“From Moses to Moses”: Late Medieval Jewish and Christian Interpretation of Moses’s Prophecy
2. The Jewish Moses between Tradition and Innovation
God was looking down from heaven, and He was jealous for the honor of our holy Rabbi and for the honor of his books, and he sent his wrath and his anger to the communities of France, and he had no pity on them. And don’t be surprised and ask: How could he not have pity for one thousand and two hundred books of the Talmud and of Aggadah just because of the Guide and the Book of Knowledge? You have to understand that our Rabbi Moses was almost a second Moses in his generation and the justice of the whole generation was dependent upon him.24
3. The New Role of Prophecy in Medieval Christian Exegesis and the Double Moses
4. Maimonides among the Schoolman and the Unique Synthesis of Meister Eckhart
In Book 3, Chapter 10, Rabbi Moses says: “When our intellect strives to apprehend the Creator, it finds a great wall dividing him [from us].” Below he says, “God is truly hidden from us in cloud and darkness. This is what is said, ‘Cloud and darkness are round about him’ (Psalms 96, 2), and again, ‘He made darkness his secret place’ (Psalms 17, 12)…. It is known to all that the day Moses stood on Mount Sinai was a cloudy and dark one…. The intention in speaking of darkness and cloud is not [to say] that obscurity covers God, because with him there is no obscurity, but clear light according to the saying, ‘The earth was illumined by his glory’ (Ezekiel 43, 2).”
The meaning is then “Moses went into the darkness wherein God was,” that is, into the surpassing light that beats down and darkens our intellect. We see the same thing when our eyes are beaten down and darkened by the rays from the sun’s disk. This is also what Dionysius says in the first chapter of the Mystical Theology: “The simple, hidden and unchangeable mysteries of theology are covered over by the surpassingly splendent darkness of hiddenly learned silence that causes the Supersplendent to shine forth in surpassing fashion in that which is most dark.” The first Letter to Gaius says, “Perfect ignorance is the knowledge of him who is over all that is known.” John Sarracenus in his Prologue to the Mystical Theology says, “Since man ascends to knowledge of God through removal, what God is remains hidden and covered at the end.”62
There follows, “on the mountain” (in montem) Note that he does not say “to the mountain.” The reason seems to be love and the will look at the thing itself, and they take their stand and are at peace in it. But the intellect does not take its stand in the reality of the thing itself, but according to its name of “in-tellect.” It enters into the principles of the thing and there receives the thing in its principles, in its root and origin. It receives God “in the bosom of the Father” (John. 1, 18)—the Word with God, the Word in the Principle, the Word himself the Principle. “In the Principle was the Word” (John 1,1).69
Conflicts of Interest
- Afterman, Adam. 2016. “And They Shall Be One Flesh”: On the Language of Mystical Union in Judaism. Leiden: Brill. [Google Scholar]
- Alexander of Hales. 1575. Summa Theologiae. pars I, Q. 2, membrum I, Art. 4, resolution. Venetiis: apud Franciscum Franciscium. [Google Scholar]
- Al-Ghazālī, Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad. 1965. Maqasid al-falasifa. II, 4. Edited by Sulayman Dunya. Cairo: Dar al-ma’arif. [Google Scholar]
- Al-Ghazālī, Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad. 2000. The Incoherence of the Philosophers. II, 17. A Parallel English-Arabic Text Translated, Introduced and Annotated by Michael E. Marmura. Provo: Brigham Young University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Altmann, Alexander. 1936. Das Verhältnis Maimunis zur jüdische Mystik. Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums 80: 305–30. [Google Scholar]
- Altmann, Alexander. 1981. Maimonides and Thomas Aquinas: Natural or Divine Prophecy? In Essays in Jewish Intellectual History. London: Brandeis University Press, pp. 77–96. [Google Scholar]
- Armstrong, Arthur H. 1975. The Escape of the One. Studia Patristica 13: 77–89. [Google Scholar]
- Artau, Joaquim Carreras. 1949. La Allocutio super tetragrammaton de Arnaldo de Vilanova. Sefarad 9: 75–105. [Google Scholar]
