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By John Ferguson

Starting from Christian mystical theology to Sufism, from the traditional philosophers to the Cambridge Platonists, from visionaries akin to William Blake and the writer of The Cloud of Unknowing to the position performed by means of medicinal drugs, yoga, track and the dance, this Encyclopaedia presents crucial info at the manifold features of mysticism and should function a finished and priceless paintings of reference for a few years to return. contains two hundred illustrations.

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Extra resources for An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Mysticism: and the Mystery Religions

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My present concern is not the role and nature of messianism in the general economy of Judaism but the relations between messianism and scholarship of Jewish mysticism. Despite his immense contribution to the study of Jewish mysticism, Scholem was interested mostly in one specific form of Jewish messianism: the apocalyptic. He asserted, for example, that "Jewish Messianism in its origins and by its naturethis cannot be sufficiently emphasizedis a theory of catastrophe. This theory stresses the revolutionary, cataclysmic element in the transition from every historical present to the Messianic future.

B. 13 There are striking similarities between some descriptions of the medieval Messiah and the more magical-mythical understanding of the king in the ancient period as expressed in some biblical texts. In certain cases, such as the view that the king is a channel for transmitting power to others, scholars' findings are astonishingly close to the mystical and mythical conceptions of the ideal type of Messiah in later Jewish texts. In other biblical sources this cosmic-ritualistic role has been substantially reduced in favor of a more political one.

I would propose, however, to distinguish between the preponderance of the apocalyptic mode of writing in the East, namely in Israel, Babylonia, or Yemen, and the more spiritual approach preponderant in Europe. 37 To be sure, this distinction is no more than an approximation, especially insofar as some of the former eschatological writings arrived in Europe and were accepted and quoted positively. The thrust of most of the creativity in Europe, however, is definitively in the direction of nonapocalyptic forms of messianism.

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