Joseph Dan, born in Bratislava, Slovakia, in 1935. Ph.D. from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Professor of Kabbalah at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Fellow (1 February 1997 – 30 June 1997)
The main subject to which my work during these months was dedicated is the book I am preparing, The Language of the Mystics. It has occupied me for more than two years, and now there is a chance that I may finish it in 1998. I studied mainly two problems: the concept of language in Sufi mysticism (some new studies have been published in the last year concerning the early development of the Sufi schools of mystics in Islam in the 9th-11th centuries), and the linguistic element in the development of the Christian Kabbalah. In the Sufi texts I found a strong denial of the ability of language to express Truth, an apophatic attitude which is characteristic of Christian and Jewish mystical schools. In the Christian Kabbalah I found an opposite attitude: a celebration of language as an avenue leading to Truth, but – a semiotic language, denying the semantic level of language.
I also wrote extensive introductions and detailed endnotes to four volumes of my collected studies in English, which are going to be published by Jason Aronson, Inc. of Northvale, New Jersey. I also completed editing the book on Christian Kabbalah, following the exhibition at the Houghton Library at Harvard last year; this volume includes my study on Reuchlin, and it will be published by Harvard University Press at the end of this year. The book includes an extended version of the catalogue of the exhibition which I wrote, and several studies which were presented in the symposium which opened the exhibition.
Another major project which is near completion is the Catalogue of the Scholem Library in Jerusalem, which I edited and will be published in two large volumes in a few months by the Jewish National and University Library.
In addition, I completed in this period several articles in English and Hebrew, about Johannes Reuchlin, Hasidism and Messianism, the Jewish concept of the Antichrist and others.