Medieval Jewish Philosophy

Robert Eisen

in The Peace and Violence of Judaism

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199751471
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894833 | DOI:
Medieval Jewish Philosophy

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This chapter explores medieval Jewish philosophy by focusing primarily on Maimonides. Maimonides implicitly develops a peaceful reading of Judaism by accentuating a universalism predicated on the notion that all human beings can achieve intellectual perfection. Moreover, Maimonides mitigates the violence of the Bible by insisting that the Canaanites and Amalekites had to be offered terms of peace before Israel waged war on them, a condition absent in the biblical text. Maimonides also depicts the messianic period as a time in which there will be peace among the nations. According to a second reading, Maimonides implicitly encourages violence. He still saw the Jewish people as being superior to other nations. He expressed hostility to Christianity and Islam. He endorsed violence against the Canaanites and Amalekites, despite the terms of peace offered to them. And while he characterizes the messianic era as peaceful, it is a peace that comes about through war.

Keywords: medieval Jewish philosophy; Maimonides; universalism; Bible; Israel; Canaanites; Amalekites; messianic period; Islam; Christianity

Chapter.  8529 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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