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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of the book Apocalyptic and Merkavah Mysticism, which is a description of Jewish Merkavah mysticism, its history, structure, and main thematic features. The earliest post-biblical traces of Merkavah mysticism are found in apocalyptic literature and in some of the texts discovered at Qumran. The literature that first gives a full-scale presentation of Merkavah mysticism is called the Hekhalot literature, mainly composed in Eretz-Yisrael at the time of the Talmud and the beginning of the Geʾonic period. Various practices were adapted and introduced in order to bring about the realization of mystical experiences of the like Ezekiel had. The book contains an analysis of the major features of the Merkavah tradition. It also presents a detailed description of all the known Hekhalot writings. The book also presents several comments on the Merkavah material incorporated in the Gnostic writings found at Nag Hammadi.

Keywords: apocalyptic literature; Geʾonic period; Gnostic writings; Hekhalot literature; Jewish Merkavah mysticism; Nag Hammadi; Qumran

10.1163/9789004279209_002
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