Item description for Zohar: The Book of Enlightenment (Classics of Western Spirituality) by Daniel C. Matt...
Overview This is the first translation wiht commentary of selections from The Zohar, the major text of the Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition. This work was written in 13th-century Spain by Moses de Leon, a Spanish scholar.
Publishers Description This is the first translation with commentary of selections from The Zohar, the major text of the Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition. This work was written in 13th-century Spain by Moses de Len, a Spanish scholar.
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Studio: Paulist Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.18" Width: 6.04" Height: 0.9" Weight: 1 lbs.
Release Date Dec 12, 1988
Publisher Paulist Press
Series Classics of Western Spirituality
ISBN 0809123878 ISBN13 9780809123872
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More About Daniel C. Matt
Daniel Matt is widely thought to be the best translator of the Zohar into English. His works include Zohar, The Book of Enlightenment (Paulist Press, 1983)--a selection of Zohar passages presented in English--and The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism (Harper San Francisco, 1995). Dr. Matt has recently returned to the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, after a period of work in Jerusalem.
Daniel C. Matt has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Zohar: The Book of Enlightenment (Classics of Western Spirituality)?
Excellent translation Jun 18, 2007
Daniel Matt prepared this very elegant translation of the Zohar. It is only about 2% of the complete Zohar, but it provides an excellent selection of various themes in the Zohar. He prepared a commentary on each selection to assist the novice reader in decoding the language and the allusions in the text. Jews of the 13th Century were more versed in Jewish literature than the average Jew today, so the commentary is very helpful to the modern reader.
The Introduction is also very worthwhile reading. I particularly like Matt's take on how to read the Zohar - read it and let it blow your mind. That is, take what you can from it. The text operates on so many levels that it is profitable reading for almost any audience.
The Zohar itself is structured as midrash on the Torah. Consequently, it is helpful if the reader has some experience with the midrashic process. Midrash can seem really weird to modern people, not schooled in the medieval mindset.
Each selection in this book operates on at least three levels. There is the peshat of the midrash (read it for the basic story). You can decode it according to the doctrine of sfirot (aspects of the Divinity). Finally, there is the ethical/theosophical/ontological content. Some of the selections appear to also relate to peak mystical experiences - either what they are like, or how to produce them.
One way to understand Zohar (which is Gershom Scholem's) is that the Zohar is essentially anti-Maimonidianism. That is, Moses de Leon, the author (there is some dispute about whether some portions were written by committee) did not like Maimonidian rationalism (Aristotle) and was producing a counter-text based on the philosophy of Plato (actually Neoplatonic paraphrases and abridgments produced in Spain).
A Mystical Rhapsody, Well Annotated May 17, 2002
Most of the translations of material from the "Zohar" I have seen have been difficult reading, a kind of cross between Talmud and gnostic treatise. In this volume, Daniel Matt translates a small selection (2% of the work by his own estimate) into rhapsodic and rapturuous, truly air-borne free verse. The effect is both surprizing and exhilarating. The only comparable approaches I can think of that might put you in mind of the nature of this translation are Stanley Lombardo's Homer and Stephen McKenna's Plotinus. But lest I create the impression that this book is only pleasure, the introduction to Kabbalistic thought in general, and the Zohar in particular is quite illuminating, as are the detailed notes on each selection placed at the end of the book. In short, this is a great read and a mind-blower.
A Poetic Translation of the Zohar Jan 30, 2000
This is the most interesting anthology of Zohar literature I have seen. Though the anthology represents only 5% of the whole Zohar, it is translated in a uniquely modern style. It is translated as poetry, which is highly original, and a very comprehensive introduction and very detailed notes explain the Kabbalistic meanings to the average reader.