157 - Choosing My Religion: Judah Hallevi

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Judah Hallevi argues that Judaism has a better claim to belief than philosophy, Christianity, or Islam.



Further Reading

• Judah b. Samuel Ha-Levi, Judah Hallevi’s Kitāb al-Khazari, trans. H. Hirschfeld (London: 1905). [online text at http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/khz/index.htm]


• P. Adamson, “Against Nature: Two Critiques of Naturalism from the Islamic World,” in P. Adamson and C. Rapp (eds), State and Nature: Essays on Ancient Political Philosophy (Berlin: 2021), 343-63.

• D.H. Baneth, “Judah Halevi and al-Ghazali,” in A. Jospe (ed.), Studies in Jewish Thought (Detroit: 1981), 181–199.

• M.S. Berger, “Toward a New Understanding of Judah Halevi’s Kuzari,” Journal of Religion 72 (1992), 210-28.

• H.A. Davidson, “The Active Intellect in the Cuzari and Hallevi’s Theory of Causality,” Revue des Etudes Juives 131 (1973), 351-96.

• B. Kogan, “Al-Ghazali and Halevi on Philosophy and the Philosophers,” in Medieval Philosophy and the Classic Tradition in Islam, Judaism and Christianity, ed. J. Inglis (Richmond UK: 2002), 64-80.

• H. Kreisel, “Judah Halevi’s Influence on Maimonides: a Preliminary Appraisal,” Maimonidean Studies 2 (1991), 95-121.

• E. Krinis, Judah Halevi’s Fideistic Scepticism in the Kuzari (Berlin: 2020).

• T. Langermann, “Science and the Kuzari,” Science in Context 10 (1997), 495-522.

• D.J. Lasker, “Judah Hallevi and Karaism,” in J. Neusner et al (eds), From Ancient Israel to Modern Judaism, vol.3 (Atlanta: 1989), 111-25.

• Y. Silman, Philosopher and Prophet: Judah Halevi, the Kuzari and the Evolution of his Thought (Albany: 1995).

Stanford Encyclopedia: Judah Halevi


Tim Chambers on 26 February 2014

on rejecting the Arabic revelation of Islam

An imam proselytized me once. He gave me an English translation of the Koran, but he told me that one cannot fully appreciate the Koran (and, by extension, Islam) unless one understands Arabic. So when, at 12min 00sec, you relayed Judah Hallevi's story that "the King cannot appreciate [the miraculous nature of the Koran] since he is not a speaker of Arabic," I nodded.

I am curious to see whether any Muslims have anything to say here on this point.

Tim Chambers 1E4AF729D5CEFFD0

In reply to by Tim Chambers

AanandK on 6 November 2015

A blind man could reject a

A blind man could reject a miracle because he couldn't see it. Or a deaf person could reject the miracle of music because he couldn't hear it. The fact that humans cannot testify to a miracle does not make it a miracle any less.

The glorious Arabic of the Qur'an is only one aspect of its miraculous nature. There are many other aspects - its metaphysics, its consistency, its lack of contradictions, its lack of scientific inconsistencies - that are accessible to those who are not Arabic speakers.

By the way, there is no claim that the miraculous nature of the Qur'an will be universally acknowledged. In fact, the Qur'an itself claims that it will end up guiding some and misleading others. Qur'an 2:118, 7:146 are clear examples of this.

In reply to by AanandK

Gabriel on 13 February 2020

Contradictions in the qran

"its metaphysics, its consistency, its lack of contradictions, its lack of scientific inconsistencies"

I'm sorry, but since it's a philosophy podcast and not a religion context I would like to point out that the qran as well as any other reveled text is full of contradictions and scientific inaccuracies, to say otherwise is simply a lie.

Yes, you can try to force a symbolic reading on the text as many of the philosophers and theologians on this series tried, but simbolicaly you can fit whatever you want, the merit from building a system without contradictions is more merit of the commentator that of the text itself.


That's not to say it can't have good poetry or wisdom in it, but to afirm it's superiority over any other work in history, it's divine status and back it up against other texts that claim the same status (e.g. the bible, the Torah, the Vedas, etc) you would have to present us with greater evidence. Actually I think the claims made by those books are so outlandish that can't be backed up by any evidence at all. A personal relationship or feeling don't prove anything since all religions access those mystical states - unless they're all true somehow wich would only be possible in a very superficial and symbolic reading.

Every religion claims the same thing, that it - and it alone is the truth and base that claim in an experience beyond words and reason. I'll grant that those experiences exist but what most people do is to say that he's experience only is the truth and everybody from other religions is lying or mistaken/misinterpret it.

Danko on 29 May 2014

Dictionary of the Khazars


You might want to read a book by Milorad Pavic, Dictionary of the Khazars, which is a novel in form of a lexicon, at the centre of which is exactly the debate at the court of the ruler of the Khazars. Also the message from God about intentions and deeds of the ruler is quite prominent as well. It's an enjoyable read too.

sarkha on 2 December 2018



how can i cite this podcast in chicago style?

In reply to by sarkha

Peter Adamson on 2 December 2018

Citing the podcast

Hm, interesting question. To be honest I don't know but probably the most official way would be:

P. Adamson, "Title of the episode," History of Philosophy Podcast, then perhaps the URL and the date accessed.

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