Three personal announcements

1] My book has sold out its first edition but the publisher wont meet to discuss paperback until 12 months from publication. So no paperback until late Fall 2011. Both Barnes & Noble and Amazon have it at $57. If you come to my home or school then I have copies for 12 dollars less.

2] If anyone is interested in taking graduate courses with me in NJ (Monday and Tuesday eve) then contact me by personal email. If you are in any way an educator (including most clergy) then it is full scholarship. I should have posted this in the Spring so if you are interested then email ASAP. At least one person comes in from NYC and one from Phila.

3] If anyone is interested in a guest post and has something appropriate, then email me.

14 responses to “Three personal announcements

  1. I’ve finally started into it, wonderful collection of sources, well organized. My first thoughts are that there is an interesting connection between two authors of “universalist” positions that I believe are noteworthy; both R. Pereira-Mendes and Chief Rabbi Hertz were freemasons, both in fact were Grand Chaplains of their respective Grand Lodges (as were C.R. Brodie and R. Haim Sabato, among a number of other noteworthy rabbis/hakhamim and more lay observant). I think R. Pereira-Mendes quote can additionally be read in light of this fact.

    Also though certain Perennialist (“Traditionalist School”), authors are noted, the primary Jewish writer considered part of the school, Leo Schaya (author of “Universal Meaning of The Kabbala”), was not mentioned. Many of the members of the school of thought were quiet converts to Islam, and believed a triad was completed in Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. Judaism was not treated throughly or well by most. Huston Smith – whose daughter was Conservative convert – and Ananda Coomaraswamy – who at one point married a Jew – were least objectionable – also AC was the only Hindu; his son Rama Coomaraswamy taught for a long time at Einstein Med, and was both a schismatic Catholic lay-priest and perennialist(also Jewish, as was his mother).

  2. I think that is a good point about freemasonry, worth mentioning. We can use a study of Jews and freemasonry in the 20th century. I know R Raymond Apple of Australia is proud of his freemasonry. I did not know that R. Sabato is a freemason. We forget how important it was since it shriveled so quickly in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

    Huston Smith was quite a generous person about religion- he was a Platonist at heart and of course all true religion is the platonic truth, beauty,and wisdom.
    Have you read his forgotten Wisdom?

    I looked in Schaya and did not find a clean quote. I wish I had. In volume II, I will quote the perrenialists Rabbi Maurice Fluegel and Adolphe Frank- among others. But I am glad that the category of perrenialist was/is useful for your own thinking.
    Before the plethora of English Judaica, Schaya was one of the basics. Art Green used to use it for classes that found Scholem’s MTJM too difficult. The pop understanding of sefirot still owes a debt to Schaya.

  3. Oh my, my mistake! R. Sabato MORAIS. R. Apple I had dialogued with before on Masonry and Judaism, also the former Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Cyril Harris. R. Broyde may be mined for certain material, he apparently was an active lecturer in Masonry, not sure how it would be best procured.

    The Perennialists were an early influence on me, I’m far more selective among them now; I favor AKC, Huston Smith mostly for his Forgotten Truth, and Seyyed Hossein Nasr (whom had engaged in interesting, semi-secret dialogue w/AJH via the Vatican; AJH sought that his “Israel” be translated into Arabic and distributed among some level of Muslim intelligensia, not sure if it worked out) . The super-cessionalism shared by many ‘Traditionalists” derives from the Hindu doctrine of Yugas, fused with Islam’s maxims that the Quran being primordial doctrine and Muhammad the seal of prophets at the end of time, a double-proof that Islam completes this “cycle”. But admission of these core doctrines ignores a key concept from Torah, that “Jew nous se qa”, where HKBH does profoundly anomalous, unexpected things – they have God submitted to divine laws, instead of God covenanting with a people; who are we to tell God what to do? “I want to command all powers of the universe and pull slaves from under Paroahs feet, shattering eons-old cosmologies as he falls…Try and stop Me” (of course C.S. Lewis raises a similar “unexpected” point in defense of JC in “Miracles”).

