Maimonides on the "Decline of the Generations" and the Nature of Rabbinic Authority

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SUNY Press, 1996 - Religion - 137 pages
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Moses Maimonides, medieval Judaism's leading legist and philosopher, and a figure of central importance for contemporary Jewish self-understanding, held a view of Judaism which maintained the authority of the Talmudic rabbis in matters of Jewish law while allowing for free and open inquiry in matters of science and philosophy. Maimonides affirmed, not the superiority of the "moderns" (the scholars of his and subsequent generations) over the "ancients" (the Tannaim and Amoraim, the Rabbis of the Mishnah and Talmud) but the inherent equality of the two. The equality presented here is not equality of halakhic authority, but equality of ability, of essential human characteristics.
In order to substantiate these claims, Kellner explores the related idea that Maimonides does not adopt the notion of "the decline of the generations," according to which each succeeding generation, or each succeeding epoch, is in some significant and religiously relevant sense inferior to preceding generations or epochs.
 

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Contents

The Decline of the Generations
7
Maimonides on Nature and Miracles
27
Maimonides on Decline
37
Maimonides Attitude towards the Authority
55
Maimonides on the Advance of the Generations
69
On the Nature of the Rabbis Authority
83
Concluding Quasi Scientific Postscript
91
Notes
97
References
123
Citations from Maimonides Works
133
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About the author (1996)

Menachem Kellner teaches medieval Jewish Philosophy in the Department of Jewish History and Thought and is Wolfson Professor of Jewish Thought and is Dean of Students at the University of Haifa.

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