from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Maimonides, 18th century illustration
Signature of Maimonides

Moses Maimonides (Hebrew משה בן מימון Mosche ben Maimon ; born between 1135 and 1138 in Córdoba ; died on December 13, 1204 in Cairo ) was an Andalusian - North African Jewish philosopher , lawyer and doctor . He is considered an important scholar of the Middle Ages , for decades he was considered to be the spiritual head of Oriental Jewry and one of the most important Jewish scholars in general.

Maimonides is the Graecized form (Μαϊμονίδης) of the Hebrew name ben Maimon ; the ending -ides denotes the origin and corresponds to Arabic ibn / Hebrew ben . Moses Maimonides is also called RaMBaM (Hebrew רמב"ם), which is an acronym for R abbi M osche B en M aimon , רבי משה בן מימון.

His Arabic name is Abu 'Imran Musa ibn' Ubaidallah Maimun al-Kurdubi  /أبو عمران موسى بن عبيد الله ميمون القرطبي / Abū ʿImrān Mūsā b.ʿUbaidallāh Maimūn al-Qurṭubī , or simply Musa bin Maimun or for short Ibn Maimun .

His main works, the systematisation of Jewish law, Mishne Tora, and the religious-philosophical work Leader of the Indecisive , were for a long time heavily controversial because of their radicalism. In addition, Maimonides left numerous other writings on religion, philosophy, medicine and astronomy.

life and work

Maimonides statue in Cordoba (Spain)

Maimonides was born between 1135 and 1138. He came from one of the most respected families in Cordoba, whose house was one of the centers of intellectual life there. He received instruction in Jewish doctrine from his father, a rabbi and judge in Cordoba. In addition, Arabic teachers taught him ancient philosophy and natural sciences.

In 1148, after the invasion of the Almohads (from Arabic al-muwahhidun , "professors of the unity of God"), who represented an intolerant Islam and persecuted the Berber population and Jewish communities, his family was given the choice of converting to Islam or emigrating . Maimonides' family opted for the latter: They fled, spent several years unsteadily in Spain and possibly also in Provence and probably settled in Fez , Moroccan in 1160 . Maimonides was still able to continue his education during this time and wrote an introduction to the basics of calendar calculation in 1158 and 1159 and an introduction to Aristotelian logic in 1159 .

Maimonides' father and in 1160 Maimonides himself intervened in the dispute over the judgment of Jews who professed Islam without inner conviction, both of which were directed against their rigorous condemnation.

In 1165 the family moved on to Jerusalem , then to Alexandria and finally to Fustat , now part of Cairo , where Maimonides lived until his death.

He was able to spend the first few years in Egypt as a scholar without any obligations, as his brother David, as a jeweler between India and the Mediterranean countries, provided for the family's livelihood. After his brother was killed in a shipwreck and not only the entire family property but also the capital entrusted to other traders was lost, Maimonides had to take up gainful employment to pay off the debts. In order not to have to be financially dependent on a “license of the exile ” as a rabbi , he, having already had medical training in his early youth, chose the profession of doctor around 1170, in which he gained such a great reputation that in 1185 he became the secretary's personal physician by Sultan Saladin , al-Fadil, who was practically the Egyptian head of government. A source also reports that Saladin and his eldest son, Ali al-Malik al-Afdal Nur , were among Maimonides' patients.

Since 1177 he was also head ( Nagid ) of the Jewish community in Cairo. At that time he wrote to his Provencal translator Shmuel ibn Tibbon :

