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A Third Approach to Maimonides' Cosmogony-Prophetology Puzzle

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 June 2011

Warren Zev Harvey
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem


Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed is a book of puzzles. Worried lest his radically intellectualist teachings harm the unschooled reader incapable of replacing naive faith with reasoned conviction, Maimonides took extraordinary precautions to conceal them from him. He cut up his arguments as with a jig saw, placed the pieces in careful disarray, and tossed in a goodly number of extra pieces which seemingly fit but do not. His presupposition, of course, was that any reader keen enough to piece together his puzzles would be intellectually prepared to cope with his teachings. No one will gainsay that Maimonides did a superb job of concealment. After almost eight centuries, students of the Guide are still trying to figure out how to solve its puzzles.

Research Article
Copyright © President and Fellows of Harvard College 1981

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1 Page references to the Guide will be to Shlomo Pines's English translation (The Guide of the Perplexed [Chicago: University of Chicago, 1963])Google Scholar, although in quotations this translation may sometimes be modified.

2 In his Introduction to the Guide (pp. 5–20), Maimonides advises his philosophic reader (cf. p. 10, 1. 21, and n. 24) on how to uncover the esoteric meaning of the book. E.g., he writes: “If you wish to grasp the totality of what this treatise contains … then you must connect its chapters one with another; and when reading a given chapter, your intention must be not only to understand the totality of the subject of that chapter, but also to grasp each word that occurs in i t … even if that word does not belong to the intention of the chapter. For the diction of this treatise has not been chosen at haphazard … and nothing has been mentioned out of its place, save with a view of explaining some matter in its proper place” (p. 15). A valuable key to Mai-monides' esoteric teaching in his discourse on the “seven causes” of contradictory and contrary statements (pp. 17–20), and perhaps in particular his comments on the seventh cause: “In speaking about very obscure matters, it is necessary to conceal…. Sometimes … this necessity requires that the discussion proceed [in one place] on the basis of a certain premise, whereas in another place [it] proceeds on the basis of another premise contradicting the first one. In such cases, the vulgar must in no way be aware of the contradiction; the author accordingly uses some device to conceal it by all means” (p. 18). On the esotericism of the Guide, see Leo Strauss, Persecution and the Art of Writing (Glencoe, IL: Free, 1952) 38–94; and his “How to Begin to Study The Guide of the Perplexed,” in Pines's translation of the Guide, xi-lvi.

3 Guide, 360.

4 As Isaac Abrabanel observes in his Commentary on Guide, 2.32, if the only similarity between the two sets of opinions were the number 3, then Maimonides might as well have said that the opinions on prophecy are like the Patriarchs, or like any other trio. See More Něbukim with Commentaries of Ephodi, Shem Tob ben Joseph ibn Shem Tob, Asher Crescas, and Isaac Abrabanel (Warsaw: Goldman, 1872) 66a. Abrabanel's observation is translated in Reines, Alvin, Maimonides and Abrabanel on Prophecy (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College, 1970) 45Google Scholar.

5 HTR 70 (1977) 233–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

6 In Twersky, Isadore, ed., Studies in Medieval Jewish History and Literature (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1979) 1640Google Scholar.

7 The solution endorsed by Kaplan was, it seems, first explicitly suggested by the sixteenth-century rabbinic scholar Mordecai Jaffe, and has been held in the present century by S. Atlas and J. Kafih (see Kaplan, “Maimonides and the Miraculous Element,” 249–50). The solution endorsed by Davidson is what Kaplan calls ”the standard explanation of the correspondence”; it was explained in detail by Abrabanel and has been accepted by modern scholars like S. Munk, M. Friedländer, Z. Diesendruck, and Reines (see Kaplan, “Maimonides and the Miraculous Element,” 251–52 n. 42).

8 I have not seen this solution suggested in either the medieval or modern literature. However, it is perhaps ismplicit in the esoteric comments of some of the medievals.

9 This opinion, according to which the world was created”afterabsolute pure nonexistence (Arabic: ba'd al-'adam al-maḥḍ al-muṭlaq)” (p. 281, 11. 8–9), is not identical with the opinion that the world was created ex nihilo (Arabic: min al-'adam). It imples that before creation there had been nonexistence, whereas the opinion of creation ex nihilo may be interpreted to signify the continuous creation of existence out of nonexistence, or the eternal information of matter (=nihil). In other words, it is incompatible with the with the theory of the eternity of time, whereas the opinion of creation ex nihilo is compative with it. See Klein-Braslavy, Sara, Peruš ha-Rambam lě -Sippur Běrfat ha-'Olam (Jerusalem: Israel Society for Biblical Research, 1978) 8190Google Scholar. The distinction between creation after nonexistence and creation ex nihilo is ignored by both Kaplan and Davidson, as well as by most scholars who have written on Maimoni-des' cosmogony. On concepts of creation in mediaeval Arabic literature, see Wolfson, Harry A., The Philosophy of the Kalam (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1976) 355–72Google Scholar.

