Alexander of Hales°

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ALEXANDER OF HALES ° (d. 1245), English scholastic philosopher and theologian. Alexander joined the Franciscan order after 1230, while teaching at the Faculty of Divinity in Paris. Since he did not complete his comprehensive work, Summa universae theologiae (4 vols., 1481–82; 1924–48), which was first edited by his pupils, the extent of his responsibility for the attitudes and opinions expressed in it, and according to which his personal character has been traced, remains controversial. The section on Jews in Christian society confirms the ecclesiastical tradition of restricted toleration. The existence of the Jewish people serves as lasting witness to the origins of Christianity; their conversion at the end of days, according to the teaching of St. Paul, will mean the conclusion of mankind's salvation. Therefore, a definite distinction is drawn between the believers in the Old Testament and the Saracens, who then occupied the Holy Land. Obviously, this remark had a topical relevance in the period when Louis ix was preparing another Crusade. Jewish blasphemies against Christ must be severely punished, if made in public, but not more severely than those committed by Christians. Books containing such utterances must be burned.

Alexander's Summa originated at a time when the Talmud and post-biblical Jewish literature were under attack. Thus, although the Summa uses *Maimonides' Dux neutrorum (Guide of the Perplexed) as a source of philosophical doctrine, especially in the discussion of cosmological questions, the author was reticent in identifying the source of his doctrines. Jacob Guttmann found Maimonides mentioned only twice, although soon afterward his name became a household word among the masters of the schools. Most striking is the use of Maimonides' reflections on the meaning of biblical commandments, intended to affirm the Old Testament's character as divine revelation, in opposition to the dualistic theories of contemporary heretics. In this context "Rabbi Moyses Judaeus" is mentioned by name with his differentiation of judicia and caerimonialia. This interest in the teachings of the third book of the Dux (Guide) prepared the way for *Aquinas' interpretation of Deuteronomy as the model of his social theory. Alexander was also influenced by Ibn *Gabirol (Avicebron), although he does not mention this philosopher by name.


J. Guttmann, Die Scholastik des xiii. Jahrhunderts in ihren Beziehungen zum Judenthum und zur juedischen Literatur (1902), 32–46; idem, in: rej, 19 (1889), 224–34.

[Hans Liebeschutz]