Late Aramaic: The Literary and Linguistic Context of the Zohar
Monday, November 9th to Wednesday November 11, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1
This conference is part of a a project combining two areas of expertise which have never been put together before: Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah on the one hand, and Semitic languages, in particular Aramaic, on the other hand. The project sets out to examine the Aramaic language in which the bulk of the Zohar—Judaism"s most important Kabbalistic work—was originally written, either—as tradition has it—in 2nd century Palestine, or—as has been held by most scholars under the impact of pioneering work by the late Gershom Scholem—in late 13th century Spain. Scholem had argued that the Aramaic of the Zohar was an "artificial idom" made up from an indiscriminate mixture of Aramaic dialects found in earlier sources, such as the two Talmuds and the Aramaic translations of the Bible. This late medieval Aramaic concoction was produced, according to Scholem, by one man—the 13th century Castillian kabbalist, Moses de Leon, who authored the Zohar anonymously, and who wished to invest his work with the air and authority of antiquity by adopting the vernacular language of the 2nd century Palestinian Sages.
See the full program.