Maimonides on Judaism and the Jewish People

By Menachem Kellner

Subjects: Jewish Studies, Jewish Philosophy, Religion, Philosophy, Ethics
Series: SUNY series in Jewish Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791406922, 180 pages, September 1991
Hardcover : 9780791406915, 180 pages, September 1991

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Table of contents



1. Introduction

2. Psychology

3. Ethics

4. Providence, Prophecy, and Immortality

5. The Place of Gentiles in the Messianic Era

6. Proselytes

7. What Is a Jew?

8. The Nature of Torah

9. Israel

10. Conclusion

Citations from Maimonides's Works


Works Cited



Maimonides on Judaism and the Jewish People explores Maimonides' philosophical psychology, his ethics, his views on prophecy, providence, and immortality, his understanding of the place of gentiles in the Messianic area, his attitude toward proselytes, his answer to the question, "Who is a Jew?", his conception of the nature of Torah, and his arguments concerning the nature of the Chosen People. With respect to each of these issues, Kellner shows that Maimonides adopted positions that reflected his emphasis on nurture over nature and his insistence that it is intellectual perfection and not ethnic affiliation which is crucial.

Menachem Kellner teaches medieval Jewish philosophy in the Department of Jewish History and Thought at the University of Haifa and chairs the Haifa University Department of Maritime Civilizations. He is the author of Dogma in Medieval Jewish Thought and of Maimonides on Human Perfection, translator of Isaac Abravanel's Principles of Faith, and editor of Contemporary Jewish Ethics and The Pursuit of the Ideal: Jewish Writings of Steven Schwarzschild also published by SUNY Press.


"This book in not only s study of Maimonides, but an intellectual broadside against the apostles of Jewish particularisms in Israel today. It is a timely contribution to the religious debate going on in Israel between those who believe that Jews possess a distinct metaphysical essence and those who view the distinctiveness of the Jewish people in its religious heritage. Thanks to Dr. Kellner's book, it is the latter group which can justifiably claim the great Maimonides as their authority. This is a very important and stimulating work. The author has marshalled a considerable amount of evidence to argue that Maimonides—the central figure in post-Talmudic Judaism—adopted a universalistic stance not merely in his philosophy but in his understanding of Judaism and the Jewish People. Unlike other medieval figures like Judah Ha-Levy and Nahmanides, Maimonides denied any metaphysical or essential difference between the Jew and the non-Jew. The value of Dr. Kellner's work is in showing how this well-known implication of Maimonides' philosophy is found repeatedly in his legal writings, popular works, and letters. Accordingly this book is not only further evidence for the unity of Maimonides' thought but an illumination of Maimonides' philosophy of Judaism. " — Charles H. Manekin, University of Maryland

"Kellner here, as in his earlier work, has a unique gift for expressing seemingly arcane medieval doctrines in a fashion easily intelligible to the modern reader. "— David Novak, University of Virginia