Finding my Religion
Kabbalah scholar Daniel Matt takes the mysticism back to the Aramaic
By David Ian Miller, Special to SF Gate, Tuesday, September 6, 2005
For centuries, the study of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, was considered off-limits to anyone but the most mature scholars. Some believed you could go crazy if you weren't ready to take its powerful truths about the nature of God and reality.Read the rest of the article and see if you'll find any evidence....
That was, of course, before a wave of Hollywood stars became entranced with the teachings of esoteric Judaism. Now, it seems, anyone can study Kabbalah, even Madonna and Britney Spears.
Noted Kabbalah scholar Daniel Matt was 19 when he read his first few lines of the Zohar, the ancient text that is the foundation for Kabbalah. He's been fascinated by it ever since and is now one of the world's leading Zohar translators.
Matt, 54, spent more than 20 years as a professor, most recently at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and is the author of "Zohar: The Book of Enlightenment," "The Essential Kabbalah" and other popular guides to Jewish mysticism. He is working full time on the first complete English translation of the Zohar based on the original Aramaic text.
Matt recently finished the third of volume of that translation, "The Zohar: Pritzker Edition" (Stanford University Press). The first two volumes are available now, and the third volume, which completes the Zohar's commentary on the book of Genesis, will come out in December.
I understand there's some controversy about when the Zohar, the ancient text that you are translating, was actually written. Can you tell me about that?
Traditional Kabbalists believe that it dates back to early rabbinic times, to the second century, because the main figure in the Zohar is a rabbi who lived then, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. But most scholars think it was actually composed 1,100 years later in Spain in the 13th century. And there is strong evidence for that.
What kind of evidence?