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Gershom Scholem

First published Thu Apr 10, 2008; substantive revision Wed Oct 30, 2013
Gerhard (Gershom) Scholem (1897–1982) was the preeminent modern scholar of
Jewish mysticism. Of Scholem Martin Buber once remarked, ―all of us have
students, schools, but only Gershom Scholem has created a whole academic
discipline!‖ His contribution lay in five distinct yet connected areas which will be
detailed below: the research and analysis of kabbalistic literature spanning from
late antiquity to the twentieth century; the phenomenology of mystical religion;
Jewish historiography; Zionism, and the spiritual and political condition of
contemporary Judaism and Jewish civilization. He published over 40 volumes and
close to 700 articles almost all of which are listed in the Scholem Bibliography
published in 1977. He trained at least three generations of scholars of Kabbala
many of whom still teach in Israel and the Diaspora. Scholem was also part of a
select group of German-Jewish intellectuals from the Weimar period who rejected
their parent's assimilationist liberal lives in favor of Zionism. He immigrated to
Palestine in 1923 and quickly became a central figure in the German-Jewish
immigrant community that dominated the intellectual landscape in Mandate
Palestine from the 1920's until the Second World War.
 1. Biographical information
 2. Early Work
 3. Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism and Origins of the Kabbala
 4. Sabbatei Zevi: Mystical Messiah and the Centrality of Messianism
 5. Eranos and the Phenomenology of Religion
 6. Historiography and Theology
 7. Zionism
 8. Contemporary Jewish Life and the Future of Jewish Civilization
 Bibliography
o Books by Gershom Scholem (selections)
o Books about Scholem
o Articles about Scholem
 Academic Tools
 Other Internet Resources
 Related Entries

1. Biographical information
Gershom Scholem was born Gerhard Scholem in Berlin in 1897. The Scholem
family had lived in Berlin since the early part of the nineteenth century. Gerhard's
father Arthur was an assimilated Jew and German nationalist, quite common
among middle-class Berlin Jews at that time. Arthur Scholem had a successful
business as a printer and it was there Scholem first became exposed to books at a
very young age. There is a story that in 1911, when Scholem had already rejected
his father's politics and openly espoused Zionism, his mother bought him a portrait
of Theodore Herzl as a Christmas present. Another version has it that the portrait
was hung on the Christmas tree in the Scholem home. There were four boys in the
Scholem family three of whom rebelled against their father's politics and Jewish
identity in different ways. The eldest son Reinhold joined the staunchly nationalist
Deutsche Volkspartie, the third son Werner became a communist, and Gershom
became a Zionist. Having no Jewish education prior to his Zionist turn in 1911 the
adolescent Scholem began learning Hebrew and studying Talmud in one of the
Berlin community schools. By 1915 he was immersing himself in any kabbalistic
works he could find even though he admitted understanding very little. Although
Zionism brought Judaism to the center of the young Gershom's life it never really
inspired religious observance although Scholem tells us in the biography of his
early life From Berlin to Jerusalem that he did experiment with some form of
observance while still an adolescent in Germany. Throughout his life, however,
Scholem remained a committed secularist, and secularism played an important role
in his rendering of Jewish history and the study of Kabbala.
The rift between Scholem and his father grew as Gershom openly criticized his
father's German nationalism and bourgeois lifestyle. It reached a breaking point
after a heated argument about his brother Werner's impending court-marshal for
treason while serving in the Germany army. Arthur exploded and banished the
young Gershom from the family home, giving him 100 German Marks for his
journey. This forced Gershom to find other living arrangements in Berlin. He had
already become acquainted with the young Zionist Zalman Rubashov who later
became Zalman Shazar, the third president of Israel. Rubashov, claiming
Scholem's banishment made him a ―refugee for Zionism,‖ invited him to board at a
rooming house on the west side of Berlin that housed numerous Eastern European
Jewish immigrants one of whom was Shai Agnon. Many of the Zionists he met
there were older and would subsequently have an important influence on his life
especially after he immigrated to Palestine in 1923.
Inspired by his radical Zionism and utter disdain for German nationalism Scholem
expressed strong opposition to the Great War (and subsequently nationalism more
generally), a belief he held throughout his life and affected his Zionism later on.
Unable to avoid the draft after two deferments, he entered the German army where
he spent a mere two months before being discharged, labeled a ―psychopath
temporarily unfit for duty.‖ Scholem then entered The University of Berlin with an
interest in studying pure mathematics which he pursued for a few semesters before
deciding he did not have sufficient talent to succeed. It was around that time, in
1917, that Scholem decided to immigrate to Palestine and the rest of his education
in Germany was geared toward that end. During those years (approximately 1916–
1917) he met Martin Buber and, more importantly, Walter Benjamin, who would
have a profound influence on Scholem's intellectual trajectory.
As was common among college youth in Germany, Scholem attended numerous
universities. He ended up in Munich where he turned his attention to his
dissertation. He produced a translation and annotated version of one of the first
kabbalistic books Sefer ha-Bahir (the Book of Illumination), successfully
defending his dissertation in January 1922 and graduatingsumma cum laude. After
graduation Scholem put all his energy into his immigration and in mid-September
1923 set off for Palestine without any concrete plans as to how he would support
himself.
Soon after his arrival he was offered a position as librarian of the ―Hebrew
Section‖ of the newly founded National Library connected with what would
become the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It was in that position that Scholem
began collecting and cataloging the hundreds of kabbalistic manuscripts that few
had interest in and fewer could read. His career began at that moment even though
he was not appointed to a faculty position until some time later. Once he received
his faculty appointment, he remained at the Hebrew University until his death in
1982.
2. Early Work
Scholem's early work consists of two main areas of research. From 1921 (while
still in Germany) until around 1936 Scholem spent untold hours collecting and
analyzing every kabbalistic manuscript he could locate. This required traveling to
various libraries in Europe. Once he arrived in Palestine he concentrated on the
growing collection of Hebrew manuscripts located at the new National Library.
This taxing, arduous, and tedious work created a data base for Scholem that would
serve his entire career. During this same period he undertook a series of highly
critical reviews and essays on previous scholars who dealt with Kabbala, most of
which were published in the German-Jewish journal Der Jude and some in
Hebrew Keriat Sefer a journal of Jewish Bibliography centered in Jerusalem.
These early book reviews constitute an important — and often overlooked—part of
Scholem's career. It is here that he distinguishes himself from his predecessors and
develops the beginning of his historiographical approach that would only emerge
in the next period of his research. His dissertation Das Buch Bahir was published
in Leipzig in1923. His first major publications after his dissertation were Kitvei
Yad ha-Kabbala, 1930; Perakim le-Toldot sifrut ha-Kabbala,1931;
and Bibliographia Kabbalistica, 1927, all bibliographical works examining his
discoveries. In addition he published more theoretical studies such as ―Kabbalat R.
