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Flavia Buzzetta joins the Vossius Center for three months in December 2021 as a Research Fellow with the project 'Walking on the Heavenly Side: “Li Palacie” a Vernacular Version of the Massekhet Hekhalot'.

About the project

Despite the recent publication of both individual texts and broader theoretical surveys, the research on the transmission of Jewish mysticism and on its reception in the context of Christian Kabbalah at the end of the fifteenth century is still in its infancy and many aspects need to be studied.

One of these concerns the diffusion in the Renaissance of the Merkabah tradition and, in particular, of Hekhalot literature. This genre of Jewish mystical and esoteric writings contains, according to Gershom Scholem, descriptions of genuine religious experience, in the form of a visionary mysticism. It deals with the Godhead and its heavenly halls and palaces, namely the Hekhalot, through which the mystic can ascend/descend.

The Massekhet Hekhalot belongs to this tradition, although the lack of some core elements of Hekhalot literature made it be considered “a borderline case”. Also referred to as Sefer ha-Merkavah, Sod Shem ha-Merkavah, this book has been transmitted along with Ma’aseh Bereshit or Seder Rabba di-Bereshit, as in the codex Arsenal 8526, which offers the first vernacular translation of this text.

The project aims to examine this version of the text, namely “Li Palacie”, which is a precious testimony of the transmission of Jewish mysticism, not only of the Kabbalah, in humanistic circles.

About the researcher

Flavia Buzzetta is a research associate at the Laboratoire d'études sur les monothéismes (LEM - UMR 8584) and is currently a Vossius post-doctoral fellow. She obtained a PhD in “Philosophy” at the University of Palermo and in “Histoire des Religions et Anthropologie Religieuse” at the École Pratique des Hautes Études. She has been Fernand Braudel-Hastec, Paris IAS (Institut of Advanced Studies), and Marie Sklodowska Curie post-doctoral fellow, and a researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. Her research mainly concerns the interactions and intellectual exchanges between Jews and Christians in the Renaissance, with a focus on magic and Christian Kabbalah.  She is the author of articles on Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Pierleone da Spoleto, Niccolò Camerario, Ludovico Lazzarelli, and has edited several miscellaneous volumes.  Her publications include the monograph “Magia naturalis and Scientia cabalae in Giovanni Pico della Mirandola” (Olschki, 2019) and “Liber de homine. Edizione del ms. Vat. Ebr. 189, ff. 398r-509v” (La Finestra, 2015).