10 “Maimonides' Secret Position,” 23. “Nothing” must be understood here as “no matter” (see previous note).

11 Ibid., 24–26. On p. 36, however, Davidson expresses reservations about this view (and, indeed, about his entire analysis of Maimonides' position on creation), both on the grounds that the evidence he has assembled is “not unambiguous,” and on the grounds that Maimonides may have been “less immune to error and carelessness than he and his readers through the centuries have imagined.” While on the cosmogony Davidson thus expresses uncertaint y as to whether Maimonides held 1 or 2, he voices no doubt that on prophetology Maimonides held 3. In his view, therefore, Maimonides' own position on the cosmogony-prophetology correspondence is if not 2:3, then 1:3. That 1:3 is (according to his own analysis) composed of non-corresponding opinions would presumably be taken by Davidson simply as evidence that Maimonides did not, as the “thoroughgoing esotericists” suppose, write the Guide with “exceeding precision” (see p. 25).

12 With regard to the possible objection that Maimonides had to have held the first opinion on creation since it is necessary for his conception of prophecy, see Maimonides' instructions to his reader in Guide, 1.71: “You should not ask how prophecy can be true if the world is eternal, before you have heard our discourse concerning prophecy” (p. 181). This comment, as Pines observes, “tends to produce the impression that prophecy can be true (or valid) even if the world is eternal” (Introduction to his translation of the Guide, cxxviii n. 115). However, whatever “impression” this comment produces, its plain meaning is that until the reader has studied Maimonides' discourse on prophecy, he has no right to conclude that the doctrine of creation after nonexistence is necessary for Maimonides' conception of prophecy. Now, Maimonides' discourse on prophecy begins at Guide, 2.32, and ends at 2.48. Since Maimonides' presentation of the three opinions on prophecy appears in 2.32, right at the beginning of that discourse, it is obvious that in examining that presentation the reader has no right to presume that only the first opinion on creation is compatible with Maimonides' conception of prophecy. See also Mai-monides' affirmation of the compatibility of prophecy and eternity in Guide, 2.16, p. 294.

13 “Maimonides on the Miraculous Element,” 256.

14 That Maimonides considered Judaism and philosophy to be mutually exclusive has admittedly been maintained by Leo Strauss in several works; e.g., Persecution, 42–43, and “How o t Begin to Study the Guide,” xiv. Strauss thereby raises the question of whether Maimonides in his esoteric doctrine did indeed ultimately reject the Law of Moses for Aristotelian philosophy. Cf. also Pines's remark: “that Maimonides realized the true issue between philosophy and religion, or religious Law, does not necessarily mean that … he … chose religion” (Introduction to his translation of the Guide, cxxviii). Nonetheless, I think that there is no justified doubt about Maimonides' uncompromising commitment to the Law of Moses, even if it is also true (as I think it is) that his commitment to philosophy was likewise uncompromising. On the integration of Judaism and philosophy in Maimonides, see Twersky, , “Some Non-Halakic Aspects of the Mishneh Torah,” in Altmann, A., ed., Jewish Medieval and Renaissance Studies (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1967) 95118Google Scholar; idem, Introduction to the Code of Maimonides (New Haven: Yale University, 1980)Google Scholar; Arthur Hyman, “Maimonides' Thirteen Principles,” in Altmann, Studies, 119–44; idem, “Interpreting Maimonides,” Gesher 6 (1976) 4659Google Scholar; and Hartman, David, Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1976)Google Scholar; and see my review of Hartman's book in the Journal of the History of Philosophy 17 (1979) 8688CrossRefGoogle Scholar, and my “Political Philosophy and Halakhah in Maimonides” (in Hebrew), lyyun 29 (1980) 198212Google Scholar.

