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Jewish Philosophy: An Historical Introduction Hardcover – December 30, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0826461407 ISBN-10: 0826461409

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum (December 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826461409
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826461407
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,912,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Samuelson's book takes the student on a fascinating tour through the world of Judaism in general and Jewish Philosophy in particular. In an illuminating, concise, and deep manner he succeeds in leading the reader through the ever-changing landscape of Jewish responses to western culture, to its own heritage, and to the philosophies and theologies of the surrounding religions. The book is not only a wonderful elucidation of one of the central aspects of what Judaism is all about; It is also a fascinating encounter with one of the prominent humanistic religious Jewish thinkers of our time. "
Dr Yehoyada Amir, Department of Jewish Thought, Hebrew University, Jerusalem and Director of the Israel Rabbinic Program, Hebrew Union College, Jerusalem

"One of America's leading Jewish philosophers has written an admirable guide to the history of Jewish philosophical reflection from its Hebraic roots to Franz Rosenzweig. Readers with little or no background in the subject matter will find the tale told with commendable clarity, charity and authority. Highly recommended."
Professor John ClaytonChairman, Department of ReligionDirector, Graduate Division of Religious and Theological StudiesBoston University

"Jewish philosophy" - wouldn't that be squaring the circle? Anyone who does not take their fundamental concepts - God, World, Man, and the expressions for their relationships with each other - from the Bible and therefore from revelation, is not properly Jewish. However, anyone who takes them from something other than the secular tradition of thought from Plato to Hegel, is not a serious philosopher. Norbert Samuelson shows how these two demands have been reconciled in the history of Jewish thought, repeatedly, differently, but successfully, by the great thinkers among the Rabbis from Maimonides, Gersonides, Crescas, Spinoza, Cohen and Buber, to Rosenzweig. Samuelson describes the individual positions with sovereign precision. Beginners in philosophy will admire his didactic brilliance, and anyone who is convinced that "Jewish philosophy" is still possible in a postmodern age will be thankful for the orientation offered by the history presented here.
Martin Brasser, Dozent fur Philosophie am Philosophischen Seminar, University of Lucerne

"Samuelson has a brisk but accessible style, moving from topic to topic rapidly yet confidently…there are interesting and useful discussions one can find in Samuelson's present book." — Janus Head, Summer 2005 (Janus Head)

"Samuelson has a brisk but accessible style, moving from topic to topic rapidly yet confidently…there are interesting and useful discussions one can find in Samuelson's present book." — Janus Head, Summer 2005 (,)

About the Author

Norbert M. Samuelson is the Harold and Jean Grossman Professor in Religious Studies at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. He is the author of six books and over 200 articles, and the co-editor of three collected volumes of essays.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you do not want to fill your head with misinformation and and very odd interpretations of classic texts, do not read this book. For example: Samuelson manages to devote the first 77 pages of his book to Biblical Judaism, yet he never finds time to mention that the Hebrew Scriptures have anything to say about ethical concerns such as justice and charity. His treatment of Rabbinical Judaism is similarly botched, including obvious misunderstandings of the best-known Rabbinic texts. (Show a rabbinical student the discussion on page 103 of the very first section of the Talmud, and check out the reaction you get!) Although the book is suppossed to be written for beginnners, when Samuelson finally gets to Medieval Jewish philosophy, he starts throwing around enough unexplained Aristotelian concepts to make your head swim. Many of Samuelson's interpretations are frankly bizarre. If you already know the material, you might find them oddly interesting in the way that it would be interesting to see someone claim that the Matrix is really about the 1954 World Series. Otherwise, you will come away from this book all set to say things that will make you sound like a crack-pot.
The same material is covered with much greater accuracy and authority in Julius Guttmann's classic *Philosophies of Judaism*. For the medieval period, I would suggest Colette Sirat's *A History of Jewish Philosopy in the Middle Ages.* If you are looking for a short, genuinely popular yet well-founded account of Maimonides' philosophy, which also tries to demonstrate its relevance for contemporary religion, see Kenneth Seeskin's *Maimonides: A Guide for Today's Perplexed*.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Howard Weinstein on August 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is intended as an introductory text for college students learning about Judaism. It is cogent, concise and easy to read even with minimal knowledge of Judaism. I recommend this book highly without reservation.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By CSA on August 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book to examine Jewish philosophy through the ages. It looks at different philosophers' views, who were the main influences, and how Jewish philosophy developed through different periods, centuries...It even questions where Jewish philosophy may go into the future with science issues and such taken into account.
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