Duran - Encyclopedia

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DURAN, a Jewish Provençal family of rabbis and scholars, of whom the following are the most important.

I. Profiat Duran, called also Ephodi. He was in 1391 compelled to profess Christianity, but remained devoted to Judaism. His chief works were grammatical and philosophical. In the former realm his most important contribution was the Ma'aseh Ephod (completed in 1403); in the latter, his commentary to the Guide of the Perplexed by Maimonides.

2. SIMON BEN ZEMAH DURAN (1361-1441), rabbi of Algiers. He was one of the first of the medieval rabbis to be a salaried official of the synagogue. Before the 14th century the rabbinical post had been almost invariably honorary, and filled by men who derived their income from a profession, epecially medicine. Duran wrote a systematic work on theology, Magen Aboth, but is chiefly famous for his numerous Responsa (known as Tashbaz) published in three vols. in 1738-1739. These Responsa, " Answers to questions sent from many lands," give valuable information as to social and religious conditions in the earlier part of the 15th century. (I. A.)

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