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The Legend of the Middle Ages: Philosophical Explorations of Medieval Christianity, Judaism, and Islam Hardcover – April 15, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (April 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226070808
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226070803
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,527,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This account will illuminate novices as well as adepts embarked on a shared journey into a fascinating world. . . . By using contemporary reflections on hermeneutics and other sophisticated tools . . . [Brague] deftly introduces us into this world in a way that helps us attain the consciousness demanded to understand 'the other,' so as to better appreciate our own limitations. In fact, that correlative activity of coming to understand ourselves as we seek to understand the other fairly defines the journey on which these essays launch us. So it could best be described as an exercise in self-understating, facilitated by a rich store of historical examples, deftly employed."
(David Burrell Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews)

"Brague shows [how] the subtle, often acrimonious interplay between Judaism, Christianity and Islam helped to create the advanced thought of the Middle Ages—a phrase that, after reading Brague's book, no longer sounds like an oxymoron."
(Adam Kirsch Nextbook)

"Highly recommended to scholars of the Middle Ages as well as those in philosophy and religion more generally. They will all be enlightened by careful reading of this book."
(Library Journal)

"All of the essays offer fascinating insights into all manner of topics of interest to medieval thinkers. . . . Brague shows not only an encyclopedic and detailed grasp of his sources, but also a penchant for tying these to contemporary interests in intriguing, creative ways. . . . This truly is an informative, engaging, and very readable book that will be very useful to anyone with an intellectual interest in things medieval."

About the Author

Rémi Brague is professor of philosophy at the Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne and at the University of Munich. He is the author of nine other books, including The Law of God and The Wisdom of the World, both published by the University of Chicago Press. Lydia G. Cochrane has translated numerous books for the University of Chicago Press.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Rémi Brague, a French historian, seeks to revise our notions of medieval thought, or what we mistakenly perceive as that era's lack of reason. His essays collected as "The Legend of the Middle Ages," explore philosophical intersections of Islamic, Jewish, and Christian pursuits of truth.

Modern intellectuals look at science differently than their medieval, yes, predecessors did. It's not that they did not study it, but that they studied it with an eye, literally, to seek another reason why to study natural phenomena. Here's a summary of key arguments Brague makes.

The Jewish scholars of the time looked to the world as they did to the heavens. There was not the separation from the Creator that distinguishes for most moderns who enter the laboratory or the observatory today the walling off of God from matter. Modernity itself would not have emerged, the professor opines, without the tremendous push from the medievals who sought in Aristotle the summa of knowledge, next to the Prophet, for the Arabic translators in Spain who transferred Greek wisdom and ancient knowledge into their own language. Once carried over, the Greek could be discarded by the Arab: their sacred tongue then subsumed that of the infidel's vernacular.

Certainly, this differed from those Jews who learned Arabic to rescue, as it were, the Greek storehouse of Aristotelian science, or the Catholics who did the same by learning Hebrew to delve more deeply into the shared scholarship of their own times. Brague goes on to insist that the legacy of Aristotle we inherit comes from Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians who turned the texts into Latin for dissemination across Christian Europe.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John B. Rasche on August 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book presents several highly philosophical and intellectual discussions. Yet it is written in a very beautiful and readable style. A layman such as myself obtained much knowledge and pleasure from this book.
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