15 In Guide, 2.25, p. 328, Maimonides comments that Aristotle's theory of eternity would not contradict the Law if miracles are “interpreted”; and in 2.29, pp. 345–46, he suggests that miracles are “in nature.” See also Maimonides' Eight Chapters, 8 (ET in Gorfinkle, J. I., ed., The Eight Chapters of Maimonides on Ethics [New York: Columbia University, 1912] 9091Google Scholar; and in Weiss, R. L. and Butterworth, C., eds., Ethical Writings of Maimonides [New York: New York University, 1975] 8788)Google Scholar.

16 Guide, 2.13, p. 284.

17 Ibid., 2.32, p. 361.

18 See above, n. 11.

19 “Maimonides on the Miraculous Element,” 250, 253.

20 Ibid., 249–51.

21 Kaplan's view that on cosmogony Maimonides held 1 or 3 but surely not 2 is corroborated with extensive evidence by Klein-Braslavy, Peruš ha-Rambam (summary of findings, 256, 266). Davidson's view that on cosmogony Maimonides held 1 or 2 but surely not 3 has been held recent-l y by some other scholars, e.g., S. Feldman in his article on “Creation and Cosmogony,” Encyclopaedia Judaica 5, col. 1067–69; howeúer, the evidence for this view is not convincing, being based on unargued rhetorical statements of-Maimonides, e.g., at Guide, 2.25, p. 330. Cf. below, n. 55.

22 Sitre Tora, MS. Paris, hébr. 768 (Hebrew University Microfilm, no. 12327) 137b-40b; MS. Paris, hébr. 774 (Hebrew University Microfilm, no 12332) 147b-49b.

23 Ibid., MS. 768, p. 140a; MS. 774, p. 149a. A similar use of this phrase (from the yoser òr blessing preceding the morning reading of the šěma') is found, e.g., in Isaac Albalag, Tiqqun ha-De'ot, ed., G. Vajda (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1973) 31, 1. 1; i n Hasdai Crescas, Or Adonay, IIIA, 1, 5 (Ferrara: Abraham Usque, 1555) 24viii, 1. 16; in Delmedigo, Joseph Solomon, Noblot Hokma (Basel: Samuel Ashkenazi, 1631) 97b, 1. 20Google Scholar; and in modern times in Rosenzweig, Franz, Star of Redemption, Introduction (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971) 2. 111Google Scholar. Another liturgical text cited by Abulafia (loc. cit.) as indicating the notion of eternal creation is “today is the birth of the world” (Additional Service, New Year, after sounding of ram's horn).

24 Commentary on the Guide, Introduction, ed., J. Goldenthal (Vienna: K. K. Hof- und Staatsdrukerei, 1852) lb, 1. 18. Cf. “Epistle on Shi'ur Qomā,” ed. A. Altmann, in Studies (cited above, n. 14) 259, 1. 128 (trans., pp. 276–77), where Narboni—like Abulafia (see preceding note)—cites the prayer, “today is the birth of the world.” On the compatibility of creation and eternity in the medieval Hebrew philosophic literature, cf. also, e.g., the references to Albalag, Crescas, and Delmedigo in the preceding note. A recent study of the theory of eternal creation in late Antiquity and in the Middle Ages is Feldman, S., “The Theory of Eternal Creation in Hasdai Crescas and Some of His Predecessors,” Viator 11 (1980) 289320CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Feldman, however, does not consider the possibility that Maimonides held the theory (cf. above, n. 21).

25 E.g., Guide, 1.71, p. 180; 2. Introduction, 241; 2.15–16; 2.17, p. 298; 2.19, pp. 307–8; 2.22. p. 320; 2.23, p. 322; 2.25, pp. 328, 330. On Maimonides' general skepticism, see Pines, “The Limitations of Human Knowledge according to Al-Farabi, ibn Bajja, and Maimonides,” in Twersky, ed., Studies (cited above, n. 6) 82–109.

26 Guide, 2. Introduction, 240; 2.15, pp. 289–92; 2.19, pp. 307–8.

27 “For [Aristotle's] opinion [concerning eternity] is nearer to correctness than the opinions of those who disagree with him insofar as inferences are made from the nature of what exists [Arabic: min tabi'at al-wujūd]” (Guide, 2.15, p. 292; cf. 3.17, p. 468). “That which exists [al-wujūd] does not conform to the various opinions, but rather the correct opinions conform to that which exists” (ibid., 1.71, p. 179). Similarly, Maimonides remarks that his proofs for the existence, unity, and incorporeality of God—which presuppose the eternity of the world (see following note)—are “derived from the nature of existence [min tabi'at al-wujūd] that can be perceived and that is not denied except with a view to safeguarding certain opinions” (ibid., 182). Cf. Maimonides' summation of the arguments for creation after nonexistence put forward by the Kalam: “they have abolished the nature of what exists [tabi'at al-wujūd] and have altered the original disposition of the heavens and the earth by thinking that by means of these premises it would be demonstrated that the world was created in time … [and thus they] have destroyed for us the demonstrations of the existence and oneness of the Deity and of the negation of His corporeality, for [these] demonstrations … can only be taken from the permanent nature of what exists [min tain at al-wujūd], a nature which can be seen and apprehended by the senses and the intellect” (ibid., 1.76, pp. 230–31; cf. 1.71, pp. 179–81). In sum, science has no choice but to base itself on “that which exists,” even when dealing with questions which apparently cannot be absolutely decided on that basis.

