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Jewish Philosophical Polemics against Christianity in the Middle Ages

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-1904113515
ISBN-10: 1904113516
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'Has acquired the status of a classic. A great deal of new work has been published, however, in the past thirty years. The book is now reprinted by the Littman Library, with a new introduction by the author summarizing these more recent contributions to the subject, which include critical editions of classic texts as well as specialized studies and overviews ... A substantial new bibliography completes the introduction. Thanks are due to the Littman Library for placing this important book before a new generation of readers.' Nicholas de Lange, Journal of Jewish Studies

About the Author

Daniel J. Lasker is Norbert Blechner Professor of Jewish Values at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, and is chair of the Goldstein-Goren Department of Jewish Thought. His books include Jewish Philosophical Polemics Against Christianity in the Middle Ages (1977), The Refutation of the Christian Principles by Hasdai Crescas (1992), and, with Sarah Stroumsa, The Polemic of Nestor the Priest (1996).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Littman Library Of Jewish Civilization (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904113516
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904113515
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,665,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Daniel J. Lasker does an incredible job of providing the historic context of the debates and polemics of the middle ages between Jews and Christians. I was amazed to see that the points of contention today are the same from back then. I liked the way that the arguments were presented: exegetical, historical, and rational.

The focus of the book was on four major dogmas of Christianity, with an emphasis on the Roman Catholic Church: Trinity, Incarnation, Transubstantiation, and Virgin Birth. It's important to note that the Protestant Reformation had not occurred yet during most of these early debates or polemics.

I came away thinking that the Jews defended themselves well, and won the argument points. A very interesting point is made on page 133 by Joseph ben Shem Tov with regards to the incarnation: "...if only the human nature was punished, how could this man's death be sufficient to atone for the universal sin of the human species? If one said that it was not God who died, what purpose was there to incarnation altogether?" You'll have to read the rest of the book to see that with respect to the other topics discussed above, these dogams/doctrines make no sense and are not supported in Torah or Tanakh.

Many of the arguments in this book can be used to refute Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism as well, and it was ironic to see Jewish Polemicists arguing against Christians but trying to defend their Kabbalistic beliefs on the same issues. A good book to further study this is Menachem Kellner's "Maimonides' Confrontation with Mysticism".

I really enjoyed this book!
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