Ya'akov ve-R. Yizhak [ha-Cohen],‖ 1927; ―Ha-Mekubal R. Avraham b. Eliezer ha-
Levi‖ 1925, 26 and ―Die Theologie des Sabbatianismus im Lichte Abraham
Cardosos‖ in 1928. Parts of these studies would appear later in more expanded
works dealing with various kabbalistic periods. In short, Scholem began his
publishing career by first absorbing the entire scope of the history of Kabbala and
then slowly putting it together from the earliest period until the latest (Hasidism).
3. Major Trends in J ewish Mysticism and Origins of the Kabbala
It is not without irony that Scholem's most celebrated works were written in
German or Hebrew yet his most popular and arguably most influential work Major
Trends in Jewish Mysticism was written in English at a time when most scholarship
in Judaica was still being written in German. By the end of the 1930's Scholem was
already hard at work on Sabbateanism which would result in a major book (two
volumes in Hebrew, one large volume in English) entitled Sabbatei Zevi: Mystical
Messiah. A preliminary study on Sabbatean antinomianism ―Redemption through
Sin‖ was published in 1936 and then appeared in English in 1970. During that
time, in the late 1930's, Scholem received an invitation from the Jewish Institute of
Religion in New York City to deliver a series of lectures on Jewish Mysticism. He
accepted the invitation and wrote the lectures in English (a first for him). These
lectures were subsequently published as Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism in
1941. This work was a watershed for the entire field of Kabbala studies and Jewish
Studies more generally. For the first time he offered a synoptic yet detailed
presentation of the entire history of Kabbala beginning with the German Rhineland
pietists (Hasidei Ashkenaz) from the 12
th
century until Hasidism in the 18
th
and
19
th
centuries. In this work Scholem presents his theory of the authorship and
construction of the Zohar, one of the first programmatic studies of the enigmatic
kabbalist Abraham Abulafia, and offers the first glimpses of his own
historiography. Moreover, the last page of Major Trends presents a few
parenthetical observations about the ―possibility for Jewish mysticism today‖ that
would occupy a number of essays later in his career. His historiographical musings
in Major Trends are important because it is here we are presented with Scholem's
dialectical approach to history and his claim, for example, that Lurianic Kabbala
with its intense focus on creation as rupture and catastrophe was a response to the
Jewish expulsion from Spain in 1492. This suggests that kabbalistic circles were
using metaphysics to reify historical reality, which led Scholem to coin the term
―historiosophy‖ to describe his understanding of history and metaphysics. It also
offers another first glimpse of his work on Sabbateansim which Scholem claimed
was a heretical but not necessary deviant form of Jewish mysticism. By that I mean
that even fairly early in his career Scholem held that Kabbala is a theology that
requires a normative law (tradition) — largely as a foil — but is always in
dialectical tension with that law. The fact that antinomianism rose to the surface in
the Sabbatean movement, breaking the normative tradition through its combination
of messianism and mysticism, should not be seen as an aberration as much as a
tragic inevitability. This Sabbatean heresy, argued Scholem, did not end with the
failure of the movement but influenced, and even set the conditions for, Jewish
modernity. His speculations about possible influences between Sabbatean and
Reform Judaism in Hungary were duly criticized by Jacob Katz for lack of
historical evidence. However, the more theoretical and structural point about
Kabbala more generally and Sabbateanism in particular as being in tension with
normative Jewish law (halakha) and the ways that Sabbateanism may have
(indirectly) informed early Reform which rejected halakha outright is a topic
worthy of further thought even though it may be historically unprovable. While
direct links between Sabbateans and Reformers have not been definitively
unearthed, the geographical proximity of Sabbateans and early Reformers in
Hungary and the extent to which Sabbateans functioned in clandestine ways is
curious.
One of the great merits of Major Trends, and why it has been as influential as it
has, is that all the ―trends‖ included therein are set side by side to give one a sense
that there is a definite trajectory to mystical Judaisms even if that trajectory does
not follow a straight line. The descriptive part of the book begins (in Chapter 2)
with hekhalot mysticism and other pre-rabbinic and rabbinic mysticisms that
appear in such apocryphal works as the Book of Enoch, including angelology and
magic. It then moves on to the the Rhineland German pietists, Abraham Abulafia
and only then reaches the textus classicus of medieval Kabbala, the Zohar. What
are conspicuous in their absence are Sefer Yezeria (the Book of Creation) and Sefer
ha-Bahir(the Book of Illumination). These omissions are intentional. This work is
intended to discuss major trends in Jewish mysticism and not major trends
in Kabbala. The distinction is an important one for Scholem. He devotes another
work called the Origins of the Kabbala (that appears in different versions in
German, Hebrew, and English) where he presents a detailed analysis of the
emergence of Kabbala beginning with the Bahir and the Provencal circle, and
maturing in Castile and Gerona in the two centuries immediately preceding the
appearance of the Zohar in Guadalajara Spain at the end of the 13
th
century. The
first chapter of Major Trends offers us one of Scholem's earliest lengthy statements
on the phenomenology of mysticism that is expanded later in his lectures at the
Eranos conferences and published in the 1960's. It is here Scholem tries to define
―mysticism‖ (he admits he is unsuccessful in doing so) and it is here he reveals
some of the people he values as preceding him in this endeavor (both Jewish and
Christian scholars of Kabbala). This first chapter is an important part of Scholem's
early move to expand beyond the formal study of Kabbala into the area of
philosophy of religion.
Scholem is convinced that Kabbala is a medieval phenomenon. That is, while there
are important works of Jewish mysticism composed before the Middle Ages, the
metaphysics and cosmology we know as Kabbala emerges as a reaction against the
rationalism of medieval Jewish philosophy that posits a distant and unapproachable
God in line with the Aristotelian and Platonic (and Neoplatonic) schools. These
kabbalists, while protesting such rationalism, were themselves very influenced by
two dominant trends: Gnosticism and Neo-Platonism. In his Origins, Scholem
traces both Gnostic and Neoplatonic influences on these early kabbalistic thinkers,
viewing them as deeply embedded in their medieval context. Kabbala in this period
emerged in three locales: Provence, Castile, and Gerona and included prominent
rabbinic figures, most importantly Moses Nahmanides. Origins of the
Kabbala begins with an analysis of the Book Bahir (taken largely from his doctoral
thesis) a work Scholem claims emerges from a circle of mystics led by the
enigmatic Isaac the Blind in Provence although he suggests some strata of this
enigmatic work may originate in some unknown Jewish Gnostic groups. For
Scholem, the Bahiris the first book of Kabbala. When we move to Castile and
Gerona, Kabbala becomes more actively engaged in posing an alternative theology
to rationalist philosophy. Scholem maintains that the Gerona school was not an
independent entitiy but more of an extension of the earlier Provencal circle that
produced the Bahir. This polemic (between philosophers and kabbalists and
between Talmudists and kabbalists) continued until the end of the sixteenth century
when Kabbala won the hearts and minds of many Jews after the Spanish expulsion
in 1492 and the forced conversions and expulsions in Portugal in 1496. Scholem
argued this was in large part due to two factors: First, that philosophy too easily
justified bogus Jewish conversion, that is, the choice to internalize Judaism and
abandon outward ritual; and more importantly, that philosophy could not offer
solace for the historical crisis of the expulsion. After the expulsion Kabbala moves
from the periphery to become the default theology of Judaism. It is in these
polemical centuries, however, that Kabbala develops its most important features
that become the foundation of all subsequent Kabbala. One is its emanationist
theory of creation and the descent of divine effluence into the world. Another is its
elaborate version of ta'amei ha-mitzvot or reasons for the commandments (a
discipline initiated in its medieval form by the most famous Jewish rationalist
Moses Maimonides). Unlike many earlier pre-kabbalistic mysticisms, this
inextricably connects mystical doctrine to Jewish law and ritual. A classic example
of this is Ezra of Gerona's Ta'amei ha-Mitzvot printed erroneously in the name of
Nahmanides. Another is the beginning of kabbalistic exegesis of Scripture. Bahya
ben Asher of Saragossa's kabbalistic commentary is a classical example of this
phenomenon in the pre-zoharic period that is expanded and deepened later in the
Zohar and its commentaries. Yet another is the proliferation of mystical
commentaries on prayer that first emerge in the Provencal fraternities of Isaac the
Blind. Finally in this period we see the first systematic cosmologies that become
templates for later kabbalistic doctrine. One example would be Azriel of
Gerona's Sefer Esser Sephirot. I will discuss the historiographic issues implicit in
these two works in another section. Suffice it to say that given the many
publications of Scholem in this middle period of his career, Major Trends in
Jewish Mysticismand Origins of the Kabbala stand out as the most important and
influential.
