Gilayon and “Apocalypse”: Reconsidering an Early Jewish Concept and Genre

Alexander Kulik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines various ways in which apocalyptic studies can benefit from the introduction of the term and concept of gilayon, a reconstructed Hebrew counterpart of the Judeo-Greek apocalypse. The term gilayon, which combines the meanings of “revealed book” and “book of revelation,” refers to a central image of early Jewish revealed literature and could serve to define an important corpus, the boundaries of which might well overlap with (but still differ from) what is understood by the “genre apocalypse” in modern research. Moreover, this reconstructed concept uncovers additional meanings and associations, which shed light on texts known as “apocalyptic,” and has explanatory power for many phenomena associated with them. The introduction of gilayon may modify the entire paradigm of our understanding of early Jewish mysticism and help to divert the discussion of textual genres associated with it from a phenomenological to a historical route.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)190-227
Number of pages38
JournalHarvard Theological Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the President and Fellows of Harvard College. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • book
  • genre
  • gospel
  • medium
  • paronomasia
  • reconstruction
  • revelation
  • wordplay


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