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Hasidic Tales

(276 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] The use of narrative literature in the presentation of Hasidism occurred mainly more than a century after the beginning of the movement. It peaked in the period between 1863 and 1914 when many scores of collections of Hasidic tales were published in Hebrew and Yiddish, mainly in Poland. In the e…

Arama, Isaac ben Moses

(225 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (c. 1420 Aragon – 1494), one of the leading thinkers of Spanish Jewry in the 15th century and the author of Aqedat Yitzhaq (The Binding of Isaac), a major, influential, homiletical-philosophical work. Arama taught in several towns and was appointed the rabbi of Calatayud; after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain (1492) he settled with his family in Naples. Aqedat Yitzhaq is comprised of 105 homiletical expositions, which deal with the problems of religion and reason: creation, revelation, miracles, divine omniscience, methodologies of exegesis, free will, the authority of the commandments, and ethical behavior. Arama's scriptural hermeneutics are often allegorical (Allegory), and he often uses rationalistic terminologies; the main thrust of his attitude, however, is to place tradition and faith above logic. This work was very influential in the 16th century; Rabbi Isaac Abrabanel and others used it frequently. It was first printed in Salonica (1522) and many times since. Anton Julius van der Hardt translated the 62nd chapter into …

Cordovero, Moses

(182 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (1522, Zefad [Safed]? – 1570, Zefad), the greatest Kabbalist in Zefad before I. Luria. His family, whose origin was in Córdoba, was exiled from Spain in 1492. Cordovero was a disciple of ¶ Rabbi Joseph Karo and Shlomo Alkabetz. His main work, an extensive commentary on the

Sefirot

(211 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (Heb. סְפִרוֹת; sg. sefira). Sefirot is found for the first time in the Sefer Yetzirah: there are “ten and not nine, ten and not eleven,” i.e. the ten “directions” of the cosmos (up, down, beginning, end, north, south, east,west, good, evil), as well as the powers of the divine chariot and …

Nachmanides

(339 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (Moses ben Nachman, acronym “Ramban”; 1194, Gerona – 1270, Akko) was a rabbi, physician, preacher, exegete, and a great halakhic authority. In the first half of the 13th century, Nachmanides was the spiritual leader of Spanish Jews ¶ (Judaism: II) and the head of the Kabbalistic school (Kabbalah: II) of Gerona, where Rabbi Ezra and Rabbi Azriel were among his teachers. He was a defender of Judaism in disputations with his Christian contemporaries. His exegetical work on the Pentateuch is a landmark in medieval Jewish culture; it combines t…

Maggid

(409 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] is the general Hebrew word for “speaker.” In religious terminology, it has two different meanings: I. In the meaning of preacher, maggid refers to one of the most important cu…

Alnakawa, Israel

(263 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph

Ben Gurion, David

(248 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (Oct 16, 1886, Plonsk, Poland – Dec 1, 1973, Sdeh Boker, Israel), the first prime minister of the state of Israel f…

Nathan of Gaza

(219 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (1643, Jerusalem, Israel – Jan 11, 1680, Skopje, Macedonia), the first prophet and main theologian of Shabbetaianism. After a meeting with Shabbetai Tzevi in Gaza in 1665, Nathan, a young scholar of I. Luria’s Kabbalah, declared that he had a revelation which identified Shabbetai Tzevi as the messiah, a claim that the latter had been making for years without any positive r…

Scholem, Gershom Gerhard

(344 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (orig. Gerhard; Dec 5, 1897, Berlin – Feb 20, 1982, Jerusalem), the most important scholar in Jewish studies in the 20th century and the founder of the scholarly study of the Kabbalah. He was born to an assimilated Jewish family. In his youth he devoted himself to Zionism, associated with M. Buber and began to learn Hebrew, tak…

Zimzum

(179 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (“divine contraction”), is one of the most profound and influential terms in Lurianic Kabbalah (II; I. Luria). It denotes the first step leading from the infinity of the eternal Godhead ( En Sof) to the emanation of the divine powers and the earthly world. According to Luria, the zimzum is a negative process: it signifies the contraction of the infinite divine into itself, to create an empty space (

Kabbalah

(1,981 words)

Author(s): Kilcher, Andreas | Dan, Joseph
[German Version] I. Philosophy of Religion – II. Jewish Kabbalah – III. Christian Kabbalah I. Philosophy of Religion Since c. 1200, Kabbalah has been the designation for Jewish mysticism (III, 2). According to the name, the term Kabbalah means “reception” or “tradition”: the reception of an orally transmitted, esoteric knowledge concerning the “secrets of Scripture” ( rasin de oraita; sitre tora). The material that can be considered Kabbalah can be described in terms of (a) the philosophy of religion or phenomenology, or (b) history. A phenomenologica…

