Maimonides and the Book That Changed Judaism: Secrets of “The Guide for the Perplexed”

by Micah Goodman; Yedidya Sinclair, trans.

University of Nebraska Press / Jewish Publication Society
296 Pages. Hardcover $34.95

Review by Philip K. Jason

Micah Goodman has taken up the challenge of rendering this classic of Jewish philosophy more accessible, but it will never be totally accessible. By design, Maimonides left his guide filled with leaps and contradictions and cloaked revelations, daring his readers to make connections, resolve or at least meditate on the contradictions, and expose what means and beliefs has been disguised.

Goodman’s way is to regroup the guide’s scattered arguments and propositions and proofs into a kind of coherence that will release more of its power and bring out the relationships between the Rambam’s main concerns and 21st century life.

Also, by injecting copious references to the Rambam’s other major work, Mishneh Torah, Goodman widens our understandings of the great thinker’s intentions, range, wisdom, and boundless curiosity.

Those familiar with the tenants and methods of Jacque Derrida’s deconstruction movement in twentieth century literary criticism will find some affinities between it and Goodman’s achievement—and the achievement of Maimonides as well.

Maimonides abhorred the infantilism of literal readings of the biblical text that maintained anthropomorphic understandings of God. Bringing the unknowable and unfathomable perfection down to human scale robs the human seeker of true glimpses of the divine. . . .

To read the entire review as it appears on the Jewish Book Council website, click here: Maimonides and the Book That Changed Judaism | Jewish Book Council

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