The Mystery of Maimonides' Puzzling Name

Why would the most famous Jewish philosopher of all not have a Jewish name? Or did he?

From a marble relief portrait of Maimonides in the U.S. Capitol by Brenda Putnam. Architect of the Capitol.

From a marble relief portrait of Maimonides in the U.S. Capitol by Brenda Putnam. Architect of the Capitol.

Observation
May 5 2020
About the author

Arnold E. Franklin is associate professor of history and director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Queens College in New York. He is the author of This Noble House: Jewish Descendants of King David in the Medieval Islamic East (2012) and co-editor of Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Medieval and Early Modern Times (2015).


The name of the towering religious philosopher Moses Maimonides (1138-1204) is surely one of the best-known and most resonant of all Jewish names in the annals of world culture. But, as a name, it’s surely also one of the most puzzling.

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More about: Maimonides, Religion & Holidays