This chapter takes a look at Rabbi Shimon ben Ẓemaḥ Duran (1361–1444). Duran was one of the leading halakhists of the fifteenth century and his responsa are an important source of information concerning the social and economic history of North African Jewry and concerning the problems of the conversos in the first half of the fifteenth century. He is less well known as a philosopher, although his contribution to Jewish dogmatics is usually mentioned in connection with studies of Joseph Albo, whom he decisively influenced. Duran did more than simply influence Albo, however; he introduced many of the ideas and motifs which were to dominate the discussion of Jewish dogma in the next two centuries. He demonstrated a tolerance unique to his age, and acted as a sort of bridge connecting two entirely different conceptions of what a principle of faith was. It has been alleged that many of his ideas concerning the dogmas of Judaism are derived from Averroës; this is not so, and while his philosophy might have been eclectic and derivative, his comments on the dogmas of Judaism are original, if not always consistent.
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