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Appendix A Magen Avot: An Explanatory Outline

This outline presents the parts1 and chapters of Magen Avot as listed in its introduction,2 supplementing them with organizational features that are clearly present in the book but not reflected in its chapter titles. Other pertinent bibliographical 3 and explanatory4 information has been added as well. The model and source for Duran's division of the book into thirteen chapters is Maimonides' thirteen principles of faith5 as presented in his Introduction to the tenth chapter of Mishnah Sanhedrin. The models and sources for other major structural features of Magen Avot are noted in the appropriate places. Magen Avot: Introduction (1a-2b) On Torah versus rational investigation; method and plan for the book. Magen Avot Part I: The Portion of God Above6 Mishnah (Sanhedrin 10:1): Refuting the opinions of the epikorsim. (1) Chapter 1. On the Existence of God (3a:1-4b:3).7 (2) Chapter 2. On His Unity (4b:4-5a:31).8 (3) Chapter 3. On His Incorporeality (5a:32-5b:54).9 (4) Chapter 4. On His Eternity A Parte Ante and that He Ought to be Worshipped (5b:55-6a:41).10 (5) Chapter 5. On His Attributes (6a:42-8b:2).

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Since Duran formally presents each of Magen Avot's four parts as Mishnah commentary, the line following the title of each part indicates the relevant Mishnah passage or tractate in italics. Magen Avot (Livorno, 1785), 2b. The actual titles and descriptions of the 13 chapters and other divisions of the book have been modified here based upon Duran's formulation of them in other places as well: his prefaces to each individual part and chapter, and the bibliographical summary of all his works that he wrote and revised after the completion of Magen Avot (appears in Sefer ha-Tashbaz Vol. I, ed. Yoel Katan [Jerusalem: Machon Yerushalayim, 1998], pp. 49-53). Folios and line numbers from the printed edition (Livorno, 1785) are added in parenthesis. Some of these parenthesis are in bold, calling attention to the fact that the chapter or section in question is of unusually great length. To put length in perspective, some basic data regarding quantity: The vast majority of folios in the Livorno edition have exactly 57 lines on each side. At approximately 20.2 words on the average line (taken from a representative sample), this gives 1,140 x 2 = 2,280 words per folio. Folios in which words appear in large type to indicate new chapters or sections will contain slightly smaller total. When the actual contents of a chapter do not easily match that chapter's title, the contents are described in the line immediately following the title. The explanation is in italics under the rubric: Actual Contents. The numbering of Maimonides (1-13) is indicated in parenthesis at the beginning of the line before the chapter number. What portion is decreed by God above? ( Job 31:2). The existence of God is first here as in the first commandment. This too derives from the first commandment: I am the Lord your God (and not others). This is related to second commandment not to serve any being other than He. This relates to the fourth commandment, the Sabbath (which suggests that God alone is eternal and everything else has been created in time).

Magen Avot Part II: The Portion of our Despoilers11 Mishnah (Sanhedrin 10:1): He who maintains the Torah was not divinely revealed. (6) Chapter 1. On Prophecy in General (8b:3-10b:52). Actual Subject: Physics; Four elements and life of plants, animals, humans. (7) Chapter 2. On the Prophecy of Moses (10b:53-21a:15). Actual Subjects: A. Metaphysics and the existence of angels. B. Prophets other than Moses. (8) Chapter 3. On Divine Revelation (21a:16-31b:7). Actual Subjects: A. Angels and Prophecy. B. Torah from Heaven (quality of the speech heard at Sinai). C. Polemics. (9) Chapter 4. On the Eternity of the Torah (Keshet U-Magen12). Actual Subjects: A. Anti-Christological Arguments. B. Anti-Islamic Arguments. Magen Avot Part III: The Portion of Jacob13 Mishnah (Sanhedrin 10:1): He who maintains that resurrection is not taught in the Torah (for our father Jacob did not die). (10) Chapter 1. On God's Omniscience (31b:8-32b:44). (11) Chapter 2. On Providence, Reward and Punishment (32b:45-33b:38).14 (12) Chapter 3. On the Days of the Messiah (33b:39-34b:43). (13) Chapter 4. On the Resurrection of the Dead (34b:44-100a:19). Actual Subjects: Preface: Resurrection is taught in the Torah (34b:45-35a:4). The First Topic: On the Soul and its Immortality (35a:5-93a:8).15 The Second Topic: Creation of the World and Miracles (93a:9-99b:18).16 Afterword: The Resurrection of the Dead (99b:19-100a:19).