4. Sabbatei Zevi: Mystical Messiah and the Centrality of Messianism
For Scholem Jewish messianism and Sabbateanism are intimately connected. This
is not because Sabbateanism is the only form of Jewish messianism but because
Sabbateanism represents, for him, the quintessence of the tension between tradition
and its self-destruction that lies at the root of all forms of Jewish messianism
reaching back to the Hebrew Bible. This idea came to Scholem very early in his
career, decades before he even began serious work on his magisterial Sabbatai
Zevi: Mystical Messiah. He was first made aware of Sabbateanism by his friend
Zalman Rubashov probably between 1916–1918, but he didn't begin research on
the movement until 1927 and published his first article on the Marrano Sabbatean
Abraham Miquel Cardozo ―Die Theologie des Sabbatianismus im Lichte Abraham
Cardosos‖ in 1928. This was followed by the more important theoretical study
―Redemption though Sin‖ published in 1936. In this essay Scholem posits what
would become his central claim about messianism and tradition. First, that there
are essentially two kinds of messianism; restorative and utopian-catastrophic. Both
of these are manifest in the singular movement of Sabbateansism. The restorative
model envisioned the messianic as a return to an older era (i.e., the Davidic
kingdom) that was revolutionary but only within the confines of the tradition. The
utopian-catastrophic model (Scholem also calls it apocalyptic) envisions a rupture
of tradition and the inauguration of an entirely new era. While these models existed
before Sabbateansim, the restorative model in the Maimonidean messianism and
the utopian model in the messianic theology of the anonymous 14
th
century Sefer
Temunahand later apocalyptic mystics such as David Reuveni, only in
Sabbateanism do they both emerge fully as ―dark forces‖ that affect, and threaten,
the entire Jewish nation. Moreover, once these forces are unleashed — especially
in a traditional world whose authority had already been weakened — they can
never again be totally suppressed, even though the formal Sabbatean movement
loses much of its direct influence by the 18
th
century either through attrition or
religious conservatism. That is, for Scholem, Sabbateanism is such an important
topic precisely because it re-directs Jewish history by exposing the underside of
Jewish mysticism, Judaism's ―counter-history,‖ in a way that creates the conditions
for Jewish modernity, including Zionism. In this sense, Sabbateanism is the
lynchpin to Scholem's entire intellectual project.
The Sabbatean heresy did not emerge in a vacuum. There are many theories about
why it became as popular as it did. Scholem's general approach is that while
Kabbala, like all intellectual constructs, reacts to history, it is the esoteric trends
that are often the most potent forces needed to unleash innovation, which is often
deemed heretical (at least at the outset). Thus the roots of Sabbateanism were not
the impoverished or oppressed state of the Jews (although these factors may have
played a role) but the dominance of Lurianic Kabbala born in mid-16
th
century
Safed. Scholem notes that the messianic in Lurianism was not apocalyptic and may
even have been a conservative protest again utopian messianists like Reuveni a
generation earlier. Lurianism offered a gradual progressive messianism of tikkun or
the reparation of the broken cosmos built on the foundations of its theory of
creation as rupture and exile. Yet Lurianism also rose at a time (a generation after
the Spanish expulsion) when Jews were in need of a new theology to justify their
new reality. The fact that the Ottoman Sultan Bayazid II invited Jews to re-settle
Erez Israel after 1516 and the fact that Lurianic Kabbala arose in Safed, one of the
four holy cites according to tradition (the others are Jerusalem, Hebron, and
Tiberias) gave added heft to its messianic teachings. In short, according to
Scholem, with Lurianic Kabbala, Kabbala emerged from its subterranean — and
largely conservative—existence (or at least without a formidable competitor) and
set the stage for the antinomian counter-traditional dimensions of Kabbala to erupt
and gain popular attention. There are at least three factors that contributed to
Lurianism's success and subsequently the success of Sabbateanism: (1) the
weakening of rabbinic authority in the sixteenth-century (even considering that the
same locale and same decades gave us the Shulkhan Arukh); (2) the lack of any
viable ideological competitor with the demise of philosophy after the expulsion;
and (3)Luria's comprehensive and compelling myth coupled with the positive
historical development of the first systematic, albeit slow, re-settlement of Jews in
Erez Israel since the early Middle Ages.
What Lurianism did not offer was a charismatic messianic figure to finalize its
messianic vision. Here is where Sabbateanism found its role. Scholem notes that
Nathan of Gaza, Sabbatai Zevi's prophet and spokesperson, largely nullified the
need for continued Lurianic practice once the ―messiah‖ was revealed. Not unlike
Paul's view of the law, for Nathan once the messiah arrived one's faith must now
be focused on his role in finalizing the process. In fact, culminating the process
required the messiah to break the law in order to redeem his people, thus opening
the ―counter-historical‖ notion of antinomianism that lay dormant in so much of
mystical Jewish doctrine.
After Sabbatai Zevi's decision, under duress, to convert to Islam and remain under
the protection of the Sultan (where he died a decade later) his disciples split into
―moderate‖ and ―radical‖ camps. The moderates held that they should remain
Jews, even observant ones, and keep their faith in Sabbatai Zevi as a secret
doctrine. The ―radicals‖ held they must imitate their master and thus convert to
Islam to continue the redemptive process. Included in this radical camp was Jacob
Frank (1726–1791) (about whom Scholem had little to say) who, with most of his
disciples, converted to Catholicism in 1759. The radicals did not present much of a
problem for the Jews as they disappeared from the community. The moderates,
however, presented a grave problem and inspired a whole industry of Sabbatean
hunting that extended into the 19
th
century. The point in all this, according to
Scholem, is that Sabbateanism destroyed Jewish tradition from within a century
before the Enlightenment, and may have even brought the latter into existence.
