There have been numerous controversies in the history of Judaism. In the Middle Ages for example, the Jewish world, after the death of Maimonides in the early thirteenth century, was divided over the vexed question of whether the philosophical approach to Judaism was legitimate. ‘What did the Greeks know about God?’ the anti-Maimonists roundly declared; to which the Maimonists retorted that even if Joshua himself were to come down from heaven to forbid the study of philosophy he would not be heeded, so much had philosophy become part of their very being. The great divide in the nineteenth century was between Reform and Orthodox Judaism. The central issue, at first, was the comparatively minor matter of changes in the liturgy but eventually at stake was the doctrine of the immutability of the Torah. If the Torah is God's will, can it ever be ‘reformed’? However, apart from Samson Raphael Hirsch, who described the differences between Orthodoxy and Reform as akin to those between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, no one thought of Reform and Orthodoxy as two separate religious denominations.
Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies — Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500).