ON GLIMPSING THE FACE OF GOD IN MAIMONIDES: WONDER, "HYLOMORPHIC APOPHASIS" AND THE DIVINE PRAYER SHAWL
la esencia de Dios
el rostro de Dios
la espalda de Dios
la gloria de Dios
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AbstractIt is common to interpret Maimonides as emphasizing the unknowability of God’s essence. In this paper, Sarah Pessin asks us to supplement this interpretation with the additional sense that God’s essence is also knowable for Maimonides. Analyzing Maimonides’ treatment of Exodus 33-34 and his treatment of the various ways of knowing and not knowing “God’s Face” and “God’s Back,” Pessin identifies “philosophical wonder” as a special state in which philosophers and prophets apprehend nature in such a way as to be filled with an awareness of God’s presence in the universe. After presenting passages of the Guide of the Perplexed which beckon to God’s knowability, she goes on to introduce “hylomorphic apophasis”—the idea that God, for Maimonides, is simultaneously manifest in and obscured by the materiality of nature. The essay ends with a consideration of Maimonides’ analysis of a Rabbinic verse about God’s wrapping himself in a prayer shawl.