Maimonides and the Shaping of the Jewish Canon

Maimonides and the Shaping of the Jewish Canon

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James A. Diamond
Cambridge University Press, 10/27/2014
EAN 9781107063341, ISBN10: 1107063345

Hardcover, 328 pages, 22.8 x 15.2 x 2.2 cm
Language: English

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.

Moses Maimonides
anchoring Jewish intellectual history
1. Setting the stage for the future of Jewish thought
2. Maimonides on Maimonides
loving God rabbinically and philosophically
3. Nahmanides on Jewish identity (thirteenth century)
launching the Kabbalistic assault
4. R. Yom Tov ben Abraham Ishbili (thirteenth-fourteenth centuries)
pushing back the assault
5. Isaac Abarbanel (fifteenth century)
the Akedah of faith versus the Akedah of reason
6. Meir Ibn Gabbai (sixteenth century)
the aimlessness of philosophy
7. Spinoza (seventeenth century) and a Buberian afterword (twentieth century)
reorienting Maimonides's scriptural hermeneutic
8. Hermann Cohen (nineteenth century)
a new religion of reason out of the sources of Maimonides
9. R. Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin (ninteenth century)
loving God strictly rabbinically
10. R. Abraham Isaac Kook (twentieth century)
a Kabbalistic reinvention of Maimonides's legal code
the Maimonidean filigree of Jewish thought
Kafka, Scholem, and beyond.