Moses Maimonides: The Man and His Works

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9780195173215: Moses Maimonides: The Man and His Works
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Moses Maimonides (1137/38-1204), scholar, physician, and philosopher, was the most influential Jewish thinker of the Middle Ages. In this magisterial biography, Herbert Davidson provides an exhaustive guide to Maimonides' life and works. After considering Maimonides' upbringing and education, Davidson expounds all of his many writings in exhaustive detail, with separate chapters on rabbinic, philosophical, and medical texts. Moses Maimonides has been recognized as the standard work on a towering figure of Western intellectual history.

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About the Author:


Professor of Hebrew, emeritus, at UCLA. He is the author of several books, including Proofs for Eternity, Creation, and the Existence of God in Medieval Islamic and Jewish Philosophy (OUP, 1987) and Alfarabi, Avicenna, and Averroes, on Intellect (OUP, 1992) .

Review:


"The first serious comprehensive study of Maimonides' life and works in English. For anyone who is interested in Maimonides, especially those in areas outside the field of Jewish studies who need to work with texts of this great scholar and on his links with Christian and Islamic thought in the Middle Ages, this erudite, careful, and balanced work will be the standard work for many years to come." --Journal of Religion


"We have an honest, if more complex, picture of Maimonides, arguably the most intriguing and influential single medieval Jew, and for that all raders for some time should be grateful. This is a lucid, comprehensive, and expertly informed book that integrates the philosophical, political, medical, and above all rabbinic forces at work in writings of Moses Maimonides." --Speculum


"[T]he first serious comprehensive study of Maimonides life and works in English. Davidson is a patient and determined guide. He begins by telling us that we have more information about Maimonides life than about that of any other medieval Jew. He then proceeds to demolish much of what we thought we knew. [T]his erudite, careful, and balanced work will be the standard work for many years to come." --Journal of Religion


"Davidson discloses a formidable knowledge of Talmud and rabbinic literature, as well as of the history, science, astronomy, medicine, and philosophy of Maimonides' day. Davidson offers elegant descriptions and often challenging evaluations of Maimonides' life, education, and work: the rabbinic oeuvre, philosophical and medical treatises, and miscellaneous epistles." --Journal of the History of Philosophy


"...artfully unravels Rambam's juridical, literary, and philosophical acumen and genius in the context of his life, education, and personality."--CHOICE


"This book, addressed to both beginners and scholars, offers a penetrating overview of the entire uvre of Moses Maimonides--rabbinic, philosophical, and medical. Davidson's impressive accomplishment is to have situated Maimonides in the context of his life and of the two cultures that were his--the rabbinic tradition and that of medieval Arabic philosophy. Challenging widely held interpretations of Maimonides as an esoteric writer, Davidson resolutely depicts him as a thinker who believed what he wrote. Maimonides emerges as a thinker who consistently upheld the intrinsic unity of philosophic and scientific investigation and the revealed truth as transmitted by Scripture. Not everyone will embrace this view of Maimonides, but no one will be able to ignore the forceful arguments of this model of prudent, balanced, and informed scholarship."--Gad Freudenthal, Senior Research Fellow, CNRS (Centre National de la recherche Scientifique), Paris


"Moses Maimonides was, by general agreement, one of the greatest Jewish scholars of all time, making fundamental contributions to Jewish life, Jewish law, philosophy, and medicine. A responsible study of Maimonides' life and work and his influence on later generations requires not only solid knowledge of the sources, but also thorough knowledge of Hebrew and Arabic, the Islamic and Jewish society in which he lived, Jewish law, and the history of philosophy and science. Herbert Davidson possesses all of these in exemplary fashion. His Moses Maimonides: The Man and His Works will undoubtedly become the standard work on Maimonides and will remain required reading--for scholars and laymen alike--for a long time to come."--Arthur Hyman, Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy and Dean of the Bernard Revel Graduate School, Yeshiva University


"We have an honest, if more complex, picture of Maimonides, arguably the most intriguing and influential single medieval Jew, and for that all raders for some time should be grateful. This is a lucid, comprehensive, and expertly informed book that integrates the philosophical, political, medical, and above all rabbinic forces at work in writings of Moses Maimonides." --Speculum


"The first serious comprehensive study of Maimonides' life and works in English. For anyone who is interested in Maimonides, especially those in areas outside the field of Jewish studies who need to work with texts of this great scholar and on his links with Christian and Islamic thought in the Middle Ages, this erudite, careful, and balanced work will be the standard work for many years to come." --Journal of Religion


"[T]he first serious comprehensive study of Maimonides life and works in English. Davidson is a patient and determined guide. He begins by telling us that we have more information about Maimonides life than about that of any other medieval Jew. He then proceeds to demolish much of what we thought we knew. [T]his erudite, careful, and balanced work will be the standard work for many years to come." --Journal of Religion


"Davidson discloses a formidable knowledge of Talmud and rabbinic literature, as well as of the history, science, astronomy, medicine, and philosophy of Maimonides' day. Davidson offers elegant descriptions and often challenging evaluations of Maimonides' life, education, and work: the rabbinic oeuvre, philosophical and medical treatises, and miscellaneous epistles." --Journal of the History of Philosophy


"...artfully unravels Rambam's juridical, literary, and philosophical acumen and genius in the context of his life, education, and personality."--CHOICE


"This book, addressed to both beginners and scholars, offers a penetrating overview of the entire uvre of Moses Maimonides--rabbinic, philosophical, and medical. Davidson's impressive accomplishment is to have situated Maimonides in the context of his life and of the two cultures that were his--the rabbinic tradition and that of medieval Arabic philosophy. Challenging widely held interpretations of Maimonides as an esoteric writer, Davidson resolutely depicts him as a thinker who believed what he wrote. Maimonides emerges as a thinker who consistently upheld the intrinsic unity of philosophic and scientific investigation and the revealed truth as transmitted by Scripture. Not everyone will embrace this view of Maimonides, but no one will be able to ignore the forceful arguments of this model of prudent, balanced, and informed scholarship."--Gad Freudenthal, Senior Research Fellow, CNRS (Centre National de la recherche Scientifique), Paris


"There is nothing quite like this volume: a full-scale, exhaustive summary and reappraisal of Maimonides' life and work. At all points Davidson is properly skeptical, taking nothing for granted, and as a result many long-standing views are overturned. Scholars have tended to present Maimonides and his work in a piecemeal way, focusing on legal or philosophical or scientific aspects. Davidson, however, emphasizes the holism of Maimonides' thought, in which medicine is a divine directive and philosophy is mandated by the law. He is thus able to draw connections often overlooked. All in all, this volume is a significant achievement by a pre-eminent scholar."--Daniel H. Frank, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Judaic Studies Program, University of Kentucky


"Moses Maimonides was, by general agreement, one of the greatest Jewish scholars of all time, making fundamental contributions to Jewish life, Jewish law, philosophy, and medicine. A responsible study of Maimonides' life and work and his influence on later generations requires not only solid knowledge of the sources, but also thorough knowledge of Hebrew and Arabic, the Islamic and Jewish society in which he lived, Jewish law, and the history of philosophy and science. Herbert Davidson possesses all of these in exemplary fashion. His Moses Maimonides: The Man and His Works will undoubtedly become the standard work on Maimonides and will remain required reading--for scholars and laymen alike--for a long time to come."--Arthur Hyman, Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy and Dean of the Bernard Revel Graduate School, Yeshiva University


"Davidson's biography excels. The exhaustive scope of the book is clear...All told, the work is perhaps the single most helpful reference volume I have come across in becoming acquainted with Maimonides."--Ancient Traditions, New Conversations


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