I’m terrifically excited about the Sundown project, and I figured a number of BLT readers would be as well. After all, where else can you possibly find
Viking-themed a cappella music telling stories of the Norse Gods, focusing on Odin, Loki, the murder of Baldur, and Snorri Sturlson.
I have heard Sassafrass before, and they are fabulous. Their vision for this project is terrific: not just a CD of the song cycle, but a play performed in period costume, with storytellers to link the songs together. They’re raising money now via Kickstarter to support a CD, a live performance, and a professional videorecording of the performance to be made available on DVD. Watch the video below to hear Ada’s enthusiastic pitch for the project, as well as some background and previews.
Then consider tossing in a few bucks (or more… check out those donor gifts) to help bring this unusual creative vision to fruition.
(Don’t see a video? Click on this link instead.)
First, a happy Shavuos (celebrating the giving the of the Torah at Mt. Sinai) to all those celebrating and a happy Pentecost (celebrating the Holy Ghost descending on the early Christian apostles) to all those celebrating.
These holidays are sometimes celebrated through study, and especially to those of you who are studying, I wish that you enjoy full fruits of your study and that your study brings understanding and wisdom.
I’m going to try to be offline through the end of the weekend, and I think several other BLT bloggers are travelling or occupied this week, so posting will be light – but I look forward to resuming our exchange of ideas here soon!
To amuse you until we return with our regularly scheduled programming, here is an article from 1893 dug up by the formidable blogger who goes by the pseudonym Mississippi Fred MacDowell, on a proposal by the Turkish Board of Publication to remove the story of Joseph from the Armenian Scriptures “out of consideration for Mrs. Potiphar.” MFM is careful to point out:
It must be noted – since not everyone reads to the end – that on protest by the British, the Grand Vizier reversed the order.
Geoguessr is an Internet game in which you are plopped somewhere in the world – with only Google Street View to guide you. You need to look around and try to guess where you are. It is surprisingly fun – and even a bit addictive.
For Bible nerds out there, it appears he is using the Hendrickson facsimile of the Oxford University Press 1833 Roman type transcription of the 1611 KJV.
See also here.
The Women in Theology blog introduces five new authors: Amaryah Shaye, Brandy Daniels, Janice Rees, Maria McDowell, and Elissa Cutter join Bridget, Elizabeth, Julia, Katie Grimes, and Sonja in this collaborative blog which provides an online space for graduate student “women in theology . . . to dialogue critically and creatively, with and for each other.”
Each new author brings some particular perspective and expertise that is sure to broaden and enrich the theological perspectives of this already excellent Christian ecumenical feminist blog. So head on over to learn about the new bloggers and give them some love.
Some of the faculty members who work with me this week got into that tired argument again over whether the plural of syllabus is correctly “syllabuses” or “syllabi.” (I think I’d said “syllabuses” out loud in a conversation earlier, and just a few minutes after others had overheard this phrase of mine their argument was full blown.) I don’t really want to continue the debate here.
But wouldn’t we like to see some of what’s behind the English word, these English words? How Greek and how Latin? How fake and how real?
How right our uses of them and how wrong? How educated and how pretentious? How novel and how historical?
syllabus, syllabuses, syllabi
Here’s what the google ngram viewer shows us of how others before us have varied in the uses of them in print, the plurals never ever nearly as popular as that singular and those two used in equal measure only but a few moments in time:
Here’s what a few blogging experts say about the phrases. For example, here’s a medieval philosopher, a former literary editor, a part-time tv commentator, a widely published essayist and poet, and “[t]he author of bestselling Kindle Singles,” Dr. Joseph Bottum starting off a post “Loose Language” (my emphases):
The plural of syllabus is syllabi. Or is it syllabuses? Focuses and foci, cactuses and cacti, funguses and fungi: English has a good set of these Greek and Latin words—and pseudo-Greek and Latin words—that might take a classical-sounding plural. Or might not. It kind of depends.
