The Beginnings

  • George Y. Kohler
Part of the Amsterdam Studies in Jewish Philosophy book series (ASJT, volume 15)


The chapter discusses the reception of Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed in German Jewish thought from 1742 to 1845. Beginning from the first modern edition of the work, it covers Maimonides’ reception of the Haskalah in the Hebrew journal HaMeasef, in Saul Ascher’s Leviathan (1792) and in the works of the maskil Peter Beer. But the main focus is on the reception of the Guide by early Jewish reformers, such as Abraham Asch, Gotthold Salomon and Issak Markus Jost. The chapter concludes with an analysis of Samson Raphael Hirsch’s rejection of the Guide in his Nineteen Letters and an evaluation of the motives behind Simon Scheyer’s first German translation of the third part of Maimonides’ treatise. The first century of a modern reception of Maimonides’ theology was primarily marked by the many different attempts to provide accessible and reliable editions of the Guide, both in Hebrew and in German translation, the languages used by potential readers. It was in those years that not only the maskilim but most of the later influential reform rabbis studied the Guide for the first time. When Maimonidean thought was utilised in this period for proposing modernising ideas, it was above all the openness of the Guide towards secular studies and its apparent independence from Talmudic exegesis that impressed Jewish scholars.


Nineteenth Century Ethical Virtue Reform Movement German Translation Jewish Religion 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Y. Kohler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department for Jewish ThoughtBen Gurion University of the NegevBeer ShevaIsrael

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