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Jewish Philosophical Polemics Against Christianity in the Middle Ages: With a New Introduction$
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Daniel J. Lasker

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113515

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113515.001.0001

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The Use of Reason in Religious Debates

The Use of Reason in Religious Debates

Chapter:
(p.25) Chapter Three The Use of Reason in Religious Debates
Source:
Jewish Philosophical Polemics Against Christianity in the Middle Ages: With a New Introduction
Author(s):

Daniel J. Lasker

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781904113515.003.0003

This chapter outlines the theoretical basis of the Jewish polemic against Christian doctrines. According to the Jewish philosophical polemicists, one of the main differences between Judaism and Christianity lay in the former's conformity to reason and the latter's irrationality. To support this contention, the polemicists developed methods of distinguishing between their own doctrines, which they claimed to be rational, and Christian beliefs, which, they argued, contradicted the findings of reason. Jewish theologians sought, in the first place, to render an account to themselves of the phenomenon of Christian belief in rationally unacceptable doctrines. They tried to gain some philosophical insight into this kind of belief by pondering the force of training and habit. This insight appears to have been offered first by Judah Halevi in the opening passages of his Kuzari, a philosophical defense of Judaism. The chapter then considers Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed. It also explores the polemical approach of the Jewish Averroists, and identifies the criteria for determining logical impossibility of doctrines.

Keywords:   Christian doctrines, Jewish philosophical polemicists, Judaism, Christianity, reason, Christian beliefs, Jewish theologians, Judah Halevi, Maimonides, Jewish Averroists

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