J. Jewish Thought and Philosophy, Vol. 3, pp. 1-30 Reprints available directly from the publisher Photocopying permitted by licence only © 1993 Sefer y e~ira and Early Islam: A Reappraisal Steven M. Wasserstrom Reed College, Portland Oregon A book impenetrable by contingency, a mechanism of infinite purpose, of infallible variations, of revelations lying in wait, of superimposed light Borges The short, cryptic Book of Creation, Sqer Yefira, (SY) entered] ewish academ- ic life, if you will, with full tenure. From obscurity to the sustained close attention of several major Jewish thinkers of the tenth century, this work seemed to come out of nowhere. This apparently instant eminence, and the absence of any historical background on this treatise, has reduced most scholars searching for the origins of SY to look for isolated motifs in vari- ous works of late antiquity. This largely fruitless procedure has resulted neither in a substantial consensus nor in anything near a precise dating.* • I thank William Brinner for his comments on an earlier, oral delivery of this paper, during a session of the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion in 1986. Thanks also to Ronald Kiener, Michael Sells, Edwin Gerow, Sarah
The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1994
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