5. Eranos and the Phenomenology of Religion
In the year 1933, on the suggestion of Rudolph Otto, the Dutch heiress Olga
Froebe-Kapteyn initiated an annual conference on her estate near Ascona,
Switzerland that became known as the Eranos Conference. The goal of this
gathering was to bring together scholars of different religious traditions to discuss
themes related to religion and spirituality. Scholem attended many of these
conferences, presented numerous papers, and took part in the larger ecumenical
discussions. In the years Scholem attended, Carl Jung was a central figure and
many of the themes in the conferences reflected Jung's particular interest in
religious symbolism and mythology. Other important figures included Mircea
Eliade, Henri Corbin, Karl Lowith, Gerhard van der Leeuw, Erich Newmann, and
Paul Tillich. This conference proved to be an important outlet for Scholem to move
beyond his more parochial studies in Israel and explore the areas of comparative
religion and phenomenology that interested him in his youth. It also enabled him to
return to a more cosmopolitan European and international setting and present his
more specific Hebraic research to a new audience. Scholem published some of
these essays in the conference's annual proceedings, the Eranos Yearbook, and
some in German and English journals. Other essays from Eranos appeared in a six-
volume collection entitled Judaica published in Germany between 1963–1997. The
best collection of some of these articles in English appears in On the Kabbalah and
its Symbolism, 1965. In particular ―Religious Authority and Mysticism,‖
―Kabbalah and Myth,‖ and ―Tradition and New Creation in the Ritual of the
Kabbalists‖ represent Scholem's attempt to present his research to a non-specialist
yet educated audience of scholars of religion and psychology. While some of his
students claim that these essays do not make up an essential part of Scholem's
oeuvre, others claim that, in fact, these are some of the richest and perhaps the
most provocative dimensions of Scholem's intellectual project. Combined with
other essays such as ―Tradition and Revelation as Religious Categories in Judaism‖
these essays address larger questions of philosophy and phenomenology of religion
as they relate to Kabbala that are not dealt with in his more technical Hebrew
essays. When later scholars reflect on the intellectual trajectory of Scholem's
project, these essays prove indispensable. Moreover, the relationships he cultivated
from attending these conferences expanded his own thinking and, by extension, his
reconstruction of the history of Kabbala.
6. Historiography and Theology
Early on Scholem became committed to critical historical scholarship as a mode of
not only understanding the past but reconstructing the present. That is, history and
philology were, for him, the only basis for any legitimate Jewish theology in a
world that could no longer support authentic mysticism. While he did write
theological essays, one could argue that his historical/philological essays also had a
theological foundation. Scholem grew up in a world (Weimar Germany and then
Mandate Palestine) that was rife with intellectual activity all focused on the
reconstruction of Jewish life and culture around Zionism. The Hebrew University
(which began as an ―Institute for Jewish Studies‖ in 1924) where he taught, was
expressly created for that purpose. Scholem's historical work emerged as a critique
of two distinct movements.
The first was the Wissenschaft des Judentums (the Science of Judaism), led by the
19
th
century Jewish historians Leopold Zunz, Moritz Steinschneider, and Henrich
Graetz. These historians reconstructed Jewish history for a newly emancipated
western European Jewish community placing special emphasis on normative
rabbinic literature and culture (Talmud and Midrash) and the medieval rationalist
tradition as the backbone of Judaism. They ignored or disparaged all forms of
mysticism and Kabbala, claiming it to be an outdated and dark part of the Jewish
past. Scholem's entire re-construction of Kabbala (and by extension of Judaism)
would be an unrelenting battle against them. As he wrote in a 1944 essay ―Modern
Jewish Studies‖ ―In brief: the stones that were rejected by the builders [the Science
of Judaism] will become the cornerstone.‖ Scholem referred to their rejection of
Kabbala as the ―origin sin‖ of the Science of Judaism from which everything else
was merely an extension. This sentiment was reiterated in a 1962 essay ―What
Others Rejected: Kabbala and Historical Criticism‖ delivered upon receiving one
of the Rothschild Prizes. While Scholem claimed laconically that the exilic and
thus apologetic mentality that tainted the Science of Judaism's historical project
was not, in fact, rectified with the new national and sovereign consciousness he
also acknowledged that nationalism (one form of Zionism) presented its own
distorting lenses even as it corrected some mistakes of the past.
Second, in the early decades of the 20th century the philosophies of Hermann
Cohen and Martin Buber — the former a neo-Kantian rationalist, the latter a
romantic existentialist—were immensely popular. Scholem rejected both grand
schemes in favor of careful historical analysis of the regnant literary sources of
Judaism. In addition, in response to Adolph von Harnack's influential The Essence
of Christianity (Harnack argued, among other things, that Christianity was rooted
in Gnosticism and thus needn't be dependent on any Jewish sources damaging the
very idea of a German Jewish culture) theologians such as Leo Baeck argued for
an ‗essence‘ of Judaism to counter Harnack's position that Judaism was irrelevant
and illegitimate for Christianity. Buber and Scholem both rejected the notion of an
essence of Judaism yet both differed on the alternative. Buber focused on the
notion of Erlebnis, or intuitive experience, as the anchor of a human's relationship
to God via revelation (or relation). That is, for Buber, experience was a meta-
lingual phenomenon and thus language was inferior to pure experience. For Buber,
then, there is no essence of Judaism but there may be an essence of religious
experience that transcends language and thus particularity. Scholem rejected this
and argued that Judaism can only be renewed through the historical consciousness
of Erfahrung or concrete historical experience. This kind of experience is mediated
through language, specifically, the language of the textual tradition. Influenced by
Walter Benjamin's early theory of language, Scholem argued that language was of
―divine origin‖ (however this is understood) and thus the experience of revelation
was itself linguistic. For Scholem, therefore, there is no essential religious
experience as all human experience is mediated through language and thus
particular to a cultural and linguistic context. He also held there was no essence of
Judaism if by that we mean some core sets of values that can be exhibited in all
forms of Jewish literature.
For him Judaism is, according to one close reader of Scholem ―an anarchistic
plurality of sources.‖ Thus the best way to understand Judaism is through the
philological and historical analysis of those sources without any pre-conceived
vision of a grand narrative that unites them. Scholem's position against the
Essentialist school surfaces in the first chapter of Major Trends where he struggles
to define the mystical experience. It surfaces again in the 1960's and 1970's in light
of the nature of language in ―On the Name of God and Linguistic Theory in
Kabbala.‖ The ―Name of God‖ essay was a topic Scholem first expressed interest
in writing in the early 1920's until he realized he did not have sufficient knowledge
of Kabbala to do so. The essay was published in two parts in 1972. In Major
Trends he navigates a position between the essentialists and the pure constructivist
position. It should be noted that even given Scholem's dependence on language, he
does not advocate a pure constructivist position on the nature of experience. That
is, he does not argue there is simply no meaning whatsoever to experience outside
of language or that there is no experience outside of language. Language for
Scholem is a vehicle for understanding experience but whether it is, in fact, the
very origin of experience is something Scholem never definitively argues and
remains a issue of debate among Scholem's interpreters.