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Such is the portion of our despoilers, the fate of them that plunder us (Isaiah 17:14). Appears separately in most manuscripts, and printed separately as well. Its length in the first complete edition (Leghorn, 1790) is 25 folios; it is followed there by anti-Christological passages that were omitted from the printed edition of Magen Avot Part I (26-27) and then by the related polemic work Milhemet Mizvah written by Duran's son Solomon (who is also responsible for re-entitling Magen Avot II:4 as Keshet U-Magen). Critical edition of Keshet U-Magen by Murciano Prosper (Ph. D. dissertation, New York University, 1975). Not like these is the Portion of Jacob; for it is He who formed all things, and Israel is His very own tribe: Lord of hosts is His name (Jeremiah 10:16). The chapter on providence is concise and to the point. This uncharacteristic brevity is because providence is the only principle of the Torah, according to Duran, to which the Bible itself devotes an entire book (Job). Thus Duran's commentary on Job, Ohev Mishpat, already satisfied his need to explain that one principle. See Appendix B for a more detailed outline. Major literary models and sources for the first part (mostly biological) of this Topic are Maimonides' Eight Chapters (introduction to his commentary on Avot) and Aristotle's De Anima plus various of his biological treatises in their Averroean versions. The immediate literary models and sources for the last part of this topic (mostly about aspects of the human soul and mind) are Book II of Gersonides' Wars on dreams, divination and prophecy (for Duran's discussion of the Imagination), followed by Book I on the immortality of the soul (for Duran's essay on the intellect and the soul's immortality). See Appendix B for a more detailed outline. The immediate literary models and sources for this Topic are the section of Maimonides' Guide on the creation of the world (II:13-31), and Book VI of Gersonides' Wars on creation.

Magen Avot Part IV: The Portion of the Lord is His People17 Mishnah: Tractate Avot. Introduction and five chapters (the chapters into which Tractate Avot is divided).


For the Lord's portion is His people, Jacob His own allotment (Deuteronomy 32:9).

Appendix B An Explanatory Outline of Magen Avot III:4 On the Resurrection of the Dead (34b-100a)
Preface: Resurrection is Taught in the Torah (34b:45-35a:4)

The First Topic: On the Soul and its Immortality (35a:5-93a:8)18

Introduction: The Soul and its Faculties (35a:5-35b:20). A. The Nutritive Faculty (35b:20-45b:23). The Nutritive Faculty (35b:20-37a:43). The Reproductive Function of the Nutritive Faculty (37a:44-45b:23).19 B. The Animal Spirit and the Heart (45b:24-49a:46).20 C. Perception (49a:47-57b:7). The Brain and its Function as the Seat of Perception (49a:47-49b:52). 1. Touch (49b:52-50b:13). 2. Taste (50b:14-51a:48). 3. Sight (51a:49-52a:55). 4. Hearing (52a:56-56a:29).21 5. Smell (56a:30-56b:41). Perception in General (56b:42-57b:7). D. Locomotion (57b:8-69a:15).22 E. The common sense (69a:16-39).23 F. The imagination (69a:40-76b:37).24 G. Memory (76b:38-77b:31). F. The Appetitive faculty (77b:32-78a:41). G. The Intellect (78a:42-86a:10).25 H. The Immortality of the Soul (86a:11-93a:8).26

