By Robert Eisen
Medieval Jewish philosophers were studied generally by way of sleek students, yet although their philosophical pondering used to be usually formed by way of their interpretation of the Bible, rather little cognizance has been paid to them as biblical interpreters. during this learn, Robert Eisen breaks new flooring by way of examining how six medieval Jewish philosophers approached the ebook of task. those thinkers lined are Saadiah Gaon, Moses Maimonides, Samuel ibn Tibbon, Zerahiah chicken, Gersonides, and Simon ben Zemah Duran. Eisen explores each one philosopher's examining of task on 3 degrees: its dating to interpretations of task by means of prior Jewish philosophers, the best way it grapples with the most important problems within the textual content, and its interplay with the author's systematic philosophical notion. Eisen additionally examines the resonance among the readings of task of medieval Jewish philosophers and people of recent biblical students. What emerges is a portrait of a faculty of Joban interpretation that was once inventive, unique, and every now and then unusually radical. Eisen therefore demonstrates that medieval Jewish philosophers have been severe exegetes whom students can't find the money for to disregard. via bringing a previously-overlooked point of those thinkers' paintings to gentle, Eisen provides new intensity to our wisdom of either Jewish philosophy and biblical interpretation.
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Extra resources for The Book of Job in Medieval Jewish Philosophy
Given Saadiah’s heavy dependence on rabbinic sources, one wonders why, in this instance, he would depart from them. It is always possible that Saadiah was simply unaware of his differences with the rabbis. After all, he never explicitly opposes their view. Yet, there is reason to suspect that Saadiah’s choice of Job over Abraham is quite deliberate. Not only does he deny Abraham the honor of being the model for divine trials, but nowhere in his discussion of that issue in Beliefs and Opinions nor in his commentary on Job is Abraham’s name even mentioned.
The Book of Lamentations, which was written in response to the destruction of the ﬁrst Temple, is wholly devoted to the theme of exile, and the verse cited, which focuses on repentance, encapsulates one of its central themes. More important are the other two verses cited in this passage that support Saadiah’s conception of trials. Both prooftexts, Isaiah 30:18 and Zephaniah 3: 5, are again drawn from portions of the biblical text that deal quite speciﬁcally with the experience of Jewish exile among the gentile nations.
This command is a problem for Saadiah’s reading because it again suggests that it is Satan who afﬂicts Job, not God, and that it is for this reason that God is instructing Satan to spare Job’s life. 43 Saadiah’s interpretation of the ensuing discussion between Job and his three companions—Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar—has already been dealt with in part in the introduction to the commentary. There, as we have seen, Saadiah provides the general outline of the argument between them: Job’s friends argue that he must have sinned to have experienced his afﬂictions, while Job maintains his innocence but does not accuse God of injustice on the assumption 26 the book of job in medieval jewish philosophy that He can cause suffering at His whim.