- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Createspace Independent Pub (10 November 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1530780012
- ISBN-13: 978-1530780013
- Product Dimensions: 17 x 2 x 24.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
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Maimonides: The Exceptional Mind Paperback – Import, 10 Nov 2008
About the Author
Israel Drazin is the author of twenty-six published books, more than 200 popular and scholarly articles, and over 2,300 book and movie reviews. Several other books are finished and are expected to be published in 2015. He wrote a book about the case he handled for the US Army, edited a book on legends, wrote children's books, and scholarly books on the philosopher Maimonides and on the Aramaic translation of the Bible. University Microfilm International published Targumic Studies in 1982. Ktav Publishing House published Targum Onkelos to Deuteronomy in 1983, Targum Onkelos to Exodus in 1988, Targum Onkelos to Leviticus in 1993, and Targum Onkelos to Numbers in 1998. Biblical scholars consistently praise the five scholarly volumes as "copious and excellent." He edited Legends Worth Living, a book written by his father and published by Ktav in 1991. He co-wrote For God and Country, which was published by Ktav in 1995. He and Dr. Stanley Wagner published five books on Targum Onkelos called Onkelos on the Torah. His thirteenth book is published by Urim Publications, A Rational Approach to Judaism and Torah Commentary. His fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth books were published by Gefen Publishing House: Maimonides: The Exceptional Mind and Maimonides and the Biblical Prophets and Maimonides: Reason Above All in 2008 and 2009. His seventeenth book is a novel She Wanted to be Jewish published in 2010. The eighteenth volume Understanding Onkelos, written with Dr. Wagner, was published in 2012 by Targum Press. His nineteenth book, written under the pseudonym Daniel A. Diamond, is 123 Days around the World. The twentieth book is the first of two children's books he wrote with his daughter Leba Lieder. It is called Can't start Passover without the Bread. His twenty-first book is a second children's book, Sailing on Moti's ark on Sukkot. This was followed by Rational Religion under the pseudonym Daniel A. Diamond, and What's beyond the Bible Text, which he wrote with Stanley M. Wagner. His twenty fourth, Iyunim Betargum, is a Hebrew version of Understanding Onkelos. His twenty-fifth Mysteries of Judaism, was published in 2014. The first of an anticipated series of books is number twenty-six, published in 2014, Unusual Bible Interpretations: Five Books of Moses. He writes articles for jewishideas.org and book reviews for Amazon and several publishing houses. His own website is www.booksnthoughts.com.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
As someone with a keen interest in comparative religion, I have heard of Maimonides in passing. I knew that he was a famous Jewish philosopher who lived in the Middle Ages. I also knew that he had develop incredibly progressive ideas on theology and ethics.
However, I will admit my knowledge of the man was only surface deep, and I did not appreciate the full stature of his achievements. All that drastically changed when I picked up Maimonides: The Exceptional Mind, the first volume of a three-part series written by Dr Israel Drazin.
With meticulous research and great passion for the subject, Dr Drazin dives deep into the life and philosophy of Moses Maimonides. He zeroes in on several key questions that Maimonides tackled during his lifetime. What is rationalism? What is faith? What is our relationship with God? How should we treat each other? How can we build a just and peaceful society?
Employing fast-moving chapters and engaging case studies, Dr Drazin makes the case that, in more ways than one, Maimonides was a man ahead of his time. He rejected religious dogma. He shunned superstition. Believing in spirits and divine intervention was not a positive thing. Such mysticism only reinforced human frailties and locked people into an oppressive pattern of behaviour. At worst, it also indoctrinated people into inflicting persecution against others who happen to ‘different’.
For Maimonides, it is reason and reason alone that should be the sole benchmark of the human experience. We should not limit ourselves to narrow and biased perceptions of reality. Where possible, we should broaden our minds and embrace rational analysis and empirical evidence. Maimonides’ outlook is a very compelling one, and it makes no distinction between race, religion or creed. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim or even an atheist. Seeking out truth and embracing the common good should be our collective ambition.
In documenting and dissecting the ideas of Moses Maimonides, Dr Drazin has built a compelling bridge between the 12th century and the 21st century. He writes powerfully and passionately and for very good reason. He’s not just an acclaimed biblical scholar but has worn many hats in his time, serving as US Army brigadier general, lawyer and rabbi. His multifaceted career, along with his deep love for Maimonides’ philosophy, gives his writing a profound richness that’s second to none. More than once, I found myself nodding at his insightful passages.
Yes, we live in a modern age where knowledge is so readily available, and yet, we continue to experience ethnic and religious divides that continue to perpetuate violence and bloodshed.
Can the wisdom of Maimonides offer us a better path forward? Can we embrace such enlightenment? Can we afford not to?
Dr Drazin makes the case that understanding the philosophy of Moses Maimonides has never been more urgent. His book is crucial reading for anyone who wants to bridge the gap between religion and rationality.
The book offers a well-organized addition to and clarification of informal sessions that Dr. Drazin presented to a group of us a few years ago.
The organization of chapters in the form of . . . .
-- introduction with what is to be presented
-- questions to focus the discussion
-- detailed, but readily understood explanations
-- summary with reiteration of and emphasis on the principal topic
. . . . makes for a very readable and understandable text.
I personally learned much that neither my father (of blessed memory) nor my teachers ever taught.
I was especially startled to learn about the so-called demonic, superstitious, and non-Jewish origins of such Jewish traditions as:
-- blowing of the 'shofar' and the 'tashlich' service of Rosh
Hashanah, the Jewish New Year
-- the Passover verses following the welcoming of Elijah:
'Pour Your wrath upon the nations that do do not recognize
you. . . .' , that recitation having never seemed
appropriate for that occasion
-- monthly 'Sanctification of the Moon'
Numerous comparisons with other biblical scholars serve to contrast the philosophy of Maimonides with that of other prominent Jewish thinkers and philosophers.
Finally, as Dr. Drazin explains, Maimonides' emphasis on the importance of the development of the mind, by study of '... Torah, science, and traditional thought ...' and avoidance of the irrational remains an important message to this day.
Two minor criticisms, possibly for a 2nd printing:
-- bottom page 287 appears to have part of question 5. missing
-- in addition to the detailed references and additional reading at
the end of the book, a list of terms with corresponding page
numbers would be helpful
Dr. Jack Cohen, Boynton Beach, FL