The Second Topic: Creation of the World and Miracles (93a:9-99b:18)27

A. Opening Statements on Creation versus Eternity (93a:9-94a:49). B. Formal Argumentation (94a:50-95a:47). C. Informal Proofs (95a:48-96b:46).
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Duran's order of the faculties is explained in chapter 5. Duran's presentation of the reproductive function parallels much of Aristotle's De Generatione Animalium. The animal spirit is not one of the Aristotelian faculties. What it is and why it is included here are discussed in chapter 5. By far the most expansive essay among the five senses, the section on hearing contains detailed discussions of phonetics and writing systems. Two long digressions make locomotion by far the lengthiest of the faculties. The first is on the classes of locomotive animals (58b:47 ff.); the material is drawn from Aristotle's De Partibus Animalium. The second is on the variations in the methods of generation by animals (65a:1 ff.), which roughly follows De Generatione II:4-7. The common sense is dislocated from perception by Duran because it provides raw material to the imagination. The model and source for most of this faculty, whose perfection is to make the future known through dreams, divination, and prophecy, is Book II of Gersonides' Wars. The model and source for most of this faculty is Book I of Gersonides' Wars. This is the derivative principle justifying the inclusion of the entire First Topic On the Soul and its Immortality within the context of Magen Avot III:4 on the resurrection of the dead; see chapter 4. The major source and model for the Second Topic is Book VI (especially part one) of Gersonides' Wars.

D. More Formal Proofs (96b:47-98a:40). E. Related Questions (98a:41-98b:29). F. Volitional Miracles (98b:30-99b:19). Afterword: The Resurrection of the Dead (99b:20-100a:19)

Appendix C The Four Columns of Rabbi Abraham bar Judah A Summary of its Contents and Structure
Abraham bar Judah set up his four columns (turim) corresponding to the parts of a verse from Isaiah (63:7), as follows: (I) I will recount the kind acts of the Lord, (II) the praises of the Lord, for all that the Lord has wrought for us: (III) the vast bounty to the House of Israel, (IV) that He bestowed upon them according to His mercy and His great kindness. Column I. The Existence of God and General Providence1 Verse: I will recount the kind acts of the Lord Synopsis from the preface (2:3-7): The First Column and first foundation stone speaks of existence that the necessary existent exists and is the cause of all creations, and the way His general providence functions Great cornerstones of the Torah (pinnot gedolot toriyyot) depend [on these concepts], and the solutions to huge questions and terrible quandaries, about which many are perplexed and uncertain (531-565). The First Column (unlike the last three) contains a number of highly distinct subsections, which follow a list of concepts spelled out in a programmatic introduction (2:19-3:4). These are connected to the opening verse, which speaks of (a) kind acts, (b) praises, and (c) bestowal. These three terms teach three things which are precious cornerstones of the Torah (pinnot yekarot toriyyot), which are the central pillar upon which the entire house is supported, and they are like a shield against those who disagree with us (3:2-4). The three precious cornerstones (4:2, 6) are: C1. Kind acts = Volition: The First Cause is characterized by volition and kindness. In His kindness He chooses to continually grant the world existence.2 C2. Praises = Power: There is no limit to God's power nor any interruption of it, nor does it depend on any being or resource outside of Him.3
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Rosenberg, pp. 531-565. Rosenberg, pp. 531-532 (synopis 3:6-13); pp. 536-539 (section). Rosenberg, p. 532 (synopsis 3:13-19); pp. 540-541 (section).

