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Dogma in Medieval Jewish ThoughtFrom Maimonides to Abravanel$
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Menachem Kellner

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113218

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113218.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Dogma in Medieval Jewish Thought

Menachem Kellner

Liverpool University Press

This introductory chapter describes briefly and generally the Muslim, Jewish, and Karaite background against which Moses Maimonides (1138–1204) elaborated his principles. It first explains why systematic theology was not attempted by Jews until after the talmudic period. Here, laying down dogmas for Judaism for the first time is seen as being clearly innovative. It would take a bold person to do such a thing. Maimonides had the requisite boldness; but even he exercised caution in laying down his principles. The chapter goes on to indicate how important and pervasive discussions of dogmatics were in Muslim contexts and note some points about the Muslim discussion which are particularly relevant to a full understanding of Maimonides’ account of the dogmas of Judaism. It shows that had Maimonides posited his ‘thirteen principles’ in a purely talmudic context, the work would have been seen clearly as an innovation. Given the development of systematic theology within Judaism, however, Maimonides was able to posit his creed without appearing to innovate at all.

Keywords:   Moses Maimonides, dogma, systematic theology, Talmud, dogmatics, Judaism, thirteen principles

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