“Do not read superficially, lest you do me an injury, and derive no benefit for yourself. You must study thoroughly and read continually; for you will then find the solution of those important problems of religion, which are a source of anxiety to all intelligent men” –Moses Maimonides, from the introduction to the Guide

For the coming year we will hope to tackle a canonical text of medieval Jewish philosophy: Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed. We will meet bimonthly to read through the texts’ two volumes according to our shared thematic and theoretical interests—which we will continually discuss and refine as we move forward—heeding Maimonides’ own advice to read his text non-linearly and in search of doubled, hidden, or multiplied meanings. Our discussions will focus less on Maimonides’ explication of Hebrew “homonyms” and Jewish law (though these do take up as much as a third of the work) as on broader questions of philosophy and religious experience common to us all. As we move forward, our interest and aims may necessitate delving deeper into the books’ speicalized interests, in which case we may seek insights from one or more Maimonides’ influences and intellectual-inheritors: al-Farabi, Aquinas, Avicenna, Rabad of Posquieres. As students of literature, we will especially aim to think about how Maimonides’ text may help us read other works of entirely different languages, eras, and worlds; to this end we may occasionally supplement our readings of Maimonides’ philosophical magnum opus with short stories, novels, or poems that challenge, interest, or confuse us—or otherwise help elucidate our reading of Maimonides and his many ways of meaning.