Greek philosophy was the major formative
influence on the later philosophical traditions of
Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. In all three, the
theories of the Greeks, particularly Plato and
Aristotle, were employed to clarify and develop the
basic beliefs of the religious traditions.
Philo of Alexandria introduced Platonic ideas
and methods into Jewish thought, particularly into
the interpretation of Scripture about the beginning
of the Christian era. He exerted little influence
on later Jewish thought, however, and the Jewish
philosophy of the Middle Ages seems to have
developed as a movement parallel to those in
Important figures in early medieval Jewish
thought include Isaac Israeli, Saadia ben Joseph
Gaon, and the Neoplatonist Solomon ibn Gabirol. The
most important Jewish thinker of the Middle Ages,
however, was Maimonides. Maimonides developed a
comprehensive interpretation of religion and
understanding based on Aristotelian principles that
was influential in the Christian West as well as
among Jewish thinkers.
In Judaism, as in Islam and Christianity,
religious speculation and philosophy developed in
close connection. This development is particularly
evident in the Jewish mystical tradition, the
Kabbalah. The esoteric teachings of these schools
have influenced much later Jewish thought,
including that of Spinoza, the most important
Jewish philosopher of the early modern period.
Drawing both on his religious background and on the
geometric method of Descartes, Spinoza developed a
philosophical pantheism of great depth.
Your Life With a Philosophy Book...
Your Life With a Philosophy