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Maimonides: Life and Thought
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Maimonides: Life and Thought [Format Kindle]

Moshe Halbertal

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Présentation de l'éditeur

Maimonides was the greatest Jewish philosopher and legal scholar of the medieval period, a towering figure who has had a profound and lasting influence on Jewish law, philosophy, and religious consciousness. This book provides a comprehensive and accessible introduction to his life and work, revealing how his philosophical sensibility and outlook informed his interpretation of Jewish tradition.

Moshe Halbertal vividly describes Maimonides's childhood in Muslim Spain, his family's flight to North Africa to escape persecution, and their eventual resettling in Egypt. He draws on Maimonides's letters and the testimonies of his contemporaries, both Muslims and Jews, to offer new insights into his personality and the circumstances that shaped his thinking. Halbertal then turns to Maimonides's legal and philosophical work, analyzing his three great books--Commentary on the Mishnah, the Mishneh Torah, and the Guide of the Perplexed. He discusses Maimonides's battle against all attempts to personify God, his conviction that God's presence in the world is mediated through the natural order rather than through miracles, and his locating of philosophy and science at the summit of the religious life of Torah. Halbertal examines Maimonides's philosophical positions on fundamental questions such as the nature and limits of religious language, creation and nature, prophecy, providence, the problem of evil, and the meaning of the commandments.

A stunning achievement, Maimonides offers an unparalleled look at the life and thought of this important Jewish philosopher, scholar, and theologian.

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.8 étoiles sur 5  16 commentaires
32 internautes sur 37 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Maimonides: Life and Thought, by Moshe Halbertal--the Best! 8 décembre 2013
Par Debra Hindlemann Webster - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I suppose it begins with the book jacket, which is elegant, no-nonsense, and straightforward. The content of the book only gets better from there. Mr. Maimon (as I refer to him), happens to be one of my heroes. This volume, which is thorough, laced with appositives and careful elucidating explanations, clearly defines why I feel the way I do.

The author is succinct, logical, exceedingly well organized--no doubt Maimonidean himself--and the book, in my opinion, is exquisitely sensitive to Maimon the man, as well as to the philosopher/logician/astronomer/physician. The book covers his entire life in the initial biographical chapter that is about one quarter of the book. The rest of the book is devoted to Maimonides' most significant works--his "Commentary on the Mishneh," "The Commandments," "The Mishneh Torah" and "The Guide for the Perplexed." Halbertal refers to additional compositions; however, the focus of the book is primarily reflective of these--the best, most influential, and most powerful of Maimonides' writings.

Maimonides, himself, in addition to his incredible mind, was funny, sarcastic, brash, impatient, rude; in short, he was straightforward to a fault, and had no positive sentiment for the "stupid" or the "foolish," as he referred to them. It is important to note that he was as caring and feeling about those whom he loved, as he was passionate about those whose ire he raised. The author covers all aspects of this extraordinarily gifted gentleman; not infrequently exasperating in his insistence that his way was the right and only way: At one moment, Halbertal actually refers to Maimon's behavior as that of a "harebrained amateur!" (This, to add depth of thought, and chuckles, too, regarding the most profound of all medieval thinkers).

I think one has to be a little bit peculiar to relish such a book as this--printed by Princeton, that seems to do a wonderful job of choosing its authors--because Maimonides in today's world, by many would be deemed as somewhat esoteric; even among Jews, themselves. Mr. Maimon took no prisoners when he wrote, slammed head-on into the established Jewish scholars of his day; and those with whom he took issue, all the way back to the time of the "other" Moses. Had he been burned at the stake or excommunicated, it would have been fitting, albeit so hideously wrong. However for me, being an eccentric, I fairly swoon over his principles: Provincially Jewish to the core; but grounded, developed, and enhanced by the classical thinkers of Greece, Rome, and the golden age of Islam.

I say this book "rocks."

It is at once an introduction to the magnificence of Maimonides, and it is a summation, too; depending upon the reader. For the novice such as myself, who craves information about Mr. Maimon, Halbertal's volume is superb. I would imagine that for the knowledgeable reader, "Maimonides: Life and Thought" would be a sublime refresher, synthesizer, and assistant with insightful information.

It's tough going on the one hand; I find myself wanting the primary sources. On the other, it's deliciously rich, beautifully written, not without witty similes and metaphors. It's terrific! What can I say? As for the translator (the book was originally published in 2009, in Hebrew), the 2014 (yes) English edition's eloquence is clean, fluid, and filled with fun vocabulary to delight: Three cheers for Joel Linsider!

