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The Enoch-Metatron tradition in the kabbalah of Nathan Neta Shapira of Krakow (1585-1633)

Paluch, A; (2013) The Enoch-Metatron tradition in the kabbalah of Nathan Neta Shapira of Krakow (1585-1633). Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Nathan Neta ben Shlomo Shapira (1585-1633) is the most famous kabbalist stemming from the Jewish intellectual environment of Poland. His major treatise, Megaleh Amuqot, is among the most complex kabbalistic texts ever written. It combines variegated strata of older mystical traditions, to which the author applies diverse, often obscure modes of interpretation. For this reason, Nathan Shapira has remained one of the least studied figures in modern scholarship, despite the fact that he is generally acknowledged as the most important early-modern Ashkenazi kabbalist, whose influence on later Eastern-European mystical circles is well attested. Although there are some general accounts of Shapira’s religious activity in Kraków, and references have been made to his startling mathematical mind-set, scholarship still lacks a thorough examination of his literary legacy, and a detailed evaluation of his contribution to the development of Jewish mystical thought. My dissertation aims to integrate Nathan Shapira’s kabbalah within a broad panorama of Jewish mystical traditions of the early modern period. It challenges the notion of the dominance of Lurianic ideas in Shapira’s thought, arguing for a more pluralistic perspective of the historical development of the kabbalistic tradition. Recently, Yehuda Liebes and Moshe Idel have raised the possibility that Nathan Shapira’s kabbalah may have belonged to a tradition that sprang from a multifaceted cultural milieu of Ashkenazi mysticism, consisting of at least two distinct major strands. Following this notion, I propose to challenge the common view that the Ashkenazi mysticism was a homogenous entity, whose influences effectively ceased after 13th century. On the contrary, I claim that the medieval mystical Ashkenazi ideas underlie much of Nathan Shapira’s kabbalah. In considering medieval Ashkenazi mysticism as Shapira’s formative background, I focus on the ‘Enoch-Metatron’ cluster of traditions, which I claim was as central to Shapira’s thought as it was to his Ashkenazi predecessors.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The Enoch-Metatron tradition in the kabbalah of Nathan Neta Shapira of Krakow (1585-1633)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Kabbalah, Ashkenaz, Jewish mysticism, Jewish history, Nathan Neta Shapira, Nehemiah ben Shlomo, hasidei Ashkenaz
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1404057
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