The Texture of the Divine

The Texture of the Divine

Imagination in Medieval Islamic and Jewish Thought
Aaron W. Hughes
Distribution: World
Publication date: 11/18/2003
ISBN: 978-0-253-11087-9
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Koret Book Award finalist 2004
The Texture of the Divine explores the central role of the imagination in the shared symbolic worlds of medieval Islam and Judaism. Aaron W. Hughes looks closely at three interrelated texts known as the Hayy ibn Yaqzan cycle (dating roughly from 1000–1200 CE) to reveal the interconnections not only between Muslims and Jews, but also between philosophy, mysticism, and literature. Each of the texts is an initiatory tale, recounting a journey through the ascending layers of the universe. These narratives culminate in the imaginative apprehension of God, in which the traveler gazes into the divine presence. The tales are beautiful and poetic literary works as well as probing philosophical treatises on how the individual can know the unknowable. In this groundbreaking work, Hughes reveals the literary, initiatory, ritualistic, and mystical dimensions of medieval Neoplatonism. The Texture of the Divine also includes the first complete English translation of Abraham Ibn Ezra’s Hay ben Meqitz.

Author Bio

Aaron W. Hughes is Associate Professor of History and the Gordon and Gretchen Gross Professor in the Institute of Jewish Thought and Heritage at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. In addition to numerous articles and book chapters, he is author of The Texture of the Divine: Imagination in Medieval Islamic and Jewish Thought (Indiana University Press, 2004), Jewish Philosophy A—Z, and The Art of Dialogue in Jewish Philosophy (Indiana University Press, 2008).

Elliot R. Wolfson is Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. He is author of Through a Speculum That Shines: Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism; Language, Eros, Being: Kabbalistic Hermeneutics and Poetic Imagination; Venturing Beyond: Law and Morality in Kabbalistic Mysticism; Alef, Mem, Tau: Kabbalistic Musings on Time, Truth, and Death; and Open Secret: Post-Messianic Messianism and the Mystical Revision of Menahem Mendel Schneerson.

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Table of Contents

1. Reading the Divine: A User's Guide to the Initiatory Tale
2. Reading Between the Lines: Text as Encounter with the Divine
3. Polishing a Dirty Mirror: The Philosophic Imagination
4. The Initiation of the Philosopher: Ritual Poetics and the Quest for Meaning
5. "God is Beautiful and Loves Beauty": The Role of Aesthetics in Medieval Jewish and Islamic Philosophy
6. Conclusion
Appendix: Hay ben Meqitz: An Initiatory Tale by Abraham ibn Ezra