The historiographical dimension of Scholem's reconstruction of Judaism is perhaps
his most contested thesis. He offers a kind of Hegelian position. In brief it unfolds
as follows: The biblical period is where Judaism struggles to free itself of pure
myth and, while partially successful, never quite severs itself from the mythic
world of its surroundings. This period is followed by the rabbinic period of late
antiquity introducing the institutional period of the Jewish religion. The rabbis
suppressed myth, magic, and cult in favor of a normalized legal system that
rationalized biblical mythic motifs and presented a God who, while not impersonal,
was more distant from human experience than in the biblical period which was
centered on prophecy. The Jewish Middle Ages began with Judaism's absorption of
Hellenistic/rational culture and produced a God even more distant than the rabbinic
God. Moreover, in this period while law remained obligatory it was challenged by
reason as the sine qua non of the religious life. Myth moves from a sate of
suppression to being outright rejected. It is here, Scholem posits, that Kabbala
enters. In part a reaction against medieval rationalism (curiously not unlike
Scholem's rejection of the Enlightenment rationalism of the Science of Judaism)
Kabbala emerges in part to revive the biblical myth and also offer myths of its own
born from a reification of rabbinic Midrash into a mystical cosmology. In Hegelian
fashion, this mystical period then results in a renewal of rationalism in the
Enlightenment where mysticism moves underground again (it is rejected by the
proponents of the Science of Judaism) to be followed by its resurgence in yet
another period of Jewish self-assertion and its re-connection to land and power in
Zionism. This dialectical approach has been duly criticized as ―too neat‖ ignoring
the messy edges of any historical epoch. For example, some have argued that
Scholem intentionally downplays the mythic components in rabbinic Judaism and
the ways in which early kabbalists also fashioned themselves as philosophers. For
example, the ecstatic mystic Abraham Abulafia wrote commentaries to
Maimonides' rational work and did not consider his own project as contradictory to
Maimonides. The critique continues that Scholem favored the more ―mythic‖
kabbalistic schools such as the Rhineland pietists, the Zohar, Luria, Sabbatai Zevi,
and Hasidism because they serve his purpose and viewed those who do not as not
central to the historical trajectory of Kabbala.
One of the vexing questions in Scholem's historiographical rendering of Kabbala is
the place of myth in medieval kabbalistic literature. On the one hand, Scholem
seems to prefer symbol over myth when discussing Kabbala, suggesting that
Kabbala's reification of the biblical narrative does not yield a mythic drama,
including a cadre of mythic figures, but rather a series of symbolic clusters or
hypostatic forms that are identified through the prism of the personalities in the
Hebrew Bible. On the other hand, in numerous places Scholem suggests Kabbala
re-introduces myth into the Jewish discourse as a critique of Judaism's rational
expositors. Critics have suggested Scholem underestimated the mythic nature of
theosophic Kabbala (the Zohar and its interpreters) and was too invested in notions
of symbolism that were common in his time (e.g. Jung, Riceour, Eliade). In any
event, the question of myth verses symbol in Kabbala remains an important issue
to be examined by Scholem's readers and future scholars. One important
consequence of this question is whether one defines Scholem's dialectical
historiography as Hegelian or psychoanalytic. If we say myth yields to symbolism
in Kabbala, Kabbala's new Jewish theology would better fit into the Hegelian mode
as an antithesis to medieval rationalism. If we say myth dominates symbol in
Kabbala, we could argue for a case of the Freudian ―return of the repressed‖ where
the ancient Israelite myth repressed by rabbinic institutionalization and medieval
rationalism returns to undermine both, even as it ostensibly remains wedded to the
orthodoxy rabbinic Judaism provides.
In any case, it is hard to know exactly how seriously Scholem intended us to take
his dialectical historiography or whether, in fact, it served more as a heuristic tool
to enable us to see a sweeping picture that subsequent generations could revise. It
is also worth considering how much the warp and woof of the messianic and
antinomian that underlies much of Scholem's historiography of Kabbala is born
from, and serves, his Zionism, In an interview a short time before his death he
admitted that he believed his work was already ―dated‖ and thus, I assume, in need
of revision and revaluation. Given the waning belief in grand narratives, Scholem's
historiography has met sharp criticism yet there is little doubt its main features
have thus far stood the test of time.
A second component that accompanies Scholem's dialectic of myth, rationalism,
and mysticism is his theory of esotericism. Committed to the notion that social and
cultural change are driven by ideas more than events, Scholem adds that the ideas
that often have the most profound impact are esoteric ones that are suppressed yet
surface when certain historical conditions arise. This serves as one of his main
criticisms of Wissenschaft des Judentums, that is, that the presentation of Judaism
without its esoteric components is not only bad history but misunderstands the
main forces that drive change in Jewish life and ideas. One scholar termed this
Scholem's ―counter-history.‖ For Scholem Judaism's ostensible anchor, tradition, is
always in danger of undermining itself because it contains the seeds of its own
demise in the form of esotericism, mysticism, and myth. As history unfolds, it
often adjusts and survives its own inner challenge but other times, as in
Sabbateanism, it does so only by a combination of draconian means (this often
backfires) or by exercising its own elasticity to absorb the heretical and thereby
make it normative.
For Scholem, the one case where tradition may not have been able to recover is
modernity. For him modernity, and the secular, undermines the central pillar of
tradition, its belief in the divine nature of Scripture. Once this goes, he posits, in
some way the dialectic is broken in that mysticism needs tradition as its foil in
order to survive. The shattered ideational foundation of Jewish identity in
modernity can only be replaced with something that is heretical, messianic, and
secular: that is, Zionism. One scholar refers to this as Scholem's ―creative
anarchy.‖ In his famous last comments on the last page of Major TrendsScholem
acknowledges that modernity destroyed the conditions for mysticism as we knew it
historically but he acknowledges it could indeed rise in a different guise in the
future. This all seems to embody Scholem's own identification as a ―religious
anarchist.‖ He may mean numerous things by this enigmatic assertion. He may
mean that he believes, as mentioned above, that Judaism has no essence but is only
a series of connected yet not always coherent textual traditions and sets of ideas.
He may also mean that he believes controlled anarchy as the demise of any
heteronomous authority sets the proper conditions for the discovery of suppressed
esoteric trends in a society. As he believes these trends are crucial to understanding
any culture, he supports religious anarchy to the extent that it enables ―the
professor‖ of Jewish mysticism to do his (or her) work. In this second case,
anarchy appears synonymous with secularity.
