Maimonides

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Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization’s Greatest Minds” by Joel L.  Kraemer (Kindle Edition)

The first definitive biography of  Moses Maimonides, one of the most influential intellects in all of human history, illuminates his life as a philosopher, physician, and lawgiver. Recalling such bestsellers as David McCullough’s John Adams and Walter Isaacson’s Einstein, Maimonides is a biography on a grand scale, brilliantly explicating one man’s life against the background of his time.

As a physician, Maimonides is associated with Hippocrates as a founder of modern medicine; his influence in philosophy is equal to that of  Plato, Aristotle, Spinoza, and Kant; in religion, he is as significant as Moses, Martin Luther, and Saint Augustine; and as a lawgiver, he has been recognized by the United States Congress as one of the greatest alongside Hammurabi and Thomas Jefferson.

Now, in a dazzling work of scholarship, Joel Kraemer tells the complete story of Maimonides’s rich life. Maimonides is at once a portrait of a great historical figure and an excursion into the Mediterranean world of the twelfth century. Joel Kraemer draws on a wealth of original sources to re-create a remarkable period in history when Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions clashed and mingled in a setting alive with intense intellectual exchange and religious conflict.

Born in Muslim-ruled Spain in 1135, Moses Maimonides was deeply conversant with Arabic philosophy and literature. By the time he was thirty, he was known for his seminal works on the Jewish practices and law. In Egypt, his training as a physician earned him a place in the entourage of the great Sultan Saladin, and his books earned him respect and influenced generations of  Christian, Muslim and Jewish thinkers.

In 1947, when he was 14, Kraemer started to study Maimonides. Now, the 75-year-old professor emeritus at the University of Chicago has produced his magnum opus, a definitive biography of medieval Judaism’s chief intellectual sage. To prepare himself, Kraemer mastered many languages, traveled throughout the world and studied innumerable documents, including those found in the Genizah, the storeroom of  Cairo’s Ben Ezra synagogue. The impressive results of Kraemer’s diligent research are set forth in this learned book, supported by 90 pages of footnotes.
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He offers a splendid analysis of Maimonides’s major works: Commentary on the MishnahMishneh Torah and Guide to the Perplexed (which Kraemer calls Guide of  the Perplexed.)
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The erudite presentation includes vital information about the life of Maimonides, tracing his path from his birth in Spain to his move to Morocco, his visit to Palestine and, finally, to his settling in Egypt. Kraemer’s imposing contribution is designed for his fellow scholars. General readers should turn to the more fathomable 2005 biography, Maimonides by Sherwin B. Nuland, from Nextbook/Schocken’s Jewish Encounters series and just published in paper. (Oct. 28)
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Kraemer’s comprehensive study of the great medieval philosopher and Jewish theologian Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides) shows that Maimonides’ wisdom arose in no small part from having feet in multiple worlds. Although a product of Andalusia and the Mahgreb, Maimonides set down roots in Egypt; a pious Jew, he successfully navigated corridors of power dominated by Islam.
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A dedicated writer and scholar, he nevertheless spent a significant portion of his life immersed in the daily exigencies of medicine, business, government, and law. Perhaps most significant from a philosophical perspective, Maimonides was both an expert on the Talmud and an intellectual heir to Aristotle’s rationalism. Such multifaceted experiences, shows Kraemer, made Maimonides a gifted synthesizer of ideas, and an exemplar of the richness of twelfth-century Mediterranean culture.
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Kraemer, too, has a talent for synthesis, distilling Maimonides’ entire corpus of writing (including copious correspondence) and a small mountain of secondary sources (some apocryphal) into a fluid and accessible narrative. Lucid descriptions of medieval Mediterranean life—including commerce, political intrigue, and the constant interplay between cultures—will be compelling even for readers unfamiliar with Maimonides’ contributions to philosophy. –Brendan Driscoll
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Maimonides: The Life and World of One of  Civilization’s Greatest Minds” by Joel L.  Kraemer is available for iPhone,  iPod Touch,  iPad with free Amazon app  (download app – here).

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 1259 KB
Publisher: Doubleday Religion (October 28, 2008)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
Price: $11.74 (Buy now)

Paperback: $13.14 (Order now)

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