Before Maimonides

A New Philosophical Dialogue in Hebrew


All can agree that the achievement of Moses Maimonides (d. 1204) set the standard for subsequent works of “Jewish philosophy”. But just what were the contours of philosophical-scientific inquiry that Maimonides replaced? A fairly large array of diverse texts have been studied, but no comprehensive picture has yet emerged. The newly discovered Hebrew dialogue published here has points of contact of various depth with most of the major works of pre-Maimonidean thought. It shares as well influences from without, especially from the Islamic kalam. The dialogue thus presents, in an engaging literary form, a clear and detailed snapshot of pre-Maimonidean philosophy and science.

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Y. Tzvi Langermann, Ph.D. (1979), Harvard, History of Science, is Professor Emeritus of Arabic at Bar Ilan University, He has published extensively on medieval science and philosophy, especially basing his research on unpublished manuscript materials. His most recent book is In and Around Maimonides (Gorgias, 2021).

1 Introduction: Situating Pre-Maimonidean Jewish Philosophy
 1 The Manuscript
 2 The Dialogue between Intellect and Soul

2 Conspectus

3 The Historical-Philosophical Context: Pre-Maimonidean Jewish Thought in the Iberian Peninsula
 1 Contemporaneous Jewish Sources
 2 Pairs of Opposites as a Fundamental Feature of the Created Universe
 3 The Mystical Death Wish
 4 Greek Sources
 5 Islamic Sources: The Kalam
 6 Polemical Targets
 7 Conclusions

4 Transcription, Translation, Innovation
 1 Transcriptions
 2 New Translations Announced by the Dialogue
 3 Din and ḥoq
 4 Innovative or Unusual Usages of Hebrew Word Forms
 5 yesh: Issues of Syntax and Meaning

Text and Translation

Universities, libraries, undergraduate and graduate students, with a specialty or interest in medieval Jewish thought or medieval science and philosophy in general.
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