The reception of Sefer Yetsirah and Jewish mysticism in the early middle ages

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The history of the interpretation of Sefer Yetsirah has been commonly divided in scholarship into two periods: the first one, between the 10th and the 12th centuries A.D., designated as the Philosophical-Scientific period and the second period from the end of the 12th century on which was considered to be of mystical and magical character. The main purpose of the present study is to demonstrate that already in its early period of interpretation Sefer Yetsirah was understood by many of its readers as having mythical, mystical and magical significations which left their traces and are echoed in early manuscripts of the book, in glosses that were inserted into the book and in non-Jewish testimonies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-46
Number of pages21
JournalThe Jewish Quarterly Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Ben Sira
  • Dunash ibn Tamim
  • Golem
  • Jewish mysticism
  • Medieval Jewish philosophy
  • Saadya Gaon
  • Sefer Yetsirah
  • Shabatai Donnolo
  • Yehuda Barzillai

RAMBI publications

  • Sefer Yezirah -- Criticism, interpretation, etc
  • Cabala -- Historiography
  • Mysticism -- Judaism -- Historiography
  • Cabala -- History


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