- Avicenna. 2005. The Metaphysics of the Healing. A Parallel English-Arabic Text Translated, Introduced and Annotated by Michael E. Marmura. Provo: Brigham Young University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Beal, Jane. 2013. Moses and Christian Contemplative Devotion. In Illuminating Moses: A History of Reception from Exodus to the Renaissance. Edited by Jane Beal. Leiden: Brill, pp. 305–52. [Google Scholar]
- Benson, Robert L., and Giles Constable. 1982. Renaissance and Renewal in the Twelfth Century. Oxford: Clarendon Press. [Google Scholar]
- Blumenthal, David R. 2006. Philosophic Mysticism. Studies in rational Religion. Ramat Gan: Bar Ilan University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Caviness, Madeline. 1998. Hildegard as a Designer of the Illustration of Her Works. In Hildegard of Bingen: The Context of the Thought and Art. Edited by Charles Burnet and Peter Dronke. London: The Warburg Institute, pp. 29–62. [Google Scholar]
- Christman, Angela Russell. 2005. What Did Ezekiel See? Christian Exegesis of Ezekiel’s Vision of the Chariot from Irenaeus to Gregory the Great. Leiden: Brill. [Google Scholar]
- Daud, Abraham Ibn. 1967. The Book of Tradition (Sefer ha-Quabbalah), A Critical Edition with Translation and Notes. Edited by Gerson D. Cohen. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America. [Google Scholar]
- de Villanova, Arnaldi. 2004. Allocutio Super Significatione Nominis Tetragrammaton [Arnaldi de Villanova Opera theologica Omnia III]. Edited by Josep C. Perarnau. Barcelona: Institut d’Estudis Catalans, pp. 139–204. [Google Scholar]
- Deutsch, Yaacov, Michael Meerson, and Peter Schäfer, eds. 2011. Toledot Yeshu (“The Life Story of Jesus”) Revisited: A Princeton Conference. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. [Google Scholar]
- Di Segni, Diana. 2013. Verba sunt Rabbi Moysis: Eckhart e Mosè Maimonide. In Studi Sulle Fonti di Meister Eckhart II. Edited by Loris Sturlese. Fribourg: Academic Press, pp. 103–18. [Google Scholar]
- Di Segni, Diana. 2019. Literal and Non-Literal Translation in Maimonides’ Dux neutrorum. YOD, Revue d’études Hébraïques et Juives 22: 13–48. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Druart, Theresa Ann. 1981. Al-Farabi’s Causation of the Heavenly Bodies. In Islamic Philosophy and Mysticism. Edited by Parviz Morewedge. New York: Caravan Books, pp. 35–45. [Google Scholar]
- Druart, Theresa Ann. 1992. Al Farabi: Emanation and Metaphysics. In Neoplatonism and Islamic Thought. Edited by Parviz Morewedge. Albany: State University of New York Press, pp. 127–48. [Google Scholar]
- Enders, Markus. 2016. Deus est unus omnibus modis (Gott ist einer in jeder Weise). Meister Eckhart Rezeption und Transformation der Einheitsmetaphysik des Moses Maimonides. Meister Eckhart Jahrbuch 10: 241–64. [Google Scholar]
- Even-Ezra, Ayelet. 2019. Ecstasy in the Classroom. Trance, Self and the Academic Profession in Medieval Paris. New York: Fordham University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Faur, Jose. 1999. Homo Mysticus. A Guide to Maimonides’s Guide of the Perplexed. New York: Syracuse University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Fidora, Alexander. 2020. Albertus Magnus und der Talmud [Lectio Albertina 20]. Münster: Aschendorff. [Google Scholar]
- Fisch, Menachem, and Yitzhak Benbaji. 2011. The View from Within: Normativity and the Limits of Self-Criticism. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. [Google Scholar]
- Fishbane, Michael. 1994. The Kiss of God: Spiritual and Mystical Death in Judaism. Seattle: University of Washington Press. [Google Scholar]
- Fitzgerald, Brian. 2017. Inspiration and Authority in the middle Ages. In Prophets and Their Critics from Scholasticism and Humanism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Giles of Rome. 1944. Errores Philosophorum. Edited by Joseph Koch. Translated by John O. Riedel. Milwaukee: Marquette University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Goldstein, Miriam. 2010. Judeo-Arabic Versions of Toledot Yeshu. Ginzei Quedem 6: 9–42. [Google Scholar]
- Guttmann, Jacob. 1908. Der Einfluss der maimonidischen Philosophie auf das christliche Abendland. In Moses ben Maimon. Sein Leben, Seine Werke und sein Einfluss. Edited by Wilhelm Bacher. Leipzig: Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaft des Judentums, vol. I, pp. 135–230. [Google Scholar]
