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What is the original phrasing of the "gates of interpretation are not locked before us" (i.e. ולא שערי הפירוש סתומים בפנינו) in Guide to the Perplexed 2:25? That is, what is it in Rambam's Judeo-Arabic?

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You might also consider the recent (authoritative) translation available for free: press.tau.ac.il/perplexed/chapters/chap_2_25.htm –  Curiouser Mar 14 '11 at 5:23

2 Answers 2

There's an edition containing (only) the original Judeo-Arabic on Seforim Online. The relevant line seems to be this:

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The word that is translated פירוש is تَأْوِيل taʾwīl, an infinitive from the second form of the root أول. Here are a few of the definitions given in Lane's Lexicon:

-The turning of a verse of the Kurʾan from its apparent meaning to a meaning which it bears, or admits.

-Rendering in a manner not according to the letter, or overt sense; explaining the covert, or virtual meaning; interpreting in a manner not according to the obvious meaning.

-Explaining the meaning of that which is equivocal or ambiguous, i.e., what is not understood without repeated consideration.

It looks like there has been a whole book published recently on this topic: Opening the Gates of Interpreation by Mordechai Z. Cohen. From a very brief skim of a few pages on Google Books, here are a couple of things the author notes:

-In ibn Tibbon's ביאור המלים הזרות, appended to the end of editions of his translation, his explanation for this term is ביאור בדבר שלא כפשוטו.

-In speaking of the opening and closing of gates, the Rambam is drawing on the Muslim idiom 'the shutting of the gate of ijtihad'.

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I believe he was looking for the original phrase, which was provided by Alex. –  Seth J Jan 24 '13 at 19:33
Yes, of course. I just assumed it would be relevant to add some explanation and would make the question and answer more useful. –  paquda Jan 24 '13 at 19:57

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