Journals Higher Education

$64.50

Hardcover

Published: 31 December 2014

300 Pages

ISBN: 9781906764067


Bookseller Code (06)

Reading Maimonides' Mishneh Torah

David Gillis

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization in association with Liverpool University Press

In this highly original study, author David Gillis demonstrates that the Mishneh torah, Maimonides' code of Jewish law, has the structure of a microcosm. Through this symbolic form, Maimonides presents the law as designed to perfect the individual and society by shaping them in the image of the divinely created cosmic order. The commandments of the law thereby bring human beings closer to fulfilling their ultimate purpose, knowledge of God. This symbolism turns the Mishneh torah into an object of contemplation that itself communicates such knowledge. In short, it is a work of art. With consummate skill, Gillis unpacks the metaphysical and cosmological underpinnings of Maimonides' scheme of organization, allowing the reader to understand the Mishneh torah's artistic dimension and to appreciate its power. Moreover, as Gillis makes clear, uncovering this dimension casts new light on one of the great cruxes of Maimonides studies: the relationship of the Mishneh torah to his philosophical treatise The Guide of the Perplexed. A fundamental unity is revealed between Maimonides the codifier and Maimonides the philosopher that has not been fully appreciated hitherto. Maimonides' artistry in composition is repeatedly shown to serve his aims in persuading us of the coherence and wisdom of the halakhic system. Gillis's fine exegesis sets in high relief the humane and transcendental purposes and methods of halakhah as Maimonides conceived of it, in an argument that is sure-footed and convincing.

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