28 Guide, 1.71, p. 182.

29 Ibid., Cf. also 1.76, p. 231; 2. Introduction, 235, 239.

30 I.e., on premise 26 (“time and motion are eternal, perpetual, and existing in actu”), Guide, 2. Introduction, 239–40. Not only does this premise figure critically in Maimonides' proofs, but apparently there can be no such proofs without them, “for [these] demonstrations … can only be taken from the permanent nature of what exists” (see above, n. 27).

31 See Book of Knowledge (ET, M. Hyamson [Jerusalem: Boys Town, 1962]), Yěsode ha-Tora 1:1–7, where God's existence (1:5) and unity and incorporeality (1:7) are inferred from the empirical observation that “the [diurnal] sphere spins continuously”; that this phrase is understood by Maimonides as denoting the Aristotelian theory of eternity is clear from Maimonides' remarks in Guide, 2.2, p. 252. Cf. my “The Question of the Incorporeality of God in Maimoni-des, Rabad, Crescas, and Spinoza” (in Hebrew), in Wilensky, S. Heller et al. , ed., Těpisat ha-Elohut bĕ-Mahăšaba ha-Yêhudit (Haifa: University of Haifa, 1981)Google Scholar. Cf. also Strauss, “Notes on Maimonides' Book of Knowledge,” in Studies in Mysticism and Religion presented to Gershom G. Scholem (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1967) 269–72Google Scholar; and Twersky, Introduction (cited above, n. 14) 448 n. 224.

32 Book of Knowledge, ‘Akum 1:3, where Abraham (in the spirit of Yesode ha-Tora 1:7; cf. preceding note) is portrayed as having inferred the existence of God from the continuous spinning of the diurnal sphere.

33 Guide, 2.30, p. 358; 3.10, p. 438. Cf. above, n. 9. And see Klein-Braslavy, Perns ha-Ram-bam, 81–82, 86–87.

34 Guide, 2.30, pp. 348–49. Cf. Klein-Braslavy, Peruš ha-Rambam, 114–31. And cf. Hasdai Crescas's interpretation in Wolfson, Crescas's Critique of Aristotle (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 1929) 290–91Google Scholar, 664 nn. 34–35.

35 See Nuriel, Abraham, “The Question of a Primordial or Created World in the Philosophy of Maimonides” (in Hebrew), Tarbiz 33 (1964) 372–87Google Scholar; cf. I. Ravitsky's response, ibid., 35 (1966) 333–48. The word al-bārC occurs in Guide, 1.10, p. 36; 1.15, p. 41; 1.22, p. 52; 1.51, p. 113; 1.53 (twice), pp. 119, 122; 1.56, p. 130; 1.68, p. 165 (overlooked by Nuriel); 1.69 (four times), pp. 169–70; 2.11, p. 274; 2.12, p. 279; 2.14, p. 288 (in explicit reference to the Aristotelian theory of eternity); 2.19, p. 302 (in explicit reference to the Aristotelian theory of eternity); 2.20, p. 313 (in explicit reference to the Aristotelian theory of eternity); 3.12, p. 446 (cf. p. 443, 1. 3, where the underlying Arabic is bār'hu); 3.13 (twice), pp. 448, 451. Maimonides, it may be remarked further, shows similar care with regard to the use of the Hebrew bore' (“Creator”) in the Book of Knowledge. Strauss has called attention to Maimonides' avoidance of the Hebrew root fcr'in Yesode ha-Tora 1 (“Notes” [cited above, n. 31] 272). The first text in which a derivative of this root is predicated of God is Yesode ha-Tora 2:3, where the verb bara” is used in a context identical to that of al-bārn in Guide, 2.11.

