Search results for: the-cultures-of-maimonideanism

The Cultures of Maimonideanism

Author : James T. Robinson
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Drawing on the tools of social, cultural and intellectual history, and using Maimonideanism as the interpretative lens, this volume offers a fresh approach to the history of Jewish thought.

The Scandal of Kabbalah

Author : Yaacob Dweck
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How the Jewish culture war over Kabbalah began The Scandal of Kabbalah is the first book about the origins of a culture war that began in early modern Europe and continues to this day: the debate between kabbalists and their critics on the nature of Judaism and the meaning of religious tradition. From its medieval beginnings as an esoteric form of Jewish mysticism, Kabbalah spread throughout the early modern world and became a central feature of Jewish life. Scholars have long studied the revolutionary impact of Kabbalah, but, as Yaacob Dweck argues, they have misunderstood the character and timing of opposition to it. Drawing on a range of previously unexamined sources, this book tells the story of the first criticism of Kabbalah, Ari Nohem, written by Leon Modena in Venice in 1639. In this scathing indictment of Venetian Jews who had embraced Kabbalah as an authentic form of ancient esotericism, Modena proved the recent origins of Kabbalah and sought to convince his readers to return to the spiritualized rationalism of Maimonides. The Scandal of Kabbalah examines the hallmarks of Jewish modernity displayed by Modena's attack—a critical analysis of sacred texts, skepticism about religious truths, and self-consciousness about the past—and shows how these qualities and the later history of his polemic challenge conventional understandings of the relationship between Kabbalah and modernity. Dweck argues that Kabbalah was the subject of critical inquiry in the very period it came to dominate Jewish life rather than centuries later as most scholars have thought.

Gersonides Afterlife

Author : Ofer Elior
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Gersonides’ Afterlife is the first full-scale treatment of the reception of one of the greatest scientific minds of medieval Judaism: the philosopher-scientist Levi ben Gershom (1288–1344). The papers collected here describe his multifarious impact from the fourteenth century to present-day religious Zionism.

Between Jerusalem and Europe

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Between Jerusalem and Europe: Essays in Honour of Bianca Kühnel analyses how Jerusalem is translated into the visual and material culture of Europe, and in what ways European encounters with the city have shaped its holy sites.

Menschen Bilder

Author : Markus Hilgert
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International renommierte Autoren zeichnen in Band 54 der Heidelberger Jahrbücher „Menschen-Bilder“ und stellen damit das „Humane in der Wissenschaft“ dar. Dabei legen sie innovative Fragestellungen zugrunde und betrachten diese Menschen-Bilder je nach wissenschaftlicher Disziplin aus ganz unterschiedlichen Blickwinkeln.

Rewriting Maimonides

Author : Igor H. De Souza
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Maimonideanism, the intellectual culture inspired by Maimonides’ writings, has received much recent attention. Yet a central aspect of Maimonideanism has been overlooked: the formal reception of the Guide of the Perplexed through commentary. In Rewriting Maimonides, Igor H. De Souza offers a comprehensive analysis of six early philosophical commentaries, written in Italy, Spain, and France, by some of Maimonides’ most loyal followers. The early commentaries represent the most creative period of exegesis of the Guide. De Souza’s analysis dispels the notion that the tradition of commentary on the Guide is monolithic. Rather, De Souza’s study illuminates how each commentator offers distinctive readings. Challenging the hierarchy of text and commentary, Rewriting Maimonides studies commentaries on the Guide as texts in their own right. De Souza approaches the form of commentary as a multifaceted cultural practice. Employing historical, philosophical, and literary methods, this publication fills a lacuna in the history of the Guide through a global perspective on commentary.

Texts in Transit in the Medieval Mediterranean

Author : Y. Tzvi Langermann
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This collection of essays studies the movement of texts in the Mediterranean basin in the medieval period from historical and philological perspectives. Rejecting the presumption that texts simply travel without changing, the contributors examine closely the nature of these writings, which are concerned with such topics as science and medicine, and how they changed over the course of their journeys. Transit and transformation give texts new subtexts and contexts, providing windows through which to study how memory, encryption, oral communication, cultural and religious values, and knowledge traveled and were shared, transformed, and preserved. This volume broadens how we think about texts, communication, and knowledge in the medieval world. Aside from the editors, the contributors are Mushegh Asatryan, Brian N. Becker, Leonardo Capezzone, Leigh Chipman, Ofer Elior, Zohar Hadromi-Allouche, B. Harun Küçük, Israel M. Sandman, and Tamás Visi.

