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As Light Before DawnThe Inner World of a Medieval Kabbalist$
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Eitan P. Fishbane

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804759137

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804759137.001.0001

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Receiving Tradition, Constructing Authority

Receiving Tradition, Constructing Authority

Chapter:
(p.49) Three Receiving Tradition, Constructing Authority
Source:
As Light Before Dawn
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804759137.003.0003

Isaac ben Samuel of Akko's Me'irat 'Einayim, a supercommentary to Nahmanides' Commentary on the Torah, reflects an eclectic and anthological approach in which he attempts to bridge the diverse opinions and views espoused by predecessors and contemporaries in the kabbalistic arts of interpretation. The idea of eclecticism has mainly been interpreted by intellectual historians based on two perspectives: one on ancient Greek philosophy and the other based on the arguments expressed by Denis Diderot in his 1755 Encyclopédie. Both models can be used to understand Isaac's specific cultural role as an eclectic thinker. For the kabbalists, what makes something “Kabbalah” has everything to do with the reliability and authority of the transmissional source. This chapter examines the terms and modes of authoritative transmission in Isaac's writings. After looking at several intriguing antecedents and earlier models in medieval kabbalist literature, it contextualizes the concerns found in Me'irat 'Einayim and 'Ozar Hayyim. It also considers the ideal of harmonization and hermeneutical reconciliation that underlie rhetoric and hermeneutics in Me'irat 'Einayim.

Keywords:   Isaac ben Samuel of Akko, Me'irat 'Einayim, Nahmanides, Commentary on the Torah, eclecticism, kabbalists, Kabbalah, kabbalist literature, 'Ozar Hayyim, hermeneutics

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