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Supernal Serpent Mysteries of Leviathan in Judaism and Christianity


Supernal Serpent Mysteries of Leviathan in Judaism and Christianity

  • ISBN 13:


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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 07/28/2023
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Supernal Serpent explores the development of the Leviathan tradition from its early roots in ancient West Asian and biblical accounts, up to the later rabbinic traditions. Concentrating on the theophanic features of Leviathan's appearances in Jewish biblical, pseudepigraphical, and rabbinic accounts, special attention is paid to the traditions found in the Book of Job and the Apocalypse of Abraham. Leading scholar Andrei Orlov argues that the Apocalypse of Abraham presents Leviathan in an anti-theophany, a revelation of the underworld's ruler. Orlov delves into the cultic significance of Leviathan and its roles as the sacred courtyard of the cosmological sanctuary and the Foundation Stone of the Temple of Creation.

The volume further discusses the background of Leviathan's role as the foundation of the world in ancient West Asian, biblical, rabbinic, and Muslim texts. Orlov suggests that the idea of the cosmological temple with a primordial monster as its sacred foundation provide a sacerdotal alternative that allowed Jewish apocalypticists to perpetuate their cultic vision in the absence of the earthly Temple. The study also demonstrates that, in some Jewish materials, Leviathan is envisioned as a living embodiment of the divine mysteries, which are preserved by God from the beginning of creation, but will be revealed fully in the eschaton to the elect. Ultimately, Supernal Serpent proposes that the Leviathan tradition found in the Apocalypse of Abraham plays a formative role in this conceptual move towards the reification of divine knowledge in the form of Leviathan serving as a bridge between the ancient West Asian, biblical, and pseudepigraphical testimonies concerning the primordial monster
and their later rabbinic and Muslim counterparts.

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