Eylon, Dina Ripsman
About the author: Dina Ripsman Eylon, who has her PhD in Post-biblical Hebrew Language and Literature from the University of Toronto, has taught Biblical and Modern Hebrew at Carleton University and the University of Toronto. She is the publisher and editor of Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal. Her works have been published in The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature, American Writers Classics, Convergence: Poets for Peace, Kinesis, American National Biography, Reader’s Guide to Judaism, and in the anthology Stress(full) Sister(hood).2003 0-7734-6736-X
This study demonstrates that the rabbinic belief-system regarding the afterlife and the human soul was the paramount influence on the development of the doctrine of reincarnation that was crystallized in the Sefer ha-Bahir (The Book of Clarity/Illumination) a 12th-century work written in Hebrew and Aramaic. Prior research has noted the great impact Gnosticism had on early Jewish mysticism in general and the Sefer ha-Bahir in particular. The analysis of the talmudic and midrashic sources presents a broad spectrum of ideas concerning the eternity and immortality of the soul, the nature and characteristics of the soul and the notions of the resurrection of the dead and reincarnation. These ideas, brought together in the study as a systematic theology, reveal a fairly developed tradition that was probably known to the author or editor of the Sefer ha-Bahir.