    More recent Islamic apologists for Perennialism have depicted “Islamic fundamentalism” as a falsification of Islam and Sophia Perennis – while ensuring readers that Zionism is a falsification of Judaism, noting ‘Naturei’ Karta as exemplars of authentic Judaism (we know what rallies such authors havee been hanging out at);

    The perennialists have a large following among the European New Right, particularly Julius Evola and Guenon.

    • Perrenialists also have a very large following among Baby Boomer profs of comparative religion. Recently, there has been somewhat of a tension between the religion dept professors of mysticism and symbol with the new generation of Talal Asad quoting materialists.
      I think you have the details on the Heschel story a a bit unclear. Heschel’s The Prophets was translated by the perrenialist Henri Corbin into French and it was used by the Persian scholar Nasr. Nasr would have translated into Persian not Arabic. Despite what you think from the papers, there is a Muslim institute of Jewish Studies in Iran and they translate current Jewish Studies scholarship into Farsi, waiting like in Fahrenheit 451, to resume normal life. There is no problem translating into Farsi. They actually put out two original works on the history of Kabblah around 1999 -2000 from a Muslim point of view. Nasr has no clout in the Arabic world- he is Persian, a sufi, and a former employee of the Shah.On the other hand Jewish books dont get translated and the Arabic academy exhibits little interest in Judaism.
      Nasr’s students who work on ibn Arabi or Sufi legal works have a greater sense of a scriptural God.

  4. I didn’t mean to suggest that Nasr was involved in translation of “Israel”, and I don’t think anything from papers; being under 40 I don’t read them. The only thoughts I have from Persians on Jews – come from Persian Jews. 😉

    Both stories just happened to be accounted in the same section of “Spiritual Radical”, pp. 364-7. “Israel” was to be translated in Israel with the assistance of (Anglican) Archbishop Appleton – if it came to be, I do not know.

    Here is a video clip with Prof. Nasr on Heschel and the above noted conference;

    • I will ask Judith about it, I see her all the time. She was mentioned as the go between.
      Update- I just her an email.

  5. I’d love to know! But back to your book; I also forgot to ask if you’d seen “Some Yemenite Jewish Attitudes towards Muhammad’s Prophethood” by Reuben Ahroni in HUC Annual, 1998, pp.55-57 is treatment of Bustan al Uqul.

    On page 112 of your book, you call the citation from Bustan a “reading of Maimonides” – I’m curious how you determined this (I can’t doubt it, I’m simply curious). Ahroni doesn’t mention Rambam’s views of prophecy as an influence on Ibn Fayumi, but does indicate Islamic foundations for his views on prophecy. What of Rambam’s works were available there before Iggrot Teman? Considering Rambam calls Ibn Fayumi “the Honored Master and Rabbi” (responsa of Rambam II, p.i, noted in David Levine edition of the Bustan), what indications are there of their involvement with each other or their works? Would Rambam have been exposed to the Bustan al Uqul? I found what I’d thought might be a similar line of thinking was R. Yoel Finkelman recently – but not a connection between the two (no mention of Ibn Fayumi);

    Click to access 3.pdf

    …in response to the Bustan al Uqul I’d sent him, R. Finkelman said he did not think Rambam’s intent was to say that God can transmit prophecy to whom ever he wants whenever he wants; likely intent was closer to the idea that legal systems which improve mans lot spiritually, temporally and intellectually, may technically qualify as prophetic – but that it may not fit with his definitions of prophecy elsewhere (let alone the next chapter of Moreh Nevukhim).