There’s pretension, no doubt, in using fancy plurals: a hangover from the days when class distinction could be measured by the remnants of a classical education. But we’ve all been carefully trained to mock such pretensions (on the grounds, as near as I can tell, that it’s terribly lower class to affect the traits of the upper class). And the most prominent use of such plurals nowadays is for comic effect, puncturing a stuffy occasion.
So the debate has never been about whether there are or should be any rules of usage, or even about whether linguists should help people to figure out what those rules are, relative to a given context or style of speech or writing. The contested question is what credence to give to the “rules” that self-appointed experts attempt to impose on the rest of us, especially in cases where these “rules” are inconsistent with the practice of elite writers, and are justified by illogical appeals to logic, historically false appeals to history, or unsupported assertions about ambiguity and other aspects of readers’ uptake.
Is the “will of custom” sometimes equivocal? Of course; the mansion of the English language has many rooms. Is it appropriate to limit this variation by imposing a “house style” on particular publications? Sure, if you want to. Will terrible things happen if your favorite style guide fails to constrain some optional choice, like “syllabuses” vs. “syllabi”? Surely not.
And Liberman had referenced history in an earlier post “What’s the plural of syllabus?“ At least, he’s shown how he at one point believed the following as he appeals to the logic of the assertions of the unnamed compilers and editors of the Oxford English Dictionary (and once more I emphasize):
The thing is, the word is a fake to start with, a misinterpretation due to scribal error. Here’s what the OED sez:
Now I’m writing my own blogpost. I’m merely a linguist with but a Master o f Arts in the discipline, just dabbling in statistically significant data of human subject research called socio- linguistics. Not much of an authority myself, Dr. J. K. Gayle holds the most advanced degree in English, in classical rhetoric, while working more professionally with post-puberty learners of English as a language and their teachers and confessing to chronically private interests in how any of us ever learns “English.” (I have my mother to thank for encouraging me.) So here’s my own rather subjective emphasized read of “what the OED sez:”
My eye is drawn to the alleged mere connections from our English “syllabus” to the ancient Greek’s “συλλαμβάνειν, to put together, collect.”
I am as fascinated by the OED editor’s collection of early quotations of the in print uses of this word and its English meanings. Take a look for yourself (if you’ll pardon once again my emphases):
The question we must quickly ask is whether Taylor calling a syllabus a collection in 1667 was a mistake, the appropriation of a fake and graecized Latin word, a misinterpretation, a spurious deduction? Was he using bad English way back then? Why then does the OED editor choose to include that now? Am I asking too many questions?
Let’s take a look at other dictionary makers’ look at the Greek word allegedly causing all of the confusion. Click here for the full entry on συλλαμβάνω and collection of uses by Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott. The old verb in Greek is not too far off from the newer English noun syllabus, is it? “The syllabus, including [collected] links to lecture notes and homework assignments, can be found here,” writes Dr. Liberman and his co-instructor here.
I’d like the end this post with uses of forms of syllabus or the like (may we call these syllabuses or syllabi?) that we may find not yet collected, though they do exist somewhere between the Liddell-Scott and OED entries and well before the google ngram records and our own various contemporary uses of such “English.”
These are translational uses of the old Greek forms. They are generative. They are not easily contained or collected by our expert opinions about which is fake and what must be true.
The first is from the very first use of the Greek phrase in question by the translator(s) in Alexandria, Egypt, rendering the Hebrew Bible into Hellene. It’s the Greek Genesis 4:1 -
Αδαμ δὲ ἔγνω Ευαν τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ
καὶ συλλαβοῦσα ἔτεκεν τὸν Καιν
καὶ εἶπεν ἐκτησάμην ἄνθρωπον διὰ τοῦ θεοῦ
It’s the first recorded “conception,” the conceiving of the first human being by his mother.