Traditions of Maimonideanism

Author : Carlos Fraenkel
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The goal of the present volume is to shed light on a number of traditions of Maimonideanism that have hitherto little been explored. Maimonides (1138 1204) was the most important medieval Jewish philosopher and also made lasting contributions to many other fields. The essays in the first part examine aspects of his work in medicine, Jewish law, and liturgy. The essays in the second part look at how Maimonides was read, misread, and creatively reinvented in a wide range of contexts in the East and in the West from medieval Cairo to Crown Heights in Brooklyn. Written by a group of leading scholars, the essays illustrate the breadth of Maimonides' work and the fascinating history of its reception from the 13th century to the present.

The Secret Faith of Maestre Honoratus

Author : Maud Kozodoy
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Until the summer of 1391, when anti-Jewish riots spread across the Iberian peninsula, the person subsequently known as Honoratus de Bonafide, a Christian physician and astrologer at the court of King Joan I of Aragon, had been the Jew Profayt Duran of Perpignan. The precise details of Duran's conversion are lost to us. We do know, however, that like many other conversos, he began to conduct his professional and public life as a Christian even as he rejected that new identity in private. What is extraordinary in his case is that instead of quietly making his individual way, he began to write works in Hebrew—including anti-Christian polemics—that revealed his intense inner commitment to remaining a Jew. Forced to reconceptualize Judaism under the pressures of his life as a converso, Duran elevated the principle of inner "intention" above that of ritual observance as the test of Jewish identity, ultimately claiming that the end purposes of Judaism can be attained through the study, memorization, and contemplation of the Hebrew Bible. Duran also conceived of Judaism as a profoundly rational religion, with a proud heritage of scientific learning; the interplay between scientific knowledge and Jewish identity took on a central role in his works. Drawing on archival sources as well as published and unpublished manuscripts, Maud Kozodoy marshals rarely examined facts about the consumption and transmission of the sciences between the medieval and early modern periods to illuminate the thought—and the faith—of one of Jewish history's most enigmatic and fascinating figures.

Maimonides and the Shaping of the Jewish Canon

Author : James A. Diamond
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Jewish thought since the Middle Ages can be regarded as a sustained dialogue with Moses Maimonides, regardless of the different social, cultural, and intellectual environments in which it was conducted. Much of Jewish intellectual history can be viewed as a series of engagements with him, fueled by the kind of 'Jewish' rabbinic and esoteric writing Maimonides practiced. This book examines a wide range of theologians, philosophers, and exegetes who share a passionate engagement with Maimonides, assaulting, adopting, subverting, or adapting his philosophical and jurisprudential thought. This ongoing enterprise is critical to any appreciation of the broader scope of Jewish law, philosophy, biblical interpretation, and Kabbalah. Maimonides's legal, philosophical, and exegetical corpus became canonical in the sense that many subsequent Jewish thinkers were compelled to struggle with it in order to advance their own thought. As such, Maimonides joins fundamental Jewish canon alongside the Bible, the Talmud, and the Zohar.

The Cambridge History of Judaism Volume 6 The Middle Ages The Christian World

Author : Robert Chazan
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Volume 6 examines the history of Judaism during the second half of the Middle Ages. Through the first half of the Middle Ages, the Jewish communities of western Christendom lagged well behind those of eastern Christendom and the even more impressive Jewries of the Islamic world. As Western Christendom began its remarkable surge forward in the eleventh century, this progress had an impact on the Jewish minority as well. The older Jewries of southern Europe grew and became more productive in every sense. Even more strikingly, a new set of Jewries were created across northern Europe, when this undeveloped area was strengthened demographically, economically, militarily, and culturally. From the smallest and weakest of the world's Jewish centers in the year 1000, the Jewish communities of western Christendom emerged - despite considerable obstacles - as the world's dominant Jewish center by the end of the Middle Ages. This demographic, economic, cultural, and spiritual dominance was maintained down into modernity.

