Associate Professor of the History of Judaism
MPhil (Oxford University)
MA, PhD (Harvard University)
James Robinson’s research focuses on medieval Jewish intellectual history, philosophy, and biblical exegesis in the Islamic world and Christian Europe. His main interests lie in the literary and social dimensions of philosophy, and the relation between philosophy and religion. Specific areas of expertise include ethics, political philosophy, and psychology; the history of philosophical-allegorical exegesis; Karaites and Rabbanites; the translation and reception of Greek and Arabic philosophy and science; Jewish Sufism and Neoplatonism; Maimonides, Maimonideanism, and the Maimonidean controversies; religious polemic; sermons and homilectical literature; and the interactions between the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian intellectual traditions.
He has published two books and one edited volume: Samuel Ibn Tibbon’s Commentary on Ecclesiastes, The Book of the Soul of Man (Texts and Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Judaism 20. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007); The Cultures of Maimonideanism: New Approaches to the History of Jewish Thought (Leiden and Boston: E.J. Brill, 2009; and Asceticism, Eschatology, Opposition to Philosophy: The Arabic Translation and Commentary of Salmon b. Yeroham on Qohelet (Ecclesiastes), a critical edition of the Judaeo-Arabic text with annotated English translation and introduction (Leiden and Boston: E.J. Brill, Karaite Texts and Studies, 2012).
The courses he has taught over the past ten years at Chicago include Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages; Medieval Commentaries on Ecclesiastes; Readings in Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed; Abraham in History, Literature, and Thought (with Hans-Josef Klauck); The Jewish Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages; The Jews in Medieval Spain; Interactions between Jewish Philosophy and Literature in the Middle Ages; Jewish Heretics and Apostates in the Middle Ages; Soul, Intellect and Immortality in Medieval Jewish Thought; Science and Scripture: Jewish Philosophical Exegesis in the Middle Ages; Animal Spirituality in the Middle Ages; Readings in Abraham Ibn Ezra; Medieval Jewish Thought: Philosophy, Sufism, Kabbalah; The Buddha in Barcelona (with Matthew Kapstein); Reading Hayy ibn Yaqzan; Jerusalem during the Middle Ages: Conquest, Pilgrimage and the Imaginaire; Reading Other People’s Scriptures (with Lucy Pick); Islamic and Jewish Neoplatonism; Maimonides as Mystic (A study of Guide 3:51); Comparative Scriptural Interpretation (with Margaret M. Mitchell); Maimonides, Eight Chapters and Commentary on Avot; Medieval Commentaries on Psalms; Introduction to Judaeo-Arabic Literature and Thought; Aristotle in the Middle Ages; Jewish Sufism; The Bible in Arabic' and Maimonides on the Problem of Evil (a study of Guide 3:8-12).