From beginner-friendly introductions to classic works by Maimonides, this page features books to suit any learning style. It’s important to note that there is no single best book on Maimonides. The best book for you will depend heavily on your preferred learning style and the amount of time/energy you’re willing to spend reading. For example, if you tend to find classic works of philosophy difficult to understand, you might want to start with a short, beginner-friendly introduction. If you prefer more depth, you can choose a more comprehensive introduction or read Maimonides for yourself.
It’s also worth noting that it is not a list of personal recommendations. Personal book recommendations tend to be highly subjective, idiosyncratic, and unreliable. This list is part of a collection of over 100 philosophy reading lists which aim to provide a central resource for philosophy book recommendations. These lists were created by searching through hundreds of university course syllabi, internet encyclopedia bibliographies, and community recommendations. Links to the syllabi and other sources used to create this list are at the end of the post. Following these links will help you quickly find a broader range of options if the listed books do not fit what you are looking for.
Here are the best books on or by Maimonides in no particular order.
Maimonides – T. M. Rudavsky
Publisher description: A thorough and accessible introduction to Maimonides, arguably one of the most important Jewish philosophers of all time. This work incorporates material from Maimonides’ philosophical, legal,and medical works, providing a synoptic picture of Maimonides’ philosophical range.
- Maimonides was, and remains, one of the most influential and important Jewish legalists, who devoted himself to are conceptualization of the entirety of Jewish law
- Offers both an intellectual biography and an exploration of the most important philosophical works in Maimonides’ corpus
- Persuasively argues that Maimonides did see himself as engaged in philosophical dialogue
- Maimonides’ philosophy is presented in a way that is accessible to readers with little background in either Jewish or medieval philosophy
- Secondary readings are provided at the end of each chapter, as well as a bibliography of recent scholarly articles on some of the more pressing philosophical topics covered in the book
Maimonides: Life and Thought – Moshe Halbertal
Publisher description: Maimonides was the greatest Jewish philosopher and legal scholar of the medieval period, a towering figure who has had a profound and lasting influence on Jewish law, philosophy, and religious consciousness. This book provides a comprehensive and accessible introduction to his life and work, revealing how his philosophical sensibility and outlook informed his interpretation of Jewish tradition.
Moshe Halbertal vividly describes Maimonides’s childhood in Muslim Spain, his family’s flight to North Africa to escape persecution, and their eventual resettling in Egypt. He draws on Maimonides’s letters and the testimonies of his contemporaries, both Muslims and Jews, to offer new insights into his personality and the circumstances that shaped his thinking. Halbertal then turns to Maimonides’s legal and philosophical work, analyzing his three great books–Commentary on the Mishnah, the Mishneh Torah, and the Guide of the Perplexed. He discusses Maimonides’s battle against all attempts to personify God, his conviction that God’s presence in the world is mediated through the natural order rather than through miracles, and his locating of philosophy and science at the summit of the religious life of Torah…
The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides – Kenneth Seeskin
Publisher description: Moses ben Maimon, known to English speaking audiences as Maimonides (1138-1204), represents the high point of Jewish rationalism in the middle ages and played a pivotal role in the transition of philosophical interest from the Islamic East to the Christian West. His greatest philosophical work, The Guide of the Perplexed had a decisive impact on all subsequent Jewish thought and is still the subject of intense scholarly debate. The twelve essays in this volume by recognized scholars offer a comprehensive interpretation of his life and thought.
The Guide of the Perplexed – Maimonides
Publisher description: This monument of rabbinical exegesis written at the end of the twelfth century has exerted an immense and continuing influence upon Jewish thought. Its aim is to liberate people from the tormenting perplexities arising from their understanding of the Bible according only to its literal meaning. This edition contains extensive introductions by Shlomo Pines and Leo Strauss, a leading authority on Maimonides.
The following sources were used to build this list:
University Course Syllabi:
- Maimonides – PH409 | Boston University
- Maimonides: Guide of the Perplexed – PHIL 1762 | University of Pittsburgh
- The Philosophy of Maimonides – Yale University
- Bibliography for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Maimonides
- Bibliography for the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Maimonides
You might also be interested in the following reading lists:
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A History of Western Philosophy in 500 Essential Quotations – Lennox Johnson
Category: Reference | Length: 145 pages | Published: 2019
Publisher’s Description: A History of Western Philosophy in 500 Essential Quotations is a collection of the greatest thoughts from history’s greatest thinkers. Featuring classic quotations by Aristotle, Epicurus, David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, Michel Foucault, and many more, A History of Western Philosophy in 500 Essential Quotations is ideal for anyone looking to quickly understand the fundamental ideas that have shaped the modern world.