New York (Dec. 17)
The lost original of Maimonides’ third part of the “Guide to the Perplexed”, written in Arabic, has been recovered and presented to the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, by Mrs. Nathan Miller, together with two other valuable manuscripts of unrecorded religious poems written in Spain in the 16th. century.
Dr. Cyrus Adler, the President of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, speaking in 1929 at the Founders’ Day gathering at Dropsie College for Hebrew Learning, of which he is also President, urged that the 800th. anniversary of the birth of Maimonides, which will occur in 1935, should be celebrated by the publication of a critical edition of his works, including many which are so far unpublished.
In 1935, the 800th. anniversary of the birth of Maimonides will occur, Dr. Adler said. This man, born in Cordova and who died in Cairo, was the greatest mind produced by the Jews in the Middle Ages and probably one of the two greatest minds in the Middle Ages. He was a physician, a philosopher, a legalist, an astronomer; he had all the learning of his predecessors and powerfully added to that knowledge, and withal was a statesman and the guide of all the Jews of his time. His fame was not confined to the Jewish people. An Arab poet celebrated his medical knowledge in verse.
It is astonishing, Dr. Adler said further, that to this very day some of his manuscripts remain unpublished. This past summer I ascertained through Professor George Sarton of Harvard, author of “The Introduction to the History of Science”, published by the Carnegie Institute, that there are a number of medical manuscripts of Maimonides found in Cairo, one of them, I believe, upon the diseases of the eye, as yet unpublished. The original Arabic text of the greatest Jewish philosophic work of the Middle Ages, “The Guide to the Perplexed”, was published in Paris by S. Munk in 1856. This is not a critical text according to modern standards and is long since out of print. The Commentary to the Mishnah by Maimonides has never been well edited.
I have thought that this man who is known as the Second Moses should be enshrined in literature for all time by a worthy critical edition of all his works, those already published and those hitherto unpublished, and that the 800th. anniversary of his birth in 1935 should be the occasion when this publication begins. It would require a company of scholars in various parts of the world who know Arabic and the Jewish law, who know Arabic and philosophy, who know Arabic and medicine. Dr. Skoss, of this Faculty, has furnished me with a rough estimate of the number of volumes which would be required for the editing of these texts alone: Hebrew, Mishna Torah, four volumes; Arabic, Commentary on the Mishna, 6 volumes; Sefer ha-Miswot, 1 volume; Dalalat al-Hairin (Moreh Nebukim), 1 volume; Letters and Responsa, 1 volume; Small Treatises, 1 volume; and Medical Works and Astronomy, about 4 or 5 volumes.
I wonder, Dr. Adler concluded whether this thought will commend itself to scholars in this and other countries; whether they can form a body which will take up such a huge task and see it through, and whether, if the scholars are ready to do it, a foundation or individual men who have a love for learning will support what I know is a vast undertaking.