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Maimonides

Maimonides (mĪmŏnˈĭdēz) [key] or Moses ben Maimon mĪˈmən, 1135–1204, Jewish scholar, physician, and philosopher, the most influential Jewish thinker of the Middle Ages, b. Córdoba, Spain, d. Cairo. He is sometimes called Rambam, from the initials of the words Rabbi Moses ben Maimon. His organization and systemization of the corpus of Jewish oral law, is called the Mishneh Torah [the Torah Reviewed], known in English as the Strong Hand, and is still used as a standard compilation of halakah. He also produced a number of discourses on legal topics; a work on logic; a treatise on the calendar; and several medical books, including an important work on hygiene. His great philosophical work is the Moreh Nevukhim (1190, tr., Guide for the Perplexed, 1963), written in Arabic, in which he explained the esoteric ideas in the Bible, formulated a proof of the existence of God, expounded the principles of creation, and elucidated baffling metaphysical and religious problems. The Moreh Nevukhim, which reflects Maimonides's great knowledge of Aristotelian philosophy and attempts to reconcile it with the tenets of Jewish theology, dominated Jewish thought, helped introduce Aristotle to medieval Christian philosophers, and has exerted a profound influence upon Christian thinkers.

See biographies by S. Zeitlin (2d ed. 1955) and A. J. Heschel (1981); studies by J. Melber (1968), M. Fox (1990), and S. B. Nuland (2005).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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