I was pleased to receive in my campus mailbox today a copy, hot from the press, of Islam: A First Encounter, by my longtime friend and now retired colleague at Brigham Young University, Kent Jackson. It's a beautifully illustrated book, only 112 pages long but in fairly large paperback format, designed for use by students at BYU's Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies.
I was privileged to read two or three of its chapters prior to publication, and I think that the book is pitched at the right level: It's not too simple and basic to be of value, but it also doesn't offer so much detail that students will lose sight of the forest for the trees. We've never had a book like this at the Jerusalem Center before, and I expect it to be quite helpful for the students and the curriculum there.
Several years ago, at the time of my enforced departure from the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative (or METI), which I had conceived and founded, the settlement negotiated on my behalf with the new regime at the Maxwell Institute by my then dean stipulated that I be identified in each future volume as "Founding Editor" and that I receive two copies of each published book.
I had assumed that, when the Maxwell Institute handed METI over to the Dutch publishing company E. J. Brill, the negotiated arrangement would come to an end. However, to my considerable surprise, two copies of the latest METI publication — issued by Brill — were in my department box today, and I'm still listed as "Founding Editor." So perhaps it will continue. Which would be nice.
The new volume is another publication in the series The Medical Works of Moses Maimonides, devoted to that specific aspect of the career of the greatest rabbi and the greatest Jewish philosopher of the Middle Ages (who lived from 1135 to 1204 AD). Knowing that this particular volume was coming down the pipeline always caused us some amusement. Perhaps, in this particular case, it's a relief that Brill is the publisher rather than Brigham Young University Press:
Maimonides, On Coitus: A New Parallel Arabic-English Edition and Translation, by Gerrit Bos, with Editions of Medieval Hebrew Translations by Gerrit Bos and Medieval Latin Translations by Charles Burnett and Slavonic Translations by W. F. Ryan and Moshe Taube (Leiden and Boston: E. J. Brill, 2019).