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Human Mutability and Mystical Change: Explorations in Ancient Jewish OntoAnthropology

PUTTHOFF, TYSON,LEE (2013) Human Mutability and Mystical Change: Explorations in Ancient Jewish OntoAnthropology. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The following thesis seeks to understand ancient Jewish ideas concerning the present ontological state of humankind—to which we refer in terms of ancient Jewish ontoanthropology—by exploring tales about humans thought to have had a mystical encounter with the divine and to have undergone ontological change as a result. For beliefs about human mutability and mystical change cannot be grasped without an appreciation for the principal ontoanthropology underlying them, and vice versa. It is our contention, therefore, that any text which advances a mystical change assumes the human to be an intrinsically mutable creature. And it is our aim to gain knowledge of ancient Jewish ideas on such matters.

The project consists of eight chapters. Chapter one introduces the subject, reviews pertinent literature and sets forth the approach and method to be utilised. Chapters two and three investigate Hekhalot Zutarti in the Hekhalot literature and Philo Judaeus’ De opificio mundi, respectively. It is demonstrated here how each work shows a deep concern for the mystical-transformative experience of the individual. Chapters four and five analyse Serekh ha-Yahad in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Here it is shown that the principal concern is the communal mystical-transformative experience. Chapters six and seven explore a motif in which humans are said to be able to ingest the presence of God and thereupon undergo ontological transformation. It is argued that this motif is critical to the message of Joseph and Aseneth and of utmost importance to tractate Sotah of the Babylonian Talmud. Our findings and chief contention will be revisited in chapter eight.

In the end, the various explorations comprising the chapters will lead towards an aggregate portrait of ancient Jewish ontoanthropology. By studying accounts of mystical change, we gain insight into ancient Jewish beliefs about the transformative experience of those who encounter the divine in this life. We also gain understanding of the deeper assumptions about the inherent mutability and ontological potentiality of the human creature which underlie those accounts of mystical change.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Mysticism, Judaism, Religion, Jewish Mysticism, Human Transformation, Mystical Experience, Ontology, Anthropology, Paul, Philippians, Hekhalot, Merkavah, Joseph and Aseneth, Babylonian Talmud, Sotah, Philo Judaeus, Dead Sea Scrolls, Serekh ha-Yahad
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2013
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:29 Nov 2013 09:41

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