Written in Judeo-Arabic in eleventh-century Muslim Spain but
quickly translated into Hebrew, Bahya Ibn Paquda's Duties of
the Heart is a profound guidebook of Jewish spirituality that
has enjoyed tremendous popularity and influence to the present day.
Readers who know the book primarily in its Hebrew version have
likely lost sight of the work's original Arabic context and its
immersion in Islamic mystical literature. In A Sufi-Jewish
Dialogue, Diana Lobel explores the full extent to which
Duties of the Heart marks the flowering of the
"Jewish-Arab symbiosis," the interpenetration of Islamic and Jewish
Lobel reveals Bahya as a maverick who integrates abstract negative
theology, devotion to the inner life, and an intimate relationship
with a personal God. Bahya emerges from her analysis as a figure so
steeped in Islamic traditions that an Arabic reader could easily
think he was a Muslim, yet the traditional Jewish seeker has always
looked to him as a fountainhead of Jewish devotion. Indeed, Bahya
represents a genuine bridge between religious cultures. He brings
together, as well, a rationalist, philosophical approach and a
strain of Sufi mysticism, paving the way for the integration of
philosophy and spirituality in the thought of Moses
A Sufi-Jewish Dialogue is the first scholarly book in
English about a tremendously influential work of medieval Jewish
thought and will be of interest to readers working in comparative
literature, philosophy, and religious studies, particularly as
reflected in the interplay of the civilizations of the Middle East.
Readers will discover an extraordinary time when Jewish, Christian,
and Islamic thinkers participated in a common spiritual quest,
across traditions and cultural boundaries.
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