Souls, Mythology of Judaism
By Howard Schwartz
Illustrated by Caren Loebel-Fried
one of the world's mythologies has remained essentially unrecognized--the
mythology of Judaism. As Howard Schwartz reveals in Tree of Souls, the
first anthology of Jewish mythology in English, this mythical tradition
is as rich and as fascinating as any in the world.
Drawing from the Bible, the Pseudepigrapha, the Talmud and Midrash, the
kabbalistic literature, medieval folklore, Hasidic texts, and oral lore
collected in the modern era, Schwartz has gathered together nearly 700
of the key Jewish myths. The myths themselves are marvelous. We read of
Adam's diamond and the Land of Eretz (where it is always dark), the fall
of Lucifer and the quarrel of the sun and the moon, the Treasury of Souls
and the Divine Chariot. We discover new tales about the great figures
of the Hebrew Bible, from Adam to Moses; stories about God's Bride, the
Shekhinah, and the evil temptress, Lilith; plus many tales about angels
and demons, spirits and vampires, giant beasts and the Golem. Equally
important, Schwartz provides a wealth of additional information. For each
myth, he includes extensive commentary, revealing the source of the myth
and explaining how it relates to other Jewish myths as well as to world
literature (for instance, comparing Eve's release of evil into the world
with Pandora's). For ease of use, Schwartz divides the volume into ten
books, Myths of God, Myths of Creation, Myths of Heaven, Myths of Hell,
Myths of the Holy Word, Myths of the Holy Time, Myths of the Holy People,
Myths of the Holy Land, Myths of Exile, and Myths of the Messiah.
Schwartz, a renowned collector and teller of traditional Jewish tales,
now illuminates the previously unexplored territory of Jewish mythology.
This pioneering anthology is essential for anyone interested in the Hebrew
Bible, Jewish faith and culture, and world mythology.
"Beyond any of his other books, in Tree of Souls: The Mythology of
Judaism Howard Schwartz offers us his masterwork. If only Joseph Campbell
had lived to see it. Schwartz has brought the underground streams of midrash
to the surface for the delight and edification of his academic as well
as his popular readers."
--Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi, author of Wrapped in a Holy Flame:
Teachings and Tales of the Hasidic Masters.
Howard Schwartz is Professor of English at the University of Missouri-St.
Louis. He is the editor of Elijah's Violin & Other Jewish Fairy Tales,
Miriam's Tambourine: Jewish Folktales from Around the World, Lilith's
Cave: Jewish Tales of the Supernatural, and Gabriel's Palace: Jewish Mystical
Caren Loebel-Fried is an award-winning illustrator and author of many
works on mythology. Her Hawaiian Legends of the Guardian Spirits received
the 2003 Ka Palapala Po`okela Award for Excellence in Illustration. A
second book of Hawaiian legends is forthcoming.