Perspectives on Maimonides

BookPerspectives on Maimonides

Perspectives on Maimonides

Philosophical and Historical Studies

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


January 1st, 1991

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Leading scholars have combined forces to produce this volume on the philosophy and legal views of Moses Maimonides (1138–1204) and the historical context in which he worked. The philosophical section examines Maimonides’ ethical doctrine; his paradoxical life-style; his Guide of the Perplexed; his attitude to mysticism; his use of language; and his theory of astronomy. The legal section deals with law and medicine, the relation of Maimonides’ legal thought to the Talmud; his doctrine of a just war; and his theory of redemption and Messianism. The history section examines Maimonides’ accession to the position of head of the Jewish community in its historical context, at the time of the rise of the ‘Ayyubid dynasty under Saladin.

‘[The articles] remain very instructive both in terms of their contents and methodology. Indeed, they introduce many basic issues in Maimonides’ philosophy and law . . . an indispensable tool for the study of Maimonides, for it sets forth not only contents and analysis, but also methods of inquiry.’
- Binyamin Abrahamov, Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam

‘Fine introduction . . . A rich portrait of Maimonides’ thought emerges in these pages.’
- Fred Morgan, Jewish Book News & Reviews

‘The papers . . . represent a variety of viewpoints, and all merit careful study . . . a pleasure to read . . . the volume is a welcome addition to the growing number of books on the most important of medieval Jewish thinkers.’
- Alexander Broadie, Jewish Quarterly

‘For many years to come it is likely to remain a major reference volume for students of Maimonides.’
- Sarah Stroumsa, Jewish Quarterly Review

‘Kraemer’s book was first published in hardback in 1991, and has since then been much consulted, since it is surely one of the best surveys both of Maimonides and of his historical context . . . an important contribution.’
- Oliver Leaman, Le'ela

‘These studies, however disparate, provide us with convincing evidence of the continuing importance of Maimonides’s philosophy. They make clear that no set of studies ever exhausts all that a major thinker of this eminence offers serious students of his work.’
- Marvin Fox, Times Literary Supplement

‘It is very apposite to have it now in paperback: less expensive, it will allow students to possess a volume that will acquaint them with high standards of scholarship, showing at the same time that although so much has been said and written about Maimonides, it is still possible to come up with new and interesting insights into his life and works, which continue to be interpreted very differently by different scholars.’
- Gad Freudenthal, Journal of Religious History

Author Information

Joel L. Kraemer is a former Professor of Jewish Studies and of Social Thought, University of Chicago.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Half Title2
Title Page4
Part I: Philosophy: Ethics, Politics, Metaphysics22
1: The Ethical Views of Maimonides within the context of Islamicate Civilization24
2: Maimonides' Governance of the Solitary44
3: Maimonides in the Sultan's Palace58
4: Maimonides on the Philosophic Sciences in his Treatise on the Art of Logic88
5: Why Maimonides was not a Mutakallim116
6: Neoplatonic Currents in Maimonides' Thought126
7: Maimonides' QIest beyond Philosophy and Prophecy152
8: The 'True Perplexity': The Guide of the Perplexed170
9: Maimonides on Religious Language186
Part II: Jewish Law204
10: Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed on Forbidden Food in the light of his own Medical Opinion206
11: Holy War in Maimonidean Law220
12: 'To the Utmost of Human Capacity': Maimonides on the Days of the Messiah232
13: Maimonides and Eretz Yisrael: Halakhic, Philosophic, and Historical Perspectives268
Part III: History302
14: 'At Our Place in al-Andalus', 'At Our Place in the Maghreb'304
15: The Early Decades of Ayyubid Rule306
16: Saladin's Egypt and Maimonides314
17: Saladin's Religious Personality, Policy, and Image320