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The Limits of Orthodox Theology: Maimonides' Thirteen Principles Reappraised (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization) Paperback – August 3, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization
  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Littman Library Of Jewish Civilization; New edition edition (August 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906764239
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906764234
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #752,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'Inspiring and breath-taking ... highly recommended.' Yisrael Dubitsky, Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter 'Marc Shapiro puts an explicit contemporary context on this remarkable collection of sources that disagreed with one part or other of Maimonides' Thirteen Principles ... By showing the extent to which past authors disagreed with those Principles, Shapiro seeks to debunk assertions by contemporary writers that place those Principles at the core of Orthodox belief ... the work is astonishing in its rage. Shapiro uses his daunting biographical abilities and his considerable skill as a writer to present his material-well-known and obscure-cogently and entertainingly. To the reader interested in the limits of the theological imagination of Jews, it is not likely to be soon rivalled.' Gidon Rothstein, AJS Review 'A courageous and meticulously research book that straddles two worlds-that of abstract scholarship and of practical religious vision ... The real tour de force of the book is the enormous amount of material he musters to make his case.' Bradley Shavit Artson, Conservative Judaism 'Combines remarkable erudition with clarity of vision.' Menachem Kellner, Edah Journal 'His research is exhaustive, almost encyclopedic, and it is highly convincing ... his aim is truly constructive and his tone is passionately concerned.' Erin Leib, Jerusalem Report 'This exhaustive yet readable study ... is astonishingly well researched ... a polemical work of considerable erudition, which will find a broad audience.' Harvey Belovski, Jewish Chronicle 'Ground-breaking ... As Shapiro so clearly demonstrates in this landmark work, the need is not only for theological discussions, but for theology.' Miriam Shaviv, Jewish Quarterly 'Shapiro's book is doubly remarkable: it is at the same time a commentary on Maimonides' Thirteen Principles, and a successful summary of the central themes of Jewish theology, offering deep insight into what the blurb calls traditional Jewish thoughtA".' Stefan Schreiner, Judaica 'Articulate and thought-provoking ... This book is no less important on social than on scholarly grounds. Shapiro presents his stance with great passion, giving readers the sense that he is involved in a truth spreading mission. His passion appears to me justified and legitimate, since abstract theology is indeed an essential element in the shaping of current Orthodox society, particularly in Israel but also outside it. In sum: this book provides scholars with a justification for a view that most of them had already sensed and accepted and opens up to a broader intellectual public a path to understanding Jewish philosophy.' Dov Schwartz, Review of Rabbinic Judaism

About the Author

Marc B. Shapiro holds the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Chair in Judaic Studies at the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania. A graduate of Brandeis and Harvard universities, he is the author of Between the Yeshiva World and Modern Orthodoxy: The Life and Works of Rabbi Jehiel Jacob Weinberg, 1884-1966 (1999), also published by the Littman Library, and is editing the collected writings of Rabbi Jehiel Jacob Weinberg, the first volume of which appeared in 1998, and the second in 2003.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. D. Hoffman on April 24, 2014
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The title of the book represents a straw man that the author sets up to challenge the idea that the 13 principles of Maimonides, as presented in the introduction to Perek Chelek, are somehow the be-all and end-all of Jewish "philosophy" and a set-in-stone test of one's ideological purity as an observant Jew. The fallacy of the initial premise is known to those "in the know" - ie educated Jews who know quite well that the 13 principles have both a lot of wiggle room and are not true barrier material.

Nevertheless, the analysis of divergent opinions as to most of the principles is first rate; The author relies on a full array of classic rabbinic material along with more recent academic writings to tame and temper the Master's writings and to show how and why they've always drawn criticism. Combined with the classic "Perfect Faith" by Bleich, this book would work as the core of a worthwhile course on the subject - either at the college level or within an ambitious synagogue adult education curriculum
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In one of his major works, Maimonides included his list of thirteen principles which he considered the basic tenets of the Jewish faith. Deniers of these principles, in his words, are heretics. Contrary to common opinion, throughout the ages many respected Jewish scholars disagreed with Maimonides. In fact, Maimonides himself was inconsistent in his writings in this regard. Shapiro lays these arguments out clearly and logically with considerable footnoting and referencing, occasionally boldly challenging the writings of several modern day thinkers. Additionally, Shapiro touches upon several related issues such as the difference between authorities in Jewish law (poskim in halachah) and Jewish theologians, bemoaning the dearth of the latter group of thinkers in modern Orthodoxy. I read the book from cover to cover in several hours (which is very unusual for me) and subsequently decided to read it a second time, devoting more time to a concurrent reading of the cited sources in their original texts. Shapiro's writing style is light enough to enjoy but heavy enough to convince even the most conservative (Orthodox) readers of his points. During my read, I couldn't help but wish Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik (perhaps the foremost expert on Maimonides of our generation) were alive to react to the issues raised by Shapiro, particularly the apparent inconsistencies in Maimonides' works. To my knowledge, this is the only text devoted solely to this topic and joins other groundbreaking works by the same author. Scholars and lay people interested in Maimonides or Jewish theology will read this text.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Malina on December 14, 2012
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This book demonstrates that the Thirteen Articles of he Jewish Faith as formulated by Maimonides are not as clearly defined or accepted in traditional writings as many believe. Iti s a fascinating and important analysis.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By avrohomeisenberg on April 25, 2014
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this is a good condition of the book that I like so much becaus of its great exemining the limits of the orthadox
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Aron Mueller on December 15, 2012
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I knew the book from before and I wanted to get since it is a horizon opener for anyone who values Jewish Theology.
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