"how Would He Not Protest God's Putting to Death the Righteous Child?" Maimonides, His Interlocutors, and Eleazar Ashkenazi Read the Akedah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Medieval Jewish readings of the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac, remain almost entirely oblivious to the antinomy between ethics and the revealed divine command that many modern interpretations find at the heart of the story. This study explores an exception, the teaching of the fourteenth-century rationalist, Eleazar Ashkenazi ben Nathan Ha-Bavli. In his Revealer of Secrets, Eleazar seeks a remedy for what he takes to be the theological and moral scandals that arise when the Akedah is read according to its plain sense. While Eleazar's treatment of the Akedah builds in many ways on that of Maimonides, it also adds novel layers regarding this most difficult of biblical accounts. For this reason, the study begins with a substantial review of Maimonides' intentionally elusive treatment of the Akedah and its reception among some representative later medieval interlocutors. Turning to its main focus, the article supplies a case study in medieval Jewish rationalism at its limits, in both matter and manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-261
Number of pages29
JournalReview of Rabbinic Judaism
Volume26
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Eric Lawee, 2023.

Funding

Acknowledgement: The research was supported by the ISRAEL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (grant No. 350/19).

FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation350/19

    Keywords

    • Akedah
    • Binding of Isaac
    • Eleazar Ashkenazi
    • Maimonides
    • medieval rationalism

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