The Cultures of Maimonideanism: New Approaches to the History of Jewish Thought
8th EAJS Summer Colloquium, Wolfson College, Oxford, July 16th to 19th, 2007
The 2007 EAJS Summer Colloquium convened at Oxford, Wolfson College, from July 16 to 19. It was organized by Gad Freudenthal (CNRS, Paris) and James Robinson (University of Chicago), and was attended by twenty-two scholars from Europe, Israel and the United States. We were also fortunate to have one local participant, the poet Philip Kuhn, who read from his kaddish poems on Maimonides – the man and his image.
The colloquium opened with brief remarks by Gad Freudenthal, who emphasized the therapeutic qualities of the Master Guide. Frank Griffel (Yale University) followed with a look at Maimonidean rationalism and ideas of enlightenment in the context of the Islamic-Arabic world, with special reference to al-Ghazali. All other lectures focused on reception and adaptation in later centuries. The presentations are given here in the order of the Colloquium:
Haim Kreisel (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev), “Maimonideanism in Medieval Provence: Levi ben Avraham’s Approach to the Torah”; Judah Galinsky (Bar-Ilan University), “Rabbi Moshe of Coucy – Maimonidean or Anti-Maimonidean? Remarks on Sefer Misvot Gadol and the Reception of Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah in Northern France”; Jonathan Dauber (Yeshiva University), “Early Kabbalah as a Culture of Maimonideanism”; Tamás Visi (Kabinet Judaistiky, Palacky University, Olomouc), “Maimonideanism in the Early Ibn Ezra Supercommentaries”; Maud N. Kozodoy (The Jewish Theological Seminary), “No Perpetual Enemies: Maimonideanism at the Beginning of the Fifteenth Century”; Abraham Melamed (The University of Haifa), “Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles: From Elite to Popular Culture”; Yaacob Dweck (Princeton University), “Maimonideanism in Leon Modena”; Mor Altshuler (Carmey Yosef), “R. Joseph Karo — a Sixteenth-Century Maimonidean”; Uri Melammed (The Hebrew University, The Hebrew Language Academy), “Maimonideanism in Yemen”; Abraham Socher (Oberlin College), “The Spectre of Maimonidean Radicalism in the German Haskalah”; Andrea Schatz (Princeton University), “The ‘Guide’ with the ‘Strong Hand’: The Early Maskilim and Maimonides, the Talmudist”; George Kohler (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev), “The Rediscovery of Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed by German Scholars in the 19th Century”; Menachem Kellner (The University of Haifa), “Which Maimonides? Varieties of Maimonides Readings in the ‘Lithuanian Yeshiva Movement’”; Dov Schwartz (Bar-Ilan University), “Maimonides in the Religious Zionist Tradition”; Michah Gottlieb (New York University), “Varieties of Anti-Maimonideanism”; Hanoch Ben-Pazi (Bar-Ilan University), “Eros Within the Limits of Mere Reason. Or: On the Maimonidean Limits of Modern Jewish Philosophy”; Benjamin Wurgaft (University of California, Berkeley), “The Uses of Maimonides in Modern Jewish Thought: from Solomon Maimon to Strauss and Levinas.”
In addition to the formal papers – each given an hour so that ideas could be developed in full – responses were given and discussions led by Görge Hasselhoff (Ruhr University, Bochum) and Roberto Gatti (University of Genoa). James Robinson offered concluding remarks which were followed by a round-table discussion. All agreed that the Colloquium was a great success and that a shift in scholarship is long overdue – from Maimonides himself to the many ideas, movements, traditions and mentalities that he inspired.
The Colloquium proceedings have been published in Supplements to The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy Volume 9, 2009 (online: http://www.jewish-studies.info/files/maimonidesbrill.pdf)
James Robinson, University of Chicago
Gad Freudenthal, CNRS, Paris