C3. Bestowal = Knowledge: God does not receive knowledge from outside of Himself; rather, He knows all through Himself as the one who gives Order to all.4 Note that only the first cornerstone (C1) is based on the part of the verse (kind acts) that heads Column I: The prophet of blessed memory wanted to teach us how Gods kindnesses flow from Him and reach the creations in general. Thus he tells us that God alone, in His wisdom, brought our reality from absolute nothingness into absolute being, as I will prove with Gods help. And this is why our master, lord of the prophets, began his faithful book: In the beginning God created, which the Jerusalem Targum translates as: In his wisdom (2:19-3:1). It is only after this quotation that Abraham bar Judah delineates the three cornerstones that draw upon the entire verse (3:1-4:1). How exactly the structure of the verse serves as the model for the Four Columns is never made entirely clear in the book, and this additional usage of it for the three cornerstones within Column I acerbates the problem. Abraham bar Judah doesnt tackle these three cornerstones immediately, however, but rather prefaces them with a brief summary of classic proofs for the existence of God and Unity. 5 He then returns immediately to the precious cornerstones that we had mentioned (7:7), beginning with kindness and volition. The main point of the first cornerstone is to posit an alternative to the view of Ibn Sina, namely that God emanates existence without volition, just like a flame naturally gives light and heat. The alternative is that God has one simple, general will over all existents (9:15), a volition based on kindness which cannot be affected and does not change. Abraham bar Judah next skipped to the topic of divine knowledge (though in the introduction to Column One it is listed not as the second cornerstone, but as the third). Gods knowledge is through Himself, of His essence, and not something received from outside of Himself (10:16-11:2). The final cornerstone (11:2-12:9) is that Gods power depends on no being or resource outside of Himself. Here Abraham bar Judah briefly mentions Maimonides flirtation with creation according to Plato: Although the wise Maimonides said that the view of Plato leans toward the view of our Torah, I say that Platos view has been nullified, uprooted, and displaced by the proofs we have brought [for creation ex nihilo] (11:25-27). In the preface to the Four Columns we were told that not only do the three great cornerstones of the Torah depend upon the existence of God and the fuctioning of general providence, but that the solutions to huge questions and terrible quandries, about which many are
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Rosenberg, p. 532 (synopsis 3:19-4:1); pp. 539-540 (section). Rosenberg, pp. 532-536 (4:4-7:6).

perplexed and uncertain depend upon them as well. Therefore, now that we have demonstrated the truth of the precious cornerstones and removed the proofs against them (12:10), the next step is answer two great questions, [the solutions to which] strengthen our religion and establish our faith (12:12). The two great questions are: Q1. Divine Knowledge: Unversal or Particular?6 Q2. Divine Foreknowledge versus Contingency7 Both questions are about divine knowledge, giving them a connection to the planned third and last cornerstone (though it actually appears as the second). Since Abraham bar Judah states that these problems are now to be solved through what has already been said about the three cornerstones (12:11), but are closely connected to the one that was planned as the third and last, the structure of Column One is not entirely clear. Nevertheless, the ideas are all closely related. The essay on divine knowledge states that God knows particulars, not just universals, in the manner that is familiar to us through asdai Crescas (as well as what Abraham bar Judah already wrote): God knows particulars through Himself as part of His essence, through giving them reality rather than receiving knowledge of them. This also leads to the conclusion that divine volition never changes: Since no knowledge is new to Him, His will does not change (16:1). An anti-Christian polemic follows on the immutability of the Torah (God doesnt change His mind about that, either).8 The second great question is how the category of the contingent can be compatible with divine foreknowledge.9 This includes a lengthy discussion of prophecy versus human free will, and concludes with the remark that this is a principle of our religion and establishes our faith (25:14). At the very beginning of his discussion about the existence of God (before the first cornerstone), Abraham bar Judah included a brief prayer that mentioning some of the ideas he intended to discuss. There he expressed the wish that his writing strengthen faith not only in the existence of God, but also in Gods Unity (4:14), and that he further planned to discuss the problem of attributes (4:9-10). The next subsection of the First Column 10 deals with these topics. Especially important here is a major discussion identifying the lack of change in Gods knowledge with the lack of change in His will (as opposed to creatures, whose will changes along with their apprehension of their circumstances). This includes the problem of creation having taken place at a certain point in time,11 and to various miracles and the phenomenon of prophecy.
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Rosenberg, pp. 542-548. Rosenberg, pp. 548-555. Rosenberg, p. 547 (17:4-18:6). This passage is discussed in Lawee, pp. 191-192. Rosenberg, pp. 548-555 (18:11-25:14). Rosenberg, pp. 555-565 (25:15-34:22); the discussion of negative attributes begins at 26:24. Rosenberg, p. 559 (25:25) ff.

