Principles of Faith
Isaac Abravanel and translated by Menachem Kellner
Moses Maimonides was the first medieval Jewish thinker to posit a set of dogmas for Judaism, his ‘Thirteen Principles of Faith’. His statement initiated an extensive discussion among other medieval Jewish thinkers on the subject of dogma, which had an important impact on subsequent Jewish thought. The reaction to Maimonides’ innovation was complex: some scholars accepted his position without reservation; others accepted the idea that Jewish beliefs could be reduced to a creed but disagreed with Maimonides’ formulation; still others rejected the project of creed formulation in Judaism altogether. The locus classicus of this last position is the Rosh Amanah of Isaac Abranavel (1437–1508).
Abravanel’s ostensible aim in writing Rosh Amanah was to defend Maimonides’ creed from the attacks of its critics, notably Hasdai Crescas and Joseph Albo, and it contains the most exhaustive and systematic analysis of the Thirteen Principles ever written. After twenty-two chapters of sustained and zealous defence of Maimonides, however, Abravanel seems to contradict himself, arguing at the end of his book that in fact Judaism has no dogmas whatsoever and that all its beliefs are equally valid, fundamental, and precious.
This is the first complete English translation of Abravanel’s classic work, and includes a comprehensive introduction and notes.
Menachem Kellner is Wolfson Professor Emeritus of Jewish Thought at the University of Haifa and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Jewish Thought at Shalem College, Jerusalem. He is the author of 'Dogma in Medieval Jewish Thought', 'Maimonides' Confrontation with Mysticism' and 'Must a Jew Believe Anything?', all published by the Littman Library. He is 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' among other books. His translations of Gersonides’ 'Commentary on Song of Songs' and Maimonides’ 'Book of Love' appeared in the Yale Judaica 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.
List of tables
Note on the text and translation
Principles of Faith (Rosh Amanah)
Abravanel's Table of Contents: A List of the Chapters in This Treatise
Biblical Passages Appearing in the text
Rabbinic Passages Appearing in or Referred to in the text
Edition: New edition
Size: 216 x 140 x 15 mm
Publication: July 1, 2004
Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization