Wednesday, September 07, 2005

ZOHAR -- THE MOVIE? The San Francisco Chronicle has a very interesting interview with Professor Daniel Matt, who is devoting many years of his life to translating the Aramaic Zohar into English. The third volume, up to the end of the book of Genesis, is about to be published.
Kabbalah scholar Daniel Matt takes the mysticism back to the Aramaic

Excerpt (but read it all):
How much a part of your spiritual life is the Kabbalah? It seems like it's more than just an academic interest for you.

I really try to combine an academic and a spiritual approach. I think you lose some of the richness of the Zohar if you look at it only academically -- certainly because it is a spiritual text, and it grew out of spiritual experience. The person writing it is really striving to contact the divine through Scripture, through plumbing the depths of Scripture, trying to discover the divine light hidden in the letters or hinted at by the verses of the Bible.

On the other hand, you lose something, too, I think, if you don't understand when it was written and who composed it. The person writing the Zohar is trying to present it as something ancient, but he knows what he is doing, and when he talks about hidden levels of meaning, part of the hiddenness is his own project of creating the Zohar. His own creativity is part of what's going on. It really is an experiment in fiction, a medieval experiment in fiction. And that's part of its wonder, too.


It sounds like you love what you do. So, my last question: Zohar the movie? What do you think?

I think it definitely has cinematic possibilities. The running into the donkey driver and the spectacular account of creation are pretty compelling. But I'll leave that for others.

UPDATE: I wonder if the movie would be in subtitled Aramaic. (See next post.)

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