“I live in Misr (= Fustat) and the Sultan resides in Cairo; these two places are two Sabbath journeys apart. My duties with the Sultan are very tiring. I have to visit him every day, starting early in the morning, and if he feels uncomfortable or if one of his children or a member of his harem is sick, I am not allowed to leave Cairo, but have to stay in the palace for most of the day. It also often happens that one or two royal officials get sick and I have to oversee their healing. That is why I get to Cairo very early in the morning, and even if nothing unusual happens, I will not return to Misr until the afternoon. Then I almost die of hunger ... I find a full anteroom, filled with Jews and non-Jews, nobles and commoners, friends and enemies, a mixed crowd waiting for my return. I get off my mount, wash my hands, and devote myself to my patients, asking them to share a light meal with me, the only one I eat within 24 hours. Then I examine them, write prescriptions and give them instructions for the various diseases. The patients come and go until sunset, sometimes even late at night. When evening comes, I am so tired that I can barely manage to speak. "
Maimonides' tomb in Tiberias
Sarcophagus of Maimonides. 2017

His first wife had died young and he married a second time in Egypt. His second wife was the sister of Ibn Almali, a royal secretary who himself married Maimonides' only sister. Maimonides devoted much love and attention to the upbringing of his only son, Abraham . Another consolation during this time, during which he was busy with extensive correspondence and the writing of his main works, was his enthusiastic student Joseph ibn Sham'un, whom he loved like a son, wrote the leader of the undecided for him and gave him chapter after chapter sent.

When Maimonides died on December 13, 1204, public mourning was proclaimed in all Jewish communities of that time, which lasted three days in Fustat. A public fast was decreed in Jerusalem, and on this occasion verse 1 Sam 4:22  EU was read out from the Bible : "The glory is gone from Israel, for the ark of God has been dragged away." Maimonides was in Tiberias according to his wishes buried, the grave can still be visited today.

Texts on Jewish Faith and Law

During his stay in Cairo he wrote and edited his most important, long-discussed works:

In Kitāb al-Sirāj , written in Arabic and later translated into Hebrew by ibn Tibbon, he commented on the Mishnah ; His 13 Articles of Faith (Iqqarim) summarized in the introduction to Sanhedrin X, 1 were later included in many editions of the Jewish prayer book as Jigdal in abbreviated and hymnically poetic form .

In 1180 Mishne Torah ("Repetition of the Law") was published, a revision of the rabbinical interpretation of the law in 14 volumes, which Mishna and Torah organized in a strictly logical manner. The work was u. a. Criticized by Rabbi Abraham ben David von Posquières , which led to the so-called Maimonides dispute , also in connection with the controversies surrounding his position on the philosophy of religion . Nevertheless, Maimonides is regarded as the ultimate authority in the field of religious law literature. In contrast to Maimonides' other significant works, which were written in Arabic, the original Mishne Torah is written in Hebrew.

Leader of the undecided

Maimonides worked from 1176 to 1190 or 1200 on his main religious-philosophical work "Leader of the Indecisive" (the dating is controversial).

The work is in Judeo-Arabic under the title Dalālat al-Ḥā'irīn دلالة الحائرينand was translated into Hebrew by Maimonides' contemporary Samuel ibn Tibbon in a literal version and by Juda al-Charisi in a freer form, both times under the title More nevuchim , "Teacher of the ashamed - or: the indecisive, confused". A little later, Latin translations appeared, first in two short excerpts, the Liber de parabola and the Liber de Uno Deo Benedicto , then - probably around 1242/1244, at the same time as Talmud editions were burned in Paris - in full, possibly by Nikolaus Donin and Thibaud de Sézanne (so GK Hasselhoff), based on the second Hebrew translation by Juda al-Charisi, under the title Dux neutrorum . The humanist Jodocus Ascensius Badius had this translation printed in 1520 . It was reprinted in facsimile in 1964 and 2005 . In 1629 Johann Buxtorf the Younger published a second complete Latin translation.

