Research Project


Leo Strauss and the Doctrine of Providence in Medieval Arabic and Jewish Philosophy

PD Dr. Thomas Meyer

My main concern was to deepen my knowledge on Medieval Arabic and Jewish Philosophy and Theology, because my intellectual biography on Leo Strauss has to deal in details with those topics, also because they played a major role in Strauss's works. According to my research proposal I first tried to find out in discussion with other fellows and colleagues at Bar Ilan University and colleagues in the U.S. more about recent trends in anti-essentialist methodologies. It turned out that a history of ideas oriented reconstruction of Strauss's understanding of Medieval Arabic and Jewish Philosophers like Alfarabi, Al-Ghazali, Abravanel, and Maimonides. Very helpful was the transcription of a more than 80 pages long and completely unknown handwritten manuscript, from 1926/27. I want to publish the manuscript together with Prof. Michael Zank (Boston University) in the near future. During Strauss's engagement with the "Freie Jüdische Lehrhaus", Frankfurt/Main he read together with Nahum Glatzer and Ernst Simon Medieval Jewish Bible Commentaries. I found out that Strauss's translations were even in this early stage of his career very literal. He tried very hard to use no modern terminology. So I was able to understand why his main criteria for the famous edition of the "More Nebuchim" (with Shlomo Pines, 1965) followed the same path. Strauss thought that one has to understand an author as he understood himself and therefore one has to be close to the author's terminology and wording as possible. Only this move guarantees, according to Strauss, an anti-essentialism which was also used in Medieval Arabic and Jewish Philosophy.

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