36 Thus, Maimonides states (p.334) that “people thought” that Solomon's words, “And the earth abideth forever [lĕ'oidm]” (Eccl 1:4), indicate the eternity a parte ante of the world. However, he goes on to explain that “the word 'olam does not signify [only] eternity a parte post unless it is conjoined with the word 'ad”; but in the verse in question 'olam is not conjoined with 'ad (p. 335). It seems to be implied, therefore, that these words of Solomon's—as well as similar texts where 'olam appears without 'ad (e.g., Eccl 3:4, cited on pp. 335–36; but perhaps Gen 21:33, cf. references on p. 645)—do indeed indicate the eternity a parte ante of the world. Maimonides' exegeses in Guide, 2.28, are followed closely by Spinoza in A Theologico-Political Treatise, 6 (trans. R. H. M. Elwes; New York: Dover, 1951) 96 (on Ps 148:6, Jer 31:35, and esp. on Eccl 1:1–9 and 3:14). On Eccl 1:9, cf. also Maimonides' Eight Chapters, 8 (Gorfinkle, 90; Weiss-Butterworth, 87; cited above, n. 15).

37 See also Guide, 1.9 and 70. Note the different interpretations of Lam 5:19 in 1.9 (p. 35; cf. 1.10, p. 37) and in 2.26 (p. 331); in this verse 'olam appears without 'ad (see preceding note), and so its meaning is not restricted to eternity a parte post. In 3.2 (p. 422; on Ezek 1:26), the throne of glory has been understood by some medieval and modern commentators as symbolizing the convexity of the diurnal sphere. On the throne of glory in the Guide, see Klein-Braslavy, Peruš ha-Rambam, 89, 132; Aviezer Ravitzky, The Thought of R. Zerahia b. Isaac b. Shealtiel Hen & the Maimonidean-Tibbonian Philosophy in the 13th Century (in Hebrew) (Doctoral diss., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1977) 258–63, cf. 236 n. 1; Wolfson, , “Hal-levi and Maimonides on Prophecy,” JCR 33 (1942/3) 7879Google Scholar (reprinted in his Studies in the History of Philosophy and Religion, ed. Twerslcy, I. and Williams, G. H. [Cambridge: Harvard University, 1977] 2. 115–16)Google Scholar; idem, Repercussions of the Kalam in Jewish Philosophy (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1979) 113–20Google Scholar. Cf. Vajda, G., Recherches sur la philosophie et la kabbale dans la pensée juive du Moyen Age (Paris: Mouton, 1962) 412Google Scholar, s.v. “Trone (de Gloire)”; Idel, M., “A Fragmant of Asher ben Meshulam of Lund's Philosophical Writings” (in Hebrew), Kiryat Sefer 50 (1975) 150, 152–53Google Scholar.

38 Cf. Klein-Braslavy, Perui ha-Rambam, 228–45.

39 See Guide, 2.19–21.

40 Ibid., 2.13, p. 284, lines 30–31 (“all that exists has been brought into existence … by God through his volition”).

41 Cf. ibid., 1.53, p. 122; 1.69, p. 170; 2.18, p. 302; 3.13, p. 456.

42 Ibid., 2.19, p. 303; 2.21, pp. 316–17.

43 Ibid., 3.20, p. 483; cf. 2.18, p. 301; 2.21, p. 315.

44 E.g., “the works of the Deity … are of necessity permanently established as they are, for there is no possibility of something calling for a change in them” (ibid., 2.28, p. 335; note the exegesis of Deut 32:4 on p. 336, and cf. 1.16, p. 42, and 3.25, p. 506). Cf. below, n. 46.

45 Pp. 313–314.

46 Cf. “His knowledge of things is not derived from them…. On the contrary, the things … follow upon His knowledge, which preceded and established them as they are…. He also knows the totality of what necessarily derives from all His acts” (3.21, p. 485.)

47 As Klein-Braslavy remarks, the very existence of ambiguities in Maimonides' position on creation is itself evidence that he held the theory of eternity: “If Maimonides had been of the opinion that the world was created [after nonexistence], he would have said it … explicitly and unequivocally, for the opinion of creation [after nonexistence] is the view acceptable to the vulgar man” (Peru¡ ha-Rambam, 256). If Maimonides' ambiguities were intended to conceal something from the vulgar, it surely was not the doctrine of the creation of the world after absolute nonexistence!

48 See above, n. 13. Regarding the medievals, see Kaplan, “Maimonides and the Miraculous Element,” 240.

49 Ibid., 247–48.

50 “[W]ould anyone argue,” asks Kaplan rhetorically, “that it is a fundamental principle of [the Law's] theory of vision that God can miraculously blind a person or that it is a fundamental principle of [the Law's] physiology that God can paralyze a person's arm?” (ibid., 248).

