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Roads to UtopiaThe Walking Stories of the Zohar$
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David Greenstein

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804788335

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804788335.001.0001

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Two Introductions

Two Introductions

(p.1) Two Introductions
Roads to Utopia

David Greenstein

Stanford University Press

The Zohar has enjoyed a renewed period of study in the last few decades. Yet the most unique literary element of the work--its recurrent use of the motif of the Companions walking on the road--has not been subjected to thorough study before. This motif is found to point to a recognition of the mundane, rather than to a path toward mystical enlightenment. Taken as a depiction of human movement through space, it raises the question of spatiality in a religious context. Mircea Eliade's model of a space-collapsing axis mundi has been the dominant one, despite J. Z. Smith's powerful critique that offers the opposition of locative and utopian religious visions. This study shows that the Zohar does not fall neatly into such received notions of religious spatial orientations or with the ritual theory they imply.

Keywords:   space, orientation, ritual theory, Eliade, J. Z. Smith, mundane, axis, locative, utopian

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