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Principles of Faith (Rosh Amanah) [Paperback]

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Item description for Principles of Faith (Rosh Amanah) by Isaac Abravanel...

Written in 1504, this is at one and the same time an exposition and defense of Maimonides' philosophical ideas and an attack on the view that Jewish beliefs can be subsumed under a set number of principles, such as the famous Thirteen Principles of Maimonides himself.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   272
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 5, 2000
Publisher   Littman Library of Jewish Civilization
ISBN  1904113133  
ISBN13  9781904113133  

Availability  0 units.

More About Isaac Abravanel

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Jewish > General
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General

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intellectual gymnastics  Apr 10, 2005
Rosh Amanah was written by Don Isaac Abravenel in 1494, two years after its author was expelled from Spain.

The book is a defense and critique of Maimonides' "Thirteen Principles of Faith." The Thirteen Principles include views held by all Jews today (such as Divine unity and eternality) but also views that are now a bit more controversial (the coming of the Messiah, resurrection of the dead).

Abravenel begins by quoting Maimonides' explanation of these principles in the latter author's Commentary to the Mishnah. Maimonides asserts that each principle is supported by various Torah verses, and asserts that one who rejects these principles "leaves the community [of Israel] . . . One is required to hate him and it is proper to despise and destroy him."

Other medieval Jewish scholars (most notably, at least for the purposes of this book, Hasdai Crescas and Joseph Albo) criticized this view, asserted that Judaism rests on a much smaller number of beliefs.

Abravenel lists a variety of objections to Maimonides' principles, and responds to those objections. The first 21 chapters of the book appear to be a defense of Maimonides.

But at the end, Abravenel turns around and criticizes Maimonides. Abravenel agrees that Maimonides' principles are praiseworthy beliefs, but rejects the notion that one Judaism can be limited to thirteen (or three, or six, or twenty) principles. After all, Abravenel reasons, if the Torah comes from God, why is any one principle more obviously right or necessary than any other?

But in his last chapter, Abravenel meets Maimonides halfway. He agrees that one who rejects resurrection and Divine revelation "has no portion in the world to come" - but less on logical grounds than because the Mishnah says so.

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