Dogma in Medieval Jewish Thought

From Maimonides to Abravanel

Menachem Kellner

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ISBN: 9781904113218

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

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Dogma in Medieval Jewish Thought is an essay in the history of ideas which traces the development of creed formation in Judaism from its inception with Moses Maimonides (1138-1204) to the beginning of the sixteenth century when systematic attention to the problem disappeared from the agenda of Jewish intellectuals. The dogmatic systems of Maimonides, Duran, Crescas, Albo, Bibago, Abravanel, and a dozen lesser-known figures are described, analysed, and compared. Relevant texts are presented in English translation. For the most part these are texts which have never been critically edited and translated before. Among the theses defended in the book are the following: that systematic attention to dogma qua dogma was a new feature in Jewish theology introduced by Maimonides (for reasons examined at length in the book); that the subject languished for the two centuries after Maimonides' death until it was revived in fifteenth-century Spain in response to Christian attacks on Judaism; that the differing systems of dogma offered by medieval Jewish thinkers reflect not different conceptions of what Judaism is, but different conceptions of what a principle of Judaism is; and that the very project of creed formation reflects an essentially Greek as opposed to a biblical/rabbinic view of the nature of religious faith and that this accounts for much of the resistance which Maimonides' innovation aroused.

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.

Preface Abbreviations Introduction 1 Maimonides The Text of Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles • What is a ‘Foundation of the Torah’? • Maimonides’ Statement of the Principles in the Mishneh Torah • Divisions into which the Principles Fall • Why Maimonides Posited his Principles • The Thirteen Principles and the Guide of the Perplexed • Missing Principles • Maimonides’ Principles and Other Torah Beliefs • The Special Status of the Twelfth Principle (Messiah) • Summary 2 From Maimonides to Duran Introduction • Abba Mari • Falaquera • David ben Samuel Lolhavi d’Estella • David ben Yom Tov ibn Bilia • Shemariah ben Elijah ben Ya’akov ha-Ikriti of Negropont • Transition to the Fifteenth Century 3 Duran The Texts • Duran’s Principles • Was Duran Decisively Influenced by Averroës? • Duran’s Influence 4 Hasdai Crescas Introduction • The Texts • Crescas’s System of Principles • Crescas’s Use of the Concept ‘Principle of Faith’ • Does the Torah Command Belief? • Crescas on Inadvertent Heresy • Crescas, Rabbenu Nissim, and Duran 5 Joseph Albo Albo’s System of Principles • Ikkarim, Shorashim, and Anafim • Judaism as a Science • Heresy • Duran, Crescas, and Albo 6 Shalom, Arama, and Yavez Abraham Shalom • Isaac Arama • Joseph Yavez 7 Abraham Bibago Bibago’s System of Principles • Bibago’s Analysis of Maimonides’ Principles • Bibago, Maimonides, and Abravanel 8 Isaac Abravanel Abravanel’s Analysis of Maimonides • Does Abravanel Truly Reject the Claim that Judaism has Principles of Faith? 9 Four Minor Figures Muehlhausen • Delmedigo • David ben Judah Messer Leon • Mabit 10 Summary and Conclusions Statements of the Creed • Dogma, Heresy, and Schisms • Creation and Messiah Appendix: Texts and Translations of Maimonides’ Commentary on Perek Helek Notes Bibliography General Index Index of Biblical Citations

'An important contribution to the history of dogma in Judaism and to the history of fifteenth-century Jewish thought in particular.' Chava Tirosh-Rothschild, Critical Review 'A work of serious scholarship. It will no doubt become the standard work on the subject for many years to come.' Jewish Book News & Reviews 'A detailed analysis of Maimonides's position and its aftermath ... a scholarly analysis ... Kellner steers us deftly through the complex argument. His is the most thorough treatment so far of this still relevant chapter in the history of Jewish thought.' Jonathan Sacks, L'Eylah 'The first study of its kind.' P. T. Stella, Salesianum

Format: Paperback

Size: 216 x 140 x 18 mm

324 Pages

ISBN: 9781904113218

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

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