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Maimonides (Lives & Legacies (Crossroad)) Hardcover – September 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: Lives & Legacies (Crossroad)
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: The Crossroad Publishing Company; First Edition, First Printing edition (September 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824523598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824523596
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,217,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Sage in the care of the body as well as the soul, Maimonides shines as one of the brightest intellects in an age of oppression and ignorance. Readers who allow Arbel to transport them back to that harsh era will marvel at how one man--relentlessly harassed because of his Jewish faith, repeatedly forced to move to alien new lands, stranded in isolation and poverty--doggedly pursued his sacred and secular studies until he completed an intellectual synthesis that affected the entire Mediterranean world--Jewish, Arab, and Christian. Without burdening readers with the technicalities, Arbel illuminates Maimonides' accomplishments in condensing the entire body of Jewish law into one accessible volume, the Mishnah Torah, and in reconciling religious tradition with contemporary scientific and philosophic thought in his Guide for the Perplexed. Though centuries distant, the controversy surrounding Maimonides' works still highlights the courage of a true innovator. The same intellectual daring shines through the astonishingly modern work Maimonides did in physiology late in life. An ideal introduction to a complex figure. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Ilil Arbel is the author of a number of books, including biographies, memoirs, novels, mythology/folklore, and metaphysics. Her short stories and folktales have been published by Encyclopedia Mythica, Amazon.com Shorts, and Mountain Muse. She has contributed numerous articles on the subjects of natural history, personal histories, biography, health, education, social commentaries, and Judaic myths to many publications. Arbel has a Ph.D. in the field of mythology and folklore. She has lived and studied in Tel Aviv, Paris, and New York, and currently resides in Manhattan.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Thomas R. Jones on October 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In this exciting, vibrant biography, the author succeeds where all others failed -- she brings Maimonides and his contemporaries to life. A few other books, all of them at least thirty years old, claim to be his biographies, but they are really only discussions of his work, with a few biographical details merely tacked on. Arbel's book, on the other hand, is truly the story of the life of a most interesting man, set against the vast panorama of a turbulent era. The intriguing details, taken from rarely used historical materials, help the reader visualize the scandals, controversies, court intrigues, and wars, as well as the daily lives, fashions, food, entertainment, and houses of people in Spain, Morocco, Israel, and Egypt of the twelfth century.
Arbel obviously likes and admires Maimonides, but she does not worship him, and is not averse to showing his human, less than perfect side. She may run into trouble with the more orthodox rabbis, perhaps, but for the general reader it is a wonderful approach, and you end the book feeling that you have spent some time with a human being, not the demigod that is presented by other authors. I truly enjoyed the book.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Varda Rosen on May 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As a librarian, I was alerted to this excellent biography by Booklist and by The Library Journal, which both gave it excellent reviews. I don't read every book I order, but since I am particularly interseted in Maimonides, I did read it, and with great pleasure. I have studied much of Maimonides' work, and many books that analyzed his work, but Arbel's book is the only one fulfilling the need for a lively biography that really tells about Maimonides, his character and his relationships.
The book is extremely well-written, easy to understand, and will be entirely comprehesible to the secular reader. You don't have to be a Maimonides expert, a philosophy student, or a religious scholar to enjoy it. Yet any scholar will appreciate Arbel's historical research and grasp of the era he discusses.
My only criticism was that I wished the book were longer and continued into the second generation (Maimonides' son, Abraham, was a fascinating character). However, I realized that the book is a part of a series of biographies, the well-received Lives and Legacies (all called "A Spiritual Biography") from Crossroad Publishing, so Arbel probably followed certain guidelines as to length. I am very much looking forward to the publication of Arbel's biography of Rabbi Hillel, which apparently he is writing now.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on December 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I am twelve years old, and I got this book for my bat-mitzva. I loved it and learned a lot and I would recommend it to both adults and children. I particularly liked the way Maimonides helped women during those hard times.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By S. Alexander on February 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The appearance of a new biography of Maimonides is always important, if only because it happens infrequently.
What we need, and do not yet have in English, is an excellent and scholarly biography of Maimonides, like Netanyahu's biography of Abarbanel.
Ilil Arbel's new biography, entitled Maimonides, A Spiritual Biography, does not fill that bill. However, for those who are already reading Maimonides, it will fill in the historical gaps reasonably well. The book is based on secondary and tertiary sources, with the exception of the more historically significant items of Maimonides' correspondence and some of the shorter works, which the author shows familiarity with. The author is fluent in Hebrew, and may be an Israeli, it is not clear from the jacket material. That material indicates that she is a "Writer and editor, and has a Ph.D. in the field of mythology and folklore, and is a regular contributor of Judaic myths to Encyclopedia Mythica, her next book is A biography of Hillel, she resides in New York City".
The book comes with a full index and a short bibliography. There are a very few notes, more would have been desirable. I would like to know where she got some of her material. There is a Chronology which she confesses is based on the usual consensus opinions but not based on any research of her own.
I do not think the book will do anyone any harm. She pointedly stays away from giving comment or analysis of the Guide or the Mishneh Torah, and for that reason, I do not understand why she calls this a spiritual biography. The excitement that I get from the works of Maimonides themselves is not well communicated by the author.
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Format: Hardcover
Ilil Arbel's biography of Maimonides is a long overdue, rare treat for those who are familiar with the extraordinary accomplishments of the great Jewish philosopher. Arbel does well in reconstructing the life story of Maimonides and his family through the early persecution in Spain and Morocco and the later years in Egypt, where his recognition as a great scholar and respected leader in the Jewish community began. It is a well written biography with excellent attention to the historical and cultural context of the period. The book is far from a dry recounting of his life and surrounding historical events,this is an enthusiastic and passionately written biography with astute observations by the author throughout. Arbel transforms a challenging writing endeavor into a interesting, informative read that both Maimonides enthusiasts and those who want to learn more about this extraordinary scholar can enjoy.
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