Originally published in October 1979.
JEWISH MYSTICAL TESTIMONIES. By Louis Jacobs. New York: Schocken Books, 1977. Pp. 270. Paper, $7.95.
As this comprehensive anthology of “personal mystical testimonies” attests, there exists a wealth of Jewish literature which demonstrates the extent to which personal Jewish religious experience is expressed in the impersonal idiom of the rabbinic tradition. The value of this volume lies in its extensive selection of translations from biblical, rabbinic, philosophic, Kabbalistic, and Hasidic literature. Yet this is also its limitation: it creates a genre of “mystical testimonies” which artificially groups together such disparate phenomena as prophecy, mysticism, philosophy, pietism, gnosis, and devotional prayer. The translations are readable and reliable and are accompanied by an introduction, notes, glossary and bibliography. The selections from Hasidic and late Kabbalistic literature, which comprise half the volume, are well chosen and many have not previously appeared in translation. This anthology, which will facilitate comparison with mystical testimonies of other traditions, is a valuable sourcebook of Jewish esoteric literature in translation.
David Ariel, Wesleyan University
Middleton, CT 06457