- Halbertal, Moshe. 2007. Concealment and Revelaton. Esotericism in Jewish Thought and Its Philosophical Implications. Princeton: Princeton University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Halberthal, Moshe. 1997. People of the Book: Canon, Meaning and Authority. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Hames, Harvey J. 2007. Like Angels on Jacob’s Ladder. In Abraham Abulafia, the Franciscans, and Joachimism. Albany: State University of New York Press. [Google Scholar]
- Harvey, Warren Zev. 1988. Maimonides and Aquinas on Interpreting the Bible. Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 55: 59–77. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Hasselhoff, Görge K. 2004. Dicit Rabbi Moyses. In Studien zum Bild von Moses Maimonides im lateinischen Westen vom 13. Bis zum 15. Jahrhundert. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann. [Google Scholar]
- Heschel, Abraham Joshua. 1996. Did Maimonides Believe That He Had Attained the Rank of Prophet? In Prophetic Inspiration after the Prophets: Maimonides and Other Medieval Authorities. Hoboken: Ktav Publishing House, pp. 69–126. [Google Scholar]
- Bingensis, Hildegardis. 1978. Liber Scivias. I, V, 5. Edited by Adelgundis Fuehrkoetter O. S. B. Turnholt: Brepols. [Google Scholar]
- Bingensis, Hildegardis. 1996. Liber Divinorum Operum. Edited by Albert Derolez and Peter Dronke. Turnholt: Brepols. [Google Scholar]
- Hillel. 1856. Two Letters to Isaac the Physician (Maestro Gayo). fol. 18r-22v. Edited by Zvi Hirsh Edelmann and Ḥemda Genuzah. I. Königsberg: Gruber & Euphrat. [Google Scholar]
- Hvidt, Niels Christian. 2007. Christian Prophecy. The Post-Biblical Tradition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Idel, Moshe. 1991. Maïmonide et la Mystique Juive. Paris: Cerf. [Google Scholar]
- Idel, Moshe. 2004. Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed and the Kabbalah. Jewish History 18: 197–226. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Idel, Moshe. 2020. Abraham Abulafia’s Esotericism: Secrets and Doubt. Berlin: De Gruyter. [Google Scholar]
- Imbach, Ruedi. 1990. Ut ait Rabbi Moyses. Maimonidische Philosopheme bei Thomas von Aquin und Meister Eckhart. Collectanea Franciscana 60: 99–115. [Google Scholar]
- Kahnert, Klaus. 1999. Anonymous (Johann Joachim Müller), De imposturis religionum. (De tribus impostoribus). Dokumente. Von den Betrügereyen der Religionen (Philosophische Clandestina der deutschen Aufklärung. Abt. 1: Texte und Dokumente. Bd. 6). Edited by Winfried Schröder. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog. [Google Scholar]
- Kienzle, Beverly Mayne, and Travis A. Stevens. 2014. Intertextuality in Hildegard’s Works: Ezekiel and the Claim to Prophetic Authority. In A Companion to Hildegard of Bingen. Edited by Mayne Kienzle, Debra Stoudt and George Ferzoco Brill. Leiden: Brill, pp. 137–62. [Google Scholar]
- Koch, Josef. 1929. Meister Eckhart und die jüdische Religionsphilosophie des Mittelalters. Jahresbericht der Schlesischen Gesellschaft für vaterländische Cultur 101: 134–48. [Google Scholar]
- Kreisel, Howard. 1999. Maimonides’ Political Thought. Studies in Ethics, Law, and the Human Ideal. Albany: State University of New York Press. [Google Scholar]
- Kreisel, Howard. 2001. Prophecy. The History of an Idea in Medieval Jewish Philosophy. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer. [Google Scholar]
- Krinis, Ehud. 2014. God’s Chosen People: Judah Halevi’s Kuzari and the Shī’ī Imām Doctrine. Turnhout: Brepols. [Google Scholar]
- Lasker, Daniel J. 2007. Tradition and Innovation in Maimonides’ Attitude toward Other Religions. In Maimonides after 800 Years: Essays on Maimonides and His Influence. Edited by Jay M. Harris. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, pp. 167–82. [Google Scholar]
- Lasker, Daniel J. 2008. Tradition and Innovation in Maimonides’ Attitude towards other Religions. In Maimonides: Conservatism, Originality, Revolution. Edited by Aviezer Ravitzky. Jerusalem: The Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History, vol. 1, pp. 89–91. (In Hebrew) [Google Scholar]
- Lasker, Daniel, and Sarah Stroumsa. 1996. The Polemic of Nestor the Priest: Introduction, Annotated Translations and Commentary. Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute. [Google Scholar]
- Leicht, Raymund. 2013. Miracles for the sake of the master of reason; Hillel ben Samuel of Verona’s Legendary Account of the Maimonidean Controversy. Micrologus 21: 579–98. [Google Scholar]
