Sunday 14 April 2024

469) Examining an unpublished manuscript of the Zohar

 Part 2


A hitherto unknown manuscript of the Zohar was found in the Vatican Library. It tells the story of R. Yosi and R Aba going on a journey. R. Yosi reprimands R. Aba for not discussing Torah and keeping silent while travelling. R. Aba responds and eventually convinces R. Yosi that silence is a better path to follow. This would have been no minor matter, because the standard practice amongst the characters represented in the Zohar was indeed to travel and speak Torah words. It offered protection and rectification along the way. R. Aba’s path of silence, however, which was based on the importance of silent  Kavanah (concentration) and the fact that he then initiated R. Yosi into that unconventional path of silent Kavanah was seen as a subversive mystical theology. More importantly, R. Aba’s path of silent Kavanah may have represented a counter and threatening spiritualist movement of Kabbalists who opposed the dominating, standard and relatively conservative mystical school of the Zohar, where practice, words and sounds had to be appended to the Kavanah. These politics of theological subtleties may explain why this short manuscript text never made its way into the printed editions of the Zohar. 

Sunday 7 April 2024

468) Possible implications of common themed textual layering within the Zohar

 Part 1


Based on the analysis of divergent concepts and theosophies evident within the Zohar in addition to the discovery of Zoharic texts hitherto unknown it is apparent that within the same topics and genres, a number of variants and diverse textual layers exist. These diverse layers indicate the possibility of not just multiple authorship but an extended timeline over which the Zohar, as we now know it, emerged as ‘comprehensive’ literature. This observation adds a new dimension to the once-binary debate over whether the second-century R. Shimon bar Yochai, or the thirteenth-century R. Moshe de León, authored the Zohar, as there are now numerous other considerations to factor into the discussion.