Patterns of Knowledge Circulation: The Transmission and Reception of Jewish Esoteric Knowledge in Manuscripts and Print in Early Modern East-Central Europe
Institut für Judaistik
founded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)
Patterns of Knowledge Circulation is the Emmy Noether Junior Research Group, founded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), based at the Department of Cultural and Historical Studies. It aims to explore how Jewish esoteric knowledge circulated throughout history in multiple moves of transmission and reception that took place in various social, cultural, and material contexts in early modern East-Central Europe.
The project contributes to the recently expanding field of the history of knowledge, both practical and theoretical, as well as the processes of knowledge formation and transformation in a variety of cultural and social milieus.
The project will provide a systematic digital catalogue and quantitative analysis of Jewish texts commonly deemed esoteric produced and in circulation in East-Central Europe from 1500 to 1750. The catalogue will provide grounds for further analysis of transmission, reception, and movement of these texts in early modern East-Central Europe. It is designed to facilitate further qualitative studies of patterns of knowledge transmission based on quantitative analysis of relevant sources.
In the processes of circulation of kabbalistic knowledge, East-Central Europe played a crucial yet still understudied role. The prevalent scholarly claim that Jewish mystical or kabbalistic thought in early modern East-Central Europe was peripheral to the study of the history of kabbalah goes counter to a large corpus of extant Ashkenazi kabbalistic texts in print and in manuscript form. The project aims to explore this corpus and understand the role of kabbalistic texts and their producers in early modern East-Central European transfer of both practical and theoretical forms of knowledge.
Performing kabbalistic knowledge focuses on modes of organising and producing, that is, copying, compiling and re-writing of kabbalistic knowledge in early modern Ashkenazi manuscript culture. It puts special emphasis on the relation between speculative and practical kabbalah in manuscript compilations/collectanea as a material and epistemic genre. It explores the introduction, transmission, and impact of the kabbalistic texts from the circle of Isaac Luria—one of the most influential kabbalistic school of early modernity—to East-Central Europe from the perspective of the local manuscript culture.
Jewish esotericism and natural knowledge examines practical kabbalistic textual corpus in the context of growing European interest in practical knowledge and increasing experiential and empirical sensibility of early modernity. It concentrates on the forms of transfer of kabbalistic knowledge between various textual and epistemic genres as well as between different linguistic contexts (such as Polish, Russian, German, Italian, Yiddish, Hebrew, and Latin).
Printing Jewish kabbalistic literatures in early modern East-Central Europe exploresthe modes of circulation of kabbalistic knowledge between manuscripts and print in early modern East-Central Europe. It also investigates book collecting practices and the status of Jewish cabbalistica in public and private book collections, book ownership patterns and the exchange of kabbalistic books as markers of power and authority, and editorial practices of early printed kabbalistic books in East-Central Europe.