- Liebeschütz, Hans. 1972. Meister Eckhart und Moses Maimonides. Archiv für Kulturgeschichte 54: 64–96. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Lorberbaum, Yair. 2009. Transformations in Maimonides’ Approach to Aggadah. Tarbiz 78: 81–122. (In Hebrew). [Google Scholar]
- Lorberbaum, Yair. 2010. Maimonides on Halakhah, Aggadah and Divine Law. Dine Israel 26–27: 253–97. (In Hebrew). [Google Scholar]
- MacIntyre, Alasdair. 1990. Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry. Encyclopedia, Genealogy and Tradition. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. [Google Scholar]
- Maimonides, Moses. 2014. Responsa. Edited and Translated by Jehoshua Blau. Jerusalem: Mekize Nirdamim. [Google Scholar]
- Massignon, Louis. 1920. La Légende “De Tribus Impostoribus” et ses Origines Islamiques. Revue de l’histoire des Religions 82: 74–78. [Google Scholar]
- Mausbach, Josef. 1899. Die Stellung des hl. Thomas von Aquin zu Maimonides in der Lehre von der Prophetie. Theologische Quartalschrift 81: 553–79. [Google Scholar]
- McGinn, Bernard. 1986. Meister Eckhart: Teacher and Preacher. Mahwah: Paulist Press. [Google Scholar]
- Meier-Staubach, Cristal. 1979. Zum Verhältnis von Text und Illustration im überlieferten Werk Hildegards von Bingen. In Hildegard von Bingen 1098–1179: Festschrift zum 800. Todtag der Heiligen. Edited by Anton Ph. Brück. Mainz: Selbstverlag der Gesellschaft für Mittelrheinische Kirchengeschichte, pp. 159–69. [Google Scholar]
- Michaelis, Omer. 2019. For the Wisdom of Their Wise Men Shall Perish: Forgotten Knowledge and Its Restoration in Maimonides’s Guide of the Perplexed and Its Karaite Background. Journal of Religion 99: 432–66. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Michaelis, Omer. Forthcoming. Crisis Discourse and Framework Transition in Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah. Open Philosophy.
- Pines, Shlomo. 1963. Translator’s Introduction. In Moses Maimonides, the Guide of the Perplexed. Translated by Shlomo Pines. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, vol. I, pp. lvii–cxxxiv. [Google Scholar]
- Pines, Shlomo. 1980. Shī’īte Terms and Conceptions in Judah Halevi’s Kuzari. Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 2: 165–251. [Google Scholar]
- Pseudo-Dionysius. 1987. The Mystical Theology, I, 3. In Pseudo-Dionysius, the Complete Works. Translated by Colm Luibheid. New York: Paulist Press, p. 136f. [Google Scholar]
- Reeves, Marjorie. 1969. The Influence of Prophecy in the Later Middle Ages: A Study of Joachimism. Oxford: Clarendon Press. [Google Scholar]
- Reffke, Ernst. 1938. Studien zum Problem der Entwicklung Meister Eckharts im Opus tripartitum. Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte 57: 19–95. [Google Scholar]
- Rigo, Caterina. 2001. Zur Rezeption des Moses Maimonides im Werk des Albertus Magnus. In Albertus Magnus. Zum Gedanken nach 800 Jahren: Neue Zugänge, Aspekte und Perspektiven. Edited by Walter Senner and Henryk Anzulewicz. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, pp. 29–66. [Google Scholar]
- Rigo, Caterina. 2019. Dux neutrorum and the Jewish Tradition of the Guide of the Perplexed. In Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed in Translation. A History from the Thirteenth Century to the Twentieth. Edited by Josef Stern, James T. Robinson and Yonatan Shemesh. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 81–139. [Google Scholar]
- Saurma-Jeltsch, Lieselotte E. 1998. Die Miniaturen im Liber scivias der Hildegard von Bingen. Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert Verlag. [Google Scholar]
- Schlossberg, Eliezer. 2010. The Image of Moses in the Letter of Consolation of R. Maimun, Father of Maimonides. In Moses the Man—Master of the Prophets In the Light of Interpretation throughout the Ages. Edited by Moshe Hallamish, Hannah Kasher and Hanoch Ben-Pazi. Ramat-Gan: Bar Ilan University Press, pp. 285–302. (In Hebrew) [Google Scholar]
- Schwartz, Yossef. 2004. Meister Eckharts Schriftauslegung als maimonidisches Projekt. In Moses Maimonides (1138–1204)—His Religious, Scientific, and Philosophical Wirkungsgeschichte in Different Cultural Contexts. Edited by Ottfried Fraisse and Gorge K Hasselhoff. Würzburg: Ergon Verlag, pp. 173–208. [Google Scholar]
- Schwartz, Yossef. 2005. Zwischen Einheitsmetaphysik und Einheitshermeneutik: Eckharts Maimonideslektüre und das Datierungsproblem des Opus tripartitum. In Miscellanea Mediaevalia 32: Meister Eckhart in Erfurt. Edited by Andreas Speer. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, pp. 259–79. [Google Scholar]
