Mystical Theology and Social Dissent

BookMystical Theology and Social Dissent

Mystical Theology and Social Dissent

The Life and Works of Judah Loew of Prague

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


July 13th, 2006



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Judah Loew, better known as the Maharal of Prague, was a pivotal personality in late medieval European Judaism. Best known from the popular legend that credited him with the creation of a golem - an artificial human with superhuman powers - his true importance lay in his comprehensive exposition of a unique expression of Jewish mystical theology, his call for a reformation of Jewish communal life, and his influence on subsequent Jewish life and thought. Byron Sherwin’s lucid exposition of the life, legend, works, and ideas developed in Loew’s massive writings ‘reveals the concealed’ by unravelling the often obscure nature of his mystical theology, his polemical jousts against past and contemporary Jewish scholars, and his innovative programme for social and educational reform.

‘Very fine . . . a model of clarity and scholarship.’
Howard Schwartz, Jerusalem Post

‘A solid contribution to our knowledge of the intellectual world of central and east European Jewry in the early modern era, an area and an era that deserves greater scholarly attention.’
Ira Robinson, Association for Jewish Studies Newsletter

‘The heart of the book, on Maharal’s thought, is valuable for its careful and admirably clear explication of Maharal’s complex views on Divine attributes, Torah, Jewish uniqueness, man and his perfection, and messianism . . .  to be welcomed for its lucid presentation of major themes in the thought of a protean sixteenth-century Jewish thinker who influenced certain key Hasidic, Zionistic and semi-Mitnaggedic thinkers.’  
- Hillel Goldberg, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

‘[An] illuminating book.’
David Katz, London Review of Books

Chimen Abramsky, Times Literary Supplement

Author Information

Byron L. Sherwin was Distinguished Service Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Mysticism and Director of Doctoral Programs at Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, Chicago. His books included Golems among Us, Workers of Wonders, and Kabbalah: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism. He died in 2015.