The reference problem of the work is the incompatibility of two systems: on the one hand that of faith with its revealed truth and on the other hand that of Aristotelian logic and metaphysics. The eponymous indecision of the believing philosopher rests on this contradiction. Maimonides himself tries to compare the Jewish religion with the Aristotelian , e.g. Partly also to connect the Neoplatonic philosophy. To this end, he suggests, among other things, a variety of meanings for various Torah passages, especially those where the formulation is pictorial and anthropomorphic and categories of physical bodies are assigned to God. In the event of an (apparent) contradiction, the philosopher and scientist should interpret allegorically and thus encounter a deeper level of truth that agrees with the principles of logic and science. The simple believer, on the other hand, should take the literal sense - Maimonides seems to be saying - as immediate truth. The exact reconstruction of this theory is still controversial today. (See PaRDeS for similar traditions of allegorical Bible reading .) Its epistemological, language-theoretical and metaphysical framework is formed by a particularly radical form of negative theology .

The Leader of the Undecided also found widespread use in Europe in the 13th century and, despite initial attempts to ban it, became one of the central writings in religious and philosophical debates. Thomas Aquinas in particular dealt critically with it and developed his theory of analogy partly as a response to the negative theology of Dux neutrorum. The reception was previously more benevolent with Albertus Magnus , and later with Meister Eckhart and Nikolaus von Kues . Even Spinoza usually takes a critical look at her. In the 18th century, Moses Mendelssohn and particularly enthusiastic Salomon Maimon resorted to Maimonides' work to establish modern Judaism in the spirit of the Enlightenment in the sense of the Haskala . Among the numerous thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries who were influenced by Maimonides, for example Hermann Cohen with his neo-Kantian ethically impregnated reading or Leo Strauss , whose Maimonides interpretation postulated a more hidden, more radical sense of the text and is mostly viewed critically today, should be mentioned.

Maimonides as a doctor

Maimonides probably received his first medical knowledge from his father, but continued his medical training during his seven-year stay in Fez, where he was known to the doctors there. In his treatise on asthma he describes conversations with the Jewish doctor Abu Yusuf ibn Mu'allim and with Muhammad, son of the scholar Avenzoar , who taught medicine to Averroes . Maimonides was familiar with Arabic translations of the classical writings of Greek medicine and obtained summaries of some of the writings of Arabic doctors himself.

That Maimonides enjoyed a high reputation as a doctor in Muslim circles, among other things, from the writings of the scholars Ibn Abi Usaibia (1203-1270) and Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi , who visited Maimonides in 1201 in Cairo.

Maimonides classified medicine into three divisions: preventive medicine , healing of the sick, and care for convalescents , including the elderly and the disabled. His medical teachings are based on the humoral pathology that was widespread at the time , as developed by Hippocrates and Galenus . He emphasizes the rational character of medicine and expressly opposes the use of incantations and amulets in the treatment of the sick. In his treatise on asthma , Maimonides emphasizes that the practice of medicine requires art, logic and intuition and that a doctor must gain a comprehensive view of the patient in order to be able to make a diagnosis of his general condition and diseases of individual organs.

Maimonides wrote ten medical treatises in Arabic, most of them towards the end of his life in Cairo:

  1. Sharh fusul Abuqrat , a commentary on the aphorisms of Hippocrates .
  2. Muchtasarat li-kutub Galinus , a collection of excerpts from Galen's writings.
  3. Kitab fusul Musa , a compilation of around 1500 aphorisms, which refer strongly to the writings of the Greek doctor Claudius Galenus, but also pass on his own thoughts.
  4. Fi tadbir as-sihha , a regimen sanitatis created by Maimonides on behalf of the Emir of Damascus Ali al-Malik al-Afdal Nur.
  5. Maqala fi bayan al-a'rad wa-l-jawab 'anha , another letter to the Emir al-Afdal, in which Maimonides addresses his master's complaints and shows possibilities for healing.
  6. Maqala fi r-rabw , a treatise on asthma .
  7. Maqala fi l-bawasir , a treatise on hemorrhoids .
  8. Kitab fi l-jima ' , a treatise on sexual intercourse , addressed to an unknown addressee.
  9. Kitab as-sumum , a treatise on poisons and their antidotes.
  10. Sharh asma 'al-'uqqar , a list of synonyms in which the names of around 2000 remedies are sorted according to their Arabic, Greek, Persian, Spanish and Berber names, without a more detailed description being given.