7. Zionism
As mentioned, Scholem became a Zionist in 1911 when he was 14 years old. In
many ways, and like many in his generation and locale, his Zionism was one of
protest against the bourgeois lifestyle and assimilated Jewish identity of his
parents. In his native Germany Herzl's political Zionism was dominant but
Scholem soon met Eastern European immigrants and became exposed to the
spiritual and cultural Zionism of Ahad ha-Am. He became involved in the Zionist
youth movement Blau Weiss (but later spoke out critically against it) and was
strongly influenced by the charismatic Martin Buber who was a leader among the
Zionist youth in Germany at that time. He committed to immigrating to Palestine
quite early in his life, to some extent motivated by the banishment from his home
the fact that he was young, still unmarried, and had few financial obligations. In
any case, once he arrived in Palestine he quickly became part of the German
immigrant intellegencia, some of whom had formed a group called Brit Shalom
dedicated to the creation of a Jewish-Arab binational state. Some in the group were
committed radicals and liberals and others, like Scholem, were more pragmatic in
their approach, although he also viewed binationalism as a moral obligation. In
either case, almost all the members of Brit Shalom came from Germany (or spent
time there) and, having experienced the Great War, had a bitter disdain for
nationalism in general. They all saw the dangers of ethnocentric nationalism from
their German past and all, as Zionists, wanted to deter any Jewish state from
repeating those errors.
Scholem's active participation in Brit Shalom was fairly short-lived. He soured on
the idea after the 1929 Hebron riots where Palestinian Arabs marauders attacked
and killed Jewish civilians. This massacre, which was a watershed event for many
on the Jewish left at that time, gave Scholem pause at to whether any true co-
existence could be possible. However, as late as 1937, in a letter to Walter
Benjamin, his life-long friend who never accepted Zionism, Scholem wrote against
partition (of separate Jewish and Arab states) and upheld his belief in binationalism
as the ―moral ideal solution.‖ After the Holocaust Scholem's belief in binationalism
eroded even more, even though he never abandoned a belief that, given other
circumstances, it was the best option. In a letter in 1972 he admitted Brit Shalom
had mistakenly read the historical situation and that ―Hitler totally changed the
perspective.‖ As time went on Scholem became reconciled with the state, and even
defended it, although be spoke vociferously against the settlements after 1967 and
correctly saw the movement as a dangerous combination of messianic
triumphalism and mystical optimism.
Scholars disagree as to the extent Scholem separated the two parts of his life, first
as a scholar of Jewish mysticism and second as a public intellectual, particularly a
Zionist. Some argue that his Zionism is reflected in his entire scholarly career
while others suggest he successfully bifurcated both parts of his life. As a believer
in the almost mystical power of language he maintained that the revival of the
Hebrew language in Mandate Palestine/Israel was necessary to bring the esoteric
components of the tradition — founded so deeply on the play of language — to the
fore. He also believed that Zionism in Mandate Palestine/Israel, as a growing
culture in need of a new identity, was fertile ground for a renaissance constructed
from the resources of forgotten dimensions of the tradition. This is not to say he
believed in some kind of neo-kabbalistic culture. He did not. Scholem remained a
committed secularist throughout his life believing, I think, that secularism and
secular Zionism were a crucial part of any new Jewish society. Perhaps, then, even
those who maintain that Scholem's academic work is not tainted by his ideology
can agree that for him Zionism, in its cultural and political manifestations, served
as the necessary frame for his project of reconstructing Jewish history from the
perceptive of mystical esotericism.
8. Contemporary Jewish Life and the Future of Jewish Civilization
Throughout his career Scholem played the important role of public intellectual in
Mandate Palestine/Israel. He often wrote in Israeli newspapers, magazines, was
frequently interviewed in print and radio, and weighed in on a variety of political,
cultural, and social issues. Many of these essays were collected in the two-
volume Devarim be-Go published in 1976 and a third volume entitled ‘Od
Davar published in 1989. A selection of these and other essays were published in
English in Jews and Judaism in Crisis, 1976 and more recently in On the
Possibility of Jewish Mysticism Today, 1997. In these volumes Scholem reflects on
everything from the state of the university, general Israeli education, Israeli
politics, the state of the Diaspora, and personal reflections of his own on studying
Jewish mysticism. These include book reviews, short comments about his
contemporaries, and letters he wrote to various colleagues and friends. One of his
most well-known, and revealing, letters about his own investment in the study of
Kabbala was a 1925 letter to the Israeli poet Hayyim Nahman Bialik that was
published in Hebrew in Devarim be-Go and now appears in German translation.
Scholem knew the importance of his stature as the founder of the modern study of
Kabbala and he responded by engaging with issues of his day from that perch. He
was often self-deprecating about his ―popular‖ essays but he took them very
seriously and they occupied a fair amount of his psyche and energy.
He also wrote hundreds of letters to scholars and dignitaries around the world that
have recently been published in Gershom Scholem: A Life in Letters: 1914–1982.
The correspondence between him and Walter Benjamin was published separately
as The Correspondence of Gershom Scholem and Walter Benjamin: 1932–1940. A
volume of his poetry was published as In the Fullness of Time: Poems, 2003. A
new volume of his early diaries has just been published as Lamentations of Youth:
the Diaries of Gershom Scholem, 1913–1919, 2008.
Coming in Israel in the 1920's when Zionism was still a revolutionary cultural
project Scholem knew he was in the midst of a secular revolution whose origins,
according to him, extended back to the distant esoteric past. His role was not
simply to unearth but also to interpret, not only publish but to educate a generation.
He was arguably the most important Jewish Studies scholar in the twentieth
century and surely one of its most important and influential voices.
The hundreds of texts and personalities he brought to light from late antiquity to
modernity and the forcefulness and complexity of his grand theses about Kabbala
and Jewish history has fed more than three generations of scholars and will surely
nurture many more. More recently, he is being discovered in European circles as
an important figure in Weimar Jewish culture. Serious studies in German are
presently being published by young scholars who know little about Kabbala and do
not have much interest in Zionism but view Scholem as an important intellectual
and philosophical mind compared with such figures as Benjamin, Strauss, Adorno,
Horkheimer, and Arendt. His intellectual reach was, in fact, extraordinary, and thus
this new interest should be celebrated.
Bibliography
There is a bibliography of Gershom Scholem's writings until 1977
entitled Bibliography of the Writings of Gershom Scholem, Jerusalem, Magnus
Press, 1977. Below I will focus on his major works, books and a selection of
articles about him. I do not list works in other languages that were translated into
English except when the original book or article is substantively different than the
English translation. I do not include essays about Scholem that appear in volumes
listed under ―Books about Gershom Scholem‖ below.
Books by Gershom Scholem (selections)
 A Life in Letters — 1914–1982, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2002.
 Alchemy and Kabbala, Connecticut, Spring Publications, 2006.
 Avraham ha-Kohen Herrera: Ba'al Sha'ar ha-Shamayim [Hebrew], Jerusalem,
Mosad Bialik, 1978.
 Das Buch Bahir, Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1970.
 Devarim be-Go (two volumes), Tel Aviv, Am Oved, 1976.
 Die Geheminisse der Schopfung: Ein Kapital aus dem Sohar, Berlin, 1935.
 From Berlin to Jerusalem, New York, Schocken Books, 1980.
 Ha-Kabbala be-Gerona: Perakim be-Toldot ha-Kabbala be-Sefard, Jerusalem,
Akadamon, 1964.
 Ha-Kabbala shel Sefer ha-Temunah ve-Avraham Abulafia, Jerusalem, Akadamon,
1965.
 Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism, and Talmudic Tradition., New York,
JTS Pres, 1965.
 Judaica (three volumes), Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1968–1973.
 Kabbala, New York, Dorset Press, 1974.