In his conclusion at the end of the column (34:22-29), Abraham bar Judah mentioned that he has included three great cornerstones, but here they are listed as the existence of God, his unity, and providence. Though the ideas in the First Column are well explained, and the spirit of its argumentation is clear to the reader, the structure of its presentation is not. It seems that for Abraham bar Judah all of these ideas were very closely related, such that he had difficulty organizing them in a predetermined fashion and discussing them one by one. As a whole, the structure of the Column I on general providence may be outlined as follows: A. The Existence of God B. Three Cornerstones of the Torah C1. Divine Volition C2. Divine Knowledge C3. Divine Power *Creation C. Two Great Questions Q1. Divine Knowledge: Universal or Particular? *Knowledge of Particulars *Eternal Volition *Immutability of the Torah Q2. Divine Foreknowledge & Contingency *Prophecy *Human Free Will D. Unity and Attributes *Eternal Volition *Creation *Miracles The numerous redundancies in this outline are not accidental or mistaken, but rather reflect the actual flow of discussion in the book. Despite the lack of clarity (in terms of exhausting one topic before moving on to the next one), all of the ideas discussed here have a tight connection to the overall theme of Column I, namely general providence. General providence, for Abraham bar Judah, is the one eternal act of volition by which God decided to create the world (C1), continues to know it (C2), and continues to provide for it (C3) (the latter mostly through natural laws). General providence was Abraham bar Judah's alternative to necessary emanation (as taught by Avicenna). Note that it was an alternative, not a refutation: Though Abraham bar Judah spoke of refutations more than once, he never actually engaged in them. His method was rather one of presenting an alternative model supporting tradition, one that was no less cogent and convincing than the naturalistic model. This alternative model, however, as presented up to this point, was still not enough to answer the kinds of questions about particulars that Maimonides had said would be impossible to 9

answer according to the model of necessity: Why did God give prophetic revelation to this one and not to that? Why did God give this Law to this particular nation, and why did He not legislate to the others? etc. The point that must be stressed is that even prior to developing his model further to satisfy such queries, even when still discussing the level of general providence, Abraham bar Judah still found it necessary break off completely from Avicenna and the rational model. In other words, when it came to explaining nature itselfeven before getting extensively involved with the particulars of divine laws, prophecy, miracles, and covenantseven on that general level Abraham bar Judah thought that an alternative model was not only possible, but highly preferable to the rationalistic one based on necessity. This alternative model, as presented so far, could explain the natural world as the result of volition. But having posited and stressed an unchanging, eternal volition for the deity, it is still hard to see how a divine Torah and individual miracles can be justified. The next column (II) therefore expanded the alternative model even further by showing how it could explain individual acts of will that are not covered by general providence. Column II. Particular Levels of Providence12 Verse: The Praises of the Lord, [for all that the Lord has wrought for us] Synopsis from the preface (2:8-12): The second column speaks of the different levels of providence among the creations, the greater or lesser providence that is observed for each of the various species and its particularshow and why this is so. For a great cornerstone of the Torah (pinnah gedolah toriyyit) depends on this too, and the solution to a huge question and a terrible quandary, about which many have been perplexed and uncertain and led to error. The basic theme of Column II is that the variations in providence observed among the creations are according to the differences among those who receive Gods emanation, 13 directly or through intermediaries. This theme necessitates beginning the column with an essay on the three great levels of creation: The separate intellects, the spheres, and the lower world; such ontological descriptions of the structure of the universe were identified with Ma`aseh Bereshit and Ma`aseh Merkavah by the sages of Israel. Providence over men14 varies according to their individual levels of understanding and preparation. Its first manifestationover all mankind in generalare the laws that govern societies. Those with greater understanding are given more laws, which are ever greater opportunities to serve God with love and fear, and this loving service in turn grants ever greater providence to such
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Rosenberg, pp. 565-592. See for instance p. 566 (35:23-36:2), p.572 (39:26-27), p. 577 (44:23-26). Pp. 573-575.