The second syllabus-related Greek phrase I’d like to end this post with is from the New Testament. It’s from the gospel of Luke, itself sort of a syllabus or a collection of the accounts of the gospel on hand. Before I say more, let me just announce this (as if any of us needs to hear it): these two syllabi, or syllabuses, have been the cause of many troubles (and I link to my own elsewhere-blogged troubles with the plural of that last word below). Now, here’s the announcement of the immaculate conception as a unique instance of what we tend argue over as fake or as real as spurious or as historical as literary or not in our collections of understandings (as syllabi). Here’s Luke 1:31 -
Καὶ ἰδού συλλήψῃ ἐν γαστρί
καὶ τέξῃ υἱόν
καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν
I frequently buy books from bookdepository.com. Book Depository is reasonably fast (most purchases arrive within a week), offers free shipping to pretty nearly anywhere, and features prices that are often better than Amazon. (Book Depository ships from the UK, but books are exempt from customs in the US. Unlike Amazon, they do not collect sales tax.)
However, getting the best price on Book Depository is a bit of an art. From the US, Book Depository hasat least two web sites: bookdepository.com and bookdepository.co.uk. (The latter URL will redirect you to the .com site at first. But the second time in the row ones goes to that URL, it will send you to bookdepository.co.uk .) The .com and .co.uk web sites feature significantly different prices on many books. I wish I could tell you that one web site was consistently cheaper than the other, but I have found no significant pattern.
Interestingly, I get a third set of prices when connecting through a UK proxy. Book Depository from the UK makes it easy to get pricing in $US (simply slide down the currency selection in the upper right hand corner, and pay with Paypal, for example), and the prices are often even cheaper than bookdepository.co.uk or bookdepository.com from a US IP address. Also, it turns out that many books that are listed as “unavailable” from the US web site are easily available from the UK web site.
Especially when purchasing books that are only available in UK editions or scholarly books, the pricing at Book Depository is often very attractive. I’ve generally had good service from them.
With news of the Boston marathon bombers being of Chechen descent, Petr Gandalovič, the Czech Ambassador to the United States, feels it is necessary to explain that the Czech Republic is not the same as Chechnya in an official statement:
As more information on the origin of the alleged perpetrators is coming to light, I am concerned to note in the social media a most unfortunate misunderstanding in this respect. The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two very different entities – the Czech Republic is a Central European country; Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation.
Apparently, Ambassador Gandalovič does not have a very high view of American understanding of basic European geography.
The Telegraph is reporting a claim by Abraham Skorka, an Argentinian rabbi and long-time friend of the new pope, that Francis will open the long-sealed Vatican files on Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli), who served as pope 1939-1958. These files may shed light on the activities of the Vatican during the Holocaust. This may solve a long-standing historical mystery regarding the Vatican’s stance during the Holocaust.
There are a wide variety of views of the topic (some summarized by the phrase “Hitler’s Pope”); the actual files may shed light.
Incidentally, I just today received a copy of On Heaven and Earth, the English translation of the book written by Jorge Bergoglio (Francis) and Abraham Skorka.
I am very impressed by the Denis Minns and Paul Parvis edition of Justin Martyr’s Apologies (part of the Oxford Early Christian Texts series). Not only is the text interesting on its own terms, but it strikes me as a model of how to present Christian religious texts (other religions, such as Judaism, have well-established models of how to present texts, e.g., Rabbinic Bibles, Vilna edition Talmud, etc).
I have long been interested in the writings of Justin Martyr (particularly his Dialogue with Trypho); but have at times faced the difficulties that all readers of Justin Martyr face: the texts have undergone obvious serious corruption. Minns and Parvis present a conservatively edited version of Apologies while still providing sufficient support to understand the work as a whole. Apologies emerges as a libellus [petition] to the emperor that includesa defense of Christianity at a time in which it was a minor religion (the efforts early Christians made to distribute their message should not be underestimated – recall Tertullian’s statement nearly a half-century later “No one comes to our books unless he is already a Christian.” (De Testimonio Animae 1):
So in the First Apology we are clearly dealing with a petition – an abnormally long one, to be sure, but still recognizably a petition. What Justin has done is to adopt the conventions of a normal libellus, but greatly to expand it by the insertion of catechetical and other explanatory material. And in so doing he has managed to hijack a normal piece of Roman administrative procedure and turn it into a device for getting his message, literally and symbolically, to the heart of the Roman world.
