Also including fully updated guides to further reading on figures from the middle ages through to the twenty-first century, historical maps and a chronology placing the thinkers in context, this is an essential and affordable one-volume reference to a rich and complex tradition.
Dan Cohn-Sherbok is Professor of Jewish Theology at the University of Wales, Lampeter. He is the author of over forty books, including Judaism: History, Belief and Practice (Routledge, 2003).
Solomon Maimon's autobiography has delighted readers for more than two hundred years, from Goethe, Schiller, and George Eliot to Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt. The American poet and critic Adam Kirsch has named it one of the most crucial Jewish books of modern times. Here is the first complete and annotated English edition of this enduring and lively work.
Born into a down-on-its-luck provincial Jewish family in 1753, Maimon quickly distinguished himself as a prodigy in learning. Even as a young child, he chafed at the constraints of his Talmudic education and rabbinical training. He recounts how he sought stimulation in the Hasidic community and among students of the Kabbalah--and offers rare and often wickedly funny accounts of both. After a series of picaresque misadventures, Maimon reached Berlin, where he became part of the city's famed Jewish Enlightenment and achieved the philosophical education he so desperately wanted, winning acclaim for being the "sharpest" of Kant's critics, as Kant himself described him.
This new edition restores text cut from the abridged 1888 translation by J. Clark Murray, which has long been the only available English edition. Paul Reitter's translation is brilliantly sensitive to the subtleties of Maimon's prose while providing a fluid rendering that contemporary readers will enjoy, and is accompanied by an introduction and notes by Yitzhak Melamed and Abraham Socher that give invaluable insights into Maimon and his extraordinary life. The book also features an afterword by Gideon Freudenthal that provides an authoritative overview of Maimon's contribution to modern philosophy.
The book uses approaches from literary criticism, developmental psychology (influenced by Erik Erikson, James Fowler, and Carol Gilligan), and spirituality (influenced by John S. Donne, Emile Griffin, Walter Conn, and Bernard Lonergan).
Each text is read in the light of the autobiographical tradition begun by St. Augustine's Confessions, but with a focus on distinctively modern and post-modern transformations of the self-writing genre. The twentieth-century context of religious alienation, social autonomy, identity crises and politics, and the search for social justice is examined in each text.
Specially designed to assist learning, Judaism:
• Introduces texts and commentaries, including the Hebrew Bible, rabbinic texts, mystical literature, Jewish philosophy and Jewish theology
• Provides the skills necessary to understand these step-by-step with the help of a companion website
• Explains how to interpret the major events in nearly four thousand years of Jewish history
• Supports study with discussion questions on the central historical and religious issues, and includes key reading for each chapter, an extensive glossary and index
• Illustrates the development of Judaism, its concepts, observances and culture, with maps, photos, paintings and engravings
• Links each chapter to a free companion website at www.routledge.com/cw/cohnsherbok which provides things to think about, things to do and tips for teachers as well as other online resources