My lectures for the tour deal with Islamic and Jewish thought in the Iberian Peninsula in the 12th century (lectures 1 and 2) and early Christian thought in North Africa in the 4th and 5th centuries (lectures 3 and 4). Accordingly, I’ve recommended two general books for the tour:

  • Francois Decret (tr. Edward L. Smither), Early Christianity in North Africa (Cascade Books, 2009)
  • Sarah Stroumsa, Andalus and Sefarad: On Philosophy and Its History in Islamic Spain (Princeton University Press, 2019)

For those who want more to read — and there are always some among you! — here’s a short additional, purely optional, reading list. For each lecture I list a primary text and at least one piece of relevant scholarship.

Books listed here are readily available on Amazon (and elsewhere), many of them in kindle format (for easy portability): <S MacDonald’s Amazon idea list>.

Lecture 1 – Aristotle and the Qur’an in Andalusian Islamic Thought

We’ll examine the famed Islamic philosopher Averroës’ (Ibn Rushd, died 1198) distinctive understanding of the importance of both the Qur’an and Aristotelian thought to a sophisticated philosophical account of reality.

Primary text: Averroës, The Decisive Treatise

    • translated by George F. Hourani, On the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy (E.J.W. Gibb Memorial Trust, 1961) [also available in Charles E. Butterworth’s translation, Averroës: Decisive Treatise & Epistle Dedicatory (Brigham Young University Press, 2008)]


    • Majid Fakhry, Averroës (Ibn Rushd): His Life, Works, and Influence (One World, 2001)
    • Peter Adamson, Philosophy in the Islamic World: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2015)

Lecture 2 – Reading Hebrew Scripture as a Philosophical Text

In his “Guide of the Perplexed,” Maimonides (Moses ben Maimon, died 1204) attempts to transform the Hebrew Bible into a philosophical text, using concepts and tools from the Greek philosophical tradition. In this lecture, we examine important principles of Maimonides’ project.

Primary text: Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed

    • translated by Chaim Rabin (abridged edition, Julius Guttmann), Maimonides: The Guide of the Perplexed (Hackett Publishing Company, 1995)
    • translated by Shlomo Pines (complete), The Guide of the Perplexed (University of Chicago Press, 1963)
    • The Guide is immense — here are some suggestions
      • If you’re reading in the Rabin/Guttmann abridged edition (in order of importance):
        • Maimonides’ “Epistle Dedicatory” (which isn’t included in the abridgment)
        • Maimonides’ Introduction (pp. 41-49)
        • The selections included from Book I (in order, pp. 51-87)
        • Selections from Book 2, Chapters 13-35 (pp. 94-130)
        • Selections from Book 2, Propositions & Chapter 1 (pp. 89-94)
      • If you’re reading from Pines’ translation (or another complete edition):
        • Maimonides’ Epistle Dedicatory and Introduction to Part I
        • Part I, Chapters 1-2, 31-35, 50-71
        • Part II, Chapters 13-35
        • Part II, Introduction to Part II and Chapters 1-2


    • Sarah Stroumsa, Maimonides in His World: Portrait of a Mediterranean Thinker (Princeton University Press, 2009)
    • T.M. Rudavsky, Maimonides (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010)
    • T.M. Rudavsky, Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages: Science, Rationalism, and Religion (Oxford, 2018)

Lecture 3 – Augustine’s Vanquishing of Christian Anti-intellectualism

In this lecture, we investigate Augustine’s attack on Christian anti-intellectualism and his laying of the foundations of a Christian philosophy that would dominate Western thinking for more than a millennium.

Primary text: Augustine, Confessions

    • translated by Thomas Williams, Augustine: Confessions (Hackett Publishing Company, 2019) [there are many, many translations of the Confessions — help yourself to any, but Williams’ is the best]


    • Henry Chadwick, Augustine: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2001)
    • Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography (University of California Press, 2013) – hefty but a classic, with a nice feel for Augustine’s North African environs

Lecture 4 – Augustine on Mind, Human and Divine

In this lecture, we examine how Augustine’s distinctive theory of mind displays the fruitful interplay of religious doctrine and philosophical analysis.

Primary text: Augustine, On the Trinity (especially books 10-12 and 14)

    • edited and translated by Stephen McKenna and Gareth B. Matthews, Augustine: On the Trinity Books 8-15 (Cambridge University Press, 2002)

Scholarship (see above for Lecture 3)