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Holy Dissent

Jewish and Christian Mystics in Eastern Europe

Edited by Glenn Dynner
Foreword by Moshe Rosman

European History, History, Jewish Studies, Jewish Thought, Religion

Hardback
Published: October 2011
ISBN: 9780814335178
Pages: 416 Size: 6x9
Illustrations: 8 black and white images
eBOOK
Published: October 2011
ISBN: 9780814335970
Review

I cannot think of a recent collection that has so much novel and significant material in it. Some of these essays are first publications and very significant ones. Many of the contributors use newly available sources and ask fresh questions.”

— Shaul Stampfer

The religious communities of early modern Eastern Europe—particularly those with a mystical bent—are typically studied in isolation. Yet the heavy Slavic imprint on Jewish popular mysticism and pervasive Judaizing tendencies among Christian dissenters call into question the presumed binary quality of Jewish-Christian interactions. In Holy Dissent: Jewish and Christian Mystics in Eastern Europe, editor Glenn Dynner presents twelve essays that chart contacts, parallels, and mutual influences between Jewish and Christian mystics. With cutting-edge research on folk healers, messianists, Hasidim, and Christian sectarians, this volume presents instances of rich cultural interchange and bold border transgression.

Holy Dissent is divided into two sections: "Jewish Mystics in a Christian World" and "Christianizing Jews, Judaizing Christians." In these essays, readers learn that Jewish and Christian folk healers consulted each other and learned from common sources; that the founder of Hasidism, Rabbi Israel Ba‘al Shem Tov, likely drew inspiration from Christian ascetics; that Christian peasants sought and obtained audience with Hasidic masters; that Jewish mystics openly Christianized; and that Christian mystics openly Judaized. In contrast to prevailing models that present Jewish and Christian cultures as either rigidly autonomous or ambiguously hybrid, Holy Dissent charts specific types of religio-cultural exchange and broadens our conception of how cultures interact.

The scholarship in this volume is notably fresh and significant and makes an important contribution across disciplines. Jewish and Christian studies scholars as well as historians of Eastern Europe will benefit from the analysis of Holy Dissent.

Glenn Dynner is professor of Judaic studies at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, and Hans Kohn Member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. He is the author of Men of Silk: The Hasidic Conquest of Polish Jewish Society.

Contributors Include:
Nicholas Breyfogle, J. Eugene Clay, Glenn Dynner, Moshe Idel, Harris Lenowitz, Pawel Maciejko, Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, Paul Radensky, Marsha Keith Schuchard, Hanna Wegrzynek, Elliot R. Wolfson, Sergei I. Zhuk

This fascinating collection of articles demonstrates that the 'common pool' of ideas expressed by scholars from different countries with varying cultural traditions contributes a new slant to the study of the 'common pool' of Jewish-Slavic hybridic coexistence in the past. This volume is an indispensable tool for the steadily growing research on the Jewish-Slavic encounter in eastern Europe.

– Judith Kalik, Slavic Review

Rich collection of essays....The picture that emerges is one of cross-cultural exchanges that flow in multiple directions and take place in a wide variety of forms and in a multitude of secular and spiritual arenas. The level of the essays is high, and some will become standouts in their fields.

– The Russian Review

I cannot think of a recent collection that has so much novel and significant material in it. Some of these essays are first publications and very significant ones. Many of the contributors use newly available sources and ask fresh questions."

– Shaul Stampfer, Rabbi Edward Sandrow Professor of Soviet and East European Jewry and chairman of the Department of Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

This very interesting collection of essays opens the door wide to considering Eastern European Jewry and Judaism in a broad historical context. Dynner and the participants have made a solid contribution to our understanding. I learned much from reading it."

– Arthur Green, rector in the Rabbinical School, Hebrew College

Tapping a broad array of sources beyond traditional religious texts, Holy Dissent
provides a dozen interesting snapshots of religious mysticism in modern Eastern
Europe.... mapping concrete cases of hybridity like these provides the foundation for a broader understanding of how cultures interact.

– East European Jewish Affairs

Holy Dissent is a collection of technical but largely accessible essays by various scholars of Eastern European Judaism and Christianity who illustrate in great detail the complex, colorful, dark, and messy marketplace of Eastern Europe from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries... This kind of study is more complex and in my mind more fruitful than comparative religion.

– Shofar