The Literary Character of the Guide for the Perplexed

"The Literary Character of the Guide for the Perplexed," Essays on Maimonides, ed. S. W. Baron, Columbia University Press, 1941.   Reprinted in Persecution and the Art of Writing.


Among the many historians who have interpreted Maimonides’ teaching, or who are making efforts to interpret it, there is scarcely one who would not agree to the principle that that teaching, being essentially medieval, cannot be understood by starting from modern presuppositions.  The differences of view between students of Maimonides have thus to be traced back, not necessarily to a disagreement concerning the principle itself, but rather to its different interpretation, or to a difference of attitude in its application.  The present essay is based on the assumption that only through its most thoroughgoing application can we arrive at our goal, the true and exact understanding of Maimonides’ teaching….

The interpreter of the Guide for the Perplexed ought to raise, to begin with, the following question: To which science or sciences does the subject matter of the work belong?  Maimonides answers it almost at the very beginning of his work by saying that it is devoted to the true science of the law.

Google Books