The Book of Theodicy

A Translation and Commentary on the Book of Job

Ben Joseph Al-Fayyumi Saadiah; Translated and with commentary by Lenn Evan Goodman

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August 24, 1988
254 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 9780300037432
Cloth

Born in Egypt in 882, Saadiah Gaon was the first systematic philosopher of Judaism, the father of both scientific biblical exegesis and Jewish philosophic philosophy. In this book, L.E. Goodman presents the first English translation of Saadiah’s important Book of Theodicy,a commentary on the Book of Job. Goodman’s translation preserves Saadiah’s penetrating naturalism, tenacity of theme and argument, and sensitivity to the nuances of poetic language.

"Among the many fine points of Professor Goodman’s volume . . . is his knitting together of four diverse though plainly interdependent texts. Each testifies to the author’s wide-ranging scholarly competence."—Martin D. Yaffe, Critical Review of Books in Religion

"An excellently researched and balanced book."—Michael Milston, Jewish Book News and Reviews

"I find in Saadiah a very perceptive analyst of the true teaching and message of the book of Job. I feel that the work is of major importance for study, and will serve to deepen and student’s understanding of, and appreciation for, the book of Job."—Gleason L. Archer, Shofar

"This work . . . is much more than a fine piece of analytic scholarship, reflecting years of hard and fruitful efforts. Goodman has also produced a synthetic work of his own, one quite faithful to the spirit of Saadiah’s own work on Job. It is itself a work of authentic synthesis, which is, indeed, the highest compliment that could be paid to Saadiah: essentially imitating his philosophical/exegitcal project. . . . This work is to be most highly recommended to all who are interested in medieval Jewish thought, and also in contemporary issues in the philosophy of religion."—David Novak, Jewish Quarterly Review

"This remarkable work is a triple triumph doubly realized. . . . Goodman has rendered Saadiah’s translation of Job and his commentary into idiomatic and elegant English. . . . The sophisticated interplay of three languages is the first triple triumph of this book. The second is the manner in which Goodman situates Saadiah’s work in three contexts: ancient rabbinic, contemporary Muslim, and subsequent Jewish philosophic. Goodman’s comparison of Jewish midrash and Muslim tafsir, and of Saadiah’s indebtedness to both . . . [is] perhaps the most important of the many contributions of this book. This study, enriching such diverse fields as biblical exegesis (traditional, philosophic, and critical), Hebrew and Arabic grammar, etymology, and midrash, is a must for any serious library."—Religious Studies Review

"Professor Goodman has produced an eminently intelligible piece of scholarship, both in the translation itself and in his lucid notes and general comments. The English edition we now have is a rich source of Jewish and Arabic learning. Our knowledge of many important things is much enhanced by it. . . . This work is to be most highly recommended to all who are interested in medieval Jewish thought and, also, in contemporary issues in the philosophy of religion."—David Novak, University of Virginia

"An impressive work of scholarship and translational skill. The non-Arabic reader will now be able to appreciate and profit from Saadiah’s exegetical genius."—Seymour Feldman, Rutgers University
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