- Schwartz, Yossef. 2010. Final Phases of Medieval Hebraism: Jews and Christians between Bible Exegesis, Talmud and Maimonidean Philosophy. In Miscelanea Mediaevalia 35: 1308. Edited by Andreas Speer and David Wirmer. Berlin: W. de Gruyter, pp. 269–85. [Google Scholar]
- Schwartz, Yossef. 2011. Divine Space and the Space of the Divine: On the Scholastic Rejection of Arab Cosmology. In Représentations et Conceptions de L’espace dans la Culture Medieval. Edited by Tiziana Suarez Nani and Martin Rohde. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, pp. 89–119. [Google Scholar]
- Schwartz, Yossef. 2012. Meister Eckhart and Moses Maimonides: From Judaeo-Arabic Rationalism to Christian Mysticism. In A Companion to Meister Eckhart. Edited by Jeremiah M. Hackett. Leiden: Brill, pp. 389–414. [Google Scholar]
- Schwartz, Yossef. 2018. Jewish Orientalism Premodern and Modern: Epochal Variations of Cultural Hybridity? In Modern Jewish Scholarship on Islam in Context: Rationality, European Borders, and the Search for Belonging. Edited by Ottfried Fraisse. Berlin: De Gruyter, pp. 31–59. [Google Scholar]
- Schwartz, Yossef. 2019. Persecution and the Art of Translation: Some New Evidence Concerning the Latin Translation of Maimonides’s Guide of the Perplexed. YOD, Revue d’études Hébraïques et Juives 22: 49–77. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Sells, Michael. 1994. Mystical Languages of Unsaying. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. [Google Scholar]
- Silver, Daniel Jeremy. 1965. Maimonidean Criticism and the Maimonidean Controversy 1180–1240. Leiden: Brill. [Google Scholar]
- Smalley, Beryl. 1952. The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages. Oxford: Blackwell. [Google Scholar]
- Steinschneider, Moritz. 1896. Moreh Mekom ha-Moreh. Quovetz al-yad 1: 4. [Google Scholar]
- Stroumsa, Sarah. 1999. The Beginnings of the Maimonidean Controversy in the East: Yosef Ibn Shimon’s Silencing Epistle Concerning the Resurrection of the Dead. Jerusalem: Ben Ẓvi Institute. (In Hebrew) [Google Scholar]
- Stroumsa, Sarah. 2009. Maimonides in his World, Portrait of a Mediterranean Thinker. Princeton: Princeton University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Strover, Justin A. 2014. Hildegard, the School, and Their Critics. In A Companion to Hildegard of Bingen. Edited by Mayne Kienzle, Debra Stoudt and George Ferzoco. Leiden: Brill, pp. 109–34. [Google Scholar]
- Winkler, Eberhard. 1965. Exegetische Methode bei Meister Eckhart. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. [Google Scholar]
- Wohlman, Avital. 1988. Thomas d’Aquin et Maimonide. In Un Dialogue Exemplaire. Paris: Cerf. [Google Scholar]
- Yuval, Israel Jacob. 2006. Two Nations in Your Womb: Reception of Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Berkeley: University of California Press. [Google Scholar]
- Yuval, Israel J. 2007. Moses Redivivus: Maimonides—Helfer des Messias. Heft 9. Trier: Kleine Schriften des Arye Maimon-Instituts. [Google Scholar]
(Halberthal 1997; Fisch and Benbaji 2011). In the context of Maimonides thought see (Michaelis 2019).
For a broader depiction of this significant turn in the context of authority and tradition see (MacIntyre 1990, pp. 105–126).
Cf. Exodus 33, 11, Numbers 12, 8 and especially Deuteronomy 34, 10.
Maimonides, Introduction to Pereq Heleq: “The seventh principle—The prophecy of Moses our Master. That is, one should believe (ya’taqidu) that he is the foremost prophet from among all who preceded or will follow him. All of them are inferior to him in rank. From the entire human species, he is God’s chosen one. He apprehended God in a manner surpassing that of any human who was or will be. He became so elevated above humanity till he reached the angelic rank, and became one whose rank is that of the angels. No veil (ḥijāb) remained that he did not rend, no physical hindrance limited him, no deficiency, small or great, flawed him. His imaginative and sensory powers were suspended in his acts of apprehension, his appetitive power ceased [to function], and he remained solely as intellect. For this reason it is said of him that he spoke (yuḳāṭibu) with God without the mediation of the angels.” (Kreisel’s translation).
Cf. (Kreisel 2001, pp. 170–78).
