What are the major ancient literature on Judaic mysticism and spiritual development? By ancient I mean B.C.E.
I also would appreciate if you can also provide links to online English translations if it is possible.
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
The books you are looking for are called "Merkavah" and "Heichalot" literature. These are based on the "Merkava" (Chariot) described in Ezekiel.
The earliest work is the Sepher Yetirah, however none of these works are actually from BCE. Sepher Yetirah likely comes from the 1st century, and Heichalot literature from the 7th century.
The earliest mystical writings in Judaism of course though belong to specific passages of Tanach. (the saphire brick work mentioned in the passages of the 10 commandments, the Seraphim and angles of Bereshit and the Prophets etc.)
Some quick links I found from wikipeida..
Link to the text of Sepher Yetrirah in English here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/yetzirah.htm http://www.psyche.com/psyche/txt/kaplan_sy_short.html While a link to Aryeh Kaplan's translation plus commentary and context is here: http://www.amazon.com/Sefer-Yetzirah-Creation-Aryeh-Kaplan/dp/0877288550
The Dead Sea Scrolls prove that the Jewish mystical tradition of divine union went back to the first, perhaps even the third century B.C.E. Jewish mysticism has its origins in Greek mysticism, a system of belief which included reincarnation. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, some of the hymns found are similar to the Hekhaloth hymns of the Jewish mystics. One text of hymns gives us clear evidence of Jewish mysticism. The text is called "Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice." Fragments of 1 Enoch, which is considered the oldest text of Jewish mysticism, were also found with the Scrolls. Since evidence shows Jewish mysticism existed in the third century B.C.E., as Enoch indicates, then it would certainly have existed in first-century Israel.
Quote from: Jewish Afterlife Beliefs