Page 76 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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mediator in the Maimonidean controversy were given a
disproportionate amount of attention. The task of correlating and
analyzing 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, scholars
began to classify Nahmanides’ methodologies in his talmudic,
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 scholarly 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’ approaches to rabbinic
literature and Jewish thought. To be sure, Nahmanides did react
and respond, both explicitly and without attribution, to
Maimonidean positions. But Nahmanides’ interests and frames of
reference were far broader than the writings of Maimonides alone.8
historical and religious value and will certainly live longer than his big books in
.” Cf. Dubnow, pp. 53-54, 6 1 -62 , 65, and I. Twersky’s introduction to
R. Moses b. Nahman (Ramban): Explorations in His Religious and, 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 Beyond
(Berkeley, 1992), pp.
205 -206 , nn. 1,4. For the Maimonidean Controversy, see Bernard Septimus,
Hispano-Jewish Culture in Transition
(Cambridge, Mass., 1982), p. 147, n. 1.
6. See Aaron Yeroham,
Ohel Rahel
(New York, 1942); Isak Unna,
R. Mosheh
benNahman, Hayyav u-Fe’ulato
(Jerusalem, 1954); H.H. Ben Sasson, “Ha-Ramban:
Ish be-Sivkhei Tekufato,”
n.s. 1 (1967): 360-66 ; Chaim Henoch,
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 ha-
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 biography o f Ramban,
Rabbenu Mosheh ben Nahman: Hayyav
(Jerusalem 1967).
His edition of
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
8. See, e.g., Ritva
,Sefer ha-Zikkaron,
ed. Kalman Kahana (rev. Ed., Jerusalem,
1982), pp. 88-90. O f course, points o f suggestive comparison and contrast have