So for me, I think "Maimonides: Life and Thought," by Moshe Halbertal, is a million times better than any Harry Potter tome; and between us, many times more spellbinding... Enjoy.
12 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Maimonides Reconsidered 23 janvier 2014
Par George I. Greene - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Professor Halbertal has offered an intriguing book on Maimonides. The book itself can be divided into three parts: his biography, his legal work and The Guide. As to the biographical part, it gives a clear overview of Maimonides' life. At times, it becomes reductive, but one can figure that out as one reads it.

His part on the law is the best part of the book. Professor Halbertal teaches law and it shows through clearly as he explains the originality of Maimonides' thought in this area as Maimonides seeks to reorganize concisely for philosophic purpose.

The weakest part of The book is his section on The Guide. The Guide is a maze. Maimonides made it so intentionally. One should attempt to read it as Maimonides requires. Instead, professor Halbertal provides his own grid consisting of four types of analysis. They are: a skeptical reading, a mystical reading, a conservative reading and a philosophic reading. These types of reading only go so far since they are not Maimonides' way of reading. They also tend to simplify a richness found in the text itself which is undeserved but understandable.

Perhaps, my biggest complaint about this section on The Guide concerns Philosophy. Though I do not believe that Professor Halbertal meant it, the text comes off as though Maimonides provided a doctrine. To me, it seems that Maimonides was teaching a way to think scientifically and not to accept things on authority including himself. It is clear enough that Maimonides is a radical thinker going to the roots. It also appears to me that he seeks those who may surpass him in careful thinking.

This review should not be read disrespectfully. It is clear that Professor Halbertal has great love and respect for Maimonides. He shows great learning and I have learned much from this book. For those interested, I would urge finding additional readings concerning The Guide's literary character as a means to enter the text. Here one may begin to see how Maimonides writes to unpuzzle it. There is nothing like reading The Guide except perhaps Torah as Maimonides suggests.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Religious Path Through Science 12 mai 2014
Par Dr. Debra Jan Bibel - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
In Cordoba, Spain, is a statue of Moses ibn Maimon, Maimonides, for he was born in that Andalusian city during the cosmopolitan Golden Age of Sefarad. The common language was Arabic, even when written in Hebrew letters. The science of experimentation was yet centuries to come but Aristotle and Galen and other Greek thinkers, translated by Muslim scholars, yet offered logic and some understanding of nature, structure, function, and causality. The philosophical Maimonides offered science and knowledge as a key religious path leading to awe and love or compassion. He attacked superstitions, talismans, and causative incantations and any anthropomorphic conception of God, even in use of personal pronouns, as de facto idolatry. He took the Babylonian Talmud and the body of subsequent traditions and created essentially a practical, categorized moral and legal handbook, the Mishneh Torah, separating core teachings from doubtful or obsolete interpretations. Moreover, his Guide to the Perplexed, because of its ambiguity, became a religious map with four interrelated paths whose philosophical, skeptical, mystical, or orthodox approach would depend on an individual's education and provisional predilection. Maimonides had a deep understanding and respect for people's psychological needs, even if contrary to scientific logic. Author and scholar Moshe Halbertal's book provides a penetrating look into the mind of this great religious thinker.

While some of the sections discussing the Mishna Torah become tedious and turbid by its detail legal analysis and historic comparisons of wisdom, the later examination of the Guide to the Perplexed is stunningly clear and comprehensive. The book examines Maimonides' views on evil and its personal, legal, and biological forms; on destiny of individuals and of species; on cosmic origins; on miracles versus logic and knowledge; on divine punishment and reward for governance and social order versus personal spiritual developmental gains and blocks; and on love and awe as steps toward perfection and experiencing the divine. The medieval mind and social outlook is revealed yet the reader also finds modern thinking and connections to the later Jewish philosopher, Spinoza. I grew up hearing about Maimonides without actually knowing anything about his great writings. Halbertal fills that void with an insightful book. Maimonides now become relevant to my own religious pursuits.
10 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 great clear and subtle intro to maimonodes 21 décembre 2013
Par israel fink - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
great introduction to Maimonides life and thought in clear yet subtle language
I particularly enjoyed the author's approach to the guide of the perplexed giving us 4 ways to read this masterpiece of jjewish thought
and never eschewing the problems of each of the different possible readings
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent read but not a quick one! 11 janvier 2014
Par Bentennessee - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
This is a deeply philosphical book that briefly explores the life of Maimonides and then quickly delves into the thinking of this great Jewish philosopher as he composed the Mishna Torah,Guide of the Perplexed, and other works. It will take some time to read if you have no background. Still, very informative and well written.
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