The core of this work is a new edited text of the Apologies in Greek and English translation. The text is heavily annotated – the Greek has a full apparatus; the English is heavily (and usefully) annotated. In addition to historical notes, textual notes, and interpretive notes, the editors also mark up the text to indicate likely lacuna in the version of the text we have.
The editors have very intelligently edited the Greek text; and this version of the Greek text is better than my previous “go to” edition edited by Miroslav Marcovich’s edition (now published in an omnibus edition with the Dialogue with Trypho). Marcovich’s edition arguably reads too smoothly (Marchovich deploying better Greek than Justin himself used!)
The question of the relationship between the so-called First Apology and Second Apology has long troubled readers; with some advocates arguing that the two apologies form one work; others arguing that the two works stand on their own, and Marcovich arguing that the Second Apology is merely an appendix to the First. Minns and Parvis persuasively argue for a “cutting-room floor” theory:
We have in the edition taken the fairly radical decision to move the last two chapters of the Second Apology (14 and 15) to the end of the First, where we think they fit quite well. We will explain in a moment the codicological considerations that led us to make that move in the first place and which, we hope, make it less temerarious than might at first appear. That leaves the Second Apology as a series of disconnected fragments, which is precisely what we believe it to be. Justin, we think, kept tinkering with his original apology, adapting it and perhaps expanding it. And he would have kept notes – perhaps a notebook – of materials excised and resources that could be deployed in street-corner or bathhouse debate – precisely the sort of debate described in the Second Apology itself in the account of his dealings with the Cynic Crescens.
That could explain why the Second Apology seems so disjointed. It could explain why there is so much overlap with and repetition from the First. It could explain why so much of the Second has an eye on hostile, philosophically minded interlocutors. And it could presence of the tale of the unnamed woman and her marital troubles. That story – so precious to us and, fortunately, to Eusebius – may have come to seem dated once the dust had settled. That would mean that, instead of being a postscript, [the Second Apology] actually contains some earlier material accumulated for use in debate. Justin, after all, must have continued to teach and debate for another ten or twelve years between the first composition of the Apology and his martyrdom. At some point the material was gathered up and published, perhaps by disciples after his death, as a monument to Justin “philosopher and martyr.”
Minns and Parvis also include full supplementary material, including a lengthy introduction explaining the history of the text and its criticism, a biography of Justin and critique of his work, and a description of the mid-second century setting of the Christian theology of the period.
All in all, this is a work that is highly accessible for the reader, while still being of strong scholarly interest. Even if one does not agree with the “cutting-room floor” theory of Minns and Parvis, one can still use this text as a guide to the apologies simply by reading the two chapters in question as part of the Second Apology rather than the First.
I have only rarely seen Christian texts presented in such a useful and serious way, with full notes, apparatus, and supplementary material. Editors would do well to emulate Minns and Parvis in stylistic approach.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Aspiring astronauts and wannabe reality TV stars, take note: A nonprofit that aims to send the first human colonists to Mars by 2023 will start taking applications in July of this year.
Mars One, the Netherlands-based organization that wants to turn the colonizing of Mars into a global reality television phenomenon, is encouraging anyone who is interested in space travel to apply.
Previous training in space travel is not required, nor is a science degree of any sort, but applicants do need to be at least 18 years of age and willing to leave Earth forever.
As of now, a flight back to Earth is not part of the Mars One business model.
I wanted to gain some perspective on MOOCs, so I signed up to take one. The course I signed up for Gregory Nagy’s heavily hyped EdX/HarvardX course CB22x: The Ancient Greek Hero. Harvard’s Crimson reported:
When CB22x: “The Ancient Greek Hero” debuts as one of edX’s first humanities courses this spring, the class will face an entirely new set of challenges than those faced by its quantitative predecessors.
CB22x, the online version of professor Gregory Nagy’s long-running course on ancient Greek heroes, will reach an anticipated audience of 40,000 when it starts this spring as part of edX, the online learning venture started by Harvard and MIT.
“Because we are a humanities course, what we need is a kind of variation of the Socratic method,” Nagy said. “Dialogue is more important than getting X amount of information uploaded at any given moment.”
