Gershom Gerhard Scholem

Scholem, Gershom Gerhard (gĕrˈshôm gĕrˈhärt shōˈləm) [key], 1897–1982, Jewish scholar, b. Berlin. He studied at the universities of Berlin, Jena, Bern, and Munich. Scholem received (1922) his doctorate for a dissertation on the earliest extant kabbalistic work, Sefer ha-Bahir (c.1230). In 1923 he left Germany and settled in Palestine. His revolutionary translation and commentary, published as Das Buch Bahir (1923), began a career that was to remove the history of kabbalah from the shadows of Jewish scholarship and to make the study of it and of Jewish mysticism in general important scholarly disciplines. Scholem was the librarian of the Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem and National Library (1923–27), lecturer at the university (1925–32), and professor of Jewish mysticism and kabbalah there from 1933 until his retirement in 1965. He was the author of over 500 articles and books; his major works in English include Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (1941), Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism, and the Talmudic Tradition (1960), The Messianic Idea in Judaism (tr. 1971), Sabbatai Zevi, the Mystical Messiah (1973), and Kabbalah (1974).

See his autobiography, From Berlin to Jerusalem (1980); A. D. Skinner, Gershom Scholem: A Life in Letters, 1914–1982 (2002); study by D. Biale (2d ed. 1982).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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