Maimonides as an astronomer

Maimonides did not write a systematic treatise on astronomy , but was thoroughly familiar with the subject, as shown by some passages in the Guide of the Undecided and in his writing on the calendar calculation The Sanctification of the New Moon . In 1194 he wrote in a letter addressed to some rabbis in southern France that he had studied astrology as the first secular subject and read all available Arabic sources on the subject, while at the same time condemning astrology as a pseudoscience .


Primary texts

Leader of the undecided

  • Salomon Munk (ed.): Le Guide des égarés: traité de théologie et de philosophie par Moïse ben Maimoun dit Maïmonide. Publ. Pour la première fois dans l'original arabe et accompagné d'une traduction française et des notes critiques littéraires et explicatives par S. Munk. - Réimpression photomechanique de l'édition 1856–1866. Zeller (critical edition of the Judeo-Arabic text together with a French translation with annotations), Osnabrück.
  • Husain Ata'i (ed.): Dalalat al-ha'irin. Üniv., Ankara 1974 (Arabic transcription).
  • Agostino Giustiniani / Augustinus Justinianus (ed.): Rabbi Mossei Aegyptii Dux seu Director dubitantum aut perplexorum. Paris 1520; Reprint Minerva Journals 1964, ISBN 3-86598-129-1 (text base: Hebrew translation of Juda al-Charisi ; incorrect reprint of the first Latin translation of a medieval anonymus (around 1240); edited in the context of Erasmus ), Frankfurt .
  • Shlomo Pines (Ed.): The guide of the perplexed. Transl. with an introd. and notes by Shlomo Pines. With an introd. essay by Leo Strauss . Univ. of Chicago Pr. 1963 (the commonly used English translation), Chicago.
  • Yossef Kafih (Ed.): Moreh Nevukhim. Mosad ha-Rav Kook, Jerusalem 1972 (Hebrew translation).
  • Michael Schwarz (Ed.): Moreh Nevukhim. Tel Aviv University Press, Tel Aviv 2002 (new Hebrew translation in use).
  • Leader of the undecided. Transl. (And notes) v. Adolf Weiß, 3 volumes, 1st edition Berlin 1923/24, 3rd edition Meiner, Hamburg 1995, ISBN 3-7873-1144-0 .
  • Guide for the confused - A selection of texts on the question of creation. Introduced by Frederek Musall and Yossef Schwartz, trilingual (Arabic, Hebrew, German), translated by Wolfgang von Abel, Ilya Levkovich, Frederek Musall; Herder's Library of Philosophy of the Middle Ages Volume 19. Herder, Freiburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-451-28707-7 .

Mishne Torah

  • M. Hyamson (Ed.): Maimonides. The Book of Knowledge. Feldheim, Jerusalem 1974.
  • HM Russell (Ed.): The book of knowledge from the Mishnah Torah of Maimonides. The Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh 1981, ISBN 0-85405-038-8 .
  • S. Frankel (Ed.) Mishneh Torah. 12 vols. Hotzaat Shabse Frankel, Jerusalem 2000.
  • Yale Judaica Series
  • Moznaim Publishing Corp. (English translation in 27 vols.)
  • Selection translation by Philip Birnbaum : Maimonides' Mishneh Torah: Yad Hazakah. Hebrew Pub. Co 1944. ISBN 0-88482-437-3 / ISBN 0-88482-436-5
  • Codex Maimuni. Moses Maimonides' Code of Law. The illuminated Pages of the Kaufmann Mishneh Torah. Corvina / Helikon / Strassburger (eds.) (1984). ISBN 3-924186-93-6