Departing from the structure of his lecture course, Nagy will conduct dialogues with colleagues about the course’s assigned reading.
To encourage a more interactive experience, a technological development to facilitate private and public commentary is being developed for the class, which, according to Nagy, is the College’s longest continuously running course.
“We’re building a massive annotation tool, which will allow students to comment on any portion of course material, including video, audio, images, and text,” said Jeff Emanuel, HarvardX fellow for the study of the humanities.
[…] CB22x will focus on analyzing ancient Greek texts, including Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Additionally, students will have free access to the electronic version of Nagy’s new textbook, “The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours.”
“It’s not for money. It’s a labor of love,” Nagy said.
and Nagy even managed to get a plug for his course from the New York Times.
So, I signed up for the course. Now, I have read Homer in multiple English translations, and even some portions in Greek. I have even met Nagy, and I liked his book The Best of Achaeans: Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry, which seems to be the more sophisticated version of the material he plans to present in his course. At first glance, the course looked great. Here are some of the things that Nagy wrote on the class forum:
This is not a course in which we tell you the questions and their answers and in which you are obliged to memorize and repeat those answers to us for a "good grade" (even if you don’t really believe that they are good answers or good questions). That’s not the learning model we are using, though it may well be a fine learning model for other subjects
And Nagy explicitly excluded dogmatic statements:
The Discussion Forums have been a great success in this Course, but recently there have been some posts that convey a distinctly exclusionary message.
* "i am reading the texts and i saw many hellenic words translated wrongly and other things here is a list of the things i saw that are wrong."
* "secondly the word hora doesn’t mean quoting from the core vocab ‘season, seasonality, the right time, the perfect time’ it means only time, season in hellenic is epohi"
* "If I agree with the explanation, with which I don’t, then Zeus Will is definitely not to cause just the Iliad but the whole Trojan war, which is narrated in the previous poems (Kypria epi) and the poems after Iliad (Aithiopis, Mikra Ilias, Iliou persin etc.) that consist the Trojan epic circle."
[…] The problem here is the dogmatic tone of the statements. Assertions of dogma are not in accord with the intellectual ideals of this Class.
Humanism is an endeavor that attempts to understand how we, individually, are different from each other, and in that respect there is no single statement or belief that can be solely right or wrong. We all have different points of view, and it is these that make dialogue vital and wonderful and potentially truthful.
By careful reading of this ancient Greek poetry and literature which we are all presently reading together, we engage in a mutual endeavor toward an understanding of that culture, that is, the bronze age archaic world represented in the Homeric epics, one which is far removed from our own world.
Only by careful and delicate reading of these words can our powers of inference become successful and only then might we present our textually based arguments as part of an ongoing and unfinished discourse. If we draw upon our own particular and personal views we are simply reading ‘into’ the text: this is not the practice nor the ambition of this Course – nor of Humanism.
If we simply and overtly dismiss the interpretations of others in a quick and callous fashion, making the claim that truth is rigidly exclusive, we are not participating in the practice of dialogue and learning.
Nagy is saying all the right words. But how does the course play out in practice?
Nagy gave homework problems which went entirely against all of his noble statements.
Here was the very first problem given to students:
Who was the first to get angry in the Iliad?
* Neither of the two
Now, it is already a red flag that a class in humanities (particularly one with such high goals as Nagy’s class) feels it is necessary to resort to multiple choice questions. Instead, in a normal class, one would ask for an explanation of the role that anger player; or what the sources of Agamemnon’s and Achilles’s anger was, etc. But a multiple choice question?
I answered, without hesitation “Agamemnon,” since Agamemnon freely admits being the first to be angry, and of course, he had taken Chryseis as slave. But alternatively one could argue that the correct answer was Achilles, since the opening line of the poem is about the “rage of Achilles” – that is a central theme of the entire poem.
As it turns out, the only answer that the computer would accept was “Neither” – the following explanation was given:
The correct answer “Neither of those two,” because the first to get angry is Apollo, not Agamemnon or Achilles.
