Closing lecture 19 December 2019


Prof. Dr. em. Moshe Idel - Hebrew University of Jerusalem

  • Thursday 19 December 2019 at 20.00 h
    University of Antwerp, Stadscampus, room R.213, Rodestraat 14, 2000 Antwerp.
    Lecture in English. Entrance is free.
    The lecture will be followed by a reception.
    To register for the lecture, click here.

Symbols play a major role in a variety of languages, including psychoanalytical language (especially that of Carl G. Jung), artistic language, and the language of the history of religion (e.g., Mircea Eliade). Classical layers of Judaism do not have a term for symbol. However, the concept played a significant role in the scholarly understanding of Kabbalistic language, related to the unsayable or to the non-communicative experience, namely, to apophatic theology. The lecture will survey the emphasis on the nature and the role of symbolic mode by various scholars, including Gershom Scholem and Isaiah Tishby, on one hand, and Abraham Joshua Heschel, on the other, and the controversy around it.
The lecture will propose an approach that attempts to avoid an essentialist approach to Kabbalistic language, proposing an approach, that assumes that the divine world has been construed by Kabbalistic discourse by using what is called symbols, thus allowing for a much more kataphatic understanding of their meaning.

Moshe Idel is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Senior Researcher at the Shalom Hartman Institute, and Matanel Professor of Kabbalah at Safed Academic College. Born in 1947 in Romania, he arrived in Israel in 1963 and has lectured since 1975 at the Hebrew University. He received the Israel Prize for Jewish Thought in 1999, the Emmet Prize in 2002, and the Rothschild Prize in 2012. He has been a member of the Israeli Academy of Sciences and Humanities since 2006, and has served as visiting Professor at the JTS of America, UCLA, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and College de France. Prof. Idel is President of the World Union of Jewish Studies. His publications include Kabbalah: New Perspectives (Yale University Press, 1988), Absorbing Perfections: Kabbalah and Interpretation (Yale University Press, 2002), Ben: Sonship and Jewish Mysticism (Continuum, 2007), and Kabbalah in Italy (Yale University Press, 2010).


Mailing address: IJS
University of Antwerp
Prinsstraat 13 L.400
2000 Antwerp