This volume is a major reassessment of scholarly commonplaces about the origins and nature of early Hasidism, the mystical movement which engulfed east European Jewry in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Through the use of divergent methodologies—historical reconstruction, literary analysis, philological examination— four distinguished scholars contribute new research to what has been a most popular concern of Jewish historical study. Shmuel Etinger, Emanuel Etkes, Jacob Hisdai, and Bezalel Safran explore such provocative questions as: Was there indeed a Sabbatian influence on Hasidism? How real was the opposition of the Mitnagdim? How original were Hasidic ideas?