51 See ibid., 238–48, 252–53. However, pace Kaplan (237–38 n. 18), I suspect that Yěsode ha-Tora 7:5 does underlie Maimonides' reference to the miraculous prevention of prophecy (cf. Yesode ha-Tora 7:5 with the problematic phrase in Guide, 2.32, discussed by Kaplan on 246–47 n. 38). See following note.

52 It may be argued that since according to Maimonides all miracles (including of course those recorded in 1 Kgs 13:4 and 2 Kings 6:18) are natural phenomena (see above, n. 15), the provision about the miracle in the opinion of “the Law” (3) on prophecy is wholly meaningless, and that consequently there is absolutely (i.e., not only essentially) no distinction between the opinion of “the philosophers” (2) and that of “the Law” on prophecy. However, it seems to me that it is a mistake to equate the naturalistic interpretation of miracles with the denial of all meaning to the notion of miracle, just as it is a mistake to conclude that a thoroughgoing physical determinist can have no use for terms such as “will,” “accident,” or “luck.” In point of fact, Maimonides himself seems to have been a thoroughgoing physical determinist (see Pines, , “Notes on Maimonides' Views concerning Human Will,” Scripta Hierosolymitana 6 [1960] 195–98Google Scholar; and Altmann, , “The Religion of the Thinkers,” in Goitein, S. D., ed., Religion in a Religious Age [Cambridge, MA: Association for Jewish Studies, 1974] 3545)Google Scholar, and there are analogies and connections between his treatment of will, accident, and luck, and his treatment of miracle (cf., e.g., Guide, 2.48). Altmann (“The Religion of the Thinkers,” 41) has called attention to the “striking parallel” between Maimonides' comments in Guide, 2.32, concerning the miraculous prevention of prophecy, and his comments in Eight Chapters, 8 (Gorn'nkle, 95–96; Weiss-Butterworth, 90–91; cited above, nn. 15, 36) concerning the miraculous prevention of human choice. While in Guide, 2.32, Maimonides likens the prevention of prophecy to the prevention of motion from Jeroboam's hand and the prevention of sight from the King of Aram's soldiers, in the Eight Chapters he had likened the prevention of prophecy to the prevention of motion from Jeroboam's hand and the prevention of sight from the Sodomites (Gen 19:11). It is most likely that the case of both the miraculous prevention of human choice and the miraculous prevention of prophecy (which itself may be seen as an instance of the miraculous prevention of human choice), Maimonides had in mind a certain phenomenon (probably psychological, but possibly physical or political) which prevents human beings from acting in accordance with their natural abilities. Regarding the prevention of human choice, see also Book of Knowledge, Tesuba 6:3. On the relationship between Maimonides' theory of human choice and his statement that God may miraculously prevent prophecy, cf. also Eliezar Goldman, “Maimonides' View of Prophecy” (in Hebrew), in Samuel K. Mirsky Memorial Volume (New York: Yeshiva University, 1970) 203–10Google Scholar. According to Goldman's analysis of Maimonides, “the divine will which is spoken of in connection with prophecy is none other than the choice of the prophet” (210), and similarly the divine will which can prevent prophecy is none other than “human choice, whose source is the preeternal divine will” (208–9).

53 Guide, 2.13, p. 285.

54 Maimonides' statement (ibid., 283) that according to the opinion of “the philosophers” (2), “there exists a certain matter that is eternal … and that [God] does not exist without it, nor t i … without Him [cf. 1.9, p. 35, on Lam 5:19; cf. above, n. 37] … [but that this matter does not have] the same rank in what exists as He … but He is the cause of its existence,” holds good also according to th e Aristotelian opinion (3).

55 Regarding cosmogony, the only “argument” mentioned by Maimonides in favor of 2 as opposed to 3 is that according to 2 “all the [biblical] miracles [taken literally] become possible” (Guide, 2.25, pp. 329–30); but given Maimonides' views on th e “fixed natural order” (cf. Kaplan's remarks cited above, n. 19), it seems that this is really an argument against 2! Davidson, to be sure, thinks otherwise (see “Maimonides' Secret Position,” 20–22); cf. above, n. 21. Similarly with regard to prophetology, it is the theory of miracles (however it is to be understood) which separates the otherwise identical 2 and 3.

56 See above, n. 27.

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