Converts, heretics, and lepers: Maimonides and the outsider (review)

Journal of the History of Philosophy 48 (2):pp. 240-241 (2010)
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Abstract

This study builds upon the novel hermeneutical approach to Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed first developed by the author in a previous work, Maimonides and the Hermeneutics of Concealment . That study made two principal contributions. First, it displaced the common view of Maimonides as imposing philosophical categories onto biblical and rabbinic texts that are themselves intrinsically unphilosophical. Rather, as Diamond showed, what is often regarded as an allegorical abstraction from text to concept is, on closer scrutiny, a midrashic displacement of one text by another that yields a philosophical interpretation of the primary text. The result is still philosophical Judaism, not because Maimonides imposes "external" concepts onto Jewish texts, but because of how he reads those texts in relation to each other. Second, since philosophical interpretations risk undermining the faith of simple believers, Maimonides resorts to revealing his radical views by weaving an Ariadne's thread of exegeses that lead the alert reader to the inner chambers of Judaism, wherein resides its philosophical truth.In this book, Diamond applies this methodology to a range of fascinating issues in the Maimonidean corpus that are frequently

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Michael Fagenblat
Open University of Israel

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