Knowing the Unknowable God: Ibn-Sina, Maimonides, Aquinas

Knowing the Unknowable God: Ibn-Sina, Maimonides, Aquinas

Knowing the Unknowable God: Ibn-Sina, Maimonides, Aquinas

Knowing the Unknowable God: Ibn-Sina, Maimonides, Aquinas

Excerpt

This study of Ibn-Sina, Maimonides, and Aquinas intends to show how Muslim, Jew and Christian conspired to fashion a doctrine of God by transforming classical philosophy to display divine transcendence. The study is historical to the extent necessary to recover a medieval climate far more open to interfaith and intercultural exchange than our stereotypes have presumed it to be. Its aim is more contemporary and philosophical: to show us how to appropriate our own past in such a way as to profit by all that currently situates western Christians in conversation with other religious and cultural heritages. I owe this manner of appropriating past figures in our tradition to my mentor, Bernard Lonergan; while the explicit attention to other traditions was given expression by Karl Rahner in a lecture at Boston College in 1979. Both men have served us well in showing how fruitful and liberating it can be to attempt to understand those who have gone before us in an effort to discover our own ways into the future. Such is the goal of this study, undertaken in the conviction that philosophical theology must henceforth entail a comparative inquiry among major religious traditions.

My recent mentors in matters Jewish and Muslim have been many, profiting as I have from two years in Jerusalem (1980-82) and two subsequent summers at the Institut Dominicain des Etudes Orientales in Cairo. I have always been instructed by the writings of Alexander Altmann and gained fresh perspective from repeated conversations with . . .

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