Similarities between esoteric and mystical currents in different religious traditions have long interested scholars. This book takes a new look at the relationship between such currents. It advances a discussion that started with the search for religious essences, archetypes, and universals, from William James to Eranos. The universal categories that resulted from that search were later criticized as essentialist constructions, and questioned by deconstructionists. An alternative explanation was advanced by diffusionists: that there were transfers between different traditions. This book presents empirical case studies of such constructions, and of transfers between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in the premodern period, and Judaism, Christianity, and Western esotericism in the modern period. It shows that there were indeed transfers that can be clearly documented, and that there were also indeed constructions, often very imaginative. It also shows that there were many cases that were neither transfers nor constructions, but a mixture of the two.
1. Introduction: The Esoteric and the Mystical, Transfers
and Constructions—Mark Sedgwick and Francesco Piraino
Part I: Premodern Transfers2. Seekers of Love: The Phenomenology of Emotion in Jewish, Christian, and Sufi Mystical Sources—Andrea Gondos 3. Rabbi Salim Shabazi and Sufism: Synthesis or Juxtaposition?—Mark Wagner
4. “And you should also adjure in Arabic:” Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Formulas in the Solomonic Corpus—Gal Sofer
5. Compelling the Other: Esoteric Exorcism as a Reflection of Jewish–Christian Social Tensions in Premodern German Demonic Ritual Magic—Ildikó Glaser-Hille
Part II: Modern Transfers
6. Tlemcen, Algeria: A Would-Be Esoteric Colonial Settlement of the Fin de Siècle —Alexandre Toumarkine
7. Alfarabi as Leo Strauss’s Teacher of Platonic Esoteric Writing: Leo Strauss’s Rediscovery of Esotericism and its Islamic Origin—Rasoul Namazi8. Aleister Crowley and Islam—Marco Pasi 9. The Sufi Shaykh and his Patients: Merging Islam, Psychoanalysis, and Western Esotericism—Francesco Piraino
10. Sufism and the Enneagram—Mark Sedgwick
Part III: Constructions
11. “A Remarkable Resemblance:" Comparative Mysticism and the Study of Sufism and Kabbalah—Boaz Huss
12. Heretical Orthodoxy: Eastern and Western Esotericism in Thomas Moore Johnson’s “Platonism”—Vadim Putzu13. Astrology, Letters and Cosmos: Ferid Vokopola’s Syncretism—Gianfranco Bria
Mark Sedgwick is Professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at Aarhus University, Denmark, and Convenor of the European Network for the Study of Islam and Esotericism (ENSIE).
Francesco Piraino is a postdoctoral scholar at the Institut d'ethnologie méditerranéenne, européenne et comparative (IDEMEC - CNRS) and the director of Centre of Comparative Studies on Spiritualities and Civilizations at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, Italy.
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