Converts, Heretics, and Lepers: Maimonides and the Outsider

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9780268025922: Converts, Heretics, and Lepers: Maimonides and the Outsider

"Diamond takes a linguistic pebble and throws it into the sea of Maimonides' thought, following the ripples where they lead: verses connect to verses and to rabbinic glosses upon them, which in turn lead to further exegetical and philosophical ripples. In addition to being an extraordinarily learned and careful reader, and in addition to being a deep thinker, James A. Diamond is also a fine craftsperson of the English language-the book is a joy to read." --"Shofar "

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James Diamond's new book consists of a series of studies addressing Moses Maimonides' (1138-1204) appropriation of marginal figures - lepers, converts, heretics, and others - normally considered on the fringes of society and religion. Each chapter focuses on a type or character that, in Maimonides' hands, becomes a metaphor for a larger, more substantive theological and philosophical issue. Diamond offers a close reading of key texts, such as the "Guide of the Perplexed" and the "Mishneh Torah", demonstrating the importance of integrating Maimonides' legal and philosophical writings. Converts, Heretics, and Lepers fills an important void in Jewish studies by focusing on matters of exegesis and hermeneutics as well as philosophical concerns. Diamond's alternative reading of central topics in Maimonides suggests that literary appreciation is a key to deciphering Maimonides' writings in particular and Jewish exegetical texts in general.

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