Epiphany of the Throne-Chariot: Merkabah Mysticism and the Film Contact

by
Antonio D. Sison
Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen

Notes

1.Guy Bedouelle, "Film and the Mystery of the Person" trans. Mark D. Jordan in Communio 13 (1986 Spring), p. 94.

2.  Jey J.Kanagaraj, 'Mysticism' in the Gospel of John: An Inquiry into its Background (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998). I also wish to acknowledge the contribution of Dr. Patrick Chatelion Counet, professor of Biblical Studies at the Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen, whose lectures framed my reception of Kanagaraj's work.

3. Kanagaraj, "Mysticism" in the Gospel of John, p. 50.

4. I. Gruenwald, "Merkavah Mysticism" as referred to in Ibid.

5. Ibid., p. 49.

6. All Scripture references in this essay are based on The Holy Bible, NRSV- New Revised Standard Version (Iowa Falls: World Bible Publishers, 1989).

7. Kanagaraj, 'Mysticism' in the Gospel of John, p. 49.

8. Dan Cohn-Sherbok and Lavinia Cohn-Sherbok, Jewish and Christian Mysticism: An Introduction (New York: The Continuum Publishing Co., 1994) p. 4.

9. Kanagaraj, 'Mysticism' in the Gospel of John, p. 179.

10. Cohn-Sherbok and Cohn-Sherbok, Jewish and Christian Mysticism: An Introduction, p. 29.

11. Kanagaraj, 'Mysticism' in the Gospel of John, p. 48-62. Additionally, the motif of "heavenly ascent" was a common feature of both Palestinian and Hellenistic-Jewish mystical traditions and is a fundamental linguistic pattern apparent in the Johannine Gospel. He explores this pattern on three interrelated levels, namely, the ascent-descent of the angels, the descent of the Son of Man, and the ascent of the Son of Man. Kanagaraj concludes that "the Gospel John is a "mystical" document, written, at least as one of its purposes, to address with the Gospel those who were preoccupied with Merkabah mystical practice and with cosmological speculations. See p. 186, 317.

12. Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, ed. Garret Barden and John Cumming (New York: Seabury Press, 1975) p. 264.

13. Roland Barthes, Image/Music/Text (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977) p. 146.

14. Cohn-Sherbok and Cohn-Sherbok, Jewish and Christian Mysticism, p. 26.

15. Ibid., p. 26.

16. Vivian Sobchack, Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film (New Brunswick: Rutger's University Press, 1998) p. 68-69.

17. Cohn-Sherbok and Cohn Sherbok, Jewish and Christian Mysticism, p. 24.

18. Sobchack, Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film, p. 293.

19. The "numinous" or "Mysterium Tremendum" as conceived by Rudolf Otto, who, interestingly, refers to Ezekiel's visions to illustrate the power of the numinous.  See The Idea of the Holy,  trans. John W. Harvey (New York: Oxford University Press, 1950) p. 92. Gregory M. Sadlek notes that Carl Sagan, author of the novel Contact, borrows from Otto in Ellie's description of her brush with the numinous. See "Robert Zemeckis' Contact as a Late Twentieth-Century Paradiso" in Journal of Religion and Film, vol. 5, no. 2, 2001 October.

20. Kanagaraj, 'Mysticism' in the Gospel of John, p. 179.

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