Friday, November 9, 2012

Straddling the Muddle

Arnold Posy’s Mystic Trends in Judaism tries to straddle a lot of lines, and winds up getting a muddled.  Part legitimate history of Jewish mysticism, but more a true believers account of the subject matter, the fusion of these two elements is clumsy. 

The book’s greatest success is Posy’s treatment of the messianic element in Kabbalistic history.  This part is not stressed in popular, liberal treatments of the subject, since it does not conform to many progressive ideas in Judaism.   

But messianic expectations were high in most Kabbalistic circles, and led, in some instances, to false messianic movements.  Posy does a great job in mapping out these influences.  He shows the inherent dangers involved in this kind of messianic expectation, and also its unassailable power.

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