Medical writings

  • Hermann Kroner (ed.): A medicinische Maimonides manuscript from Granada. A contribution to the style of Maimonides and the characteristics of the Hebrew translation literature. Edited, translated and critically explained in the original text. In: Janus 21, 1916, pp. 203-247.
  • Max Meyerhof : L'explication des noms de drogues composé par Maïmonides. Texts publié pour la première fois d'après le manuscrit unique avec traduction commentée et index . Impr. De l'Institut Français, Cairo 1940.
  • Suessmann Muntner (Ed.): Moses ben Maimon, Aphorisms of Moses. Jerusalem 1959 (Hebrew).
  • Suessmann Muntner (ed.): Moses ben Maimon, Regimen sanitatis. Jerusalem 1963 (edition of the Hebrew translation R. Moshe ibn Tibbons).
  • Suessmann Muntner, Fred Rosner (Ed.): The Medical Aphorisms of Moses Maimonides . New York 1970 / Haifa 1989.
  • Gerrit Bos (Ed.): Maimonides: On Asthma . A Parallel Arabic-English Text. Brigham Young University Press, Provo 2002.
  • Gerrit Bos (Ed.): Maimonides: Medical Aphorisms. Treatises 1-5 . A Parallel Arabic-English Edition. Brigham Young University Press, Provo 2004, ISBN 0-934893-75-6 .
  • Gerrit Bos (Ed.): Maimonides: On Coitus. A New Parallel Arabic-English Edition and Translation. Brill, Leiden / Boston 2018, ISBN 978-90-04-38008-0 .

More texts

  • Isadore Twersky (Ed.): A Maimonides Reader. Behrman House, West Orange, NJ 1972.
  • Raymond L. Weiss, Charles E. Butterworth (Eds.): The Ethical Writings of Maimonides. Dover, New York 1975.
  • David Hartman, Abraham Halkin (Eds.): Crisis and Leadership. Epistles of Maimonides. Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia 1985.
  • Friedrich Niewöhner (Ed.): Eight chapters. Arabic-German, transl. v. Maurice Wolff, 2nd edition. Meiner, Hamburg 1992, ISBN 3-7873-1081-9 .
  • The letter to Yemen . Texts on the Messiah. Edited, translated and commented by Sylvia Powels-Niami with the assistance of Helen Thein. With a foreword by Friedrich Niewöhner , Berlin 2002. ISBN 3-930450-74-7 .

Secondary literature

  • Encyclopaedia Judaica , Volume 11, pp. 751-781.
  • Fritz Bamberger : The system of Maimonides. An analysis of the More Newuchim from the concept of God. Schocken, Berlin 1935
  • Herbert A. Davidson: Moses Maimonides: the man and his works. Oxford University Press, New York 2005, ISBN 0-19-517321-X .
  • Görge K. Hasselhoff: Dicit Rabbi Moyses. Studies on the image of Moses Maimonides in the Latin West from the 13th to 15th centuries. Würzburg 2004, 2nd expanded edition 2005.
  • Görge K. Hasselhoff, Otfried Fraisse (eds.): Moses Maimonides (1138–1204) - His Religious, Scientific, and Philosophical History of Effects in Different Cultural Contexts. Ergon-Verlag, Würzburg 2004.
  • Görge K. Hasselhoff: Moses Maimonides read intercultural. Nordhausen 2009.
  • George Y. Kohler: Reading Maimonides' Philosophy in 19th Century Germany. Springer, Amsterdam Studies in Jewish Philosophy, Vol. 15, 2012.
  • Joel L. Kraemer: Maimonides. The Life and Work of One of Civilization's Greatest Minds. New York 2008.
  • Oliver Leaman: Moses Maimonides. London 1990.
  • Jakob S. Levinger, Hanna Kasher: Maimonides. in: F. Niewöhner: Classics of the philosophy of religion. Munich 1995, ISBN 3-406-39912-6 . Pp. 163-189.
  • Friedrich Niewöhner : Maimonides. Enlightenment and tolerance in the Middle Ages. Heidelberg 1988, ISBN 3-7953-0750-3 .
  • Martin Schewe:  MAIMONIDES (Maimuni), Moses (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, "Rambam"). In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 5, Bautz, Herzberg 1993, ISBN 3-88309-043-3 , Sp. 572-581.
  • Heinrich Schipperges : Ibn Maimūn (= Abū ʿAmrān Mūsā ibn ʿUbaid Allāh ibn Ma'imūn, Maimonides). In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 885.
  • Heinrich Schipperges: Illness and health in Maimonides (1138-1204). Berlin / Heidelberg / New York 1996.
  • Shlomo Pines: Maimonides . In: Charles Coulston Gillispie (Ed.): Dictionary of Scientific Biography . tape 9 : AT Macrobius - KF Naumann . Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1974, p. 27-32 .

