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Maimonides in His World


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Table of Contents

Preface xi Acknowledgments xvii Abbreviations xix Chapter One: Maimonides and Mediterranean Culture 1 Mediterranean Cultures 3 Maimonides as a Mediterranean Thinker 6 Horizons 13 Transformations in the Jewish World 18 Maimonides and Saadia 22 Chapter Two: The Theological Context of Maimonides' Thought 24 Islamic Theology 24 Heresies, Jewish and Muslim 38 Chapter Three: An Almohad "Fundamentalist"? 53 Almohads 53 Maimonides and the Almohads 59 Legal Aspects 61 Theology 70 Exegesis and Political Philosophy 73 Philosophy and Astronomy 80 Conclusion 82 Chapter Four: La Longue Duree: Maimonides as a Phenomenologist of Religion 84 Sabians 84 Maimonides as an Historian of Religion 106 "A Wise and Understanding People?": The Religion of the People 111 Chapter Five: A Critical Mind: Maimonides as Scientist 125 Medicine and Science 125 "Ravings": Maimonides' Concept of Pseudo-Science 138 Chapter Six: "From Moses to Moses": Maimonides' Vision of Perfection 153 "True Felicity": The Hereafter in Maimonides' Thought 153 Issues of Life and Death: The Controversy Regarding Resurrection 165 "Gates for the Righteous Nation": The Philosopher as Leader 183 Conclusion 189 Bibliography 193 Index 219

About the Author

Sarah Stroumsa is the Alice and Jack Ormut Professor of Arabic Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she currently serves as rector. Her books include "Freethinkers of Medieval Islam".


"Stroumsa considerably broadens our understanding of Maimonides's Graeco-Arabic sources... Stroumsa does a fine job in bringing to life the Mediterranean setting in which Maimonides encountered this ideal, and tried to direct it towards the heart of Judaism. She challenges scholars of Jewish and Muslim thought to look beyond the artificial confines of their disciplines, and raises intriguing questions about the fluid intellectual boundaries of Jewish identity."--Carlos Fraenkel, Times Literary Supplement "Fascinating."--David Nirenberg, London Review of Books "The book is well written, presenting its dense material in an accessible way. Though there are many quotations in Arabic, nothing essential is left untranslated or unexplained. Stroumsa makes her points forcefully and persuasively, positioning Maimonides as a thinker of great importance to Muslims as well as to Jews."--Pinchas Roth, AJL Newsletter "Sarah Stroumsa's erudite and accessible Maimonidies in His World ... is an exceptional work of critical scholarship that remains readable and relevant beyond the ivory tower. Indeed, its true significance might be found among a more general readership... In the future conversations that are sure to ensue about Maimonides' place in contemporary Jewish life, Stroumsa's portrait will be a most welcome, indispensible guide."--Shai Secunda, Talmud Blog "Stroumsa is an intellectual historian whose mastery of her material is impressive on many levels... Maimonides in His World ... is a book that will be considered required reading for anyone who works on Maimonides' life and thought. Stroumsa's scholarship is much too good for anyone in the field to ignore."--Kenneth Seeskin, Shofar "The book delves into even more detail to discover many of Maimonides' innovations and the way in which they were enabled. Critical to Stroumsa's reading of Maimonides is her insistence that it is impossible to understand any of his texts without taking into account the scholarship of the Arabo-Islamic thinkers of his day."--David Shasha, Huffington Post "[T]he methodological underpinnings of Stroumsa's approach are rock-solid and eminently worthwhile. Stroumsa is never strident or lacking in critical self-reflection. For every bold position she stakes out, she raises the contra-indications and gives them their due. In trying to understand the personal biography, the intellectual, the theologian, the scientist, and the halakhic authority, Stroumsa has conceived the richest portrait yet of 'The Great Eagle.'"--Ronald C. Kiener, Journal of the American Oriental Society

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