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Zohar: Reception and Impact$
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Boaz Huss

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113966

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113966.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

On the History of Zohar Interpretation

On the History of Zohar Interpretation

(p.148) Chapter Five On the History of Zohar Interpretation
Zohar: Reception and Impact

Boaz Huss

Liverpool University Press

This chapter addresses how the value of the Zohar as a form of cultural capital was further reflected in the intensive engagement in its interpretation, which became a central practice of kabbalists in the second half of the sixteenth century. Following the rise of Zohar commentary, a struggle ensued in later generations to obtain primacy in this field. Before the formulation of the Zohar in its printed form, the possession of zoharic manuscripts, control over the collection and editing process, and the ability to quote zoharic texts were all a part of the cultural capital of the elite circles of the Iberian exiles. However, following its finalization, printing, and wide dissemination, the Zohar ceased to be a rare commodity; the value of manuscript collections diminished and one could no longer benefit from possessing or quoting the texts. The new way to derive cultural power from the work was to control its meaning. This was achieved through the commentator's ability to establish his interpretation as the authoritative one. Thus, when commentary became the principal genre of kabbalistic literature, the struggle for dominance shifted to the field of hermeneutics.

Keywords:   Zohar, cultural capital, kabbalists, Zohar commentary, zoharic texts, cultural power, kabbalistic literature

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