The Reasons for the Commandments in Jewish Thought: From the Bible to the Renaissance

The Reasons for the Commandments in Jewish Thought: From the Bible to the Renaissance

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Isaac Heinemann
Translated by Leonard Levin

Series: Reference Library of Jewish Intellectual History
ISBN: 9781934843048 (hardcover) / 9781934843536 (paper)
Pages: 240 pp.
Publication Date: May 2008

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This classic work by early twentieth-century Jewish humanist and scholar Isaac Heinemann surveys the crucial phases of Jewish thought concerning correct conduct as codified in the commandments. Heinemann provides his own systematic insights about the intellectual, emotional, pedagogical, and pragmatic reasoning advanced by the major Jewish thinkers. The volume covers Jewish thinkers from the Bible, rabbis, and Hellenistic philosophers through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, including Saadiah, Halevi, Maimonides, Albo, and many others. Heinemann addresses such questions as “What were the Biblical, rabbinic, medieval, and modern rationales offered for the commandments in the course of Jewish thought?”


Isaac Heinemann  (1876–1957) was one of the leading Jewish humanists and scholars of the early twentieth century. His career spanned the golden age of Jewish scholarship in central Europe and the rise of Jewish studies in modern Israel. He was a leading authority in Hellenistic and rabbinic studies, writing major works on Philo of Alexandria and rabbinic lore (aggadah).

Leonard Levin teaches Jewish philosophy at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York.