Friday, January 25, 2013

Lecture on Hekhalot translation

I'M OFF TO EDINBURGH TODAY to give a lecture at a New College seminar on "Translating the Hekhalot Literature." Dr. Matthew Novenson has kindly advertised the event here. The lecture summarizes material from the introduction to my forthcoming translation and discusses some specific passages. I am not going to prepost the whole lecture, but the lecture handout is copied below:

1. The Hekhalot Literature

2. The Texts
Hekhalot Rabbati (§§81-121, 152-73, 189-277), "The Greater (Book of the Heavenly) Palaces"
Sar Torah (§§281-306), the "Prince of Torah"
Hekhalot Zutarti (approximately §§335-75, 407-26), "The Lesser (Book of the Heavenly) Palaces"
Maʻaseh Merkavah (§§544-96), "The Working of the Chariot"
Merkavah Rabba (§§655-708), "The Greater (Book of the) Chariot"
Sefer Hekhalot (§§1-79), "The Book of the Palaces," 3 Enoch*
Shiʻur Qomah, "The Measure of the Stature"*
Massekhet Hekhalot, "The Treatise of the Palaces"*
• Shorter macroforms and fragments: The Chapter of R. Nehuniah ben HaQanah (§§307-14); the incantation prayers in The Great Seal-Fearsome Crown (§§318-21//§§651-54); a brief account of The Ascent of Elisha ben Avuyah (§597); Sar Panim or "The Prince of the Presence" (§§623-39), The Youth (hanaʻar)
• Geniza fragments
"The Ozhayah Fragment" (G8); "The Unicum (i.e., "unique") Fragment" (G22); The fragment of a Metatron adjuration also involving Moses (G19).
Fragments of the Hekhalot Rabbati (G1-G6), the Hekhalot Zutarti (G7, G16, G18), an otherwise unknown recension of the beginning of 3 Enoch (G12), the Sar Panim (G1), and Shiʻur Qomah traditions* (G4, G8, G9, G10, G11).
*Not included in this translation
3. Key Issues in Research on the Hekhalot Literature
• Heavenly ascents and Sar Torah adjurations
• Exegesis, experience, and praxis
• Origins of the Hekhalot traditions
• Authorship, provenance, and social context

4. This Translation
• The manuscripts
• N - MS New York, Jewish Theological Seminary 828/8128. An Ashkenanzic manuscript dating probably to the end of the fifteenth or the beginning of the sixteenth century, heavily interpolated with magical, liturgical, and even apocalyptic materials.
• O - MS Oxford, Bodleian Library, Michael 9 (Neugebauer 1531). An Ashkenazic manuscript dating to around 1300.
• M40 - MS Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cod. hebr. 40. An Italian manuscript written by multiple scribes. The section containing the Hekhalot texts translated here is dated to the end of the fifteenth century.
• M22 - MS Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cod. hebr. 22. This Italian manuscript was also written by multiple scribes, but the section containing the Hekhalot texts translated here is dated to the middle of the sixteenth century.
• D - MS Dropsie, Philadelphia, Dropsie University 436. A Sephardic manuscript dated to the fifteenth century.
• V - MS Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica, Vaticana, Vat. ebr. 228. A Byzantine manuscript dated to the fifteenth century.
• B - MS Budapest, Rabbinic Seminary, Kaufman 238. An Italian manuscript dated to the fifteenth century.
• F - Florence Laurenziana Plut. 44/13. An Italian manuscript dating to the fourteenth century.
• L - Leiden Or. 4730, an Italian manuscript that may date to the sixteenth or seventeenth century.
• The nature of this translation

5. Some sample passages
Hekhalot Rabbati §81, §253, §233
GO56 (Oxford Heb. d. 56, fol. 125a 11-5) = Hekhalot Rabbati §§221-23 and cf. §229-30

Selected Bibliography
Davila, James R. The Hekhalot Literature in Translation: Major Texts of Merkavah Mysticism. SJJTP. Leiden: Brill, forthcoming 2013.
Davila, James R. "Prolegomena to a Critical Edition of the Hekhalot Rabbati." JJS 45 (1994): 208-26.
Schäfer, Peter, et al. Synopse zur Hekhalot-Literatur. TSAJ 2. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1981.
Schäfer, Peter. Geniza-Fragmente zur Hekhalot-Literatur. TSAJ 6. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1984.