Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Hekhalot Rabbati - Morton Smith translation

A couple of days ago I noticed - pretty much by accident - that Digital Brilliance are hosting a document purporting to be the translation of Hekhalot Rabbati by Morton Smith. This is a text I have seen referred to often, but only ever to mention that it exists and was never published. The translation itself was carried out by Morton Smith over several years and then corrected by Gershom Scholem. It remains the only full translation of the text.

So, you can imagine my surprise. Since then I have contacted Jacobus Swart (moderator of the Kabbalah Concepts group) who advises me that, based on its matching with the fragments he has seen published in Scholem's own work, the document is "assuredly" what it claims to be.

The caveats mentioned by transcriber Don Karr in his preface are not to be take lightly; further it is advisable to digest the implications of David Halperin's article reviewing Schafer et al's Synopse zur Hekhalot Literatur. In this rather lengthy review Halperin is at pains to stress the lack of definable boundaries to Hekhalot "texts"; if it is indeed the case that there were at one point single units such as Hekhalot Rabbati or Hekhalot Zutarti the mauscripts we now possess make impossible the task of correct delineation.

The PDF is available here: Hekhalot Rabbati (Morton Smith translation)


Richard B. said...

Thank you for making this thought provoking piece of literature available. The concepts are deceptive but the text lends its self to simplistic elegance

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for posting this. You helped me a lot in my studies of Jewish Mysticism.