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I plan on buying the sefer Moreh Nevuchim in Hebrew, written by the Rambam (only one at this time and it will be my first).

I have seen at least 5 different versions on the bookshelves.

Can you please help me understand the advantages of each, so that I can choose the appropriate edition for my needs?

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It was originally written in Arabic so the Kapach edition is probably your best bet. –  Double AA Nov 18 '13 at 17:39
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@DoubleAA Why not Ibn Tibbon (who was, after all, his contemporary and had correspondence with the Rambam)? –  Shmuel Brin Nov 18 '13 at 18:06
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"mori gafei7's MN" Can you please respell that? (and maybe add a link to the sefer) –  Gabi Nov 18 '13 at 23:13
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@Gabi In case you were wondering, the correct pronunciation of the letter "ה" is "seven", and the correct pronunciation of "ע" is "three". :) –  Fred Nov 19 '13 at 1:04
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Oh, and Gabi, in case it's not clear from the above, Rabbi Kapach and Rabbi Kafih are the same person. :-) –  msh210 Nov 19 '13 at 5:27

1 Answer 1

Here are some characteristics of the different translations/editions:

  • Common Re-Print of European Edition

This is ibn Tibbon's translation, but with many typos in the text. ibn Tibbon strove for word-to-word correspondence with the Arabic: makes the language very strange and off-putting to someone not used to it. But has its own charm when you get used to it. Includes several commentaries: Efodi, Shem Tov, Crescas, Abarbanel. The commentaries are not that useful for a beginner.

  • Even Shmuel/Kaufman's Edition of ibn Tibbon

The editor (he sometimes went by the name Kaufman, sometimes Even Shmuel) worked hard to clean up the ibn Tibbon translation: weeding out the typos that had entered over the generations, comparing the translation to the original and suggesting emendations where it seems necessary. A very useful appendix is a cleaned-up edition of ibn Tibbon's glossary of foreign words. There's also a very useful section of the introduction on peculiarities of ibn Tibbon's hebrew. Published in one volume by Mossad HaRav Kook.

  • Even Shmuel/Kaufman's Edition of ibn Tibbon Plus Commentary

Four volumes from Mossad HaRav Kook. Includes very long commentary.

  • Rabbi Kafih's Translation

Rabbi Kafih made a fresh translation from Arabic to Hebrew a few decades ago. The Hebrew is Rabbinic, sometimes strange to read. Like ibn Tibbon, R Kafih aimed for literalness. Enlightening notes on choices he made when translating. I feel you miss out, though, in not getting exposed to the ibn Tibbon terminology, which became basic in hebrew philosophical writing for centuries. Published in one volume by Mossad HaRav Kook.

  • Michael Schwartz Translation

Very recent translation published by Tel Aviv University Press. Unlike others, this is in Israeli Hebrew and also, unlike others, the notes draw on academic scholarship. Flows and reads much more easily than others.

If you are comfortable in Israeli Hebrew, I think the Schwartz translation is the most likely to seem understandable and clear.

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good summary, but why are those commentaries not useful for a beginner? I personally found them very useful despite being a beginner, especially Shem Tov. without commentaries, i dont know how you can possibly get any clear understanding of the Rambam's words. they add an enormous amount of clarity and depth. –  ray Nov 18 '13 at 21:31
    
Maybe you're right, ray. I personally don't remember them helping me, as a beginner trying to make sense of the sentences. –  paquda Nov 18 '13 at 23:44

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