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Nahmanides’ Astrological and Religious Thinking and the Views of the Contemporaneous Catalan Christian Sages

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Issue 4 (Aug 2020): From Paris to Tortosa, via Barcelona (1240-1413), Characters, Issues and Problems in Medieval Jewish-Christian Disputations. Editor: Francesco Bianchi


This paper examines the astrological and religious thinking of Moshe ben Nahman (also known as Ramban or Nahmanides) and the intellectual connections in this field with two of the most outstanding Christian thinkers of his time, Ramon Llull and Arnau de Vilanova. Nahmanides, like many medieval scholars, admitted an astral influence, but he did not accept astrology as a divinatory science. He incorporated astrological doctrines in his exegetical works, assuming that Israel is not determined by any star because it only responds to God. Yet the study of medieval medicine and its application cannot be separated from astrology practice because it was considered that the stars had a direct influence not only on the development of the human body, from birth to death, but also in the disease processes which affect it. Ramban and his disciple Solomon ben Adret accepted and practiced astrological medicine. Llull and de Vilanova also devoted themselves to this discipline. All of them agree on the influence of the stars on humankind but condemned astral magic. Like Ramban, Llull rejects other astrological methods considered non-scientific in his time, such as prediction through horoscope. Thus, these thinkers tried to develop an astrology that was not in contradiction with divine omnipotence or free will.

Publication timeframe:
3 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Theology and Religion, General Topics and Biblical Reception