The Colonial 'Cabbala of the Jews' at the American Antiquarian Society

Brian Ogren

Tuesday, April 19, 2022, 3 pm EDT

Approx. 1 hour

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Headshot of Brian Ogren

This talk will center around a unique, beautifully scribed manuscript housed at the AAS, which was given the title 'The Cabbala of the Jews' by its cataloger in 1935. Until recently, this manuscript had never been studied and had an anonymous author, though recent investigation shows that it was written by the famous Scottish Quaker thinker who had made his way to East Jersey, George Keith. The manuscript made its way to Cotton Mather and played a key role in his polemics against Quakerism. In an interesting turn of interreligious events, Jewish theology took center stage in an important early colonial debate between Quakerism and Congregationalism. This talk will discuss the fascinating ideas within the manuscript, the methods used to arrive at the conclusion that the manuscript was written by George Keith, and its important role in the debate between Keith and Mather.

Headshot of Brian OgrenBrian Ogren is the Anna Smith Fine Associate Professor of Judaic Studies at Rice University. He specializes in Jewish thought, concentrating on philosophy and kabbalah in the early modern period. Ogren is particularly interested in textual exploration, including manuscript study, reception history, and theories and methods of interpretation. He has authored three monographs, including Kabbalah and the Founding of America (NYU Press, 2021). Ogren is currently working on a book related to cinematic representations of Jewish mysticism, and he has begun another extensive project on early modern Jewish notions of love.

Order this book directly from the publisher at nyupress.org. For a 20% discount, use code: FA21PP.

Program in the History of the Book  in American Culture

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