individuals (as will be expounded in the Column IV).15 According to the tri-level structure of the universe, the highest being receives Gods emanation directly and also influences those below it; the lower the level of creations, the more indermediaries are involved in passing the emanation down to it.16 These intermediaries have no volition; rather, the entire scheme of emanation depends on Gods will that each thing emanate and receive exactly what its nature allows for. The intermediaries all function automatically, in a natural process. After discussing the general structure of the three levels of the cosmos, the second part of Column II is meant to explain how providence works for each specific kind of creature. 17 There is a discussion of angels,18 followed by a question about the special providence over Israel: 19 We see that Israel specificially has greater providence than all the rest of humanity, for good or for better20 But why should this be true for the masses of Israel more so than for the rest of humanity? Are they not all equal in humanity? The answer, as already mentioned briefly in the initial comments to Column II, is the Torah: Among men, more and better laws result in closer and more specific providence. The nations of the world, as opposed to Israel, have no laws; even the seven laws of Noah were canceled when the Torah was given to Israel.21 Israels special providence is described in even more radical terms, however. 22 The Torah not only enables Israel to be ready to receive more of Gods good emanation, but it completely bypasses the entire scheme of the three levels of the cosmos, ignoring the higher levels which act as intermediaries in passing Gods bounty down to the lower levels. Israel is not governed by any constellation. Its level is above that of the constellations in the sense that it receives emanation directly from its source, by virtue of the Torah. Furthermore, since the laws of nature are themselves the product of Gods eternal will, they may be likened to inanimate tools that serve the will of the righteous23 (as are the special divine names 24). Special providence also metes out special punishment, as in afflictions of love (yissurin shel ahavah) for righteous men who nevertheless commit small transgressions.25
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P. 575 (42:10). Pp. 575-578. P. 578 (45:13), ff. pp. 578-580. Pp. 580 ff. I.e. for better or for worse. Contrast this to Albo (Ikkarim I:4), for whom the seven laws are an example of a legitimate divine law alongside Israels Torah. On a commandment to Noah, also see p. 551 (21:9-10). The discussion, including tangents, is found in pp. 580-592. Pp. 586-587. On ratzon kadmon also see: p. 553 (23:20-21 on the will of man); p. 576 (44:2). P. 588. P. 590. Note that this concept is an important tool for Durans theodicy in Ohev Mishpat and for the exegesis of the book of Job.


The underlying idea of this Column II may be summed up in one sentence: Gods eternal and unchanging volition is reflected in nature, but not only in nature. Like Halevi before him, Abraham bar Judah declared that there are eternal mechanisms beyond nature and science that control the world. These mechanisms make particular providence possible without any need to posit a change in the divine volition, which is eternal. Column III. Study of the Torah26 Verse: The vast bounty to the House of Israel Synopsis from the preface (2:12-14) and the introduction to the Column III (58:12-14): On the desired purpose of investigating the knowledge of the Torah, and the benefit we hope to procure from knowledge of it. This relatively short column is mostly homiletic, a rather straightforward survey of the Pentateuch that aims to show how the narratives and commandments of the Torah inculcate correct ideas about mans relationship to God. What is interesting here is the stress on the importance of following the commandments with understanding, which creates a certain tension with the essential value of doing them, period. The question of why the commandments must actually be done, in light of the competing contemplative ideal, is the topic of the next column. Column IV. The Commandments27 Verse: that He bestowed upon them according to His mercy and His great kindness. Synopsis from the preface (2:14-16) and the introduction to the Column IV (66:10-11): On the ultimate end aimed at by the commandments, why the commandments were given, and the benefit we hope to procure for them in endeavoring to do them. Column IV deals with the tension between the contemplative intellectual ideal versus the obligation to actually keep the commandments on a physical level. This important column was already fully analyzed in chapter 3.

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Rosenberg, pp. 592-601. Rosenberg, pp. 601-617.