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5 The Hekhalot Literature

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses some of the general characteristics of the Hekhalot literature. In series of studies on the Hekhalot literature, G. Scholem proposed a different order and a much earlier date of composition. Scholem's suggestion to interpret the Merkavah mysticism as a Jewish concomitant to Gnosticism is re-examined. The main subjects of the Hekhalot literature are the complex and dangerous procedures involved in heavenly ascensions and the ritual processes required to overcome them; detailed descriptions of various visions of heavenly journeys, including the vision of the angelic world and the throne of God; various mystical experiences of the Godhead; celestial hymnology; revelation of cosmological and other secrets; and the special secret method of studying and memorizing the Torah. The more important from the magico-theurgic point of view is the saying of names, mainly the secret names of the Deity and of the angels.

Keywords: angelic world; celestial hymnology; G. Scholem; heavenly journeys; Hekhalot literature; mystical experiences; ritual processes; Torah



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