Antinomianism as Iconism: The Living Images of the Frankists




Iconism, Tableau vivant, Frankism, Sabbateanism, Rabbinic Judaism, Messianism, Hypotyposis, Jakob Frank


Emerging in the context of messianic Sabbateanism in Eastern Europe, Frankism’s main characteristics are its stern opposition towards rabbinic Judaism and its rigid antinomism. Frankist doctrine and Frankist practice straightforwardly reversed the Law to its opposite. Frankist leaders, and in particular Jacob Frank (1726-1791) himself, employed strategies that took advantage of the multiform contact situations of religious traditions within the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth by metaschematic subversion of religious forms. Frank refused to hide what he claimed to be the true faith, and openly and publicly presented himself as an opponent of the established rabbinic tradition. The open, visible, and public presentation was intended to be an affront by ostensibly/iconically opposing its aniconic stance. Anti-aniconism performed iconically was a deliberate and virtuously employed strategy in the struggle about messianic and eschatological issues. The emphasis on visibility and the deliberate establishment of iconic scenes within Frankist practice also breaks with the Sabbatian conduct of occurring in the environs of the traditional community and not being sharply distinguished from the ‘correct’ faith. In my article, I will argue that Frank deliberately employed hyper-iconism and living images (tableaux vivantes) to fulfill his messianic role.




How to Cite

Antinomianism as Iconism: The Living Images of the Frankists. (2023). Entangled Religions, 14(5).

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