Medieval Jewish Philosophy and Its Literary Forms

Medieval Jewish Philosophy and Its Literary Forms

Edited by Aaron W. Hughes and James T. Robinson
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/11/2019
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-04251-4
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Too often the study of philosophical texts is carried out in ways that do not pay significant attention to how the ideas contained within them are presented, articulated, and developed. This was not always the case. The contributors to this collected work consider Jewish philosophy in the medieval period, when new genres and forms of written expression were flourishing in the wake of renewed interest in ancient philosophy. Many medieval Jewish philosophers were highly accomplished poets, for example, and made conscious efforts to write in a poetic style. This volume turns attention to the connections that medieval Jewish thinkers made between the literary, the exegetical, the philosophical, and the mystical to shed light on the creativity and diversity of medieval thought. As they broaden the scope of what counts as medieval Jewish philosophy, the essays collected here consider questions about how an argument is formed, how text is put into the service of philosophy, and the social and intellectual environment in which philosophical texts were produced.

Author Bio

Aaron W. Hughes is the Philip S. Bernstein Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Rochester. He is the author of many books, including Rethinking Jewish Philosophy: Beyond Particularism and Universalism.

James T. Robinson is the Caroline E. Haskell Professor of the History of Judaism, Islamic Studies, and the History of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He is the author of several books and articles on medieval Jewish philosophy, literature, and biblical exegesis.



Explores very crucial question that have been given their due and in the process shatters some stereotypes about what it means to do philosophy. The essays make a strong argument for considering genre not simply as a matter of style, but as a matter of substance.


 (James A. Diamond, author of Maimonides and the Shaping of the Jewish Canon)


Succinctly put, this book argues that form matters. When medieval Jewish philosophy is analyzed as a socially constructed practice, it emerges as nuanced, complex, compelling, and meaningful, inviting Jews and non-Jews to appreciate it anew.


 (Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, author of The Legacy of Hans Jonas: Judaism and the Phenomenon of Life)

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Table of Contents

Introduction / Aaron W. Hughes and James T. Robinson

1. Animal Fables and Medieval Jewish Philosophy / Kalman P. Bland, z'l

2. Biblical Commentaries as a Genre of Jewish Philosophical Writing / Raphael Dascalu

3. Commentaries on The Guide of the Perplexed: A Brief Literary History / Igor H. de Souza

4. Philosophical Commentary and Supercommentary: The Hebrew Aristotelean Commentaries of the Fourteenth through Sixteenth Centuries / Yehuda Halper

5. The Author's Haqdamah as a Literary Form in Jewish Thought / Steven Harvey

6. Does Judaism Make Sense? Early Medieval Kalām as Literature / Gyongyi Hegedus

7. Dialogues / Aaron W. Hughes

8. Poetry / Aaron W. Hughes

9. Poetic Summaries of Scientific and Philosophical Works / Maud Kozodoy

10. The Philosophical Epistle as a Genre of Medieval Jewish Philosophy / Charles Manekin

11. The Sermon in Late Medieval Jewish Thought as Method for Popularizing Philosophy / Chaim Meir Neria

12. Lexicons and Lexicography in Medieval Jewish Philosophy / James T. Robinson

13. Theological Summas in Late Medieval Jewish Philosophy / Shira Weiss