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Gershom ScholemAn Intellectual Biography$
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Amir Engel

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226428635

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226428772.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 19 May 2022

The Stories of Gershom Scholem

The Stories of Gershom Scholem

(p.1) Chapter 1 The Stories of Gershom Scholem
Gershom Scholem

Amir Engel

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explains the novelty of the book’s approach over and against the existing literature in the field. It does so by posing the fundamental question regarding Scholem, namely, why is Scholem so well known, even as he was mostly a scholar of a decidedly narrow field of knowledge? And why is he still read today? This chapter suggests that in different ways, the scholarly literature on Scholem focused on the philosophical underpinnings of his work. Scholem, it is often argued, is important because his views on Jewish revival, Zionism, language or historiography. This chapter seeks to expose the fallacies and problems of this approach. And it discusses the justifications, the advantages and disadvantages, in reading Scholem, not philosophically, but rather as a story-teller. Scholem it is argued did not merely expose truth that lay hidden in the old manuscripts of Jewish esoteric tradition, but recreated this tradition for his audience and in response to many of the existential questions of his generation.

Keywords:   German Jewish culture, Zionism, myth, fiction, David Biale, historiography, Gershom Scholem, Jewish mysticism, truth

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