Elliot R. Wolfson

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Elliot R. Wolfson (born 23 November 1956) is the Marsha and Jay Glazer Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.[1] He was previously the Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University (until 2014).

His main area of scholarly research is the history of Jewish mysticism but he has brought to bear on that field training in philosophy, literary criticism, feminist theory, postmodern hermeneutics, Eastern mystical traditions, and the phenomenology of religion. His publications have won prestigious awards such as the American Academy of Religion's Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in the Category of Historical Studies in 1995, the American Academy of Religion's Award for Excellence in Constructive and Reflective Studies in 2012, and the National Jewish Book Award for Excellence in Scholarship in 1995 and 2006. He has also published two volumes of poetry and has had a gallery show of his paintings.

Additionally, Wolfson has been the recipient of several academic honors and awards: he served as the Regenstein Visiting Professor in Jewish Studies in the Divinity School, University of Chicago (1992); Visiting Professor in the Russian State University in the Humanities (1995); a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey (1996); the Shoshana Shier Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Toronto (1998); a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Hebrew University (2000, 2008–2009); the Crown-Minnow Visiting Professor of Theology and Jewish Studies, University of Notre Dame (2002); Brownstone Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College (2003); Visiting Professor in the Humanities Center, Johns Hopkins University (2005); Professor of Jewish Mysticism in Shandong University, Jinan, China (2005); the Lynette S. Autrey Visiting Professor, Humanities Research Center, Rice University (2007); and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Jewish Studies at the University of Pennsylvania (2012). He has also taught at Cornell University, Queens College, Princeton University, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Hebrew Union College, Bard College, and Columbia University. Wolfson is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Jewish Research, and the American Society for the Study of Religion.

Wolfson earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in philosophy at Queens College of the City University of New York, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University, where he trained under the supervision of Alexander Altmann.

Wolfson's son, Elijah Wolfson, was formerly a senior editor at Newsweek.[2] and is now a Deputy Editor at Quartz.[3]



  • The Book of the Pomegranate: Moses de Leon's Sefer ha-Rimmon (Scholars Press, 1988)
  • Through the Speculum That Shines: Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism (Princeton University Press, 1994)
  • Along the Path: Studies in Kabbalistic Hermeneutics, Myth, and Symbolism (State University of New York Press, 1995)
  • Circle in the Square: Studies in the Use of Gender in Kabbalistic Symbolism (State University of New York Press, 1995)
  • Abraham Abulafia—Kabbalist and Prophet: Hermeneutics, Theosophy, and Theurgy (Cherub Press, 2000)
  • Language, Eros,and Being: Kabbalistic Hermeneutics and the Poetic Imagination (Fordham University Press, 2005)
  • Alef, Mem, Tau: Kabbalistic Musings on Time, Truth, and Death (University of California Press, 2006)
  • Venturing Beyond: Law and Morality in Kabbalistic Mysticism (Oxford University Press, 2006)
  • Luminal Darkness: Imaginal Gleanings From Zoharic Literature (Oneworld Publications, 2007)
  • Open Secret: Postmessianic Messianism and the Mystical Revision of Menahem Mendel Schneerson (Columbia University Press, 2009)
  • A Dream Interpreted Within a Dream: Oneiropoiesis and the Prism of Imagination (Zone Books, 2011)
  • Giving Beyond the Gift: Apophasis and Overcoming Theomania (Fordham University Press, 2014)

Edited Books

  • Perspectives on Jewish Thought and Mysticism, edited together with Alfred Ivry and Alan Arkush (Harwood Academic Publishers, 1998)
  • Rending the Veil: Concealment and Secrecy in the History of Religions (Seven Bridges Press, 1999)
  • Suffering Religion, edited together with Robert Gibbs (Routledge, 2002)
  • New Directions in Jewish Philosophy, edited with Aaron Hughes (Indiana University Press, 2009)
  • Studies in Medieval Jewish Intellectual and Social History: Festschrift in Honor of Robert Chazan, edited together with David Engel and Lawrence H. Schiffman (Brill, 2012)


  • Pathwings: Poetic-Philosophic Reflections on the Hermeneutics of Time and Language (Station Hill Press, 2004)
  • Footdreams and Treetales: 92 Poems (Fordham University Press, 2007)


  1. ^ http://www.religion.ucsb.edu/people/faculty/elliot-wolfson/
  2. ^ http://www.newsweek.com/authors/elijah-wolfson
  3. ^ http://qz.com/author/elijahqz/

External links[edit]