Born in Cordova, Spain, Moses Maimonides (1135–1204) achieved fame as a rabbinic authority, legal codifier, philosopher, physician, and astronomer. Religious persecution sent him into exile throughout Spain and northern Africa before he eventually settled in Cairo serving as the physician to the vizier al-Fadil in 1185.
Strongly influenced by Aristotelian philosophy popular in the surrounding Muslim culture, Maimonides is regarded as the supreme rationalist of Jewish tradition. He asserted the doctrine of the incorporeality of God and devoted much of his major philosophical work, A Guide for the Perplexed, to reinterpreting biblical passages which suggest an anthropomorphic deity. Maimonides wrote the Guidein an effort to resolve the apparent contradictions between Aristotelian philosophy and traditional Judaism which were challenging the faith of well-educated Jews at the time. He argued that biblical texts have a spiritual meaning beyond their literal...