A challenging look at two great Jewish philosophers, and what their thinking means to our understanding of God, truth, revelation and reason.
Moses Maimonides (1138–1204) is Jewish history’s greatest exponent of a rational, philosophically sound Judaism. He strove to reconcile the teachings of the Bible and rabbinic tradition with the principles of Aristotelian philosophy, arguing that religion and philosophy ultimately must arrive at the same truth.
Baruch Spinoza (1632–77) is Jewish history’s most illustrious “heretic.” He believed that truth could be attained through reason alone, and that philosophy and religion were separate domains that could not be reconciled. His critique of the Bible and its teachings caused an intellectual and spiritual upheaval whose effects are still felt today.
Rabbi Marc D. Angel discusses major themes in the writings of Maimonides and Spinoza to show us how modern people can deal with religion in an intellectually honest and meaningful way. From Maimonides, we gain insight on how to harmonize traditional religious belief with the dictates of reason. From Spinoza, we gain insight into the intellectual challenges which must be met by modern believers.
“Scholarly yet accessible.... Guides the reader on a path toward a textually based philosophical understanding of Judaism that integrates well with the contemporary mindset.... Will invigorate anyone seeking an intellectually sophisticated approach to Jewish texts and Jewish life.”
—Jewish Book World
“Clever and insightful…. Sketches a Maimonidean approach to Judaism essential for Jews who are attracted to Torah but unwilling to turn off their brains. Based upon studious research and profound knowledge [yet] presented with a light hand and in an engaging manner.”
—Professor Menachem Kellner, Department of Jewish History and Thought, University of Haifa; author, Must a Jew Believe Anything?
“Courageous.... Peerless scholarship.... Addresses many vital questions.... Intelligent, highly accessible ... a thorough defense of the role of moderate Judaism in today’s world.”
“An intriguing and extended conversation between three voices: Maimonides, Spinoza, and Rabbi Marc Angel, an increasingly influential voice for openness and inclusivity in the contemporary Jewish community…. A fascinating attempt to bridge the centuries!”
—Rabbi Neil Gillman, PhD, emeritus professor of Jewish thought, The Jewish Theological Seminary; author, Doing Jewish Theology: God, Torah and Israel in Modern Judaism
“Excellent.... A good choice for book clubs whose members enjoy discussing philosophy.”
—Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter
“Makes the thought of Maimonides and Spinoza on vital topics of contemporary religious import accessible to readers with characteristic clarity and erudition. [Anyone] interested in achieving a mature and intellectually
honest religious faith will be entranced and educated by the dialogue and concerns this uncharacteristically open Orthodox rabbi presents in this engaging book.”
—Rabbi David Ellenson, PhD, president, Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute
“Thoughtful, engaging and accessible.”
“Boldly attempts to revive the Maimonidean tradition, arguing for a spiritually vibrant yet intellectually sophisticated Judaism.”
—Dr. Marc B. Shapiro, Weinberg Chair of Judaic Studies, University of Scranton
“Serious.... Covers a wide range of topics.... An excellent introduction ... [and] a great gift to give to a rabbi.”
—Jewish Book World
“Accessible … engages the thought of Maimonides and Spinoza on issues of both perennial Jewish and general importance. I applaud Rabbi Angel’s lovely book.”
—Heidi M. Ravven, PhD, professor of religious studies, Hamilton College; author, Themes in Spinoza’s Philosophy
“A laudable ... bold venture....Will appeal to everyone interested in religion, Judaism, theology, and philosophy.”