Page 168 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

Basic HTML Version

Nahmanides’ role in the disputation at Barcelona and as a
mediator in the Maimonidean controversy were given a dispro­
portionate amount of attention. The task of correlating and an­
alysing the relatively complete and self-contained documents,
letters and accounts, which captured the sometimes explosive
positions of the antagonists in both episodes, was undoubtedly
alluring. By the middle of the twentieth century, however, schol­
ars began to classify Nahmanides’ methodologies in his talmud­
ic, biblical and kabbalistic studies in a more systematic fashion.
An effort was made to place Nahmanides’ positions and tactics
during the public controversies within the context of his schol­
arly writings, rather than the reverse.6With the publication of
a large number of annotated texts, the study of Nahmanides’
writings became much easier.7Yet in this period as in the earlier
one, Maimonides stood virtually alone as the figure against
whom to measure, compare and categorize Nahmanides’ ap­
proaches to rabbinic literature and Jewish thought. To be sure,
Nahmanides did react and respond, both explicitly and without
attribution, to Maimonidean positions. But Nahmanides’ inter­
ests and frames of reference were far broader than the writings
of Maimonides alone.8
Literary Virtuosity
(Cambridge, Mass., 1983), ed. I. Twersky [hereafter cited
Ramban: Explorations],
p. 8, n. 20. For a current bibliography o f studies
dealing with the Barcelona Disputation, see Robert Chazan,
Barcelona and
(Berkeley, 1992), pp. 205-206, nn. 1, 4. For the Maimonidean Con­
troversy, see Bernard Septimus,
Hispano-Jewish Culture in Transition
bridge, Mass., 1982), p. 147, n. 1.
6. See Aaron Yeroham,
Ohel Rahel
(New York, 1942); Isak Unna,
R. Mosheh
ben Nahman, Hayyav u-Fe’ulato
(Jerusalem, 1954); H.H. Ben Sasson, “Ha-
Ramban: Ish be-Sivkhei Tekufato,”
n.s. 1 (1967): 360-66; Chaim
Ha-Ramban ke-Hoker u’khe-Mekubbal
(Jerusalem, 1978).
7. C.B. Chavel,
Perushei Rabbenu Mosheh ben Nahman
(Jerusalem, 1959), and
Kitvei Rabbenu Mosheh ben Nahman
(Jerusalem, 1963-64). Ephraim Gottlieb,
in a lengthy review o f
Kitvei ha-Ramban
published in his
Mehkarim be-Sifrut
ed. Joseph Hacker (Tel Aviv, 1976), pp. 516-35, criticized
Chavel for including kabbalistic works that were attributed to Ramban but
were in fact written by others. Chavel also published an intellectual biog­
raphy o f Ramban,
Rabbenu Mosheh ben Nahman: Hayyav, Zemano, ve-Hibburav
(Jerusalem, 1967), His edition o f
Perushei ha-Ramban ‘al Nevi’im u-Khetuvim
(Jerusalem, 1964) is a collection o f comments to biblical verses that are
found throughout Ramban’s writings.
8. See, e.g., Ritva,
Sefer ha-Zikkaron,
ed. Kalman Kahana (rev. ed., Jerusalem,
1982), pp. 88-90. Of course, points o f suggestive comparison and contrast
have not yet been exhausted. See, e.g., Moshe Idel, “Maimonides and Kab­