Infants in the Talons of Eagles: Inadvertent Heresy in Maimonidean Thought and Interpretation.
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In this paper, I will address one of the central questions within Maimonides heresiology – the status of the inadvertent heretic. While Maimonides is not the first Medieval Jewish philosopher to deal with this problem, 4 his positions, particularly given the weight of his imprimatur, have continued to befuddle interpreters and scholars to this day. I will analyze the different sources which have led many current (and medieval) Maimonidean scholars to the conclusion that, for Maimonides, inadvertent heresy is no different from its full-fledged cousin – particularly the famed final passage in his introduction to Helek and his various statements on the nature of immortality – as well as the sources throughout Maimonidean literature which seem to militate against this interpretation –such as his apparently lenient stances towards karaites and attributionists, and his relatively non-naturalistic stance on Noachides. Finally, while the resolution to these various tensions is complex and likely multicausal, I will offer a tentative suggestion that the various tensions in Maimonides can be ameliorated by noting the gradual development of Maimonides thought in the area of divine volition, and its’ bearings on his heresiology.
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