 Le-Heker Kabbala shel R. Yizhak Cohen, Jerusalem, Akadamon, 1934.
 Leket Margoliot, Tel Aviv, 1941.
 Lurianic Kabbalah: Collected Studies by Gershom Scholem, Los Angeles, Cherub
Press, 2008.
 Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, New York, Schocken Books, 1941.
 Mekharim u-Mekorot le-Toldot ha-Shabta'ut ve Gilguleha, Jerusalem, Mosad
Bialik, 1974.
 Mekharei Shabtaut, Tel Aviv, Am Oved, 1991.
 The Messianic Idea in Judaism and Other Essays, New York, Schocken Books,
1971.
 On Jews and Judaism in Crisis, New York, Schocken Books, 1976.
 On the Kabbalah and its Symbolism, New York, Schocken Books, 1969.
 On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts in Kabbala, New York,
Schocken Books, 1991.
 On the Possibility of Jewish Mysticism in Our Time, Philadelphia, Jewish
Publication Society, 1997.
 The Fullness of Time: Poems, Jerusalem, Ibis Editions, 2003.
 The Origins of Kabbala, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1992.
 Pirkei Yesod ha-Havanat ha-Kabbala u-Semaleha, Jerusalem, Magnus Press,
1976.
 Reshit ha-Kabbala, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Schocken Books, 1962.
 Sabbatei Sevi: The Mystical Messiah 1626–1676, Princeton, Princeton University
Press, 1973.
 Uber einege Grundbegreiffe des Judentums, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, 1970.
 Ursprung und Anfange der Kabbala, Berlin and New York, de Gruyter, 1962.
 Walter Benjamin — The Story of a Friendship, Philadelphia, Jewish Publication
Society, 1982.
 Zohar: The Book of Splendor, New York, Schocken Books, 1949.
Books about Scholem
 Alter, Robert, 1991, Necessary Angels: Tradition and Modernity in Kafka,
Benjamin and Scholem, Cambridge, MA, Havard University Press.
 Aschheim, Steven, 2001, Scholem, Arendt, Klepmerer: Intimate Chronicles in
Turbulent Times, Bloomington, IN, Indiana University Press.
 Aschheim, Steven, 2006, Beyond the Border: The German-Jewish Legacy Abroad,
Princeton, Princeton University Press.
 Biale, David, 1982, Gershom Scholem: Kabbalah and Counter-History,
Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.
 Bloom, Harold, ed., 1987, Gershom Scholem, New York, Chelsea Books.
 Dan, Joseph, 1988, Gershom Scholem an the Mystical Dimension of Jewish
History, New York, New York University Press.
 Goetschel, Willi and Nils Roemer eds., 1997, Theme Issue on Gershom Scholem,
Washington, DC.
 Handelman, Susan, 1991, Fragments of Redemption: Jewish Thought and Literary
Theory in Benjamin, Scholem, and Levinas, Bloomington, IN.
 Jacobson, Eric, 2003, Metaphysics of the Profane: The Political Theology of
Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem, New York, Columbia University Press.
 Andreas Kilcher, 1998, Die Sprachtheorie der Kabbala als ästhetisches
Paradigma. Die Konstruktion einer ästhetischen Kabbala seit der Frühen Neuzeit.
Stuttgart, Meltzer.
 Mendes-Flohr, Paul, ed., 1994, Gershom Scholem: The Man and his Work, New
York and Jerusalem, SUNY Press.
 Moses, Stephen, 1990, ―Scholem and Rosenzweig: The Dialectics of
History,‖ History and Memory 2.2: 100–116.
 Moses, Stephen and Sigrid Weigel eds., 2000, Gershom Scholem: Literatur und
Rhetoric, Bohlau.
 Ohana, David, 2012, Modernism and Zionism, Hampshire, England: Palgrave.
 Schaefer, Peter and Gary Smith eds., 1995, Gershom Scholem: Zwischen den
Disziplinen, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp.
 Schaefer, Peter and Joseph Dan eds., 1993, Gershom Scholem's Major Trends in
Jewish Mysticism: 50 Years After, Tubingen, Mohr.
 Schweid, Eliezer, 1985, Judaism and Mysticism According to Gershom Scholem: A
Critical Analysis and Programmatic Discussion, Atlanta, GA, Scholars Press.
 Shapira, Avraham, ed., 1997, Continuity and Rebellion: Gershom Scholem in
Speech and Dialogue [Hebrew], Tel Aviv, Am Oved.
 Wasserstrom, Steven, 1999, Religion after Religion: Gershom Scholem, Mircea
Eliade and Henri Corbin at Eranos, Princeton, Princeton University Press.
 Mystika ve-Yahadut lifi Gershom Scholem, Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought,
supplement 3, 1983/84, Jerusalem, Magnus Press.
Articles about Scholem
 Abrams, Daniel, 2000, ―Defining Modern Academic Scholarship: Gershom
Scholem and the Establishment of a New (?) Discipline,‖ Journal of Jewish
Thought and Philosophy 9: 267–302.
 Abrams, Daniel, 2000, ―Presenting and Representing Gershom Scholem: A
Review Essay,‖ Modern Judaism, 20(2): 226–243.
 Ben-Shlomo, Joseph, 1983, ―The Spiritual Universe of Gershom
Scholem,‖ Jerusalem Quarterly, 29: 127–144.
 Ben-Shlomo, Joseph, 2003, ―Pantheism and Jewish Mysticism according to
Gershom Scholem and his Critics,‖ [Hebrew]Da'at, 50–52: 461–481.
 Brocke, Michael, 1998, ―Gershom Scholem: Wissenschaft des Judentums
zwischen Berlin und Jerusalem,‖ Freiburger Rundbrief, 5(3): 179–186.
 Dan, Joseph, 1989, ―Gershom Scholem—Between History and
Historiosophy,‖ Binah, 2: 219–249.
 Dan, Joseph, 1999, ―Gershom Scholem—Between Mysticism and
Scholarship,‖ Jewish Mysticism, IV: 225–258.
 Munteanu Eddon, Raluca, 2003, ―Gershom Scholem, Hannah Arendt and the
Paradox of ‗non-nationalist‘ Nationalism,‖Journal of Jewish Thought &
Philosophy, 12(1): 55–68.
 Funkenstein, Amos, 1992, ―Gershom Scholem: Charisma, Kairos, and the
Messianic Dialectic,‖ History and Memory, 4: 123–140.
 Horowitz, Rivka, 1992, ―Franz Rosenzweig and Gershom Scholem on Zionism and
the Jewish People,‖ Jewish History, 6: 99–111.
 Huss, Boaz, 2005, ―Ask No Questions: Gershom Scholem and the Study of
Contemporary Jewish Mysticism,‖ Modern Judaism 25(2): 141–158.
 Huss, Boaz, 2007, ―‗Authorizes Guardians‘: The Polemics of Academic Scholars
of Jewish Mysticism Against Kabbalah Practitioners,‖ Political Encounters:
Esoteric Discourse and its Other, O. Hammer, K. von Stuckrad eds. (Leiden and
Boston: Brill), pp. 81–103.
