Nonfiction 5

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It is quite clearthat thereis no traceof a dualisticattitudein Rabbi Eleazar'stheology. Evil comes from God directly, and it fulfills a divine function. Evil is a necessarymeans to bring and to righteousnessforward,to test it in the most difficultcircumstances,7" justify the existenceof the world by it. But this explanationof the meaningof evil does not includeany dualistic or gnostic inclination. The theologyis radicallydifferentfrom Rabbi Eleazar's,for Rabbi Isaac does not offer an explanationas to why these worlds should have been evil accordingto the divineplan, but it seemsthat one can safelysurmisethat RabbiIsaac'smyth was producedunderthe impactof Rabbi Eleazar'sradicaltheology,which was given a completelynew twist in the frameworkof Rabbi Isaac'smytho78.

93. Isaiah 27:1, and compare Bava Batra 74b. See Scholem's note, Qabbalot, p. 100, n. 5. 94. Samael's name is obviously interpreted here by Rabbi Isaac as derived from suma =blind. SAMAEL, LILITH, AND THE CONCEPT OF EVIL 39 nameis Tanin'iver (BlindSerpent)... If he werecreatedin the fullnessof his thewholeworldinonemoment... The final destructionof the powers of evil, Samael, Lilith and the serpent,by messianicpowers,and a glowing descriptionof messianictimes, after evil has been overcome,conclude the treatise.

The myth he presentedin this treatiseis a coherentone, startingwith the powersof evil whichprecededthe creationand concluding with the descriptionof the messianicvictory over evil.

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