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Merkava Mysticism In Rabbinic And Hekhalot Literature

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Chapter Summary

This chapter emphasizes the mystical dimensions of the apocalyptic writings and traditions of Jews and Christians in the late Second Temple period. The New Testament writings have been shown to be saturated with apocalyptic imagery and ideas, and, indeed, to be premised on a fundamentally apocalyptic vision of the world. The chapter approaches the question of mysticism in the New Testament from a different direction. Rabbinic traditions about maase merkava are preserved in both midrashic and talmudic literature. The title Hekhalot Rabbati (HekhR) is encountered in several manuscripts and applies to the largest compilation of the hekhalot corpus. The structure of the seven hekhalot, with the merkava in the centre, is based on the Jerusalem Temple, with its concentric areas of increasing holiness. In both Hekhalot Zutarti (HekhZ) and HekhR, the practice of name-recitation is intimately connected with the heavenly ascent and the vision of merkava.

Keywords: Hekhalot Rabbati (HekhR); Hekhalot Zutarti (HekhZ); maase merkava; mystical dimensions; New Testament writings; Rabbinic traditions



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