 Idel, Moshe, 1991, ―Rabbinism Verses Kabbalism: On G. Scholem's
Phenomenology of Judaism,‖ Modern Judaism, 11: 281–296.
 Idel, Moshe, 2005, ―Abraham Abulafia, Gershom Scholem, amnd David Kohen
(ha-Nazir) on Prophecy,‖ [Hebrew]Derekh ha-Ruah: Sefere Yovel le-Eliezer
Schweid, Jerusalem, pp. 819-834.
 Idel, Moshe, 1996, ―Martin Buber and Gershom Scholem on Hasidism: A Critical
Appraisal,‖ in Hasidism Reappraised, J. Weiss and A. Rapoport-Albert (eds.),
Edgware: Vallentine Mitchell
 Kilcher, Andreas, 2000, ―Kabbala und Moderne. Gershom Scholems Geschichte
und Metaphysik des Judentums‖Jüdische Traditionen in der Philosophie des 20.
Jahrhunderts, Darmstadt: pp. 86–99.
 Lazier, Benjamin, 2002, ―Writing the Judenzarathustra: Gershom Scholem's
Response to Modernity, 1913–1917,‖ New German Critique, 85: 33–65.
 Levi, Zeev, 1977, ―Gershom Scholem und die ‗Wissenschaft des
Judentums‘‖ Freiburger Rundbrief, 6: 170–172.
 Lowy, Michael, 2001, ―Messianism in the Early Work of Gershom Scholem,‖ New
German Critique, 83: 177–191.
 Pawel, Maciejko, 2004, ―Gershom Scholem's dialectic of Jewish History:The Case
of Sabbatianism,‖ Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, 3(2): 207–220.
 Magid, Shaul, 1995, ―Gershom Scholem's Ambivalence Toward Mystical
Experience and His Critique of Martin Buber in Light of Hans Jonas and Martin
Heidegger,‖ Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy, 4: 245–269.
 Magid, Shaul, 2011, ―Myth, History, and Mysticism: Gershom Scholem and the
Contemporray Scene,‖ Jewish Quarterly Review 101(4): 511–525.
 Magid, Shaul, 2012, ―The King is Dead (and has been for three decades), Long
Live the King: Contemporary Kabbalah in Scholem's Shadow‖ Jewish Quarterly
Review, 102(1): 131–153.
 Mertens, Bram, 2003, ―‗The true words of the mystic‘: Gershom Scholem and
Franz Joseph Molitor,‖ Australian Journal of Jewish Studies, 17: 131–153.
 Mopsik, Charles, 1985, ―Observations sur l'oeuvre de Gershom Scholem,‖ Pardes,
1: 6–31.
 Moses, Stephane, 1999, ―Gershom Scholem's Reading of Kafka :Literary Criticism
and Kabbalah,‖ New German Critique, 77: 149–167.
 Mosse, George, 1990, ―Gershom Scholem as a German Jew,‖ Modern Judaism,
10(2): 117–133.
 Ohana, David, 2008, ―J.L. Talmon, Gershom Scholem and the Price of
Messianism,‖ in Jacob Talmin and Totalitarianism Today: legacy and Revision,
Special Issues History of European Ideas, 34(2): 169–188.
 Raz-Krakotzkin, Amnon, 1999, ―The Golem of Scholem: Messianism and Zionism
in the Writings of Rabbi Avraham Isaac HaKohen Kook and Gershom
Scholem,‖ Politik und Religion im Judentum, 223–238.
 Raz-Krakotzkin, Amonon, 2002, ―Between ‗Brit Shalom‘ and ‗Beit ha-Mikdash‘:
The Dialectic of Redemption and Messianism in Gershom Scholem,‖
[Hebrew] Theory and Criticism, 20: 87–112.
 Roemer, Nils, 1997, ―Breaching the Walls of Captivity: Gershom Scholem's
Studies of Jewish Mysticism,‖ German Review, 72: 23–40.
 Rosenwald, Lawrence, 1994, ―For and Against Gershom Scholem,‖ Prooftexts,
14(3): 285–298.
 Rotenstreich, Nathan, 1977, ―Symbolism and transcendence: On Some
Philosophical Aspects of Gershom Scholem's Opus,‖Review of Metaphysics, 31:
604–614
 Schafer, Peter, 1998, ―Die Philosophie der Kabbala ist nur eine Projektion auf eine
Flache: Gershom Scholem uber die wahren Absichten seines
Kabbalastudiums,‖ Jewish Studies Quarterly, 5: 1–25.
 Schocken, Gershom, 1982, ―Gershom Scholem and German-Jewish
Romanticism,‖ Shdemot, 18: 19–26.
 Schweid, Eliezer, 1982, ―In Memoriam: the Jewish World View of Gershom
Scholem,‖ Immanuel, 14: 129–141.
 Shapira, Avraham, 1994, ―The Symbolic Plane and its Secularization into the
Spiritual World of Gershom Scholem,‖ Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy,
3: 331–352.
 Shapira, Avraham, 1996, ―Between Philology and Historiography,‖
[Hebrew] Daniel Karpi Jubilee Volume, Tel Aviv.
 Skinner, Anthony David, 1999, ―Jewish Modernism: The Hidden Meanings of
Gershom Scholem's Sabbatei Sevi,‖ Jewish Studies at the Turn of the Twentieth
Century II, pp. 384–388.
 Smith, Steven B., 1993, ―Gershom Scholem and Leo Strauss: Notes toward a
German-Jewish Dialogue,‖ Modern Judaism, 13(3): 209–229.
 Stegemann, Ekkehard W., 1997,―Gershom Scholem—Between Exile and
Redemption,‖ European Judaism, 30(2): 59–71.
 Suchoff, David, 1997, ―Gershom Scholem, Hannah Arendt, and the Scandal of
Jewish Particularity,‖ Germanic Review, 72(1): 57–77.
 Weidner, Daniel, 2000, ―Jüdisches Gedächtnis, mystische Tradition und moderne
Literatur: Walter Benjamin und Gershom Scholem deuten Kafka,‖ Weimarer
Beiträge, 46(2): 234–249.
 Weiner, Hannah, 1984, ―Gershom Scholem and the Jung Juda youth group in
Berlin, 1913–1918,‖ Studies in Zionism 5(1): 29–42.
 Wijnhoven, Jochanan, 1970, ―Gershom G. Scholem: The Study of Jewish
Mysticism,‖ Judaism, 19: 468–481.
 Werblovsky, R.Z.W., 1985/86, ―Gershom Scholem: Human Being, Jew, Scholar,‖
[Hebrew] Molad, 42: 122–128.
 Zeligman, Hayyim, 2006, ―The Relationship Between Gershom Scholem and
Gustav Landauer,‖ [Hebrew] Ma'anit ha-Lev: 249–256.
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Other Internet Resources
 Ozick, Cynthia, The Heretic, from The New Yorker
 Elkind, Daniel, Review of The Diaries of Gershom Scholem, 1913–1919,
from The Jewish Daily Forward
Related Entries
Benjamin, Walter | Buber, Martin | historiography | monotheism | mysticism | religion,
phenomenology of
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