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Maimonides' Confrontation with Mysticism (review)

Maimonides' Confrontation with Mysticism (review) Maimonides' Confrontation with Mysticism. By Menachem Kellner. Oxford: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2006. Pp. 364. Hardcover. $49.50. Reviewed by Aryeh Botwinick Temple University Menachem Kellner's interesting and important book, Maimonides' Confrontation with Mysticism, tries to situate Maimonides in his immediate Jewish environment, which Kellner characterizes as proto-kabbalistic. The dominant strains in the religious beliefs and practices of Maimonides' Jewish contemporaries were essentialist and realist. They invested Halakhah, holiness, the Hebrew language, and Jewish identity itself with palpably divine elements and connections that tore them out of a naturalistic context and reconfigured them on an almost literal level as being saturated with Divinity. Kellner argues that Maimonides' major writings--encompassing both the Mishneh Torah and The Guide of the Perplexed--were undertaken to dispel this faulty understanding of Judaism and to substitute for it a much more nominalistic and naturalistic account of the development and content of Judaism. According to Kellner (here following in the footsteps of Moshe Idel), the irony of Maimonides' project was that his rejection of proto-kabbalism served as a spur to ``the younger generation of Maimonides' contemporaries'' to create ``the historical forms of kabbalism,'' which in one form or another continue to infiltrate and define the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy East and West University of Hawai'I Press

Maimonides' Confrontation with Mysticism (review)

Philosophy East and West , Volume 58 (3) – Jul 16, 2008

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 University of Hawai'i Press
ISSN
1529-1898
Publisher site
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Abstract

Maimonides' Confrontation with Mysticism. By Menachem Kellner. Oxford: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2006. Pp. 364. Hardcover. $49.50. Reviewed by Aryeh Botwinick Temple University Menachem Kellner's interesting and important book, Maimonides' Confrontation with Mysticism, tries to situate Maimonides in his immediate Jewish environment, which Kellner characterizes as proto-kabbalistic. The dominant strains in the religious beliefs and practices of Maimonides' Jewish contemporaries were essentialist and realist. They invested Halakhah, holiness, the Hebrew language, and Jewish identity itself with palpably divine elements and connections that tore them out of a naturalistic context and reconfigured them on an almost literal level as being saturated with Divinity. Kellner argues that Maimonides' major writings--encompassing both the Mishneh Torah and The Guide of the Perplexed--were undertaken to dispel this faulty understanding of Judaism and to substitute for it a much more nominalistic and naturalistic account of the development and content of Judaism. According to Kellner (here following in the footsteps of Moshe Idel), the irony of Maimonides' project was that his rejection of proto-kabbalism served as a spur to ``the younger generation of Maimonides' contemporaries'' to create ``the historical forms of kabbalism,'' which in one form or another continue to infiltrate and define the

Journal

Philosophy East and WestUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jul 16, 2008

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