On “proselytizing redemption” in Sepharad as against Ashkenazi “vengeful redemption,” see (Yuval 2006, pp. 92–114).
Arabic-English reference. Moses Maimonides’ Epistle to Yemen; The Arabic Original and the Three Hebrew Versions by Abraham S. Halkin, Boaz Cohen; Iggeret Teiman, translated by Boaz Cohen, notes by Abraham S. Halkin: “The first one to have adopted this plan was Jesus the Nazarene, may his bones be ground to dust. He was a Jew because his mother was a Jewess although his father was a Gentile. … He impelled people to believe that he was a prophet sent by God to clarify perplexities in the Torah, and that he was the Messiah that was predicted by each and every seer. He interpreted the Torah and its precepts in such a fashion as to lead to their total annulment, to the abolition of all its commandments and to the violation of its prohibitions. The sages, of blessed memory, having become aware of his plans before his reputation spread among our people, meted out fitting punishment to him …”
Maimonides was certainly well acquainted with the uncensored Talmudic versions, and perhaps also with the early oriental Jewish elaborations disseminated since the tenth century, with the Polemic of Nestor the Priest and the early versions of Toledot Yeshu; see (Deutsch et al. 2011; Lasker and Stroumsa 1996; Goldstein 2010).
“After him arose the Madman who emulated his precursor since he paved the way for him. But he added the further objective of procuring rule and submission, and he invented his well known religion. … Inasmuch as the Muslims could not find a single proof in the entire Bible nor a reference or possible allusion to their prophet which they could utilize, they were compelled to accuse us saying, ‘You have altered the text of the Torah, and expunged every trace of the name of Mohammed therefrom.’ … The motive for their accusation lies therefore, in the absence of any allusion to Mohammed in the Torah.” Cf. (Lasker 2007).
See (Yuval 2006).
In his (Arabic) response to R. Ephraim’s pupils in Tyra, Maimonides answers the question whether it is absolutely forbidden to teach the law to the Gentiles. Here, Maimonides differentiates clearly between Muslims and Christians. There is no problem in studying law with Christians whereas any teaching to a Moslem is strictly forbidden. The reasoning is that Christians share the belief in value and authority of their common revelation (as expressed in the Hebrew scriptures) with the Jews, while Muslim scholars only seek for reasoning in order to devaluate the Hebrew bible as falsified; cf. (Maimonides 2014, Vol. 1, p. 285).
So too are the Shi’i ideas adopted by Maimonides’ predecessor Judah Halevi, and see (Pines 1980; Krinis 2014).
(Avicenna 2005, p. 358f.; Al-Ghazālī 1965, pp. 271–87, esp. 281; Al-Ghazālī 2000, p. 172f.; Druart 1981, 1992; Smalley 1952, p. 294f.; Pines 1963, pp. lxxviii-xcii, esp. lxxviii, claims that Al-Farabi is “the philosopher whom … Maimonides held in the highest esteem); (Kreisel 1999, pp. 79f.; Stroumsa 2009, pp. 183–88).
First published in (Steinschneider 1896, p. 4); cf. (Idel 2020), p. XIV: “The parallel between Moses ben Amram and Moses ben Maimon is often cited by Abulafia, as it has been cited by Maimonideans throughout the ages.”
Cf. (Schwartz 2019, pp. 55–57).
(Hillel 1856, 19r); translation (with slight changes) according to (Leicht 2013, p. 588).
See (Yuval 2007).
During the 1930s in Germany and later on in his post-war American career, the renowned rabbi and scholar Abraham Joshua Heschel was preoccupied with the question of post-biblical prophetic inspiration and, more concretely, with the question regarding Moses Maimonides’s understanding of himself as a prophet. (Heschel 1996, pp. 69–126). Heschel emphasized the intellectual interpretation of prophecy in Maimonides’s writings (pp. 95f, 109f.) and was convinced that, according to such intellectual norms, Maimonides was very clear in appropriating to himself the rank of prophet. Yet, he did not consider Maimonides’s personal linkage to the biblical figure of Moses, nor did he dwell on the eschatological messianic context of such a claim for spiritual perfection.
Literally “the mighty hand,” referring both to the number of parts of Maimonides’ codex (in gematria “yad” = 14) but at the same time also to the final verse of the Pentateuch, Deut 34, 12: “And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.” (King James translation). On Maimonides turn to Mosaic authority above the heads of the Rabbis see (Lorberbaum 2009, 2010). Lorberbaum claims that while, early in his life, Maimonides based his legal speculations and allegorical readings on Rabbinical literature, as apparent in his Mishna commentary, in the final stage of his life, he deliberately celebrated the constitutional status of Mosaic “divine law.”
