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The Scandal of KabbalahLeon Modena, Jewish Mysticism, Early Modern Venice$
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Yaacob Dweck

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691145082

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691145082.001.0001

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Guiding the Perplexed

Guiding the Perplexed

Chapter Three Guiding the Perplexed
The Scandal of Kabbalah

Yaacob Dweck

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines Modena's attempt to reclaim Maimonides from his kabbalistic critics and admirers. It argues that Modena's reading of Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed informed most of his important positions in Ari Nohem—his understanding of tradition, his rejection of kabbalistic theology, and his attack on kabbalistic hermeneutics. Indeed, Modena quoted, paraphrased, defended, or alluded to Maimonides on nearly every page of Ari Nohem. He mentioned Maimonides explicitly on more than forty occasions in a treatise that consisted of thirty chapters; in addition, he often cited Maimonides without mentioning his name and engaged Maimonides' critics at great length. The chapter then connects Modena's discussion of two crucial issues in his criticism of Kabbalah to his reading of Maimonides: the history of esoteric secrets and the distinction between Kabbalah and philosophic knowledge.

Keywords:   Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed, Ari Nohem, kabbalistic theology, kabbalistic hermeneutics, Kabbalah, esoteric secrets, philosophic knowledge

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