While that answer is defensible, it also is a trick question; and, of course, there is no opportunity for explanation here. Nagy here commits the exact offense he condemns – he gives a shallow and dogmatic assertion to what is really something of a subtle question.
The problem is not the intentions of Nagy, but rather, that the technology for the course supports only shallow interactions, when the course promises to focus on deep themes. In a normal class, this would not be an issue – in class discussion or in an essay, there is plenty of opportunity to understand deep themes. Online, there is only an opportunity to snare students in trick questions.
This experience of MOOC technology not supporting homework matching course material is typical. I’ve talked with a number of online instructors and TAs, and this point comes up over and over again. The nature of MOOC technology means that the only homework and problems that can be assigned are necessarily highly shallow. Complaints of the form: “I did all the homework, and I got 100%, but I don’t understand the lecture” seem common.
While there are any number of critiques of classroom education, in practice the classroom experience takes many different forms, developed over time to match different types of materials. A course on foreign languages is going to be different than a laboratory course on chemistry; a course on mathematics is going to be different than a course on art. And the forms of evaluation and practice are even more varied than the classroom formats. But online, everything seems to boil down to a stupefying same-ness.
Had I been required to take these sorts of online courses to earn my undergraduate degree, I am not sure I would have ever graduated.
In future posts, I hope to take up some other issues with MOOCs: including lecture formats, reading material, student motivation, social interaction, and educational balance.
It is all a giant bizarre tale unwound by UC Berkeley’s Eric Naiman. I find myself unable to describe or even to paraphrase it, except to say that it begins with an account of when Dickens met Dostoyevsky, and then takes a turn for the weird.
It is, perhaps, the oddest and even the most salacious thing printed in Times Literary Supplement in some time.
Granta today has released its influential “once-a-decade” list of twenty promising British writers. In the past, the list has identified then little-known authors who later came to be major literary figures, including Martin Amis, Pat Barker, Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith (twice), and Jeannette Witherspoon.
Of particular interest given some recent posts here at BLT: the Granta list is dominated by women (in 2003, only eight of the twenty names were women, and this year, only eight of the twenty names were men).
I’d like to extend particular congratulations to Naomi Alderman, who wrote a fascinating novelistic version of the gospels informed by her own knowledge of Judaism: that has been well reviewed: The Liars’ Gospel. (Oh, and yes, she had previously won the women-only Orange Prize – or as some call it, the “Lemon Prize.”)
(Congratulations to all the other winners as well; I would like to also single out Sunjeev Sahota who reportedly “"had never read a novel until he was 18 – until he bought Midnight’s Children at Heathrow. He studied math[ematic]s, he works in marketing and finance; he lives in Leeds, completely out of the literary world.”)
PS: Lest we think that this represents a reversal of male-domination of literature, we can also point to recent stories pointing to abysmal figures for women in major literary publications: at London Review of Books women wrote 24% of reviews and 27% of reviewed books; at New York Review of Books, the figures are 16% of reviews and 22% of reviewed books; at Times Literary Supplement, the figures are 30% of reviews and 25% of reviewed books.
Is there a more fascinating mid-century political philosopher than Leo Strauss? He certainly ranks as an influential thinker. He left a clear mark on American conservatism. His writings have influenced an entire generation of classicists. He is closely associated with any number of repeating themes: “the theologico-political predicament of modernity,” “the quarrel between the ancients and the moderns,” “philosophy and the city,” and “the moral argument for revelation.”
If you are not familiar with Strauss’s work, Leora Batnitzky’s summary article is a great place to start.
Still, it is probably still too early to assess Strauss’s impact. There is still great division among Straussians, as indicated in the title Harry Jaffa’s brilliant Crisis of the Strauss Divided (punning on the title Jaffa’s famous book on the Lincoln-Douglas debates: Crisis of the House Divided.)
For me, two of the most interesting themes in Strauss are his:
- Discussion of esotericism in the writing of pre-modern philosophers, a theme developed in Strauss’s Persecution and the Art of Writing. By esoteric writing, Strauss is referring to writing that does not state its theme explicitly, but rather through hints and contradictions, causes a sufficiently mature reader to understand the secrets hidden in the work. In Persecution and the Art of Writing, Strauss particularly studies Maimonides, Judah Halevi, and Spinoza.
