Method and Metaphysics in Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed (AAR Reflection and Theory in the Study of Religion)

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9780199768738: Method and Metaphysics in Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed (AAR Reflection and Theory in the Study of Religion)

Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed is one of the most discussed books in Jewish history. More than 800 years after the author's death it remains hotly debated, with readers seeking secret philosophical messages behind its explicit teachings, a quest fueled partly by Maimonides' own statement that certain parts of the Guide are based upon ideas that conflict with other parts. Through close readings of Maimonides' work, Daniel Davies addresses the major debates surrounding its secret doctrine. He argues that perceived contradictions in Maimonides' accounts of creation and divine attributes can be squared by paying attention to the various ways in which he presented his arguments.

Davies shows how a coherent theological view can emerge from the many layers of the Guide. However, Maimonides' clear declaration that certain matters must be hidden from the masses cannot be ignored, and the kind of inconsistency that is peculiar to the Guide requires another explanation. It is found in the purpose Maimonides assigns to the Guide: scriptural exegesis. Davies offers a detailed exposition of Maimonides' interpretation, the deepest "secret of the Torah" which, in Maimonides' works, shares its name with metaphysics. By connecting the secret with currents in the Islamic world, the chapters show how Maimonides devised a new method of presentation in order to imitate scripture's multi-layered manner of communication. He updated what he took to be the correct interpretation of scripture by writing it in a work appropriate for his own time and to do so he had to keep the Torah's most hidden secrets.

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About the Author:


Daniel Davies is a Research Associate at the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit at Cambridge University.

Review:


"The book serves as a fine contribution to the literature for scholars who work on the area as well as an introduction to important issues that should serve graduate students and faculty well. Maimonides studies have been an exciting area in recent decades and Davies's important work opens new doors for reconstructing the Guide for the Perplexed."--Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews


"In this fine study, Daniel Davies offers a sensitive reading of Maimonides on such topics as creation and the divine attributes, and an important new discussion of Maimonides on the Biblical 'Account of the Chariot.' Davies takes seriously Maimonides' warnings about the oblique writing method of the Guide, while also taking seriously its positive philosophical doctrine. The result is well worth reading for anyone with a serious interest in Maimonides."
--Peter Adamson, Professor of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, King's College London


"This is a serious, well-argued, well-documented study of what has become the single most important interpretive question regarding Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed: esotericism. Davies is not afraid to take on well-established positions or engage in centuries-old controversies. This is the best book on Maimonides by a young scholar in some time."
--Kenneth Seeskin, Philip M. and Ethel Klutznick Professor of Jewish Civilization and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, Northwestern University


"Daniel Davies reads the Guide for the Perplexed with a judicious and philosophically trained mind, arguing for the propriety of dialectical reasoning in this domain where very little can be known properly. Articulately endorsing the adequacy of dialectical reasoning, he attends to the uniqueness of the relation of creator to creatures by employing philosophical strategies to show how it is possible to speak of the creator as a being whose very essence is to-be, and do so without what many presume to be oxymoronic consequences."
--David Burrell, C.S.C., Hesburgh Professor of Philosophy and Theology, University of Notre Dame


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2011. Hardback. Book Condition: New. New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed is one of the most discussed books in Jewish history. Over 800 years after the author s death it remains disputed with readers seeking secret philosophical messages behind its explicit teaching, a quest fueled partly by Maimonides own statement that certain parts of the Guide are based upon ideas that conflict with other parts. Many who adhere to an esoteric reading of the Guide profess to find these contradictions in Maimonides metaphysical beliefs. Through close readings of the Guide, this book addresses the major debates surrounding its secret doctrine. It argues that perceived contradictions in Maimonides accounts of creation and divine attributes can be squared by paying attention to the various ways in which he presented his arguments. Furthermore, it shows how a coherent theological view can emerge from the many layers of the Guide. But Maimonides clear declaration that certain matters must be hidden from the masses cannot be ignored and the kind of inconsistency that is peculiar to the Guide requires another explanation. It is found in the purpose Maimonides assigns to the Guide: scriptural exegesis. Ezekiel s Account of the Chariot, treated in one of the most laconic sections of the Guide, is the subject of the final chapters. They offer a detailed exposition of Maimonides interpretation, the deepest secret of the Torah, which, in Maimonides works, shares its name with metaphysics. By connecting the vision with currents in the wider Islamic world, the chapters show how Maimonides devised a new method of presentation in order to imitate scripture s multi-layered manner of communication. He updated what he took to be the correct interpretation of scripture by writing it in a work appropriate for his own time and to do so he had to keep the Torah s most hidden secrets. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780199768738

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