Between Worlds: Dybbuks, Exorcists, and Early Modern Judaism / Edition 1

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Overview

"Between Worlds provides descriptions of the cases of possession as well as analysis of the magical techniques deployed by rabbinic exorcists to expel the ghostly intruders." Seeking to understand the phenomenon of spirit possession in its full complexity, Chajes delves into is ideational framework - chiefly the doctrine of reincarnation - while exploring its relation to contemporary Christian and Islamic analogues. Regarding spirit possession as a form of religious expression open to - and even dominated by - women, Chajes initiates a major reassessment of women in the history of Jewish mysticism. In a concluding section he examines the reception history of the great Hebrew accounts of spirit possession, focusing on the deployment of these "ghost stories" in the battle against incipient skepticism in the turbulent Jewish community of seventeenth-century Amsterdam. Exploring a phenomenon that bridged learned and ignorant, rich and poor, men and women, Jews and Gentiles, Between Worlds maps for the first time a prominent feature of the early modern Jewish religious landscape, as quotidian as it was portentous: the nexus of the living and the dead.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An exciting, persuasive, and well-written study and another key addition to a subject central to early modern religions."—Jewish Quarterly Review

"Chajes's excellent new book . . . succeeds in demystifying the subject of Jewish spirit (i.e., "dybbuk") possession by placing it within a broader cross-cultural and historical context, a s sophisticated methodological approach he calls a 'historical anthropology of spirit possession.' . . . His work is both a history and a phenomenology of Jewish spirit possession during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries."—Choice

"This is a major contribution, not only to early modern Jewish studies but to the subject of spirit possession broadly conceived in the Christian world."—Edward Peters, University of Pennsylvania

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812237245
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/30/2003
  • Series: Jewish Culture and Contexts
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

J. H. Chajes teaches Jewish history at the University of Haifa.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 The Emergence of Dybbuk Possession 11
2 The Dead and the Possessed 32
3 The Task of the Exorcist 57
4 Dybbuk Possession and Women's Religiosity 97
5 Skeptics and Storytellers 119
Arrival 139
App Spirit Possession Narratives from Early Modern Jewish Sources 141
Notes 181
Bibliography 245
Index 267
Acknowledgments 277
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