Topics in Cabala
The Dissemination of Cabala
Cabala as Motif
The Kiss of the Spouse Cabala in England 14971700
Cabala Shakespeare and The School of Night
People of the Book
Cabala as Rhizome
The One and the Two Many
The Secret of Agrippa
Cabala between Freud and Jung
Agrippas Open Secret
Agrippa and His Shadow
The Two Laws
Cabala as Fad
Other editions - View all
according Agrippa Alchemy allusion Astrology become Blau Browne Browne's caba cabalistic called Christian Cabala Christian cabalist cited Clapham commentary connection corresponding creation Dee's demonic divine English especially evil example exile extended title fact faith French gnostic Hebrew Helmont heresy heretical Hermeticism holy Ibid ideas important ineluctable instance Isaac Luria Jewish Jews John Dee Judaism Kaballah Kabbalah Kafka kind language later Latin Lazzarelli Leon letters literary Luria matter messianic metaphor Moses Moses de Leon mystery mystical Neoplatonic notion numerological occult Occult Philosophy oral pagan Paracelsan Paracelsus Pico Pico's Pistorius Pistorius's Platonic Platonists Postel provenance published Rabbi realm religion religious Renaissance Reuchlin revelation Rosenroth Sabbatai Sabbatai Zevi Sabbatian Scholem scripture secret seems Sefer Yetzirah sefiroth sense sephiroth seventeenth century sexual Shekinah sixteenth century soul Spenser Spinoza spirit style symbolic syncretic Tetragrammaton things Thorndike tion Torah tradition trans translation truth wisdom word written Zohar