    So R. Finkelman did not think Ibn Fayumi was correct, and that R. Finkelman himself did not suggest along Ibn Fayumi’s line. But…Rambam gave someone he might find heretical such a title!…

    • Have you seen Blumenthal, Fenton, Langermann Wasserstrom, Zonta and the others who work on the eastern reception of Maimonides? I do not use Aharoni on many levels. There are articles by the Blumenthal on his website, but not on Fayumi. It is not the Ibn Rushd reading of Maimonides but one that that into account the ikhwan al safa, and Ismaeli thought. I am not saying that it is the best reading of Maimonides just that it works in the eastern context. Langermann argues that they did not distinguish between philosophic schools in Yeman and that one should not treat the Bustan as if it is an opposing tradition to Maimonides. The Yad ha-Hazakah was already in Yemen. Kafih should have some of this up on the web but his edition of the bustan is not online.

  6. Thank you! I will explore this further. I had really asked about you referring to Bustan al Ukul as “a reading of Maimonides” at all – since I had not considered the possibility that Ibn Fayumi had read Rambam on prophecy (perhaps Rambam had read Maimonides on prophecy…), I was wondering what your basis had been for considering it a reading.

  7. I see a pattern here- Nasr, perrenialism, non-jewish prophets. You seem to be developing your own prophetic perennialism.
    On non-Jewish prophets in the Maimonidian tradition- see Yaakov Levinger in his book. They certainly exist in Abulafia, Shmuel ibn Tibbon, and most Averroist Maimonideans. And Maimonides explicitly mentions gentile prophecy of Job’s advisers in his Letter to Yemen.

  8. I am not developing a perennialism – if there were a perennialism, it could just as well be neurological (as is popularly proposed regarding the role of agency detection in religion and mysticism), since human minds are perennial (or if we want exclusivism – goyim are just goyim); but it could also be prophetic – all prophecy is not Nevuah (not unlike no Nevuah being comparable to what Moshe experienced), reincarnation/ transmigration are not “gilgulim” – gilgulim as an upgrade of a natural process that Israel experiences differently. Similarly Rav Kook in Iggerot Harayah 1 on Gentiles, Olam Haba not being “afterlife”.

    But the greater refrain is that nothing escapes God’s Dominion – and we can’t tell Him what to do, He tells Israel what to do – and possibly tells others their “what to do”s. If on top of that, Heschel is correct and there is a “minimalism” of prophetic experience that they experience through a “maximum” of communal interpretation (perhaps more so for them), that would explain how these religions are so at doctrinal/narrative contradiction with Jewish Prophecy (and war with Israel), yet are ‘sanctioned’ by prophecy themselves (even if only to the degree that prophecy and society exist in His universe via the ways of nature and man). I must eat. Good day and thank you again.

  9. Prof. Nasr was wearing a “seersucker” suit this morning – seersucker being a combination of two Persian words.

    I would like to know what you hear from Mrs. Herschlag-Muffs – interestingly, Prof. Muffs came up yesterday in complete isolation from this blog conversation. Maybe the internet ecosystem has emerged intelligence via my searches independent of Facebook, et al.

  10. Speaking of freemasonry, some of the Australian Gutnicks (I forget which ones, but at least one or two of them are rabbis) are Masons. I was referred to them when I was interested in joining at one point, but had trouble reaching them.

    The question – what to do about the Obligations vis a vis neder? One religious Mason in my friend’s lodge suggested “let Kol Nidre take care of it” – which means either I’m not taking KN serious or the Obligation seriously. So that wasn’t an answer I could live with.

    Turns out my father & grandfather were both Masons. They were in St. Cecile’s Lodge, the only lodge to meet during the day – the lodge for musicians & actors, who all work at night. Dad didn’t even know Grandpa was a Mason until his Third Degree, when he was raised by Grandpa. Opens his eyes after the simulated death experience – Wow!

    (No, I’m not a Mason, only a Lewis – what little I think I know is from books and monitors [alleged script books for Masonic rituals])

  11. Best thing to do Jon is join the Orthodox Jewish Freemasons group on facebook! Several rabbis there, even a few chassidim…There are differences in ritual work in much of the world, so there are different approaches to the nedarim, kneeling, etc and different people have followed different views – which I’m sure you can hear about from members @ said facebook group.

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