From Magic to Myth
Chapter 5. Eliade and Kabbalah
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ELIADE AND KABBALAH
Kabbalah in Interwar Bucharest
A survey of the main analyses of Eliade’s religious outlook would hardly discern the possibility that the young Eliade had some knowledge of Kabbalah, and even less that it might have had some formative impact on his thought. In fact, the very decision to address the topic may easily be seen as tainted by the professional specialization of the present writer, rather than by the any significance this topic held for Eliade. After all, what can be the significance of the content of this esoteric lore for a Romanian nationalist, or a Christian Orthodox believer, or a pagan, as he defined himself in various places, flowering in frivolous interwar Bucharest? Neither do his memoirs from Portugal, Paris, or Chicago mention any sustained interest in this lore. Though in the third volume of his History of Religious Ideas there are several paragraphs on Kabbalah, this is at quite a late stage of his activity, and it is almost totally dependent on the historiography and phenomenology as articulated in Gershom Scholem’s books: that is, just derivative repetitions of what any intelligent reader can find in published studies by the master of this field. Also, the theory that spending months in the company of Scholem at the Eranos conferences in Ascona, listening to his lectures and reading his studies and those of others published in several volumes of Eranos Jahrbuch over almost two decades, imparted in ← 157 | 158 → Eliade...
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