Note: Most universities now require the author of a PhD dissertation to write an abstract. The following abstracts have been taken from the author’s written summary of his/her work.
Kohav, Alex Shalom. “The Sod Hypothesis: Phenomenological, Semiotic, Cognitive, and Noetic-Literary Recovery of the Pentateuch’s Embedded Inner-Core Mystical Initiation Tradition of Ancient Israelite Cultic Religion.” PhD diss., Union Institute and University, 2011. [Israel/Mystery/Ritual/
Abstract: The apparent absence of secrecy in Israelite religion in early antiquity, in contrast with the Greek mystery schools and the pervasive, structural secrecy of Egypt, is the dissertation’s opening problem. The study posits that the First Temple priests crafted a “disaster-proof” transmission of their initiatory lore to future generations. Faced with a Derridean dilemma, they made “the secret” public yet without revealing it. The treasured esoteric knowledge was embedded within the Pentateuch as a “second-channel,” noetic narrative called the Sôd (“secret”) by the study, via systemic and systematic use of advanced literary means, especially figuration. The compilers’ intentional act originating from hyletic, mysterium tremendum encounters with a supernatural agent, YHWH, who signifies unprecedented transitivity, resulted in an intensional text of singular complexity. The study demonstrates that the J and E strands constitute priestly esoteric matter par excellence, while traditional priestly sections are their exoteric material. Using a transdisciplinary approach based on emergence and complex systems dynamics, the study develops the Pentateuchal theoretical model by constructing and mapping relevant contexts into demonstrata. The Pentateuch emerges as a multipurpose entity comprising a multilevel, multicode, multicontext, multi-addressee, multimessage textual production. Engaging (1) Husserl’s noetic-noematic-hyletic phenomenological framework; (2) semiotic signifier-signified-referent aspects; (3) Jakobson’s factors/functions of literary texts; and (4) Habermas’s “communicative actions,” the study proposes (i) manifold discursive planes; (ii) multiple contexts, grounds, semantic fields; (iii) inferential “continuums,” domains guiding textual data derivation and constraining data analysis; and (iv) methodology using interrogative “inferential coordinates” and a custom-developed “noetic-literary” method. An ongoing, “oscillating” narrative metalepsis is observed, a consequence of parallel narratives colliding and periodically warping the narrative integrity of one or the other channel. The dissertation effectively opens a new research area: Pentateuchal esoteric mysticism that is akin to the “center,” or “organizing principle,” of biblical theology. The Sôd is exoterically discordant vis-à-vis the rabbinical project and incongruent with it esoterically. The study’s results are falsifiable, and their validity is attested. The interdisciplinary study, situated in religious and literary studies, intersects with phenomenology; epistemology; linguistic anthropology; anthropology and psychology of religion; classicism; Egyptology; semiotics; cognitive science; communication studies; mysticism; biblical studies; and consciousness studies.
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