Exile

(1,918 words)

Author(s): Graf, Friedrich Wilhelm | Dan, Joseph
[German Version] I. General – II. Judaism I. General Exile (Lat. exilium or exul) refers to the state-organized and politically, religiously, or ethnically motivated expulsion of people from their homeland or their forced resettlement in a land that they often would not have freely chosen as a place of refuge. T…

Hagiography

(2,226 words)

Author(s): Köpf, Ulrich | Plank, Peter | Dan, Joseph
[German Version] I. Western Hagiography – II. Eastern Hagiography – III. Medieval and Modern Judaism I. Western Hagiography Western hagiography, as a literature that has no scholarly purpose but serves to venerate saints, first followed Greek examples. Its most important genre, the lives of the saints, is shaped less by the panegyric biography of the martyr bishop Cyprian of Carthage, written by the deacon Pontius (2nd half of 3rd cent. ce), than by the vitaes of the desert father Anthony of Padua, written by Athanasius (with two Latin translations), and of Martin …

Disputation

(1,448 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph | Köpf, Ulrich | van Ess, Josef
[German Version] I. Judaism – II. Christianity – III. Islam I. Judaism Talmudic tradition includes several examples of disputations between Jewish scholars and pagan philosophers or Roman emperors, dealing mainly with the questions of divine unity, the creation and the role of Israel ( b. Sanh. 91a–b; ' Abod. Zar. 10a–11a, etc.). Disputations with representatives of Islam and, especially, of the Christian religion became a central subject in the historical and apologetical literature (…

Transmigration of Souls

(1,282 words)

Author(s): Betz, Hans Dieter | Dehn, Ulrich | Dan, Joseph | Schmidtke, Sabine
[German Version] I. Religious Studies 1. Terminology. Theories of transmigration, which go back to the pre-Socratics of the 6th and 5th centuries bce (Empedocles, Pythagoras, Orphism), presuppose a dualism of body and soul. They hold that a human birth is not a totally new creation but the reincarnation of a pre-existent soul. Repeated incarnations extend not only to human beings of all classes and stations but also to flora and fauna; their purpose is the eschatological purification of the soul from ritual and ethic…

Sacred Sites

(2,374 words)

Author(s): Baudy, Dorothea | Reichert, Andreas | Dan, Joseph | Koch, Guntram
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Characterization of a place as “sacred” or “holy” lends it a special status vis-à-vis its environment. Usually specific regulations govern how it is entered and used. Traditionally this status has been grounded in the belief that the site is proper to a deity or another spiritual being, or that a special power emanates from it. Sacred sites are particularly common at the center and on the fringes of group territories: the “men’s house” or festival ground defines the center of a village, just as the temple complex on …

Pre-existence

(1,863 words)

Author(s): Plasger, Georg | Necker, Gerold | Dan, Joseph | Radtke, Bernd
[German Version] I. The Concept Pre-existence refers to the existence of deities, persons, or objects prior to the world or the earth. All religions in which the deity is not subsumed into time espouse the notion of the deity’s real pre-existence, because entrance into the course of time brings forth only knowledge of the deity without affecting the deity’s being. It is in this context that we also speak of the pre-existence of Christ. In Greek philosophy, which influenced early Christianity, the no…

Anti-Semitism/Anti-Judaism

(9,075 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph | Schäfer, Peter | Schaller, Berndt | Thierfelder, Jörg | Frey, Christofer
[German Version] I. Definitions and Problems - II. Greco-Roman Antiquity- III. New Testament (Primitive and Early Christianity) - IV. Christian Antiquity to the Beginning of the MiddleAges - V. The Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period - VI. German Anti-Semitism in Recent History - VII. Systematic Theology I. Definitions and Problems The term “anti-Semitism” in its narrowest sense relates to a racist ideology that emerged in France and Germany in the last decades of the 19th century and de…

Shekhinah

(1,527 words)

Author(s): Janowski, Bernd | Reeg, Gottfried | Dan, Joseph | Moltmann, Jürgen
[German Version] I. Old Testament The word shekhinah (שְׁכִינָה), a postbiblical noun from the root שׁכן/ škn, “settle, dwell,” denotes an aspect of God’s presence in the world, usually translated as “indwelling” or “habitation.” The term indwelling suggests the Egyptian theology of cultic images, according to which the deity in heaven “descends” upon his image in the earthly temple and “unites” with it (Assmann). The earliest reference to the Old Testament shekhinah theology is in 1 Kgs 8:12f., in Solomon’s words at the dedicatio…
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