On the ambiguous meaning of the term itself in medieval discourse referring both to future telling and to manifold variations of inspiration and charismatic teaching, see (Fitzgerald 2017), 1f. Fitzgerald’s introduction also includes a comprehensive and updated survey of scholarly literature on medieval European theories on prophecy and inspiration, see pp. 5–7.
(Hvidt 2007, pp. 3–21, esp. 6f), where the author enumerates four reasons for the degradation of prophecy in Christianity. The motivation of the author is far more general than the limited scope of my present study and is derived to a great extent from modern theological super-structures.
(Reeves 1969, pp. 3–27); on the Franciscan Joachites and the Prophet Abraham Abulafia see (Hames 2007).
Cf. (MacIntyre 1990, pp. 82–103). On the major occupation with this topic among the first generation of Parisian Theology magisters see (Even-Ezra 2019).
(Beal 2013, p. 325). On the figure of Ezekiel see (Kienzle and Stevens 2014).
(Hildegard 1996, [CCCM XCII], III, II, 9, p. 364, 33–37; III, IV, 6, p. 393, 6–8); and see especially III, IV, 7, p. 395f, 1–53 which opens with a long quotation from Exodus 33, 19–23, describing the different revelations of the divine as received by Moses on Mount Sinai, in order to discuss the highest potential and also the limitation of human cognition.
Within Latin tradition, the most influential patristic representation of this basic Greek Neoplatonic idea is the formulation of Pseudo Dionysius the Areopagite, especially in his Mystical Theology, and see (Pseudo-Dionysius 1987, 136f).
Both text and image emphasize, however, the legal authority of Moses, and see (Hildegard 1978, pp. 96–98).
(Schwartz 2019, pp. 51–55). For a similar claim based on Albert the Great’s reception of Maimonides cf. (Fidora 2020, pp. 32f). For recent scholarship regarding the Latin translation of the Guide see (Rigo 2019; Di Segni 2019).
For a general overview see (Guttmann 1908; Hasselhoff 2004).
(Alexander of Hales 1575, p. 6) pars I, Q. 2, membrum I, art. 4, resolutio; (Guttmann 1908, pp. 148f.).
(Guttmann1908, pp. 169–75; Rigo 2001, pp. 56–62). For a general overview of Maimonides’ teaching on prophecy in Scholastic literature see (Hasselhoff 2004, pp. 154–60).
(Altmann 1981; Wohlman 1988, pp. 267–317). And see (Fitzgerald 2017, pp. 121–25). Fitzgerald emphasized the strong epistemological elements in Aquinas’s understanding of prophecy but failed to recognize the crucial role played by Maimonides’s teaching in this rationalistic turn.
One of its major targets was a specific ontological-cosmological-epistemological construct, which involves heavenly spheres qua separate intellects, and at the same time provides explanations for a wide range of magical and epistemological phenomena, and see (Schwartz 2011).
(Giles of Rome 1944), Chapter 12, n. 7, p. 62, 7–11 (Latin), 63 (English): “Again he [Maimonides] erred in regard to prophecy, believing that man of himself can put himself into the proper disposition to receive the grace of prophecy (credens hominem se posse sufficienter disponere ad gratiam prophetiae), and that God did not choose any particular man for the work of prophecy (in prophetando), but rather one who makes himself capable of such things. Thus he seems to hold that divine grace depends upon our actions. All this is clear from book II On the Exposition of the Law (De Expositione Legis), chapter xxxii.”
(Schwartz 2010). The new espousing of Maimonides includes new translations, especially of the medical writings, provided by Arnau de Villanova, who also relies heavily on Maimonides in his tractate on the tetragrammaton, and see (de Villanova 2004; Artau 1949).
Eckhart, Expositio Sancti evangelii secundum Iohannem pp. 155, 5–7: “Idem ergo est quod docet Moyses, Christus et Philosophus, solum quantum ad modum differens, scilicet ut credibile, probabile sive versimile et veritas.” Cf. (Beal 2013, p. 335).
One can add that although Islam is not part of the equation here, it is implicitly not necessarily excluded since the teaching of Islam was often identified in such rationalistic discourse with natural philosophy, and see Thomas Aquinas’s assertion in the opening chapters of his Summa contra Gentiles, and cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, I, 2: “(Q)uia quidam eorum, ut Mahumetistae et Pagani, non conveniunt nobiscum in auctoritate alicuius Scripturae, per quam possint convinci, sicut contra Iudaeos disputare possumus per vetus testamentum, contra haereticos per novum. Hi vero neutrum recipiunt. Unde necesse est ad naturalem rationem recurrere, cui omnes assentire coguntur. Quae tamen in rebus divinis deficiens est.” “(S)ome of them, such as the Mohammedans and the pagans, do not agree with us in accepting the authority of any Scripture, by which they may be convinced of their error. Thus, against the Jews we are able to argue by means of the Old Testament, while against heretics we are able to argue by means of the New Testament. But the Muslims and the pagans accept neither the one nor the other. We must, therefore, have recourse to the natural reason, to which all men are forced to give their assent. However, it is true, in divine matters the natural reason has its failings.”
