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Is There a Jewish Political Thought? The Medieval Case Reconsidered

Is There a Jewish Political Thought? The Medieval Case Reconsidered

Melamed, Abraham (University of Haifa)

HEBRAIC POLITICAL STUDIES, VOL. 1, NO. 1 (FALL 2005)

Abstract

Whether there exists a political thought that can be characterized as distinctly Jewish is not something that scholars have agreed upon. Educated opinions on this question have ranged from the claim that Judaism is inherently averse to dealing with political philosophy or unable to do so; to the claim that all Jewish philosophy, at least in medieval times, is political philosophy. This controversy will only be resolved, and Jewish political thought recognized and defined, if the Jewish tradition is excavated for political thought on its own terms, rather than on the terms of the Greek tradition. The Middle Ages present an ideal case study for our question, as this was both a golden age for Jewish philosophy, of which Jewish political philosophy is a branch, and the ultimate period in which to examine the terms of the Jewish tradition as it interacted with the Greek, Christian, and Muslim traditions.

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