Maimonides and the shaping of the Jewish Canon

Diamond, James, Maimonides and the Shaping of the Jewish Canon, Cambridge, 2014.

In this work, James A. Diamond of the University of Waterloo addresses how Maimonides became part of the Jewish “canon.”

From the publisher:

Jewish thought since the Middle Ages can be regarded as a sustained dialogue with Moses Maimonides, regardless of the different social, cultural, and intellectual environments in which it was conducted. Much of Jewish intellectual history can be viewed as a series of engagements with him, fueled by the kind of “Jewish” rabbinic and esoteric writing Maimonides practiced. This book examines a wide range of theologians, philosophers, and exegetes who share a passionate engagement with Maimonides, assaulting, adopting, subverting, or adapting his philosophical and jurisprudential thought. This ongoing enterprise is critical to any appreciation of the broader scope of Jewish law, philosophy, biblical interpretation, and Kabbalah. Maimonides’s legal, philosophical, and exegetical corpus became canonical in the sense that many subsequent Jewish thinkers were compelled to struggle with it in order to advance their own thought. As such, Maimonides joins fundamental Jewish canon alongside the Bible, the Talmud, and the Zohar.


“James Diamond’s book is a wonderfully rich, subtle, and erudite exposition of Maimonides’ central and complex place in the history of Jewish thought. In his emphasis on Maimonides as an interpreter of prior canonical texts and in his analysis of the complex and deep ways in which Maimonides’ own works became, in turn canonical, Diamond makes a highly important and remarkable contribution to understanding Jewish thought as essentially an interpretative tradition.”
Moshe Halbertal, New York University School of Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and author of Maimonides: Life and Thought

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