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Nahmanides, Moses (1194–1270)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-J016-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved December 05, 2023, from

Article Summary

One of the most influential medieval Jewish thinkers to engage with the philosophical tradition, Nahmanides was also a leading Talmudist, biblical exegete, and a founding figure of the Jewish mystical tradition (Kabbalah) that emerged in thirteenth-century Spain. Generally critical of Aristotle, he was deeply influenced by predecessors such as Moses Maimonides. As the leading rabbi in Catalonia, Nahmanides played a central role in the ‘Maimonidean controversy’ of 1232–3, a dispute that raged over the permissibility of philosophical study. He was also at the centre of the ‘Barcelona disputation’ of 1263, conducted with the apostate Pablo Christiani over the issue of philosophically motivated allegories.

Unlike his Provençal contemporaries, Nahmanides wrote neither free-standing philosophical treatises nor commentaries on Graeco-Arabic philosophical texts. Instead, he developed his original metaphysical views in sermons and his highlt influential biblical commentaries treating such topics as miracles, providence and idolatry. The commentaries proved especially influential through their thematic treatments of philosophical questions raised by the biblical text and for their suggestive expositions of mystical and theosophical ideas.

Citing this article:
Stern, Josef. Nahmanides, Moses (1194–1270), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-J016-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2023 Routledge.

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