Dogma in Medieval Jewish Thought: From Maimonides to Abravanel

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Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2004 - History - 310 pages
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Dogmain Medieval Jewish Thought is an essay in thehistory of ideas which traces the development of creed formation in Judaismfrom its inception with Moses Maimonides (1138-1204) to the beginning of thesixteenth century when systematic attention to the problem disappeared from theagenda of Jewish intellectuals. The dogmatic systems of Maimonides, Duran,Crescas, Albo, Bibago, Abravanel, and a dozen lesser-known figures aredescribed, analysed, and compared. Relevant texts are presented in Englishtranslation. For the most part these are texts which have never been criticallyedited and translated before.

Among the theses defended in the book are thefollowing: that systematic attention to dogma qua dogma was a new feature in Jewish theology introduced byMaimonides (for reasons examined at length in the book); that the subjectlanguished for the two centuries after Maimonides' death until it was revivedin fifteenth-century Spain in response to Christian attacks on Judaism; thatthe differing systems of dogma offered by medieval Jewish thinkers reflect notdifferent conceptions of what Judaism is, but different conceptions of what aprinciple of Judaism is; and that the very project of creed formation reflectsan essentially Greek as opposed to a biblical/rabbinic view of the nature ofreligious faith and that this accounts for much of the resistance whichMaimonides' innovation aroused.

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About the author (2004)

Menachem Kellner is Professor of Jewish Thought at the University of Haifa. He is the author of Dogma in Medieval Jewish Thought and Maimonides' Confrontation with Mysticism and translator of Isaac Abravanel's Principles of Faith, all published by the Littman Library of Jewish Civilization. Heis also the author of Maimonides on Human Perfection, Maimonides on Judaism and the Jewish People, and Maimonides on the 'Decline of the Generations' and the Nature of Rabbinic Authority. His translations of Gersonides' Commentary on Song of Songs and Maimonides' Book of Love appeared in the YaleJudaica Series. Professor Kellner's critical editions of the original texts of Abravanel's Principles of Faith and of Gersonides' Commentary on Song of Songs were published in Hebrew.

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