Eckhart, Prologus in Liber parabolarum Genesis, LW I, pp. 447, 9–449, 3, 454, 11–455, 10; (Schwartz 2004, pp. 187–99).
Maimonides, Guide, Introduction, (Pines 1963), I, 11, quoting Proverbs 25, 11. Perhaps first applied in Christian literature by Raymundus Martini in his Pugio Fidei, and see Ramundi Martini Ordinis Praedicatorum Pugio Fidei Adversus Mauros et Judaeos, cum observationibus Josephi de Voisin et Introductione Jo. Benedicti Carpzovi, Lipsiae 1687, p. 427: “R. Moses filius Maimon in libro qui a Judaeis Moreh Nebbuochim, a Latinis vero dicitur directio neutrorum… תפוחי זהב במשכיות כסף.”
Eckhart, Expositio s. evangelii sec. Iohannem 444, LW, III, 380, 12–381, 7: “De Praemissis patet quod evangelium et lex vetus se habent ad invicem sicut demonstrator et topicus, sicut metaphysicus et physicus: evangelium contemplatur ens in quantum ens. Esse est autem dicimus illa quae ipsa quidem natura incorporea sunt et immutabilis substantiae ratione vigentia (…). Promitit evangelium aeterna, lex vetus temporalia. Patet ergo, sicut frequenter in nostris expositionibus dicitur, quod ex eadem vena descendit veritas et doctrina theologiae, philosophiae naturalis, moralis, artis factibilium et speculabilium et etiam iuris positivi”.
A second major focus, which will not be addressed here, relies on the field of ontology: Eckhart’s special formulation of negative theology and the principle of divine unity, and see (Schwartz 2005, 2012).
LW II, n. 237; English translation Bernard McGinn, in (McGinn 1986, pp. 117f).
On the problematization of radical negative language resulting from Neoplatonic concepts of divine unity by the Greek Church Fathers in its migration into western Latin Christianity see (Armstrong 1975; Sells 1994).
Homiliarum in Ezechielem, lib. I, hom. 6; Sancti Gregorii Magni Opera omnia II, Patrologia Latina 76, Migne, 1857, pp. 834a: “Rota intra rotam est Testamentum Novum, sicut diximus, intra Testamentum Vetus, quia quod designavit Testamentum Vetus, hoc Testamentum Novum exhibuit.”; (Christman 2005, pp. 55f.).
Cf. note 56 above.
Liber parabolarum Genesis, n. 47–72, LW I, pp. 514–38.
Liber parabolarum Genesis, n. 48, n. 51; LW I, pp. 516, 12–517, 4; 519, 13–520, 2: “Patet ergo quomodo id ipsum est quod hic scribitur: dixitque deus etc., et Ioannes ait: ‘In principio erat verbum’. ‘Rota in medio rotae.’”
Expositio Lib. Exodi, 265; LW II, 213, 11–14: “Sequitur: in montem. Nota: non ait ad montem. Ratio videtur: amor enim et voluntas ad rem ipsam respiciunt et in ipsa sistunt et quiescent. Intellectus vero non sistit in re ipsa in se ipsa, sed iuxta nomen intellectus intrat ad ipsa rei principia et ibi rem accipit in principiis suis in radice et origine; (McGinn 1986, p. 125).
On such interpretation see (Faur 1999; Blumenthal 2006).
On Maimonides in Jewish mystical tradition see (Altmann 1936; Idel 1991, 2004).
On Eckhart’s place in relation to his contemporary Hebraists see (Schwartz 2010).
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
© 2020 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Share and Cite
Schwartz, Y. “From Moses to Moses”: Late Medieval Jewish and Christian Interpretation of Moses’s Prophecy. Religions 2020, 11, 632. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11120632
Schwartz Y. “From Moses to Moses”: Late Medieval Jewish and Christian Interpretation of Moses’s Prophecy. Religions. 2020; 11(12):632. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11120632Chicago/Turabian Style
Schwartz, Yossef. 2020. "“From Moses to Moses”: Late Medieval Jewish and Christian Interpretation of Moses’s Prophecy" Religions 11, no. 12: 632. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11120632