Philosopher and Prophet

Judah Halevi, the Kuzari, and the Evolution of His Thought

By Yochanan Silman

Subjects: Jewish Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Judaica: Hermeneutics, Mysticism, and Religion
Paperback : 9780791424629, 370 pages, July 1995
Hardcover : 9780791424612, 370 pages, July 1995

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Table of contents


Part I. The Philosopher's Thought

1. Aristotelian Philosophy in the Kuzari

2. Divinity and Individuation

3. Form and Matter

4. Aristotelian Anthropology

5. Human Activity

Part II. Halevi's Earlier Thought

6. Introduction to the Earlier Thought

7. The Theology of the Early Thought

8. Anthropology in the Earlier Thought

9. The Historical Dimension in the Earlier Thought

10. The Jewish People, Their Commandments, and Their Uniqueness in the Earlier Thought

11. Eretz Israel as the Chosen Land

12. An Overview of Halevi's Earlier Thought

Part III. Halevi's Later Thought

13. Introduction: Unique Features

14. Human Experience and the Divine Presence

15. God an the World

16. The Later Anthropology

17. History in the Later Thought

18. The Jewish People, Their Commandments, and Their Uniqueness in the Later Thought

19. An Overview of Halevi's Later Thought

Part IV. The Unity of the Kuzari

20. Introduction: The Structure of the Book and Its Unity

21, Theology and Anthropology

22. Form and Content in the Kuzari

Appendix: The Giving of the Torah and Commandments as a Process



This book relates the various strata of Halevi's Book of Kuzari to the different periods of Halevi's philosophical development.


This book is the first to describe the development of Halevi's thought with a view to reaching a better understanding of its inherent systematic difficulties, as well as enabling identification of the various strata of the book belonging to different periods in his philosophical development.

The first part describes a kind of Aristotelian philosophy which seems to be espoused by Halevi himself before writing the Kuzari. The second part concerns itself with his early thought as expressed in certain parts of the Book of Kuzari. At this stage his thought is still faithful to the essentials of the Aristotelian philosophy and its primary function is to combat Karaism. Intra-systematic and extra-systematic difficulties peculiar to this thought give rise to the next stage in the development of his philosophy, which is described in the third part. This later thought is also distinguished by its strong emphasis on concrete human experience. During this period, Halevi retreats from many principles of Aristotelianism, and his major intention is to justify his new position. The fourth part deals with the dialectical unity of the Kuzari which is also reflected by the literary genre of this book as story and dialogue.

Yochanan Silman is Associate Professor of Jewish Philosophy at Bar-Ilan University.