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The Legend of the Middle Ages: Philosophical Explorations of Medieval Christianity, Judaism, and Islam
     

The Legend of the Middle Ages: Philosophical Explorations of Medieval Christianity, Judaism, and Islam

by Remi Brague, Lydia G. Cochrane (Translator)
 

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This volume presents a penetrating interview and sixteen essays that explore key intersections of medieval religion and philosophy. With characteristic erudition and insight, RémiBrague focuses less on individual Christian, Jewish, and Muslim thinkers than on their relationships with one another. Their disparate philosophical worlds, Brague shows, were

Overview

This volume presents a penetrating interview and sixteen essays that explore key intersections of medieval religion and philosophy. With characteristic erudition and insight, RémiBrague focuses less on individual Christian, Jewish, and Muslim thinkers than on their relationships with one another. Their disparate philosophical worlds, Brague shows, were grounded in different models of revelation that engendered divergent interpretations of the ancient Greek sources they held in common. So, despite striking similarities in their solutions for the philosophical problems they all faced, intellectuals in each theological tradition often viewed the others’ ideas with skepticism, if not disdain. Brague’s portrayal of this misunderstood age brings to life not only its philosophical and theological nuances, but also lessons for our own time.

Editorial Reviews

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews - David Burrell
"This account will illuminate novices as well as adepts embarked on a shared journey into a fascinating world. . . . By using contemporary reflections on hermeneutics and other sophisticated tools . . . [Brague] deftly introduces us into this world in a way that helps us attain the consciousness demanded to understand 'the other,' so as to better appreciate our own limitations. In fact, that correlative activity of coming to understand ourselves as we seek to understand the other fairly defines the journey on which these essays launch us. So it could best be described as an exercise in self-understating, facilitated by a rich store of historical examples, deftly employed."
Nextbook - Adam Kirsch
"Brague shows [how] the subtle, often acrimonious interplay between Judaism, Christianity and Islam helped to create the advanced thought of the Middle Ages—a phrase that, after reading Brague's book, no longer sounds like an oxymoron."
Kent Emery
“Brague is one of the few scholars alive who is equally an expert on medieval Arabic, Jewish, and Latin philosophy (as well as on ancient Greek philosophy). He is an extraordinary linguist in both ancient and modern languages, which enables a truly subtle analysis of texts and ideas. The Legend of the Middle Ages demonstrates his special ability to discover profound philosophical implications in notions and questions in medieval texts that modern scholars would usually pass over.”

Choice
"All of the essays offer fascinating insights into all manner of topics of interest to medieval thinkers. . . . Brague shows not only an encyclopedic and detailed grasp of his sources, but also a penchant for tying these to contemporary interests in intriguing, creative ways. . . . This truly is an informative, engaging, and very readable book that will be very useful to anyone with an intellectual interest in things medieval."
Religious Studies Review
“Brague artfully explicates the commonalities of Islamic, Jewish, and Christian philosophy in the Middle Ages.”
Philosophy East and West
“A definitive statement on the wealth, complexity, and historicity of medieval Jewish, Christian, and Islamic philosophy. It is a substantially worthwhile and stylistically enjoyable read for anyone with an interest in medieval philosophy and the history of religion in the Middle Ages.”
Al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean
“A compelling argument that the medieval philosophical (and broader intellectual) tradition is a highly integrative body of work that ought to be considered on its own terms. . . . A trusty guide for the beginner, a reappraisal worthy of consideration by and interchange with the experts, a sublime reflection on the academic life, and a legacy worthy of the author’s career.”
Library Journal

Brague (philosophy, Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne; The Law of God) challenges perceptions of the Middle Ages as a period lacking in intellectual sophistication or as a time of interfaith dialog that could serve as a model today. In an initial interview and 16 essays (only three of which have previously appeared in English), Brague focuses on the philosophers of three great religious civilizations, particularly their use of Aristotelian Greek philosophy in ways congruent with their own religions and especially with their differing ideas of revelation as centered in the person of Jesus Christ; as found in God's historical interactions with the Jewish people; or as derived from direct revelation of an infallible word/book, the Koran. Throughout, Brague focuses on comparisons or relationships among three great civilizations and on carefully nuanced but essential difference. VERDICT Highly recommended to scholars of the Middle Ages as well as those in philosophy and religion more generally. They will all be enlightened by careful reading of this book.—Carolyn M. Craft, Longwood Univ., Farmville, VA


—Carolyn M. Craft
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
This account will illuminate novices as well as adepts embarked on a shared journey into a fascinating world. . . . By using contemporary reflections on hermeneutics and other sophisticated tools . . . [Brague] deftly introduces us into this world in a way that helps us attain the consciousness demanded to understand 'the other,' so as to better appreciate our own limitations. In fact, that correlative activity of coming to understand ourselves as we seek to understand the other fairly defines the journey on which these essays launch us. So it could best be described as an exercise in self-understating, facilitated by a rich store of historical examples, deftly employed.

— David Burrell

Nextbook
Brague shows [how] the subtle, often acrimonious interplay between Judaism, Christianity and Islam helped to create the advanced thought of the Middle Ages—a phrase that, after reading Brague's book, no longer sounds like an oxymoron.

— Adam Kirsch

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226070810
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
03/30/2011
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Rémi Brague is professor of philosophy at the Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne and at the University of Munich. He is the author of nine other books, including The Law of God and The Wisdom of the World, both published by the University of Chicago Press. Lydia G. Cochrane has translated numerous books for the University of Chicago Press.

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