Maimonides in His World: Portrait of a Mediterranean Thinker by Sarah Stroumsa

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By Sarah Stroumsa

Whereas the nice medieval thinker, theologian, and healthcare professional Maimonides is stated as a number one Jewish philosopher, his highbrow contacts along with his surrounding global are frequently defined as comparable essentially to Islamic philosophy. "Maimonides in His World" demanding situations this view by means of revealing him to have wholeheartedly lived, breathed, and espoused the wealthy Mediterranean tradition of his time.

Sarah Stroumsa argues that Maimonides is so much adequately seen as a Mediterranean philosopher who always interpreted his personal Jewish culture in modern multicultural phrases. Maimonides spent his whole lifestyles within the Mediterranean area, and the spiritual and philosophical traditions that fed his idea have been these of the broader international within which he lived. Stroumsa demonstrates that he was once deeply encouraged not just through Islamic philosophy yet via Islamic tradition as an entire, facts of which she reveals in his philosophy in addition to his correspondence and criminal and clinical writings. She starts off with a concise biography of Maimonides, then conscientiously examines key features of his notion, together with his method of faith and the complicated international of theology and spiritual rules he encountered between Jews, Christians, Muslims, or even heretics; his perspectives approximately technological know-how; the monstrous and unacknowledged effect of the Almohads on his idea; and his imaginative and prescient of human perfection.

This insightful cultural biography restores Maimonides to his rightful position between medieval philosophers and affirms his primary relevance to the examine of medieval Islam.

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Maimonides in His World: Portrait of a Mediterranean Thinker

Whereas the nice medieval thinker, theologian, and health professional Maimonides is said as a number one Jewish philosopher, his highbrow contacts together with his surrounding international are usually defined as comparable basically to Islamic philosophy. "Maimonides in His World" demanding situations this view through revealing him to have wholeheartedly lived, breathed, and espoused the wealthy Mediterranean tradition of his time.

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Kindi’s contemporary Ibn Qutayba (d. ”44 As the examples presented above indicate, the idea itself was, by that time, a commonplace among the learned, and Jewish scholars were no exception. It is interesting to note, however, that Maimonides does not support this idea with rabbinic prooftexts, as one could expect him to do in an introduction to a commentary on a Mishnaic text. The similarity of Maimonides’ admonition, in both content and structure, to Ibn Abbas’s saying raises the possibility that he was familiar with it.

Maimonides’ theory of religion was profoundly affected by his uncensored reading in what he believed to be authentic ancient pagan writings. His interpretation of biblical precepts was the result of discoveries he believed himself to have made in the course of these readings. Furthermore, his legal methodology was conditioned by his immersion in the Almohad society, and by his encounter with Muslim law (fiqh) in general and with Almohad law in particular. To fully understand Maimonides’ legal writings and to duly appreciate his tremendous contribution to the development of Jewish law, all these elements, seemingly external to the Jewish legacy, must be taken into account.

Nevertheless, they expected putative converts to conform to Muslim law and to educate their children accordingly. ”52 When Maimonides finally arrived in Egypt, around 1165, it was still ruled by the Fatimids. Like other Isma ili Shi ites, the Fatimids adopted Neoplatonic philosophy as part of their religious doctrine. The Isma ili predilection for the occult sciences received from Maimonides the same 51 52 See chap. 4, below. See chap. 3, below. MAIMONIDES AND MEDITERRANEAN CULTURE 17 harsh remarks as did Sabian science.

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