- Discussion of the difference between the Christian reception of Aristotle (as represented, for example, by Aquinas) from the Jewish reception of Aristotle (influenced by Averroes, and represented by Halevi and Maimonides). Strauss says the “Jewish Aristotelians” read Aristotle through Plato’s Laws, and thus have a Platonic perspective that the Christian reading lacks. The Jewish philosophers thus recognize the tension between “philosophy and the city.” This theme is particularly developed in Natural Right and History.
Again, Maimonides is a central figure in both of these arguments.
My first introduction to Strauss came from reading the Shlomo Pines’s English translation of Maimonides’s The Guide of the Perplexed (currently published in two volumes: 1, 2). The translation is preceded by a lengthy essay by Strauss: “How to Begin to Study The Guide of the Perplexed” in which Strauss gives evidence for his view of Maimonides as an esoteric author.
Now Kenneth Hart Green has done a great service for the reading public by collecting the complete Straussian writings on Maimonides; including writings not previously published and writings not previously available in English. (Green has a forthcoming companion book containing his own analysis entitled Leo Strauss and the Rediscovery of Maimonides, presumably a further development of the thesis Green introduced in Jew and Philosopher: The Return to Maimonides the Thought of Leo Strauss. Not also Green’s previous anthology of Straussian writings on Jewish philosophy – albeit one that does not claim to be complete.) Here are the contents of Leo Strauss on Maimonides: The Complete Writings:
- A 21-page editor’s preface, 3 page acknowledgments, and 87 page editor’s introduction, all by Green.
- Strauss’s “How to Study Medieval Philosophy,” revised from Strauss’s original manuscript (an earlier, less accurate version of the lecture appeared in The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism.)
- Strauss’s “Spinoza’s Critique of Maimonides” from Spinoza’s Critique of Religion.
- Strauss’s “[Hermann] Cohen and Maimonides” appearing in English for the first time.
- Strauss’s “The Philosophic Foundation of the Law: Maimonides’s Doctrine of Prophecy and its Sources” from Philosophy and the Law: Contributions to the Understanding of Maimonides and His Predecessors.
- Strauss’s “Some Remarks on the Political Science of Maimonides and Farabi” revised from a translation that appeared in 1990 in English translation in the journal Interpretation, and has not been previously anthologized.
- Strauss’s “The Place of the Doctrine of Providence according to Maimonides” revised from a translation that appeared in 2004 in English translation in the journal Review of Metaphysics and has not been previously anthologized.
- Strauss’s “Review of The Mishneh Torah, Book 1, by Moses Maimonides, Edited according to the Bodleian Codex with Introductions, Biblical and Talmudical References, Notes and English Translation by Moses Hyamson,” from a 1937 issue of the journal Review of Religion and has not been previously anthologized.
- Strauss’s “The Literary Character of The Guide of the Perplexed” from Persecution and the Art of Writing with revised notes.
- Strauss’s “Maimonides Statement on Political Science” is from What is Political Philosophy? with revised notes.
- Strauss’s “Introduction to Maimonides’ The Guide of the Perplexed” transcribed from tapes and appearing in print for the first time.
- Strauss’s “How to Begin to Study The Guide of the Perplexed” revised from Strauss’s introduction to Pines’s translation (also in Liberalism Ancient and Modern).
- Strauss’s “Notes on Maimonides’s Book of Knowledge” revised from a volume in honor of Gershom Scholem (also in Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy).
- Strauss’s “Notes on Maimonides’s Treatise on the Art of Logic” revised from Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy.
- Strauss’s “On Abravanel’s Philosophical Tendency and Political Teaching” revised from the essay that originally appeared in a long-out-of-print 1937 anthology.
- “Appendix: The Secret Teaching of Maimonides” which is an unpublished fragment recently found in the Leo Strauss archives at the University of Chicago.
Altogether, this is a remarkable collection, and will be of interest to anyone interested in Strauss, Maimonides, esoteric writing, or the tension between religion and philosophy.