Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

A friend of mine would like to begin learning Moreh N'vuchim seriously and is unsure of exactly where/with what to start.

  1. What is the best version out there of the book itself?
  2. Are there any worthwhile translations (i.e. that would offer additional value to someone conversant in lashon hakodesh and the standard other sources)?
  3. Is there a better strategy than starting at the beginning?
    • If so, where to begin?
    • Where to go from there?
share|improve this question
add comment

6 Answers

Start with Pines' translation into English since it's the classic English translation. After that, look at Yehuda Ibn Tibbon's translation - that is the original Hebrew translation. I push the classic sources since they are clear enough to provide a thorough explanation.

The vast majority of the new versions don't add anything to the discussion, other than academic translations. Just keep in mind that those translations are not likely to carry the spirit of the Guide and rather take a critical approach of the Guide itself. It may also be a good idea to do a bit of reading about Aristotelian philosophy as well, since the Rambam discusses that extensively.

Beyond that point, your friend is best off learning Arabic and looking at the original text (most translations in my experience by and large do not reflect the true meaning of the original text - there are nuances in the Arabic that both Hebrew and English cannot express. I say this as someone who deals with Judeo-Arabic on a consistent, weekly basis).

share|improve this answer
    
+1 for originals, +lots for Aristotelian philosophy. In fact, I would recommend being well versed in logic theory, as Rambam makes ample use of logic constructs. –  AviD Jun 15 '11 at 4:57
add comment

Translations: English - Friedlander's translation is available on Google Books. Its easier to read, and includes helpful footnotes, but it might not be 100% accurate. Pines is a very literal translation, but doesn't help you out. Also, he and Strauss had very strange views about the Rambam.

Hebrew - Ibn Tibbon's is the classic one, though people say he didn't do such a great job. Kapach is supposed to be better, and he has lots of footnotes.

Unless you're really into Judeo-Arabic writings, I don't know if it would be worth the trouble learning the original language.

It does make sense to get some background into Aristotelian philosophy, since that's what Rambam is dealing with. Acording to Rambam, you can't just read one part on its own, since you'll need to compare it to other parts. Even so, you might want to start with a more "exciting" middle section over the homonyms section.

share|improve this answer
2  
"might want to start with a more "exciting" middle section" - This is the type of information I am looking for. Is there a systematic reason to do so other than excitement? –  WAF Jun 15 '11 at 11:20
add comment

I would again suggest the Hashkafah Circle Blog which has the text and the traslation available and in Depth Shiurim as a Starting point

http://hashkafacircle.com/shiurim/category/taamei-hamitzvos-moreh-nevuchim/

share|improve this answer
    
are you the same person as judaism.stackexchange.com/users/87/simchastorah ? If so, please verify as much by emailing me at info@yodeya.com from the email address associated with the old account, and I'll merge it into your new account. Alternatively, you can try this technique. –  Isaac Moses Jun 15 '11 at 5:06
add comment

The best translation (most readable, thus following the Rambam's advice on sacrificing literalness for the sake of comprehensibility) is Michael Schwarz's translation, although R. Kapach's is also useful. I would also recommend the sefer מנופת צוף by R. Yonatan Blass, as well as R. Yitzchak Shilat's בין הרמב"ם לכוזרי.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I highly recommend learning with the classic hebrew commentaries. the Rambam is writing for a generation highly steeped in advanced philosophy. without commentaries you'll get stuck or misunderstand alot of what he says, especially when he argues on aristotle regarding creationism and God. You might want to check out the shaar yichud for background understanding of much of the premises. available here:http://dafyomireview.com/article.php?docid=398 (this has translation of commentaries with it)

shaar yichud is also a good background start since its very structured while the moreh jumps from subject to subject so you'd need to read it from beginning to end a few times to be able to put things together

share|improve this answer
2  
Just to clarify R Sebag's answer: Sha'ar HaYihud is a section of the book Hovot HeLevavot. It's an interesting suggestion, the approach to understanding language concerning God presented in it is very closely related to the Rambam's way, but it's a short text that can be finished pretty quickly. –  paquda Jan 28 '13 at 19:19
add comment

I think a great way to begin is by reading this little book: Maimonides: A Guide for Today's Perplexed by Kenneth Seeskin.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.