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Albertus Magnus°


ALBERTUS MAGNUS ° (about 1200–1280), German scholastic philosopher and theologian. He was a key figure at the rising University of Paris and in the schools of the Dominican Order, especially in Cologne. Among his students was Thomas *Aquinas. Although he belonged to the group of scholars that witnessed the condemnation of the Talmud in 1248, he was interested in Jewish literature and never attempted to hide his reliance on *Maimonides as a mediator between philosophy and Bible. Occasionally, he referred to Maimonides and Isaac *Israeli, the compiler of neo-Platonic doctrines, as men who frivolously adapted philosophy to Jewish law. However, "Rabbi Moyses'" ("Maimonides") discussions on the limits within which peripatetic cosmology may be accepted by a believer in divine creation as described in Genesis had a very positive meaning for a Dominican who was introducing the whole of Aristotle's system into the orbit of ecclesiastical learning. For his own attempt at synthesis Albertus was inclined to combine Aristotelianism with neo-Platonic ideas; therefore Avencebrol's (Ibn *Gabirol's) Fons vitae was an important text for him. He did not know, however, that this author was a Jew of great renown.

During the latter half of the 13th century friars began using information from Maimonides' Dux neutrorum (Guide of the Perplexed) for their exegetical work. Albertus shared this trend, following Maimonides in his interpretation of the Book of Job as a philosophical treatise on the relation of divine providence and human suffering. Parts of Albertus' works were known to late medieval Jewish philosophers through Hebrew translations.


Steinschneider, Uebersetzungen, 456–66, 494–5, 776–7. add. bibliography: G. Binding and P. Dilg, in: Lexikon des Mittelalters, 1 (1980), 294–299; J. Mueller, Natuerliche Moral und philosophische Ethik bei Albertus Magnus (2001); I.M. Resnick, Albert the Great (2004), incl. ann. bibl.

[Hans Liebeschutz]

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