Power and Progress

Author : Alexander Green
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Study of a fascinating medieval Jewish philosopher, focusing on his twin conceptions of history. The philosopher and biblical commentator Joseph Ibn Kaspi (1280–1345) was a provocative Jewish thinker of the medieval era whose works have generally been overlooked by modern scholars. Power and Progress by Alexander Green is the first book in English to focus on a central aspect of his work: Ibn Kaspi’s philosophy of history. Green argues that Ibn Kaspi understood history as guided by two distinct but interdependent forces: power and progress, both of which he saw manifest in the biblical narrative. Ibn Kaspi discerned that the use of power to shape history is predominantly seen in the political competition between kingdoms. Yet he also believed that there is historical progress in the continuous development and dissemination of knowledge over time. This he derived from the biblical vision of the divine chariot and its varied descriptions across different biblical texts, each revealing more details of a complex, multifaceted picture. Although these two concepts of what drives history are separate, they are also reliant upon one another. National survival is dependent on the progress of knowledge of the order of nature, and the progress of knowledge is reliant on national success. In this way, Green reveals Ibn Kaspi to be more than a mere commentator on texts, but a highly innovative thinker whose insights into the subtleties of the Bible produced a view of history that is both groundbreaking and original. Alexander Green is Assistant Professor of Jewish Thought at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York and the author of The Virtue Ethics of Levi Gersonides.

Kabbalah Research in the Wissenschaft des Judentums 1820 1880

Author : George Y. Kohler
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In recent years more and more scholars have become aware of the fact that the 19th century movement of the Wissenschaft des Judentums engaged in essential research of kabbalistic texts and thinkers. The legend of Wissenschaft’s neglect for the mystic traditions of Judaism is no longer sustainable. However, the true extent of this enterprise of German Jewish scholars is not yet known. This book will give an overview of what the leading figures have actually achieved: Landauer, Jellinek, Jost, Graetz, Steinschneider and others. It is true that their theological evaluation of the "worth" of kabbalah for what they believed was the ‘essence of Judaism’ yielded overall negative results, but this rejection was rationally founded and rather suggests a true concern for Judaism that transcended their own emancipation and assimilation as German Jews.

Maimonides Guide of the Perplexed

Author : Alfred L. Ivry
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A classic of medieval Jewish philosophy, Maimonides’s Guide of the Perplexed is as influential as it is difficult and demanding. Not only does the work contain contrary—even contradictory—statements, but Maimonides deliberately wrote in a guarded and dissembling manner in order to convey different meanings to different readers, with the knowledge that many would resist his bold reformulations of God and his relation to mankind. As a result, for all the acclaim the Guide has received, comprehension of it has been unattainable to all but a few in every generation. Drawing on a lifetime of study, Alfred L. Ivry has written the definitive guide to the Guide—one that makes it comprehensible and exciting to even those relatively unacquainted with Maimonides’ thought, while also offering an original and provocative interpretation that will command the interest of scholars. Ivry offers a chapter-by-chapter exposition of the widely accepted Shlomo Pines translation of the text along with a clear paraphrase that clarifies the key terms and concepts. Corresponding analyses take readers more deeply into the text, exploring the philosophical issues it raises, many dealing with metaphysics in both its ontological and epistemic aspects.

And They Shall Be One Flesh On The Language of Mystical Union in Judaism

Author : Adam Afterman
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In “And They Shall Be One Flesh”: On the Language of Mystical Union in Judaism Adam Afterman offers an extensive study of mystical union and mystical embodiment through the divine name and spirit in Judaism.

