10585 Medieval Jewish Political Thought 1

Credits: 6 advanced credits in Jewish Thought

Prerequisites: 36 credits, including one course in Jewish Thought or in Medieval History or in Medieval History of the Jewish People, or one of the following: Greek Philosophy: Thales to Aristotle, Introduction to Political Thought. Students must also fulfill all English requirements and take bibliographic instruction in the Library.

Recommended: Jews and Christians in Western Europe: Encounter between Cultures in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Author: Abraham Melamed. The materials include two readers edited by Abraham Melamed and Menachem Ratson: a collection of primary sources and a selection of studies representing the state of recent research.

The course discusses the development of Jewish political thought in the Middle Ages. It examines the encounter between biblical and rabbinic literature and Greek political philosophy in the field of political thought, in the context of the Muslim and Christian cultural environments in which medieval Jewish culture evolved. The course undertakes a comparative approach towards the development and formulation of political thought in the three monotheistic religions, and their different approaches toward the classical heritage. The source texts focus upon the writings of major medieval Jewish philosophers such as Sa’adiah Gaon, Judah Ha-Levi, Maimonides, Isaac Abravanel, and others, and particular discussion is devoted to key texts such as Emunot Ve’Deot (Beliefs and Opinions), The Kuzari, Moreh Nevokhim (Guide of the Perplexed), etc.

Topics: The political contexts of Torah and Halacha in relation to those of philosophy; Prophecy and revelation in their political context; Man’s political nature and the tension between asceticism and society; Human law versus divine law; The question of ideal government; Messianism as a political phenomenon.

1Students may write a seminar paper in this course, although it is not required.