See also

Web links

Commons : Moses Maimonides  - Collection of Images
Primary texts
Secondary literature

Individual evidence

  1. Older secondary literature mostly still leads to 1135, the consensus of more recent research is more likely to 1138, possibly 1137 cf. with explanations of the sources Davidson 2005, 6–9; Shelomo Dov Goitein : Moses Maimonides, man of action: a revision of the Master's biography in (the) light of the Genizah Documents , in: Gérard Nahon, Charles Touhati (ed.): Hommage à Georges Vajda: études d'histoire et de pensée juives. Peeters, Louvain 1980, pp. 155-167, here 155; Görge K. Hasselhoff: Dicit Rabbi Moyses: Studies on the image of Moses Maimonides in the Latin West from the 13th to the 15th century. Königshausen & Neumann, 2004, 22.
  2. ^ Bernhard J. Bamberger: From Maimonides to Kabbalah. In: Frederick R. Lachmann: The Jewish religion. Aloys Henn Verlag, Kastellaun, 1977, ISBN 3-450-11907-9 , p. 129.
  3. Shelomo Dov Goitein: Moses Maimonides, man of action: a revision of the Master's biography in (the) light of the Genizah Documents , in: Gérard Nahon, Charles Touhati (ed.): Hommage à Georges Vajda: études d'histoire et de pensée juives ; Louvain: Peeters, 1980; Pp. 155–167, here 155. Görge K. Hasselhoff: Dicit Rabbi Moyses: Studies on the image of Moses Maimonides in the Latin West from the 13th to the 15th century ; Königshausen & Neumann 2004; P. 22
  4. ^ A b The Guide to the Perplexed . World Digital Library. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  5. See Davidson 2005, 69.
  6. Maimonides: Mishnah commentary (Kitāb al-Sirāj), treatise Sanhedrin , introduction to X, 1 (Pereq Heleq), similar in: Mishne Toram Sefer ha-Madda, Hilchot Teshuvah, 3, 6–8; the text ed. and over. Fred Rosner: Maimonides' commentary on the Mishnah, Tractate Sanhedrin , Sepher-Hermon Press, New York 1981, 134-158; Arabic text also in: Israel Friedländer (Ed.): Selections from the arabic writings of Maimonides , Leiden 1901, reprint 1951; arab. and Hebrew text and German translation by J. Holzer: Moses Maimunis Introduction to Cheleq / On the history of dogmas in the Jewish religious philosophy of the Middle Ages , Poppelauer, Berlin 1901 ( e-text based on it ); German translation also from Josef Maier: [Introduction] On the person and work of Mose ben Maimon , in: Ders. (Ed.): Moses Maimonides. Leader of the Undecided , ed. and over. Adolf Weiss , Vol. 1, Meiner, Hamburg 2nd edition 1972, xi-civ, xli-xlviii. Such a codification, which could be understood in the style of a “dogmatics”, was very controversial. For an overview, see Menachem Kellner: Dogma in Medieval Jewish Thought. From Maimonides to Abravanel , Oxford 1986; Arthur Hyman : Maimonides' “Thirteen Principles” , in: Alexander Altmann (Ed.): Jewish Medieval and Renaissance Studies , Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA 1967, 119–144.