Rashi s Commentary on the Torah

Author : Eric Lawee
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Winner of the Jewish Book Council Nahum M. Sarna Memorial Award in Scholarship This book explores the reception history of the most important Jewish Bible commentary ever composed, the Commentary on the Torah of Rashi (Shlomo Yitzhaki; 1040-1105). Though the Commentary has benefited from enormous scholarly attention, analysis of diverse reactions to it has been surprisingly scant. Viewing its path to preeminence through a diverse array of religious, intellectual, literary, and sociocultural lenses, Eric Lawee focuses on processes of the Commentary's canonization and on a hitherto unexamined--and wholly unexpected--feature of its reception: critical, and at times astonishingly harsh, resistance to it. Lawee shows how and why, despite such resistance, Rashi's interpretation of the Torah became an exegetical classic, a staple in the curriculum, a source of shared religious vocabulary for Jews across time and place, and a foundational text that shaped the Jewish nation's collective identity. The book takes as its larger integrating perspective processes of canonicity as they shape how traditions flourish, disintegrate, or evolve. Rashi's scriptural magnum opus, the foremost work of Franco-German (Ashkenazic) biblical scholarship, faced stiff competition for canonical supremacy in the form of rationalist reconfigurations of Judaism as they developed in Mediterranean seats of learning. It nevertheless emerged triumphant in an intense battle for Judaism's future that unfolded in late medieval and early modern times. Investigation of the reception of the Commentary throws light on issues in Jewish scholarship and spirituality that continue to stir reflection, and even passionate debate, in the Jewish world today.

The Late Medieval Hebrew Book in the Western Mediterranean

Author : Javier del Barco
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This collection of essays focuses on the medieval Hebrew book as object in order to explore the production, circulation, transmission, and consumption of Hebrew texts in the western Mediterranean (mainly Iberia, Provence, and Italy) between the thirteenth and the sixteenth centuries.

Kabbalistic Revolution

Author : Hartley Lachter
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The set of Jewish mystical teachings known as Kabbalah are often imagined as timeless texts, teachings that have been passed down through the millennia. Yet, as this groundbreaking new study shows, Kabbalah flourished in a specific time and place, emerging in response to the social prejudices that Jews faced. Hartley Lachter, a scholar of religion studies, transports us to medieval Spain, a place where anti-Semitic propaganda was on the rise and Jewish political power was on the wane. Kabbalistic Revolution proposes that, given this context, Kabbalah must be understood as a radically empowering political discourse. While the era’s Christian preachers claimed that Jews were blind to the true meaning of scripture and had been abandoned by God, the Kabbalists countered with a doctrine that granted Jews a uniquely privileged relationship with God. Lachter demonstrates how Kabbalah envisioned this increasingly marginalized group at the center of the universe, their mystical practices serving to maintain the harmony of the divine world. For students of Jewish mysticism, Kabbalistic Revolution provides a new approach to the development of medieval Kabbalah. Yet the book’s central questions should appeal to anyone with an interest in the relationships between religious discourses, political struggles, and ethnic pride.

Heidegger and His Jewish Reception

Author : Daniel M. Herskowitz
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Examines the rich and persistent Jewish engagement with one of the most important and controversial modern philosophers, Martin Heidegger.

The Bible and Jews in Medieval Spain

Author : Norman Roth
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The Bible and Jews in Medieval Spain examines the grammatical, exegetical, philosophical and mystical interpretations of the Bible that took place in Spain during the medieval period. The Bible was the foundation of Jewish culture in medieval Spain. Following the scientific analysis of Hebrew grammar which emerged in al-Andalus in the ninth and tenth centuries, biblical exegesis broke free of homiletic interpretation and explored the text on grammatical and contextual terms. While some of the earliest commentary was in Arabic, scholars began using Hebrew more regularly during this period. The first complete biblical commentaries in Hebrew were written by Abraham Ibn ‘Ezra, and this set the standard for the generations that followed. This book analyses the approach and unique contributions of these commentaries, moving on to those of later Christian Spain, including the Qimhi family, Nahmanides and his followers and the esoteric-mystical tradition. Major topics in the commentaries are compared and contrasted. Thus, a unified picture of the whole fabric of Hebrew commentary in medieval Spain emerges. In addition, the book describes the many Spanish Jewish biblical manuscripts that have remained and details the history of printed editions and Spanish translations (for Jews and Christians) by medieval Spanish Jews. This book will appeal to scholars and students of medieval Spain, as well as those interested in the history of religion and cultural history.