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Moses Maimonides' life reads like an adventure story. Personal tragedies, gained and lost fortunes, shipwrecks, all were part of his tumultuous tale, as well as sudden and bewildering fame as court physician to the Sultan Saladin and all his wives and concubines.
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Sage in the care of the body as well as the soul, Maimonides shines as one of the brightest intellects in an age of oppression and ignorance. Readers who allow Arbel to transport them back to that harsh era will marvel at how one man--relentlessly harassed because of his Jewish faith, repeatedly forced to move to alien new lands, stranded in isolation and poverty--doggedly pursued his sacred and secular studies until he completed an intellectual synthesis that affected the entire Mediterranean world--Jewish, Arab, and Christian. Without burdening readers with the technicalities, Arbel illuminates Maimonides' accomplishments in condensing the entire body of Jewish law into one accessible volume, the Mishnah Torah, and in reconciling religious tradition with contemporary scientific and philosophic thought in his Guide for the Perplexed. Though centuries distant, the controversy surrounding Maimonides' works still highlights the courage of a true innovator. The same intellectual daring shines through the astonishingly modern work Maimonides did in physiology late in life. An ideal introduction to a complex figure. Bryce Christensen
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