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Document Details :
Title: Spirit and Soul
Subtitle: Transcendent Anthropomorphism in the Shi'ur Komah Traditions
Author(s): ARBAL, Daphna
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 12 Date: 2000
This article examines the Shi'ur Komah traditions of the Jewish Hekhalot and Merkavah literature of late antiquity, in light of a specific model of description, entitled 'transcendent anthropomorphism' which had previously emerged in ancient Near Eastern traditions and in several Biblical and Post-Biblical sources. According to this model, the concrete, manifested, figurative form of various deities often serves to convey their abstract, transcendent, and concealed nature. This mythological model. I suggest, is invoked in the Shi'ur Komah descriptions in order to formulate and convey mystical notions, related to both the concept of God and the unique spiritual perception of Merkavah visionaries.
Through the application of the principles, images, and literary style of this paradoxical ancient model, a new mystical concept of the divine, as both transcendent and figurative, is introduced in the Shi'ur Komah traditions of the Hekhalot and Merkavah literature. Accordingly depictions of God's corporeal, revealed form, the cosmic dimensions of his body, his anthropomorphic zoomorphic organs and features, denote his true abstract, transcendent, incomprehensible and concealed aspects. Integrated with this concept is a unique mystical awareness and exegetical perception. These enable selected individuals to perceive veiled truths of external manifestations, to behold the invisible God through his figurative forms, and thus to link divine and human perspectives.